Archive for the ‘2013 January’ Category

January 2013 Route Applications

September 10, 2012

Tufa Route 5.14, South Face of Seal Rock

The proposed climb, Tufa Route, is on the central south face of Seal Rock, which to date has three traditional/toprope climbs and one sport route, Choose Life (August 2012), which shares the same start—first three bolts—as Tufa Route. Where Choose Life heads left along the large left-leaning black streak past its third bolt, Tufa Route heads straight up an extruded tufa feature/brown water streak that splits into twin tufa features to the top of the wall. Choose Life and Tufa Route would be twenty-five feet apart at their top anchors and do not share any holds once they diverge, to move farther and farther apart. There would be ten new lead bolts to a double-bolt anchor at the top of the wall, making for 13 lead bolts  total (counting the first three on Choose Life).

Tufa Route features a very difficult, thin, crimpy boulder problem past the proposed fourth bolt to sustained climbing on laybacks and sloping pods, followed by a good rest in a heart-shaped hueco at mid-height. From the rest it moves right along the right of the twin tufas on good holds that quickly diminish to sloping sidepulls interspersed with the occasional crimp. The climbing is sustained, technical, and bouldery all the way to the final two bolts, where the difficulty backs off to 5.12/12+. There are multiple hard cruxes throughout the climb, which is continuously overhanging with only the one rest. The rock is good throughout, though due to the difficult of staying into the overhanging (110-degree) wall on toprope to clean, a few small friable flakes will need to be removed when equipping the climb.

Tufa Route, which shares the first three bolts with the existing climb Choose Life. Where Choose Life heads left (left arrow), Tufa Route climbs straight up (right arrow) past ten more bolts to a double-bolt anchor at the lip of the wall. An original anchor, about eight feet to the right was installed as reconnaissance for the climb in the late 1980s. To keep the line on the tufa proper (for purity of line) and for better rope management, the anchors should be relocated up and left about eight feet, and the old anchor bolts unscrewed and the holes patched.

All reconnaissance work that can be done has, including inspection on rappel and on toprope. The top of the route had anchors installed in the late 1980s, before the bolting ban, by Colin Lantz. Lantz never returned to attempt or equip the climb, so it saw no activity until 2012 though the anchor bolts have remained. There is zero potential for natural gear, and the route would need to be bolted to be viable as a lead climb. Also, the anchors need to be moved up and left about eight feet, both for purity of line and for better rope management when lowering. Lantz’ existing anchors would then be removed and the holes patched.

Due to the severely overhanging nature of the rock, a consistent 110-degree wall, and the severity of the sequences (small size of the holds) it was difficult to stay in in multiple sections and work every move. There were also only five spots for marginal directional gear in 85 feet, which made it hard to stay in to the rock, though the applicants did their best. About half the climb has been done free, where you could stay in near the directional gear, and  the applicants are confident upon inspecting and grabbing all the available holds that the route provides enough features to be freed in its entirety.

A view of the lower/central south face of Seal Rock, with numbers indicating the climbs. Route 1: Jade Gate (5.11b, trad); Route 2: Skin Flute (5.12a, toprope/trad); Route 3: Primate (5.13, toprope/trad); Route 4: Choose Life (5.14- sport), which shares the first three bolts with the proposed climb, Tufa Route.

The south face of Seal Rock is at present home to four other climbs: Jade Gate (5.11b, traditional), Skin Flute (5.12-, toprope/traditional), Primate (5.13 toprope/traditional), and Choose Life (5.14- sport). Jade Gate and Skin Flute are 15 feet apart on the lower wall; Primate sits 100 feet uphill (west) from those; and the start of Choose Life/Tufa Route is 30 feet uphill from the start of Primate.

