Monday, February 10, 2020

Mount Whitney - First Winter Ascent of the Hairline (V 5.10d C2+)

As the horizon began to warm up and the striking wall that is the Keeler Needle started to glow pink, Chris and I took a minute to appreciate the exposure of the bivy site we dug into the narrow snow slope. Our two men tent barely fit and now we could only see the void beneath - a 1,500 foot drop to the snow slopes below Mount Whitney's East Face. It was surreal to be here, in the middle of one of the most photogenic sunrise views in the High Sierra. Hundreds of thousands people photographed this view over the years and now Chris and I were a tiny part of this surreal landscape.
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Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states, to me is special for more than its height. Close to 10 years ago, it was my first major climb. Completing the Mountaineer's Route, in winter, was sort of a metamorphosis. Yet, on the descent, we ran into two guys who were gonna try to climb one of the more technical climbs up the peak the following day. It was unimaginable how some humans could do that, but I had not done any roped climbing and had not even gym climbed at that point, so its totally understandable technical climbing in winter seemed impossible. Yet I was fascinated by the idea, and knew I would want to learn.

Over the years, I became increasingly passionate about hiking trails, scrambling local peaks in the Sierra Nevada, picked up technical climbing skills on variable terrain and begun to climb routes no other humans have climbed in the past. Winter climbing and alpinism became a part of the passion and I was able to complete routes up some of the more beautiful and some of the more difficult peaks in the world; like Chacraraju, Alpamayo, Fitz Roy, El Capitan, Chopicalqui, Poincenot, Castle Rock Spire, Angels Wings, Incredible Hulk, Cerro Torre, Bubbs Creek Wall, Denali, Xanadu etc. I have returned to Mount Whitney too, and not only climbed three more technical climbs on it, including a possible second ascent of Left Wing Extremist, but also found three other ways no other human has climbed. One of them, dubbed the Inyo Face, already has been repeated by half a dozen parties who reported it to be a fun experience.
https://gripped.com/news/mount-whitney-gets-new-big-5-11-called-inyo-face/
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201214335/The-Golden-Age
https://soundcloud.com/american-alpine-journal/exploring-the-high-sierra-with-vitaliy-musiyenko

During the last several years I thought of climbing the Hairline in Winter and proposed the idea to different partners. It has been a goal of mine because technically, it is the highest (in altitude) big-wall route in the lower 48 states and the route itself has seen only a few repeats - maybe 5? The route combines difficult aid and free climbing up a steep, 2,000 foot section of Mount Whitney's East Face. It was one of the standout routes put up by a prolific Sierra first ascentionist, Bruce Bindner, known as Brutus of Wyde, and I wanted to retrace his steps on his another creation.

Completing one of the most difficult big-wall routes in the Sierra Nevada, in winter, would technically make this the hardest winter ascent of a Sierra big-wall, and stood out as a distinct challenge. Doing it mid-winter, when the days are short, cold and the approaches long was not part of my idea. I thought of squeezing it in during the last days of calendar winter, in late March, with more daylight and warmth. Relatively speaking, in more enjoyable conditions, that are winter only on paper.

Rough overlay of the Hairline
The faith, had a different plan. Because I am training for a trip to the Himalayas, I have been trying to get out and do some peaks in the winter. Before a chunk of time off from work I saw the winds were finally going down to 20-25 mph and planned to do some general conditioning by hiking up the MR and maybe continuing up the crest to Mount Muir, maybe tagging Mount Russell before hiking out? A few other people were interested in joining, but unfortunately bailed. My good friend Chris Koppl said he would be happy to join before we both depart from US for extended trips to Asia and because he is one of my strongest partners I knew we could do more than a hike. I brought up climbing the Hairline (V 5.10d C2+), a route he has not even heard of, and because Chris is no slouch, he simply agreed. I love Chris!! :)

