| Mental Warfare
This is taken from the full report on my site. All the photos can be found HERE at Brian in the Wild.
It just dawned on me that I never managed to get this up on here. Derek put up a good report on Echo but this also includes 2 second ascents Noah and I did beforehand and another obscure tower. Sorry for putting up something that's not very recent.
9/21/2012 - 9/23/2012
the crew: Noah McKelvin, Derek Wolfe
Phantom Sprint topo. Photo by Derek.
My hips hurt...
I take a deep breath as the thought passes through my mind for the 100th time. Oops. Better make it the 101st time. Taking my free hand, I go through the pointless motions of attempting to adjust my belay seat. As usual on trips like this, Noah reads my mind and quickly replies, "These seats suck. Better than nothing I guess...but not by much." We both shift around uncomfortably, causing the taut straps to creak under our weight.
Noah and I both glance at each before turning our heads upward. Derek has moved up slightly onto his next piece and is complaining about its integrity. His stance is about 12 feet above the belay and he is balancing precariously under an overhang.
Once again, Noah and I quickly glance back at each other. I carefully take all the extra slack out of the rope and put both hands on the brake side while Noah leans out from the belay. As soon as I push myself back and put my head down, the small nut that Derek is standing on explodes out of the rock. I close my eyes as Derek comes crashing down, bounces off of my right shoulder, and continues to fall. As quickly as it starts, it is over. I look down to see that Derek has stopped at my feet, and I can't help as my eyes shift to the sheer 400 feet of exposure below him. "I'm done!" was Derek's simple reply and I completely understand his feelings. He had taken close to a 30-foot leader fall with 400 feet of vertical exposure, and was stopped by the only cam between him and the belay. I look over at Noah and say simply, "It's up to you. I'm not going to lead it so I won't pressure you. We can always bail..."
I'd stand on it...would you?
FA - Harvey Carter (solo 5.8 A3) April 27, 1978. FFA: Fred Knapp
P1 - Short Bolt ladder on the canyon wall (not the tower) that ends with a few free moves to the cave between the tower and the canyon wall. 5.6 C0 and
about 40 feet. Noah tried to free it and felt it sandy 11a.
P2 - Walk up dirt ramp to a wide crack (overhanging) on the backside of the tower and the opposite side of the ledge that P1 topped out. Climb the wide
crack to easier terrain and move back left to upper ledge and cable belay. There is a large boulder that is teetering dangerously above the ledge at the
top. Noah bumped it and it wobbled for close to 60 seconds before stopping. It could kill your belayer if it falls. 40ish feet and about 5.10d (Noah
freed it) or 5.7 C1
P3 - Walk the ramp to it's end and make about 10 feet of sandy, slightly overhanging moves to the summit ridge. 5.7
We felt the perfect rack would be single C4s 0.5-5 and that's it.
While most climbers are drawn to the most solid and perfect rock, there are a few who seek out the opposite. Teetering piles of mud and crumbling rock put out a special siren's call that is heard by a select few. Noah had heard the call, and at his request we rumbled into small parking lot at the base of Mount Garfield. The casual hikers that were here to scale the dusty slopes of Mt. Garfield, assumed us to be idiots as we methodically pulled a mound of climbing gear out of the trunk. Their disapproving glances wouldn't dowse our fun today, we were here for the Things of Beauty.
The "Things of Beauty" are a collection of mud hoodoos on the slopes of Mt. Garfield and are serious, twisted pinnacles of adobe mud jutting precariously skyward. The towers are topped with small pieces of sandstone that protect their soft mud underbellies from rain, and allows the weather to slowly sculpt these monstrosities. Many of the more "noticeable" formations were climbed by the Choss Pirate Paul Ross in the early 2000s, and many of them have not been repeated. Ross had pounded 8'' nails, aka "spikes", into the soft matrix and used them to aid tenuously upward. These nails still remain although many have eroded severely since when they were first placed. Last year, on our way to climb the Titan in the Fisher Towers, my buddy Noah and I stopped and did the 3rd ascent of the Sword of Damocles and got a taste for the mud. On this trip, we were here for some more obscure goals, Tom Thumb's Tallywag and the Bug-Eyed Monster.