The approach is via the designated but unsigned Harmon Cave Trail, an OSMP Trail that leaves the Mesa Trail near Bear Canyon and heads west to the eponymous cave. From the cave, a designated climber-access path heads south toward Seal Rock, and has traditionally been used to access the east- and north-face climbs. Where this trail hits the northeast toe of the rock, a 100-yard spur trail switches back south along the base of the Seal Pup to a saddle at the bottom of Seal Rock’s south face. From here a gently inclined gully leads up along the south face below the climbs. The descent will be via a lower-off from the top of the climb, which deposits you back on the big rock and gully below the climb. The staging area at the base of the climb is comprised of compact brown, gravely soil with minimal/no vegetation. The area is flat and well contained with little to no potential for erosion. There is one large (car-sized) boulder embedded in the gully down and slightly to climber’s right of the start of the route.  As mentioned, the staging area is the same as for the existing climb Choose Life, and no additional staging impact will be created by the addition of the Tufa Route.

Staging area for Choose Life/Tufa Route.

FHRC Overview of the application: Approved

Voting Results: Approved

OSMP Decision: Approved

PUBLIC COMMENTS: 
Login and post comments, or send your comments to fhrc@flatironsclimbing.org – be sure to include the name of the route application your comment pertains to.

************************************************************

Honey Badger 5.12+/13-, west face of Overhang Rock

The proposed climb, Honey Badger, takes a more or less direct line up the vertical to overhanging west face of Overhang Rock ~80 feet right of the existing climb Snake Watching, punching through a series of tiered roofs to a wild and steep finish at the top of the wall. Like Snake Watching, Honey Badger is approximately 40 meters long and will require a midway anchor for lowering. The applicants propose to use 19 bolts total: 15 lead-protection bolts, as well as four additional bolts for the two anchors—a midway and a top anchor. The climb accesses the face at an obvious weakness in the lower purple band using good holds (5.10) at the top of the rock ramp leading to the broad ledge bisecting the west face of Overhang Rock. From there, the climb follows a steep arete, featuring 11+ moves on good edges, to a sloping ledge offering an almost no-hands rest, where the applicants will place a midway anchor. This first pitch will be five bolts long. From the ledge, the climb goes straight up the steep face, with engaging and technical climbing through a series of roofs to a good jug about two-thirds of the way up. Leaving the jug, one encounters the first of two distinct crux sections, with powerful moves on impeccable pockets and edges over a roof and up a steep, technical headwall to another jug. Big moves on amazing jugs lead you over the next few roof tiers to another, final 12/12+ boulder problem on crimps and sidepulls. This final pitch will be ten bolts long.


Honey Badger, overview of line, relative to the existing climb Snake Watching.

The applicants have put in several days of reconnaissance work. The initial reconnaissance consisted of constructing a gear anchor at the top of the wall and inspecting the route on rappel to determine the exact line. The applicants returned later and set up a toprope on the proposed climb, Honey Badger,using the same gear anchor. Both of the applicants have freed all of the individual sections on the climb but have not freed the line in its entirety; however, the applicants are confident that the climb goes free at the approximate grade of 5.12+/13-.

Start of Honey Badger and first five bolts. The midway anchor will be at Bolt 5 as shown in this photo.

The applicants propose using fifteen protection bolts, plus two additional two bolt anchors with rings-and-chain for the midway anchor and top anchor. There is a natural gear anchor available at the bottom of the climb for the belayer, and one opportunity for natural gear in the first fifteen feet of the climb, after which no natural protection is available. The applicants feel that this is the minimum number of bolts to safely protect the climb given the length. Overall, the route is on very solid rock featuring a variety of holds and movement with only a few loose flakes that will require minor cleaning to make the route safe as a lead climb. The applicants have freed all the moves on Honey Badger, avoiding the loose rock, and are confident that any minor cleaning will not affect the route’s grade or aesthetics.

Middle of Honey Badger, bolts five through ten; the midway anchor will be at Bolt 5 as marked in the photo.

Top of Honey Badger, bolts ten through 15, to the upper anchor.

