Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Beyond Lunacy (7 pitch 5.11c)

Unlike many I find winter to be as enjoyable as any season, especially for climbing in Yosemite Valley.  With decreased amount of daylight it is much more difficult to complete long climbs, but it gives me an opportunity to focus on shorter climbs of higher difficulty. Also it is a great time to sum up the favorite climbs of the year and pick a few goals for 2014, but more on that in the next blog.  
No matter how much I go here, I keep coming back
Cool snow flakes on Merced river
Reed's. Beyond Lunacy goes pretty much up the middle and tops out on top of the formation
So aside from going to Indian Creek, Red Rock, and flailing at Arch and Cookie cliff, I got to complete one of the newer multi-pitch climbs in the park – Beyond Lunacy (7-pitch 5.11c).
Established in 2008 as a 5.10c A1, it was climbed free in 2009 and rated as 5.11c at the crux. This climb is a continuation to Lunatic Fringe, which is already one of the most classic single pitches in the Valley. I found a few posts about several attempts at Beyond Lunacy, but none that actually completed all seven pitches. Even though no report described the whole route, all people who attempted it agreed that pitches they have done were really fun and worthy.
With an available topo and positive reviews, it was not hard to convince Tom to give this route a try. Even though it snowed only about a week prior to our attempt and morning temperatures kept us wrapped in down, by 10:30 we finished our coffee and decided to make our way up to the base. The approach was exhausting – two minutes! Since I never led Lunatic Fringe I asked Tom if I could take the first pitch, and he was more than happy to let me have it. After the first pitch we swapped leads all day and continued to the top of the formation. To my surprise we both led and followed the whole route completely free and without falls or takes.
Lunatic fringe is the obvious crack with a white streak. Pitch two goes up from pedestal up the broken up cracks above
Tom cranking on the 2nd pitch.
The monkeys don't place gear
First pitch is stellar and involves all sizes from fingers to perfect hands. The crux of second pitch involved a really thin crack and a lot of stemming. Delicate pitch of high quality. Midway up the thin section there is a little flake that was flexing, I wonder if it will stay there for long.
To start the third pitch I walked left and around an arete. Short handcrack in a corner was a little wet but after I reached the second tier it was quality dry climbing to the top. Pitch four required a committing step left off the belay and a mantle to a decent knob, before you get to clip the first bolt and exhale. Tom and I thought the crux was when the knobs disappear around the third bolt. I thought I was gonna fall on this section but some miracle kept me climbing. The roof in the middle of the pitch was really fun and not as hard as it seemed from the bottom.

Tom on pitch 3
Climbers climbing Reed's Direct
Tom on pitch 4
On pitch five I had a WTF moment. To protect the move over a roof I tied off a knob above it. After taking a long time to figure out the move over, I went for it, and in the process knocked off my "protection." I was in the middle of the not so easy crux with another knob tied 20 feet below. The sequence I figured worked good enough that I mounted the knob and was able to tie another one before clipping the "thank god" piton, there was a happy ending to this mini epic. Another roof that was less dramatic and a sea of knobs took me to the belay below the crux.

Me on pitch 5, trying to figure out how to mount a knob without any footholds above it
Tom on the crux 5.11c
Traverse to the anchor is fun
Tom led it without looking too bothered. On the other hand it took every little gram of strength and endurance to keep my half of first knuckle in a jam and a lie back to pass the left facing corner above. With a pump through the roof, the "hammock traverse" was super exciting following it with 20ft between protection pieces. I was happy the pads of dirt allowed my passage, and am sure someone in the future will not be as lucky :) Per topo the last pitch is a 5.10d/5.11a and was my last lead. I knew it was the only thing that stood between us and climbing the route all clean so I fought the temptation to forfeit my lead to Tom and did my best not to screw it up by climbing with confidence. Mounting a knob to a first stance was exciting since it is right off the belay ledge and involves climbing an overhang. Than you get to clip a bolt and do a few more insecure moves before you clip another two and come up to the final mantle.

Other crags seen from Beyond Lunacy
Campfire was also a success
I have not done the mantle on the Nutcracker, but with the last bolt way below me I worked hard not to f-up the exit. Tom followed clean and we both took in rays of sun before starting the rappell. Both of us were really excited about climbing this not yet well-known, but soon-to-be classic.