Tuesday, May 31, 2016

FA of the North Sentinel via FML (IV 5.11 C1)

The North Sentinel is a striking wall, yet supposedly unclimbed. Likely due to a much larger Grant Sentinel towering above it. Climbed or not, Brian Prince, Daniel Jeffcoach, Brandon Thau and I established the first known route to ascent it's sheer Northwest Face in early May of 2016. To our luck we took a continuous crack system which was taken from the bottom of the wall to the pyramidical summit pinnacle. 

We decided to climb the route as a party of four so that we could get to know Brandon, as it was the first time Daniel, Brian and I climbed with him. We managed to avoid most of the cluster-fucks and climb with some efficiency - the leader would tag a line and bring up the two followers, one of which would belay the new leader and the other would bring up the fourth. #stillclusterfuckedit 

Most of the belays were cozy and fun - as fun as watching someone battle a hard offwidth could get. After two approach pitches (5.10 and 5.11) we got to the base of the crack systems we scoped. Brandon climbed a pitch to the base of a beautiful splitter, which turned out to be a flaring crack which transformed into a seam fifty feet up from the belay. I bailed from the base and decided to take the wide system to the right. There, I bailed again. Not comfortable running it out up a thin layback flake, I went into a slightly overhanging offwidth of varied #5 size. With two #5s on our rack, a splitter offwidth seemed appealing. I pushed the cam along as I made slow progress and at some point found a nice calf jam so that I could shake out. To my disappointment, the crack never got big enough to knee-jam, although I lost a good amount of skin trying. The crux was transitioning into the chimney, where I found varied, clean climbing inside. 

Daniel found REAL climbing on the 40 meter approach pitch. He is not posing! :)
North Sentinel. The chimney system and the big OW tops out pretty much in the middle of the wall (in this photo)

Brian throwing down some SEKI gang sighns
Brandon and Daniel

Crack into nowhere
Called it FML for a reason!! :)
Me on a little pinnacle on top of the route
Our route is the yellow line. Approach pitches not shown.
On most long first ascents one ends up bringing more gear than necessary, as the required rack is a mystery. Having an extra piece in possession is usually better than needing to place a bolt or having to tag up the piece from the belay ledge, but having a #6 cam crushing your balls in a squeeze is something I will avoid in the future.... 

Brian took the next pitch, which had more awesome climbing. Slightly annoying because we had to perform a pendulum in order to connect to a neighboring crack systems, as the one we climbed ended. I was happy to follow this pitch as some of the climbing was fairly damn cruxy and likely much more fun on top rope! :) Same could be said for the following pitch. We had to drill a bolted anchor on the bottom and the top of it and our doubles in #5 and 6 inch cams were not enough to protect this beast! Brandon took the sharp end and I was happy to climb in a team of four, as talking shit from the safety of belay and following on top rope was much better than leding! The crux was a overhanging tipped out #6 size. #burlbrah. I barely got this spot clean while following and thought it was about a 5.11 Odub. 

Perfect looking splitter, unfortunately far from perfect for rock climbing
Getting into the #5 slightly overhanging Odub through laying it back in the beginning

Brandon figuring out the high feet beta on the crux below the main chimney system.
Chimney makes you grasp for air
Brian on the pitch to the base of the big OW
Brandon about to get into it. To bad you can't see the whole thing. I can summarize it though...about 40 meters of 5 to tipped out 6 camalots with a few bulges and overhangs. MEGA CLEAN and SPLITTER though. One of the best OWs I climbed outdoors. This route was like the mini steck salathe on steroids.

Brian, Brandon and Daniel keeping it gangsta on top.  

Views up towards Bubbs Creek
Daniel getting close...
Daniel took the last glory pitch to a spot where we unroped and continued to the top. We were rewarded with incredible views of The Sphynx, North Dome, Charlotte Dome, Bubbs Creek wall, the Grand Sentinel towering above and the rest of the Kings Canyon with the approaching mean-looking clouds. Getting back was a guaranteed adventure of its own, so we wasted little time on top. About thirty minutes of hiking, one two rope rapell and another single rope rap, took us to a section of 4th and low 5th class downclimbing. The parking lot was reached sometime after 10pm. After enjoying a social dinner, I passed the fuck out and woke up sometime around 7am. Daniel and Adam were gonna go up and attempt another route. Knowing how long the previous day took and needing to be at work on Monday, I threw in the white flag and decided I will do a little hike and organize my gear back at the car. Lately I decided to listen to my body more often. When I am tired or don't feel like climbing, I won't. Sending another route does sound better in numbers, but as activity I do out of joy, do I care to do it when it doesn't make me feel good? Not really.

Ran into two idiots on the way down. One of them is Daniel and the other is me...
Daniel and Adam on the side there. I am no Tom, but this is the closest thing to El Cap report in SEKI! :)
Bubbs Creek Wall looked like a sad slab from the top
The Sphynx

On the way out, I got a few photos of Daniel and Adam climbing mid-way up the wall. A part of me was burning with envy, but my knee and the lower back were burning with pain. Next day, I went to work, following which I had enough PSYCHE to send the gnar at the gym.

Sick beta for sending the Cookie Monster in the Valley. Don't layback, do splits...Just Kidding
Gotta crank brah
Brian on Separate Reality
 And random shots from SEKI

Angels Wings, Cherubim DOme and the Globe above them

The Fin and Castle Rock Spire
Looking west from Eagle Scout Creek drainage

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