I drove up after work the day prior, slept around 7,000 ft, did some photography at sunrise and did a bit of solo ice climbing in Lee Vining to acclimate to the altitude. The following morning Chris and I met up, packed and got far from an alpine start for the approach sometime after 11am. Our packs weighted in at 60 and 62 lbs at the trailhead. Even though the road closure was a few miles before the actual trailhead, our excitement and fitness made up for the late start and we managed to make it to a camp between Upper Boyscout and Iceberg Lake at 4pm. We were mega-psyched to go to sleep early, as both of us did not get enough sleep for more than a few days in a row, for me personally it is difficult to get much sleep, as I balance 12 hour work shifts with a climbing addiction which requires me to regularly work out (at a climbing gym which is close to an hour away), serious relationship, time for errands and social obligations. First world problems are still problems! Next thing I knew, my perfect evening went to shit, as while melting snow, my Mountain House dinner tipped over, the lock opened and the food I was looking forward to eating spilled all over my sleeping bag. Just another reminder that the quality of their freeze dry food packaging is garbage. Most of the other freeze dried food companies have packaging of better quality. They open, close, open again. The zip lock part on MH dinners often peels off or in this case open under minimal pressure, which in my opinion it shouldn't, as we pay restaurant prices for freeze dried foods. After having a few snack bars, I was able to relax again, and went to sleep, dreaming of finding a decent bivy ledge for the following night.

In the morning we blasted to the base, which involved a lot of trail breaking through deep soft snow, which slowed us down. For efficiency, we decided to lead in two blocks. As a more efficient aid climber, Chris led the initial pitches of aid and I led the following pitches of free climbing. It made sense because swinging leads would require a lot more time for reversing of the roles. Taking winter boots, racking etc, after jumaring for 160 feet, wouldn't be as simple as passing the collected gear to the leader. While we were in the sun for the first three pitches, it was perfectly warm on the wall, but the sun left and it became so cold that I jumared and climbed in a down jacket. We brought an over-sized climbing shoes for the leader, so that we could have thick socks underneath. For speed, neither of us gave a shit about keeping it strictly free in spots that go free, and yanked on gear in places when it would allow us to go quicker. Putting five minutes in trying to decipher a single boulder problem while the belayer is shivering wouldn't be cool and we hoped to get to the belay ledge early enough so that we can have some wiggle room if our plan didn't work.

Just before it got dark and I fell victim to the screaming barfies, I finished my last lead and we were up on 3rd class ledges where we planned to bivy for the night. As we worked on cutting a platform from a narrow snow slope above the void, we warmed up and the more we worked on it, the more we became optimistic it will be possible to set up our tent! When we did set it up, our ledge turned out to be of perfect size. Incredible! We melted water, checked the weather, ate a ton of food and went to sleep happy as clams. The phone service was decent enough that I was able to check the weather forecast for Patagonia and send my friend an update - at the moment he was climbing the Fitz Roy.

 For years I dreamed of seeing the sunrise from this location and when Mount Whitney along with all of its striking needles stretching down to Mount Muir begun to light up in pink and red glow during early morning hours, it was as magical as looking at earth from the moon. Very similar to that. Darkness brought temperatures that were far below freezing and a couple of hours of sun would allow us to climb rock with our bare hands. Because we needed the rock to warm up, we took our time getting up, as jamming our paws into ice-cold cracks would be extra painful if we didn't wait. Unfortunately, we couldn't wait long. The forecast stated the temperature will rise all the way to whopping 30F at about 12,000 feet by 11am, but after 11am, the winds will start increasing to 40 mph and the temps will begin to drop towards teens. We were at about 13,500 feet and climbing to 14,500 foot summit, so we knew it would be colder. I took the first two pitches of climbing and Chris led the last pitch, after which we climbed another short step before unroping and scrambling the 3-4th class terrain with occasional cl. 5 boulder problem for another 500 feet, to the summit. Climbing up with 50 pounds of gear in our packs at 14,000 feet wasn't particularly enjoyable but I was surprised by how quickly we managed to gain elevation. No rest step, no rests to catch our breath, constant movement while trying to not let the increasing winds knock us off balance.

