Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Fire Wall, Round 1

Liming is amazing. It isn’t like a sport crag, which lays everything out before you in a display of ring bolted grandeur. Liming has secrets. Can this be climbed? Where are the holds? What’s around this corner? To appreciate Liming you need to be an explorer and an optimist. You don’t know if something is climbable until you have thrown a rope down it and felt a hundred different contorted positions in which you might stick to the wall.

The second half of my trip I don’t think I climbed a single pre-existing route. Mike Dobie and I finished aiding up our wall on the Formation called ‘The Diamond’, we extended an old 5.11 on the painted wall up a closed corner which is now dubbed ‘The Wizardry Project’, and we hung all over the one of the coolest cracks I’ve ever been on. 
Our line up The Diamond. Plenty of offwidth on this one.
The Wizardry Project. No holds just imagination. 
This crack has been known about for some time and forms the multi-pitch called ‘The Flying Buttress’. It starts out tame with the ‘Tarzan Pitch’, an easy chimney pitch, which involves a lot of vine pulling. Second is one of the best 5.11+ traditional pitches going around, a slightly overhung hand crack with occasional fingers or fists for 35 meters. The third and last pitch, named ‘The Firewall’ is the business. The wall kicks back and the crack is ever thinner. 20m into the pitch when your getting tired the ring lock crux slaps you in the face. This thing is hard. If the crack was thinner or fatter then the climbing on the 30-degree overhanging terrain would be much easier. As it is the lack of feet, the angle, and the poor jams come together to create something special.  Small or large hands won’t help much because the crack very gradually changes from 1” cams to .3” at the anchor. You will have issues jamming somewhere towards the end of the pitch. 
I just scraped through the section on top rope. Stopping to place gear will be a rare event on the send.
Even with a heap of tape the ring locks take their toll.

As for the grade I am unsure but thinking 5.13+. It has been suggested as harder but I know how hard 5.14- feels and don’t believe my quick progress on the crack so far justifies that grade. Maybe if your really experienced on sandstone cracks it is only 5.13? Things may change as I have further red point attempts. It is however harder than Air China and completely traditional which in my eyes makes it a worthy goal. After returning to Australia I am turning back around and heading back to try and finish it off before the season ends.
Great company (Alexa Flower, Leah Pappajohn, and Mike Dobie)