Monday, August 29, 2016

Hulk & The Whitney Zone

When I thought this season may come to an end without the annual trip to the Hulk, a miracle happened! That miracle was the desire to climb on quality granite without a 20 mile approach. A TRUE MIRACLE! Brian felt the same way, so we packed a few days of food and headed to the Hulk for alpine cragging, or as Brian calls it 'fun climbing.' Unlike always, we got a permit, hiked in and rested without climbing a route on the day of the hike. On the second day we did climbed the Tradewinds, the Sunspot Dihedral and hiked out on the third. To my surprise, even with the fatigue from the Tradewinds, the Sunspot went well enough that I didn't fall off. Though bloody tips and sore muscles don't help on a sustained route of such nature, it helps a lot to delegate the crux pitch to the 25 year old. Maybe in addition to not climbing on a day we hike in, the following trip will have an actual rest day!?!? Probably not.

Day after the hike out, we made our way to Lone Pine, where I was lucky enough to obtain a permit for the Whtney Zone. To my surprise, it was a fourth time I went there this year, without a problem to obtain a permit (mid week). Yes, I do like to explore the less traveled parts of the range, but since the beginning of the summer I dreamed about climbing the beautiful prow on Mt. Whitney. One between the direct East Face and the Hairline. A route which along with the Hairline seemed like the most aesthetic, blankest, steepest and cleanest line on the wall. A part of the wall I was saving for a trip with my most frequent partner and friend, Brian, who has returned from working in Alaska with the need to crank. To my surprise, the actual climbing did not end up being clean. Mostly dirty, flaky, scary, loose, hard, runout and did I mention shitty and runout? Day after hiking in we started at the bottom of the wall and climbed eight long pitches for approximately 1,400 feet of climbing before reaching the upper part of the regular east face route. We looked at the two pitch head-wall above us. Looked at each other agreed that this climb wasn't something that we would recommend to a friend, or an enemy, even if the headwall above would have four hundred feet of splitter hands, it did not. What we climbed was an interesting adventure. An adventure which had to end, soon. We opted to simul-climb the upper part of the east face and shortly were on the summit, calling the line Happy to be Here (V 5.11-). Likely the third new line on Mt. Whitney this year, yet the least enjoyable of the three. On the positive side, compared to the Hairline next door, Happy to be Here required 0 holes drilled, compared to 44. Trying to climb something big in a day, requires sacrifices, safety at times being one of them. Part of the reason why I find new routes so intriguing is because you shouldn't expect much aside from an adventure. Yet this times I was guilty of creating expectations. Being a human aint easy...One thing that was as amazing as ever, were the views from the top.

After both of the grade V climbs I have done earlier on Mt. Whitney, they required my partner and I to take a rest day. With 'Happy to be Here' being more difficult than those, a rest day would be nice, yet we were expecting to get on the Harding Route with my friends Cristiano and Brian. When we did not see them at the Iceberg Lake that evening, we thought they must of bailed on the idea and decided to climb the possibly unrepeated Left Wing Extremist V 5.11- (Wilson/Rowell)!Woah, two back to back grade Vs at 14K was not something that seemed pure fun, but Brian has some catching up to do and I was ok with going closer towards the zone of Type 2 fun. The following day we got on the wall and found a few fairly recent bail slings and a nut anchor at the base of the crux. Up above we found some interesting climbing, some flaky crap and very loose sections. Respect to the first ascentionists for managing the thought provoking looseness. By the time we got four or so pitches up, we realized that Cristiano and Brian were climbing the Keeler Needle. Hooting and trundling large blocks, kept the psyche higher than expected, till I got on the sharp end at the base of the giant offwidth. As my TC pro blew out a few days prior, I had to lead the thing with a 5.10 blanco on my outside foot, one I did most of the heel-toeing with. It sucked donkey balls. Thought this one was a more difficult beast in comparison to Twilight Zone but less annoying than the Generator Crack. What does that mean? It means it is an offwidth, at 14K - it sucks. Soon after that, we got to moderate terrain and simul-climbed to the summit. Two days, two big shitty climbs, two interesting experiences and we were ready to move the camp!

Long story short, we went over to the Arctic Lake Wall, through the Whitney-Russell Col and climbed a really good route over the right side of the big roofs I spied on the trip with Adam. On the first attempt we got rained off from the top of the second pitch, which I was psyched about, almost a real REST DAY! Saved by the bell! The following day, we both felt better, had an earlier start, finished the climb and tagged the summit of Mt. Young! Great fun. After that, we moved camp closer to Russell, in a thunderstorm. However, the sunset was stunning and I am psyched we camped where we did, although it wasn't that much closer compared to the original sight. But the views were stunning and so were the clouds! On our last day we climbed the Western Front (III 5.10), a classic climb on Mt. Russell and hiked out. Even managed to make it out early enough to get a burrito, FINALLY! Four climbs, good times and A LOT of photos..

Green - If At First V 5.10+ R (Seth Dilles/Michael Strassman 2003) 
Red - Inyo Face V 5.11 (Austin Siadak/Vitaliy Musiyenko 2016)
Yellow - Still Nameless V 5.11 R (Adam Ferro/Vitaliy Musiyenko 2016)
Black - Left Wing Extremist V 5.11- (David Wilson/Galen Rowell 1990)
Blue - Direct East Face V 5.9 A3 or IV 5.10 c FA: (Denis Rutovitz/Andrzel Ehrenfeucht 1959 FFA Pat Brannan and Bruce Bindner 1992)
Purple - Happy to be Here 5.11- R (Brian Prince/Vitaliy Musiyenko 2016)
Orange - Hairline V 5.10+ C2F or A3  (Bruce Bindner/Alex Schmauss 1987)
Dark Green - East Face III 5.7 (regular) (Underhill, Eichorn, Dawson, Clyde 1931)
The Great Book IV 5.9 (Gary Colliver/Chris Vandiver 1974), not shown:
Aqua - East Buttress III 5.7 (Bob Brinton, Glen Dawson, Richard Jones, Howard Koster, Muir Dawson 1939)