It was windy as hell on the summit, and I was surprised to see only 3 entries for 2020 in the register. After taking a few photos, we hid in the summit hut and Chris told me he is happy to have me as a partner for such a mission, as he wouldn't want to do something like we did with many others. It was nice to hear such a complement. Last time I heard something similar from Chris, we nearly drowned while trying to do a first ascent on a dome, which basically flooded after a thunderstorm came in quicker than we expected. We had to bail and scramble up 4th class slab which was literally a waterfall. Today, in comparison, we were on a casual walk, which isn't too far from truth. After the climb we completed, scrambling down the Mountaineer's Route and hiking out all the way back to our cars with our huge loads of big-wall gear felt easy. I told Chris I am the lucky one, as partners with more drive, work ethic, skill and sense of humor exist only in imagination. We started our descent and hiked all the way back down to our car with another hour to spare before sunset. At the trailhead, we ran into a guy who was going up to "take a look." Weather forecast for the following day was complete garbage, he was wearing skinny jeans, a cotton shirt, stylish shoes...I usually see people dressed like that on popular trails during summer, and that's ok, but winter is a different beast and Chris and I were a little worried. Hopefully, the man stayed safe and had a good trip, as the Whitney Cam the following morning showed a scene from the apocalypse.

To my surprise, I managed to make it back to Visalia with time to get a full body massage from my dear girlfriend Mariah, who was feeling sorry for the wrecked soul that entered our apartment. Even our cat seemed to sense I was a little off. The following day my legs felt like jello and I felt good about the decision to drive home. I would not have much fun staying on the east side and trying to rock climb after another night of car camping. Although I did go bouldering at a climbing gym, which was quite enjoyable.

The preparations for Nepal continue, and although I don't think I will do many other walls this winter, the Northeast Ridge of Mount Williamson is big goal. Big, burly, long, aesthetic. Hope the winds are low next time I have time off from work!







































Saturday, January 18, 2020

The List of First Ascents

Listed are first and first free ascents I have climbed over the years. Some of these may also be variations but the huge majority of the listed routes are firsts or first documented ascents. There are a few routes that I have done the first ascent and the first free ascent of, they are listed twice. 


2012

1) Fortress - The Siege (IV 5.10c A0 1,000 ft) w/Daniel Jeffcoach and Tom Ruddy

2013
1) 2  Wells peak - Krampus Crawl (IV 5.10a 1,200 ft)# w/ Michelle Peot

2) 3 Laurel Mountain - SE rib (III 5.6 solo)

3) 4 Mt. Hood - The Ravine (III m4 wi3 400 ft) w/Anastasia

2014 

1) 5 Bubbs creek wall - FA of the Emperor (V 5.12a 17 pitches 2200 ft) w/Luke Stefurak (final push. also Caitlin Taylor, Daniel Jeffcoach, Brian Knowles, Pavel Burov)


2) 6 Flatiron Butte - Parasitic Nematode (IV 5.10+ 1,200 ft 5 pitches before the ridge) w/ Caitlin Taylor
3) 7 Flatiron Butte - Brutus of Wyde Memorial route (V 5.11a 1,500 ft 12 pitches) w/ Caitlin Taylor

4) 8 Castle Dome - SE ArĂȘte (IV 5.10 1,100 ft 9 pitches) w/ Caitlin Taylor



5) 9 Santa Cruz Dome - Usually it's sunny (III + 5.10c 800 ft 6 pitches) w/Daniel Jeffcoach
6) 10 Lower Tokopah Dome - Boardwalk Chimney (III 5.8 540 ft 3 pitches) w/Daniel Jeffcoach


7) 11 Lower Tokopah Dome - Tokopah Reality (IV- 5.11a 650 ft 5 pitches) w/Daniel Jeffcoach
8) 12 Lower Tokopah Dome - Beauty and the Beast (III 5.11a 600 ft 5 pitches) w/Daniel Jeffcoach


9) 13 The Sphinx - Cotton Mouth Khafra (IV 5.11a 1,800 ft 12 pitches) w/Daniel Jeffcoach

2015
1) 14 Bubbs creek wall - FA/FFA of the Emperor (V 5.12a 17 pitches 2200 ft) w/ Caitlin Taylor



