This was not my idea. Bill, my climbing partner for years thought we
could do it. It looked innocent enough 5.9 A2. At the time we had
heard that someone might have "freed" it, but there were some
issues.(choped bolts ect.) We thought it would be fun to do something
away from the crowds. Our previous experiences being on Washington
Column and Half Dome. (Sport Walls if you will) I mean, christ we had
the book, what could go wrong?
There's a long intro to the story but the gist is that Bill was coming
from Indian Creek and I was coming down from Reno to meet him and
another friend. I had just popped the question to my girlfriend and had
brought the appropriate celebration whiskey. After meeting up and at
least two trips into town to procure more hooch we were on our way to a
classic Big Wall Epic.
I woke up warped in a big blue tarp. Bill was in my face offering
advil and water. A quick check confirmed that I still had on all my
clothes but a huge goose egg on the side of my head. Later Bill would
confide that he had slugged me in defense of the last of the Bushmills
when I allegedly broke into the van where he was sleeping and demanded
more hooch. I can neither confirm nor deny said allegations, but ,man
did my head hurt.
Luckily we (Bill) had the foresight to pack our gear the night before.
So after I purged (I claimed the bad olive defense, but Bill pointed
out that we weren't drinking martinis) we were on our way. The hike was
hideous. Bill had done it the year before to stash water but we still
got lost. I thought it prudent to mark the way with bits of the
previous nights dinner in case things got real bad. After about five
hours we got to the base of the Rainbow Wall. If you've never seen it,
it is a magnificent bit of stone, and lonely.
Our plan was to come up the first day and fix the first four pitches
then go back to the car and bring the rest of our shit to the base.
This is how day one went:
P1. We paper-rock-sisered to see who went first. I don't remember who
won But bill went first. 5.6 mossy slab. "Glad I'm not him ", I think
P2. After some discussion I stand on Bill's shoulders to gain the
flaring "thing" and come upon terrain that teaches me several things. 1.
Sportiva Boulders are not what I like to climb in on insecure terrain.
2. If the pitch is 60 feet long I don't need every piece of gear I own
with me. 3. Sarcastic remarks about the night before don't help calm
the nerves when yer about to shit yourself.
P3. Never been more happy to belay. Bill, being a "bad man" frees when
the aid climbing gets to tough. Claims it's "not to bad". After a
short conversation I encourage him to run this and the next pitch
together. The book, after all, said the pitches were short. This is
when we discovered that our borrowed haul line was about 130 feet long.
(fuck you Dave Miller) About an hour into his lead I thought I heard
this," Dave, I need you to untie."
Thinking to myself, " Dave yer hearing shit".
Then I hear it again only a little more , ah agitated.
I replied with the only logical response. (thinking only of the "how to
climb big walls" series of books)
"The book says never untie from the rope, Bill."
I won't repeat what he said (I don't want to offend Hugh McNeil's
virginal sensibilities) but the end result was me watching the end of my
rope disappear as Bill needed the extra line to haul off the lead line
until he had enough slack in the haul line to ge things squared away.
After that we fixed our ropes and rapped.
We spent the rest of the day looking for water that Bill had stashed on
a recon mission earlier that year. We descended to the van that evening
to get a good nights sleep.
We awoke the next morning to 40 mile per hour winds whipping through the
camp. (old site across from the gypsum mine). We could only imagine
what was happening to our ropes up on the hill so we went to that
pancake place on Charleston ave. (blueberries something I think) to wait
it out. Bill thought we should go up to collect our stuff if it was
still there or finish the climb if we could. I thought the chances of
the latter were slim so I went along.
As it turns out that wind was an incredibly localized event (our ropes
hadn't been touched) hooray.
It was late-ish so Bill decided to haul the rest of our water our high
point and then give it a go in the morning.
Day 2 (of climbing) Day 3 actual:
From here to the bivi ledge I don't remember much. I do remember that
the guide book was way way off and the pages being used as TP at this
point. There were a few moments worth noting. On one of my pitches I
was clipped into a #2 BD swedge. As I moved up, the crack actually
farted at me and the stopper slid about an inch before stopping. Bill
said I let out a squeal that probably hurt dogs ears for miles around. I
don't remember that way. I calmly placed a similar sized stopper over
the first one to try to cam it in and boldly moved on. Almost filled
the Poop Tube myself that night.
The other happening that day was getting the pig onto the bivi ledge.
The last 2 pitches before the ledge are broken loose and suck for
hauling. If you second any of those pitches yer constantly fucking with
the pig dislodging it and such. There is an old bolt right before the
mini headwall that leads to the ledge, this is where the pig got stuck.
I thought ," No prob. I'l just clip into this bolt (just in case) and
give that ol pig a kick. Well, what happened next defies the laws of
Physics as far as I can tell. After giving the haul bag a mighty heave
out toward the void... it paused then started accelerating back toward
me. Me, pinned to the wall by that old ass bolt. The collision was
fantastic. Again words that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush. I
yelled to Bill to chill till I got to the ledge and we would figure it
out from there. You've never seen two grown men pout at each other
like we were just then. Dinner that night was MREs we had "borrowed"
from Bill's brother in law who was in the Navy. There was as quick fist
fight over the juice from the ham package. MMM ham juice.
Bill led the traversing pitch over these death blocks from the ledge.
I followed by free climbing and backing myself up with a GriGri. The
last pitches of this route are beyond words. Perfect dihedral. nice
rock. Almost so nice you'll forgive yer partner for screwing you on
every traversing bit.
We topped out that day. Then rapped the route. Were on the ground in
time to have beers with Randy Grandstaff at that mexican place on
Tropicana. Kind off makes me sad to think of it now.
This trip was in the summer of 1998. Hope you enjoy the TR more than I
enjoyed the accomplishment.
Dave "still puckered" Schuller