There are currently nine established routes on the west face of Overhang Rock. Snake Watching (sport, 5.13a; route 613 in the photo below) is the leftmost route on the wall and is separate from the rest of the routes. It is also the tallest route on the wall, ascending 40 meters up the face through the tiered roof system at the top of the wall. The other routes begin approximately 100 feet to the right and include, from left to right, the three 5.12 sport routes Tits out for the Lads [route 614], The Big Picture [route 615], and Missing Link [route 616], all of whichbegin atop a large ledge, as well as a 5.11d sport route, Short Attention Span [route 617], which ascends the face just right of the ledge. Farther right there are four traditional climbs: the 2-pitch Junior Achievement (5.8-; route 618), A Chorus Line (5.9 R; route 619), Shibboleth (5.8; route 620), and West Side (Story)(5.6; route 621).

An overview photo of Overhang Rock, showing Snake Watching (5.13a sport; route 613), the proposed new climb Honey Badger (5.12+/13- sport; route A), Tits out for the Lads (5.12 sport; route 614), The Big Picture (5.12 sport; route 615), Missing Link (5.12 sport; route 616), Short Attention Span (5.11d sport; route 617), Junior Achievement (5.8- trad; route 618), A Chorus Line (5.9 trad; route 619), Shibboleth (5.8 trad; route 620), and West Side (Story) (5.6 trad; route 621).

The proposed climb would share the same approach as the existing climbs on the west face of Overhang Rock. Currently, the fastest and most sustainable approach is to take the Bear Canyon trail west from the Mesa Trail until about 15 feet east of the Shelf Block boulder, then take a climber’s trail southeast up the hill past two distinct boulders to the power-line tower in the talus field. From the tower, head southeast along the lower edge of the upper talus field directly below Overhang Rock to the base of Snake Watching.  From the base of Snake Watching, an easy 50-foot scramble up a rock ramp to the south leads to the base of the proposed climb, which is a relatively flat monolithic rock surface.

The start of the approach trail to the west face of Overhang Rock, fifteen feet east of the Shelf Block boulder on the Bear Canyon Trail, about five minutes up-canyon from where it meets the Mesa Trail.

Like the other sport routes on the wall, the descent from the top of the pitch will require rappelling or lowering from a two-bolt anchor station. Due to the length of the proposed climb (~40 meters), it will be necessary to descend by either lowering or rappelling from the anchor at the top of the route to a midway anchor at the ledge at about 50 feet, even with a 70-meter rope. From the midway anchor it is a 50-foot lower or rappel to the ground. The descent from the crag back to the Bear Canyon Trail is via the approach trail.

The staging area is a rock ramp at the base of the climb. There is a flat, gravelly area north of the start of the climb where the climber and belayer can leave packs, etc. A small platform with a bomber gear anchor is available for the belayer directly beneath the climb, which would allow him to comfortably see the climber above.

Staging area below Honey Badger and a useful gear belay that will let the belay see the climber as well as be directly below the route, which moves through the right end of the purple roof near the jumbled blocks.

FHRC Overview of the application: Approved

Voting Results: Approved

OSMP Decision: Approved

PUBLIC COMMENTS: 
Login and post comments, or send your comments to fhrc@flatironsclimbing.org – be sure to include the name of the route application your comment pertains to.

************************************************************

Americana Nouveau 5.14/14+, South Face of Seal Rock

Upper_South_Face_Small

The south face of Seal Rock, showing the existing climbs and the proposed route, Americana Nouveau, in green. Note that the Tufa Route (orange) does not yet exist but is also proposed for the January 2013 FHRC cycle.

The proposed route, Americana Nouveau (5.14/14+), is on the central-south face of the Seal Rock formation, about 30-40 feet west of the wall’s single existing sport climb, Choose Life (5.13+; August 2012) and up the gully from the wall’s three traditional/toprope routes: Primate (5.13), Skin Flute (5.12-), and Jade Gate (5.11). The base of this proposed climb is reached utilizing the same approach trail as for Choose Life and the other climbs on this side of Seal Rock.

Full_Route_Bolts

The proposed climb, Americana Nouveau, showing the top 13 clips (out of 15) and lowering anchors at 110 feet.