2) 15 CRS - FFA of the east face direct (III+ 5.11B 500 ft 5 pitches) w/ Maxim Belyakov


3) 16 Lower Tokopah Dome - Mango Lassi Lulz Machine (III 5.10+ 600 ft 4 pitches) w/ Adam Burch



5) 17 Ericsson Crag # 3 - (IV 5.10 1,500 ft ) w/ Maxim Belyakov


6) 18 The Prism - Monkeys in the Clouds IV 5.10 1,300 ft (5.7 R X) w/ Luke Stefurak (purple)


7) 19 Angel wings - The Golden Pillar - Killing In The Name Of (V 5.11 1,700 ft - 15 pitches) w/Adam Ferro and first attempt with Luke Stefurak (got up 1/2 way up the wall) (left Red Line) 


8) 20 Cherubum Dome - Dark Angels Have More Fun (IV 5.9+ R) 1,800 ft w/ Adam Ferro
9) 21 Cherubim Dome - What Dreams May Come (IV 5.10 R - 1,550 ft) w/Brian Prince


10) 22 The Serpent's Tooth - The Wild West Crack (IV 5.11+ 700 ft)w/Brian Prince


11) 23 Hamilton Dome - Hamlet Buttress 1,700 ft (IV 5.9+ 1,800 ft) w/Brian Prince (right line)
12) 24 Hamilton Dome - The Subliminal Verses (IV 5.10- 1,350 ft w/ 400 ft of 2nd-4th class to the top) w/Brian Prince (left line)


13) 25 Rowell Tower - Full Nelson (IV 5.10+ R) w/Brian Prince


14) 26 The Globe - Standing Ovation (III 5.10- 950 ft) w/Brian Prince


15) 27 Eagle Scout Creek Dome - Direct West Face (IV 800 ft 5.11 C1) w/Brian Prince


16) 28 Darth Vador Tower - Knob Wars (III 5.10- R - 1,000) w/ Brian Prince


4) 29 Panther Peak - Krymptonite (III 5.11b/c 650 ft - 5 pitches) w/ Adam Shepperd (Red line, the leftmost line)
17) 30 Panther peak-Rack em up reed variation III 5.10 w/Daniel Jeffcoach and Alaina Robertson (Blue line in the middle)

18) 31 Unicorn - North Buttress 5.10a FFA? w/ Julia 

2016
1) 32 Moro rock - FFA modern guilt IV 5.12 1,000 w/ Brian Prince (Route 13)
2) 33 Moro rock - Meteora 5.10 C1 1,000 w/Daniel Jeffcoach (red line)

3) 34 North sentinel - FML crack IV 5.11 C1 750 w/Daniel Jeffcoach, Brandon Thau, Daniel Jeffcoach ** (3)
4) 35 North sentinel - Eddie's Crack 250 w/Brian Prince, Caitlin and Chaz *** (1)
5) 36 North sentinel - Eddie's Chimney *** 700 w/Brian Prince, Caitlin and Chaz  (2)
6) 37 North sentinel - Chasing the wind (finished the last 1/3 of the route Daniel and Adam climbed) 850 w/ Caitlin Taylor *** (4)


7) 38 Happy Dome - Men in Heat IV 5.8R 1,800 w/Daniel Jeffcoach

8) 39 Dark Tower - Roland's Journey 1000 ft IV 5.8-9 1,000 w/ Brian Prince and Alaina Robertson *

9) 40 Gambler's Special - Ghost Riders in the Sky IV - (V 5.10) 1,600 ft+400ft up to 5.7solo w/ Alaina Robertson *** (Line #1)
12) 41 Gambler's Special - Wait and Bleed (IV 5.10-) 1,600 w/ Shaun Reed (Line #2)


11) 42 Cleaver - The Butcher FFA (IV 5.12) 850ft w/Shaun Reed***

13) 43 Clarence King - Direct NW Face (V 5.11) 2000 FT w/Chaz **

14) 44 Gardnier - Golden Bear Tower - Polemonium IV 5.10- 1,500 w/Chaz L *** (Red line #1)
15) 45 Gardnier - Vermillion pt 1. (5.11- R X) 1,300 * w/ Chaz L (Red line #2)