We quickly loaded gear, took an obligatory swig of something tasty, and made a dusty line to the west. The gully leading upward presented itself and we plodded up the seldom-traveled path. As both towers came into full view, I felt a twinge of doubt poke at the back of my mind. Staring upward, my eyes locked onto Tom Thumb's Tallywag. The tower left a pit in my stomach, and I promptly proclaimed that I held full authority to refuse to give Noah a belay due to my concern of the top falling over on me. After we managed the crumbling slopes to the base of the tower, I harnessed up and craned my head skyward in amazement. The line of nails up Tom Thumb's, led up a arete of mud for 60 feet followed by a 15 foot pinnacle that is 1.5 feet wide and 1 foot thick. On the FA in 2002, Paul Ross stood on the summit and the tower began swaying back and forth. He noted that it was 3' by 1.5' (yes, twice as wide as it is now) as he quickly made his escape. Knowing this didn't help my desire to climb, but Noah bravely made for the mud traverse to the base of the route. A slip was salvaged by a dramatic dyno to reach the first nail, and he was on his way! Noah led up to the summit block, tapped the top and quickly got out of there (much to my relief). Watching the rappel was one of the scariest moments of my climbing career and we both breathed a collective sigh of relieve as Noah pulled the rope. We clawed our way up-slope and made our way to the single nail belay for the Bugeyed Monster. Noah "anchored in" and I set across the tenuous traverse using the hammer much like an ice axe in the crust. The climb went smoothly, and I was surprised to find a few bolts mixed in with the nails. Pulling up onto the 1/2 foot-wide summit was a thrill and I enjoyed watching my shadow flicker on the slopes far below. Two more second ascents of mud down, now back to the Fishers!!!
2nd and likely last ascent.
Mud jam. Photo by Noah.
2nd ascent. Photo by Noah.
Saturday - Sunday
Walmart tents do line the lot and force us to our normal spot,
in the graveled lot for cars, to sleep beneath the watchful stars.
The campers in the their nearby lairs cast us quite the weary stares,
as we pour ourselves a drink and into dusty bags do slink.
By early dawn and morning's light, brings an overly depressing sight.
Bags of stuff heaved and hoed, mounds of gear lay now exposed.
Load the pounds we each will take, till packs so laden our poor backs break.
Dusty trails wanders round, all the red-ish colored ground.
Twisted towers spiral high and cause us all to simply sigh.
At the base of Echo we do toss our gear and all reach for our most sacred beer.
Harness on and bottles gripped, now all to do is take a sip...
Upward progress slowly gained while offwidth cracks prove quite the pain,
in my back and hips and waist, providing just one small taste
of this warped and twisted fun that sits hidden from the sun.
Long rappels back to the ground ends day one, safe and sound.
But only halfway up are we! Thank God I can finally pee!
Gear. Photo by Derek.
Typical wall anchor = mess.
Down P3. Photo by Noah.
Fitful sleep can barely calm, all our nerves before the dawn.
I can only look and shrug and sadly we begin to jug,
and once again a hanging seat, greats my bruised and tender meat.
Climb and climb we scrap and claw, up and up 'till Derek's flaw,
a small brass nut gives a pop, and causes him to quickly drop,
and sends him whizzing down and down while Noah only gives a frown.
But take the lead and up he batters, and soon we jug the final ladder.
At last the summit is in our hands, as we sit and peer 'cross barren lands.
And as we rapped into the dark, the world seemed so still and stark.
Ground and feet finally met, and soon we made a simple bet.
As beers were cracked and gear was stacked, we all made a solemn pack
To once again return this year, but next time we should bring more beer!
I'm tired of hanging belays. Photo by Derek.
Photo by Derek.
Moonrise on the Titan. Photo by Derek.
The beer tree. Photo by Noah.
Many more photos can be found here.