| 5th class in the South Platte aka Nod to the Noddles
This is taken from the full report on my site. All the photos can be found HERE at Brian in the Wild.
May 20, 2012
The Cast: Jen Crim - Luke Plumley - Pete Krzanowski - Brian Kalet - Becca Ann
I had never heard of the Noddle Heads until last week. While climbing at North Table with Matt, he expressed an interest in climbing a nearby 5th class peak after work. "How about South Noddle Head?" he asked enthusiastically. As with many of my climbing exploits, it began with a simple question. Sitting at home reading about the Noddles, it didn't take long for my attention to be locked onto the North Noddle Head. The north formation is a more imposing version of the south and arguably the highest. The easiest route was said to be an intimidating 5.8S, and the summit rarely visited. Sitting at home reading the only trip report on the climb by Jeremy Hakes, the pistons inside my head fired into action. I told Matt I wanted to wait for South until there would be enough time to do both. We set a date for the weekend and I immediately contacted Mike, Luke and Brian knowing that they'd be interested as well. Luke and Brian were locked in and Pete and Becca ended up joining the crew as well. Ironically, Matt had been the one to start the ball rolling and ended up not being able to come along.
We met by the small town of Sedalia and quickly motored to the trailhead. The approach hike is smooth and Luke led the way cross-country to make for a more direct approach. The clouds clung lower than desired and the occasional raindrop sputtered down, serving to remind us that we didn't have total charge of the situation. An air of remoteness was pierced by the distant buzzing of ATVs and motor bikes. Their high-pitched whines wafted through the otherwise still air and brought the reality of how close to civilization we actually were. South Noddle Head appeared abruptly and we dropped our packs. We harnessed up and scrambled up the third class gully to a notch just north of the summit. I flaked out the rope and trailed it around the corner until the summit moves revealed themselves. As I enjoyed the exposed ledge, I pulled up just enough slack to continue to the summit. Brian and Pete soon appeared around the corner and I climbed the fun moves to the top. I clipped the rope into the old slings and backed them up with a tricam. This was so those below would have the choice of a hand line if the need arose. We soon stood on the summit and took in the views. The Hayman burn scarred the land below us and the trees were interrupted by the occasional rock tower jutting skyward. The South Platte area has such amazing geological features! As I surveyed the surroundings my eye caught North Noddle Head. From South, North appears taller and much more intimidating. I traced the route from afar and hoped it would be easier than it appeared from a distance. "I hope I can lead it." I muttered to Pete and I couldn't help but feel a twinge of doubt. As we rappelled the clouds cleared and it seemed a good sign as we shouldered our packs to move onward.
Brian rappelling the summit bit on South Noddle.
The hike to the North Noddle went quickly and I laughed as the gear on my harness jingled like a giant bear bell. Soon as we were at the base I quickly racked up. Pete put me on belay and I eased up onto the rock. It always such a pleasure to have a good belayer and I felt confident in his skill. The first pitch followed an excellent crack system up the face and I soon found myself at the lower rappel anchors. Deciding that it would be best to belay higher, I clipped a long sling to one of the bolts and continued upward. Some nervous friction moves ran it out to a large step across and into a nice handcrack. A large ledge revealed itself and I built an anchor and brought Pete up. Soon as he was on the ledge, we reflaked the rope and I prepared to lead the crux pitch to the summit. The ledge disappeared and upward progress required some thin face climbing. "One more move..." I mumbled to myself as I moved carefully upward. A fall would be disastrous and it was something I was not willing to experience. Fortunately, the slab was short and I was soon clipping into a good piece. A beautiful finger crack allowed me to crank over an awkward bulge, and fun moves led to the summit plateau. We shuttled climbers up two on each rope, and when Pete arrived all six of us were up top. The summit register was an plastic Maxwell House coffee container placed by Jeremy in 2008 and only one other party had signed in more than a year prior (Jason Haas!). The views were fabulous but I was distracted by the large storm clouds that were gradually getting closer. Brian carefully laid out his water bottle and attempted to level the South Noddle from the summit. North and South must be truly close and his best efforts were inconclusive. The looming weather called for us to leave and we readied our escape. The bolts on the top were well placed and rigging a double rope rappel was easy. I struggled imagining anyone getting down from this perch without the aid of the bolts. We all cruised down and soon all high-fived on terra firma. The hike out was pleasant and Brian, Pete and I stopped to climb a small boulder that I dubbed "Spitz Rock". The Noddles proved to be an excellent adventure and exactly why I love these 5th class peaks.
The route on North Noddle Head.
Brian's attempt to bottle-level the South Noddle.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Because it's there!