*this Mount Whitney overlay is semi inaccurate and very oversimplified. 
10) 46 Mt. Whitney - Inyo Face (V 5.11a ) 2,200ft w/ Austin Siadak (red line #4)
16) 47 Whitney - Uncertainty Principle (V 5.11, 5.10R) 2,200 w/ Adam Ferro ** (Red Line #5)
20) 48 Mt. Whitney - Happy to Be Here (V 5.11- R) 2000 ft w/ Brian Prince (negative stars lol) ( red line 8)


17) 49 Mt. Hitchcock - Starlight Dihedral (IV-V 5.11 5.7RX) - 1,600 w/ Adam Ferro (FA of the buttress not the wall. The long wall has multiple buttresses at least three of which have been climbed) ***

18) 50 Arctic Lake Wall - TMI (Too much fun) (III 5.10-) 550 ft w/ Adam Ferro ***


19) 51 Hitchcock - Welcome to Krackizstan (IV-V 5.11-) 1600ft w/ Adam Ferro ***



21) 52 Arctic Lake Wall - Arctic Beast (III 5.11+) 700 ft w/ Brian Prince ***


22) 53  Watsi Wall (2200 ft) via Lost World (VI 5.11+ A3 R) 2700 ft w/ Brian Prince and Daniel Jeffcoach **

23) 54 Mt. Watkins - Teabag Wisdom (IV 5.11-) 1350 ft w/ Chris Kolpp ***
24) 55 The Harding Tower - New Life (IV 5.10) 2000 ft w/ Mark Westman *
2017
1) 56 Moro Rock - Meteora IV 5.11+ 1200ft w/Brian Prince 


2. 57 Grand Sentinel - NE buttress III 5.10 800ft w/Chaz
3. 58 The Fin - East Face - Cutting Edge III 5.9 1000ft w/Daniel Jeffcoach
4. 59 The Fin - East Face - Super Totally Trad IV 5.11a 1000ft w/Jeremy Ross


5. 60 The Fin - West Face - Tainted Love IV 5.11- w/ Chaz

6. 61 Charlotte Dome - The Dance of Dragons IV 5.10+ w/ Jeremy Ross


7. 62 North Cotter - Vertical Illusiin III-IV 5.9+ w/Chaz Langlier


8. 63 Albatross - Direct Southeast face IV 5.10+ w/Brian Prince and Adam Ferro
9. 64 Xanadu - Arctic Knight NW face IV 5.11+ w/Brian Prince and Adam Ferro

10. 65 Mt. Watkins - Capt Hook VI C4 5.10+ (takes the left prow)

11. 66 Harding Tower - Semper Farscismus IV 5.11b w Chris Koppl


12. 67 Wheeler Crest w/Richard Shore
13. 68 Wheeler Crest w/Richard Shore


14. 69 Hamilton Dome - Ophelia III 1,300'5.9 w/ Chaz Langlier
15. 70 Beau te Cache Dome  (FA) - Fantomas III 5.9 1,100' w/Chaz Langlier 


16. 71 Wheeler crest w/Richard Shore And Brian Prince


17. 72 Wheeler crest w/Richard Shore, Brandon Thau, Daniel Jeffcoach and Brian Prince 


18. 73 Wheeler crest

2018
1. 74 Olancha - tumbleweed III 5.10+ w/Richard Shore and Chris Koppl
2. 75 Santa Cruz Dome - Knotfest III 5.11- w/Maxim Belyakov


3. 76 Lone Pine Peak - FFA of Pathways through to space V 5.11a


4. 77 Lone Pine Peak - FA of Tomahawk Arete IV-V 5.11 w/Chaz


5. 78 Lone Pine Peak - FFA of Streets of the Mountains IV-V 5.10+
6. 79 The Cleaver - Dot the Ts III 5.10+ or 5.11- w Shaun Reed


