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[TR] Dragontail - Boving-Christensen 7/14/2014


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Trip: Dragontail - Boving-Christensen


Date: 7/14/2014


Trip Report:



Faced with 100-degree temps yesterday, a trio of heat-stroked locals went up to Dragontail to try the Boving-Christensen. We had heard all kinds of horror stories, and I asked Matt if he felt that a bolt or two was worth placing at the belays. He said the belays were fine, so the hammer, pins, and 1/4"ers stayed home. The route is really fun and feels like something out of Darrington. We were all impressed that Paul and Matt (ages 20? and 17) put up the route in 1977 with only a set of hexes and stoppers, freeclimbing most of the line!


We forgot the iPhone with the topo down at the lake, so it was mostly just following whatever looked good. This actually may have worked out to our advantage. Jens was leading P1 and couldn't figure out what to do after about 30m of fun, well-protected low angle crack climbing. There were a couple foot holds out left leading toward a spot where we had noted a piton and some tat. But the holds seemed bad. He mentioned repeatedly that the feet were slippery and there were no hands. Eventually he went back and forth, up and down, and just decided to go up the same crack. He had to garden a bit of moss on the fly, but made it happen and found a good red alien where there had only been sod. He belayed up and left, and was talking all day about the slippery feet and no hand holds. We assumed we were on route, and that the piton out left was not the correct way.


The following 4 pitches flowed well, with generally good protection and a few delicate but slabbby face traverses. All three of us felt that 5.10c was (and is) the correct grade for the roof on P3.


The funniest part of the day came as we were having dinner back in town and pulled up Matt Christensen's notes on the climb where he writes:


Pitch one went quickly until the traverse left nearly three fourths of the way up the pitch. There you make a 5.10 face move to a substantial foot hold. Paul was perched there for several minutes when he called for me to give him slack. He then made a very awkward leap left into the next crack system. Twenty-five more feet of unprotected 5.8 or 5.9 lead to the ledge (photo of me following this with a lot of rope and no pro). You can now use a marginal cam or two to protect the climbing after this dynamic move. I asked Paul how we should grade that leap after following it and we both decided you couldn't grade it because you are not in contact with the rock. I took tension on it this summer and Jim felt it was 5.11 when he followed it (the launch is super slipper[y], it is totally no hands and the rock bulges out pushing you away from where you want to land).


The move we avoided was described using nearly identical language by Jens (who didn't try it after all) and by the FA team. I don't know about the idea of dynamic moves being categorically ungradeable, but our hats are off to Paul Boving who did the dynamic handless slab dyno launch in 1977!


If this route were done a couple times a season, the moss/grass on P1 would clean up nicely and there would be more pro and holds, but it's totally fine as-is, and there's now a direct slab-jump-avoidance option.


Atop the clean wall, there is a broken chossy sidewalk which you can walk/scramble rightwards on, leading WAY right, around onto 4th class ledges, which lead back up and past 1-2 pitches of 5.4-5.7 moves to the summit crest. This topout was fast and easy.


There is a hummingbird nest tucked into a wide spot in the crack high on P1 - take care.




IMG_0575.JPG Following P1










Gear Notes:

Bring a good nut tool for the leader


Doubles of cams from tiny to #1, single #2, #3, and bring a #4 if 5.10 is at your limit. We used some offset aliens and offset wires at a few belays.


Approach Notes:

Soft snow

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Nice report, Blake. Great route. After the 5 pitches, to top out, we traversed left and climbed parallel to Serpentine--your exit appears better.


Many years ago I led pitch 1. Was tempted to continue straight up, but was fixated on the description, so made that traverse move left--it felt hard for 5.10, slippery feet and an insecure knob or two? (Maybe Pete has a sharper memory.) At any rate, I recall feeling like we stayed on route. Maybe Jens went too high before contemplating the left turn? I've heard of other parties whipping due to a common tendency to go too high...


Anyway, thanks for the report and pics.

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When I climbed this with Joe Puryear in 1998, that first pitch was my lead- and I definitely remember doing something really crazy and hard to get leftward to reach the belay ledge with the fixed tat. I seem to recall going high and then getting shutdown, then downclimbing the crack I was in until I could get left somehow- I definitely did not dyno and it definitely wasn't 5.11, I don't recall exactly what I did apart from some sort of bear hug maneuver, but it was really insecure and I barely pulled it off.


I think it's worth noting that if the belay where Jens stopped is adequate, it might actually be better to go that way anyway, because the 'fixed' anchor on the belay ledge was actually not very inspiring, it required a lot of time in equalizing a nest of small brassies and blue alien sized cams; there were broken off kb's in the thin cracks. Further, there's a slabby runout to start the next pitch with a factor 2 potential onto the belay.


Colin's partner took a huge, zippering fall on pitch 1 a number of years ago, I think trying to do the dyno move. I think it was about a 70 footer if I remember the story.


Sounds like the route has cleaned up a lot already. On pitch 4, I had to use a lot of aid while using a nut tool to excavate a thirty foot section of crack that was completely packed with dirt and vegetation, and the 10c crux had mossy holds.


At the sidewalk after p5, we moved left and climbed the major rib directly to the summit, which took much longer than we had expected. It was about 5.7 or less until just below the top we encountered a 5.9 pitch that was somewhat circuitous and insecure.


Overall it's a great route and glad to hear its cleaned up.

Be aware, back before we did it, Jim Nelson gave us fair warning that it had been subjected to some major rockfall; indeed if you look at Blake's overall photo there are some big rock scars directly overhead.



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