Archive for the ‘2012 August’ Category

August 2012 Route Applications

August 6, 2012

Hueco Wall (5.12/12+), Maiden South Face:

Hueco Wall, showing all three pitches.

The Hueco Wall climbs the stunning, highly-hueco’d steep face up the center of the south face of the Maiden. It could be climbed in three pitches (45 ft, 80 ft, and 80 ft) or two longer pitches.  It starts directly below the end of the first pitch of the South Face (SF) route and climbs up to the same anchor, overlapping with the SF 1st pitch in the last 15 feet.   No bolts would be used anywhere near this overlap as adequate existing natural protection (and an existing fixed piton) are present.  The existing 1st pitch SF anchor consists of slings around a rock horn and carabiners, though other solid, natural protection is also available in this same area. The fixed slings and biners are commonly used for rappelling the South Face Route.

The South Face route starts downhill and to the right (east) approximately 60 feet and traverses left to finish at this same belay, while the start of the Kor Dalke route is uphill and to the west approximately 50 feet.  The somewhat obscure (andunrepeated) Eye of the Storm also begins from the same first pitch SF belay, though traverses hard left to a large “mitten” flake feature.  It apparently goes up the right side of the mitten flake (we recently observed fixed slings in that crack) and continues traversing up and left.  At one point, the Hueco Wall line comes within about 10 feet of this flake, though only briefly.   The wall has 5 existing traditional routes ranging from 5.8 to 5.12a.  From left to right (west to east), the routes are Gates of Galas (5.10d R), the Kor-Dalke (12a R), Eye of the Storm (5.9 X), the South Face (5.8 PG-13), and South Crack (5.11b). All of these existing routes and the proposed route are shown in the photo here.

Maiden approach trail.

The approach is the standard Maiden established trail to the south face climbs.  The trail involves leaving the Mesa Trail near an old quarry north of Shadow Canyon, following the quarry road to the north for a few hundred yards, then following a small climber trail (see photo below) up to the eastern toe of the Maiden.  This narrow trail is mostly dirt and rocks and is in good shape and appears stable.  The base of the south face of the Maiden is approximately 1 mile from the fork off the Mesa Trail.

The proposed route would end (atop its third pitch) at a double-bolt anchor down off the summit ridge, out of view of the East Ridge; one could either lower from here back to the pitch-two anchor or continue up and finish with an easy 5.6 section to the summit. When descending from atop the second pitch, an approximate 80-foot rappel would be required to get down to the first-pitch South Face rappel anchor. Another 50-foot rappel would be required to get back to the ground and base of the route.  It might be possible to lower from the second-pitch anchor with a 70-m rope though this has not been tested. The route should require about 25-26 bolts total: 4 lead bolts on the first section/pitch; 8 lead bolts plus a 2-bolt anchor on the second pitch; and 9/10 lead bolts on the third pitch to a 2-bolt anchor.

The base of the climb is rocky but includes some bushes and trees, and there is little or no existing erosion. We recommend using the same rocky staging area as for the SF route, as the very base of the climb is a narrow rocky gully bordered by trees.   The photo below shows the proposed staging area and the start of the climb can be seen in that shady gully approximately 30 feet behind the seated climber.

Hueco Wall staging area at base.

Reconnaissance work has been completed over four different days and the rock is extremely clean in general, though some potentially friable rock exists in the first 10 feet of the second pitch above the belay anchor atop pitch one of the South Face.  The route has been toproped, and all but the last 15 feet or so of the second pitch was free climbed, due to a lack of directional anchors to hold us into the wall when we fell.  The first pitch went free at about 5.9 and the second pitch is 5.11 to our highpoint.  Rigging of the toprope was tricky and required directional gear placements that were difficult to set due to the overhanging nature of the rock in that area.  Obvious holds were present in the last 15 feet of the second pitch, though it was difficult to toprope this part due to the swing potential based on available directionals.  While not able to free-climb the last few feet due to challenging toprope conditions, we believe that the finish of the second pitch would be in the 5.11+/5.12- range.  Only small portions of the third pitch were climbed free due to large swings when falling on toprope and lack of available directionals.  We estimate the third pitch to be rated somewhere in the 5.12 range, and obvious holds were present throughout the line shown in the photos. Due also to the overhanging nature of the rock above our proposed second-pitch anchor, it will be necessary to drill one or two holes and place one or two bolts on the third pitch to get in and safely install this anchor the first time down, as well as to toprope the third pitch. We will endeavor to place the bolts in obvious clipping stances; barring that, we’ll use removable Triplex bolts. Any temporary bolts would then be removed, and the holes patched and camouflaged.

FHRC Overview of the application: Complete

Voting Results: Approved

OSMP Decision: Pending

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