7. 80 Bubbs Creek Wall - Panda Express V 5.11 A1 w/Daniel Jeffcoach


8. 81 Wild Iris Dome  III 5.10 700 FT w/Chaz


9. 82 Mount Ericsson 1,600 ft 5.10 RX w/Chaz


10. 83 Ericsson Crag #3 - King of the North 1,400 5.11a w/Chaz

11. 84 The Cleaver - Dreamliner III-IV 5.11b/c with Shaun Reed July 7th 800 ft

12. 85 Alta Crags III 5.9 Daniel and Adam Shepperd July 11th 700 ft


13. 86 Mt. LeConte - Space Force 1000 FT 5.11b with Roger Putnam 2018 


14. 87 Stewart - The Antichrist Dihedral August 2018 with Jake Smith 1,600 ft


15. 88 The Shield - Lightning Bolt Cracks August 2018 with Jake Smith 1000ft


16. 89 The Red Rocket - Cool Beans III 5.12b August 2018 with Jake Smith 800ft


17. 90 Panther Peak - Ailurophobia III 5.11 A0 700ft w/ Daniel Jeffcoach (Orange)


18. 91 Eaglette Pinnacle - Sweet Corn and Steak III 5.10a 750 ft


19. 92 Periscope/Wallace Stegner spire - Sweet Corn and Steak IV 5.10 1,400 ft

20. 93 Long Dong Wall - Sick Gnarski Pillar IV 5.11a 1,800.


21. 94 Third Recess Peak - Direct NE buttress IV 5.10d September 2018 1500 ft with Maxim belyakov

22) 95 Disappointment peak - West Chimney IV 5.10a with Cam Burns Sept 2018


23) 96 Langille - Three Quarters of a Man IV 5.11a pg13 w/ Brian prince September 2018

2019
1. 97 Mochito (Patagonia) - Mosca Para Mujer 5.8 A3 1,000' with Chris Koppl

2. 98 Hot tuna tower IV 5.12 a0 1,100 w/Brian Prince, Richard Shore and Brandon Thau

3. 99 Charlotte dome (October 2016)- Diary of a Crimpy Kid 5.10a 1,800'. W/Meike (Red)





4. 100 Peak 3,986 M - Raiders of The Lost Dike IV 5 11a 1,800 w. Jeremy Ross and Sully


5. 101 Lone Pine peak - The Surfboard IV 5.11c W/Chris Koppl



6. 102 North Dome - Lucid Dream IV 5.11 A2 Daniel Jeffcoach (RED)
7. 103 North Dome - Great White North IV-V 5 11+ 1,600ft with Brian Prince and Daniel Jeffcoach (ORANGE)


8. 104 Sugarloaf - Sugar Mamma IV 5.11a 1,600ft with Chris Koppl


9. 105 Alexandra's Arete 1,200 5.11B (above Marion Lake  w/ Brian Prince July)


10. 106 Helen's Face - The Fourth Finger 5.10d 1,000' w/ Brian Prince July 2019


11. 107 Hershey Kiss - Sugaree (5.11c 1,000) w/ Brian Prince and Chaz Langlier, July 2019

12. 108 Watchtower - Big Time IV 5.12a 1,000' w/ Brian Prince  August


13. 109 Spring Lake Wall - No Fun Allowed IV 5.10d 1,200 with Tad MaCrae and Eliot B. August ORANGE LINE
14. 110 Spring Lake Wall - FFA of The One That Got Away IV 5.11B 1,500' with Eliot B. August RED LINE

15. 111 Bunnell Point - The Salad Tossing Dike (IV-V 5.11a) 2,550' w/ Christian Black and Chris Koppl September 2019


16. 112 Mount Conness - Pound a Pin, Drink a Cobra IV 5.11d 1,000' with Chris Koppl, July 2019 


17. 113 Moro Rock - Meteora original line FFA IV 5.12B with Brian Prince and Chris Koppl May (big red line)


18. 114 Half Dome - The Xue Way (VI 5.11d-5.12a A0)




19. 115 Silver Turret - Direct North Buttress IV 5.11a R 1,400’
20. 116 El Commandante - Direct West Face III 5.10d R 600’