The south face of Seal Rock currently hosts four other climbs: Jade Gate (5.11b, traditional), Skin Flute (5.12-, toprope/traditional), Primate (5.13 toprope/traditional), and Choose Life (5.13+ sport). Jade Gate and Skin Flute are 15 feet apart on the lower south face; Primate sits 100 feet uphill (west) from those, while the start of Choose Life (and another route proposed for this same FHRC cycle, Tufa Route—above) is 30 feet uphill from the start of Primate. The proposed route, Americana Nouveau, would begin 30-40 feet uphill (west) from Choose Life, making it the farthest climb west on this central sector.

Lower_Section_Bolts

A close-up of the bottom third of the route, showing the first seven clips.

This route has been thoroughly inspected over the course of multiple days via toprope. Some sections of rock will need minor cleaning, including the strategic removal of select loose flakes in the lower area and a little near the top, but the stone is generally very solid and good quality throughout. The climb begins by meandering through a series of compact, overlapping sandstone layers before moving, at around the 30-foot mark, into typical Flatirons conglomerate for the remainder of the climb. The climbing to this lithologic change is estimated to be in the 5.13- difficulty range. From here, the climb enters into the severely difficult crux section, moving through interesting, sculpted holds up a black streak of water-hardened rock. After pulling over a bulge-like feature at 80 feet, the difficulty eases off slightly for the remaining 30 feet before the proposed anchor at the ~110 foot mark.

Due to the severely overhanging nature of this section of cliff, the paucity of directional gear, and the sheer difficulty of this route, only certain sections have been freed on toprope. However, after careful inspection over the days spent attempting the line, usable and solid features between the toproped sections and throughout the climb give the equipper good reason to believe that the climb is free-able in its entirety, its difficulty predicted to be in the 5.14/5.14+ range. The applicant has climbed and established multiple climbs of this grade throughout the United States, and is confident that American Nouveau is viable as a free climb. There is no possibility of reliable natural gear, and thus the applicant wishes to protect the climb with 15 five-piece Power stainless-steel expansion bolts of half-inch diameter and at least 2.75” in length. Finally,  this sport climb will be equipped with stainless-steel ring-and-chain lowering anchors at 110 feet (34 meters), which will lower the climber to a location just adjacent to the staging ground, about 25 feet away on top of a boulder. It will be mandatory to use a 70-meter rope.

A close-up of the top third of the route, showing the last six clips and lowering anchors at the top of the wall (~110 feet).

A close-up of the top third of the route, showing the last six clips and lowering anchors at the top of the wall (~110 feet).

The approach is via the designated but unsigned Harmon Cave Trail, an OSMP Trail that leaves the Mesa Trail near Bear Canyon and heads west to the eponymous cave. From the cave, a designated climber-access path heads south toward Seal Rock, and has traditionally been used to access the east- and north-face climbs.

Where this trail hits the northeast toe of the rock, a 100-yard spur trail switches back south along the base of the Seal Pup formation to a saddle at the bottom of Seal Rock’s south face. From here, a gently inclined gully leads up along the south face below the climbs.

Staging area for Americana Nouveau is the closer circle; farther circle is the staging area for Choose Life.

Staging area for Americana Nouveau is the closer circle; farther circle is the staging area for Choose Life.

The staging area is flat, meaning that little to no erosion will occur. The area is silty, rocky soil beneath the overhang, with a small patch of Oregon grape to the side of the boulder/s you’ll belay from. A climber’s trail already exists connecting the staging area for American Nouveau to that of Choose Life, and from there down the gully to the main approach trail.

 

Harmon Cave cutoff from the Mesa Trail near Bear Canyon.

Harmon Cave cutoff from the Mesa Trail near Bear Canyon.

FHRC Overview of the application: Approved

Voting Results: Approved

OSMP Decision: Approved

PUBLIC COMMENTS: 
Login and post comments, or send your comments to fhrc@flatironsclimbing.org – be sure to include the name of the route application your comment pertains to.

Approach trail along the Seal Pup up to the saddle below the south face of Seal Rock

Approach trail along the Seal Pup up to the saddle below the south face of Seal Rock


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.