Thursday, October 17, 2019

Mount Watkins - First Ascent of THE DIKE

Day before going up on Zodiac, Brian Prince, Chris Koppl and I went back up to finish a route Chris and I started a few years back on Mount Watkins. It is a crazy dike that overhangs for pretty much the whole way from where it shoots off from Escape From Freedom. In fact I remember how Bruce Morris told me to check out this dike and that it would make for a crazy route. It is probably the wildest feature the three of us ever climbed on and I hope I can be strong enough to free climb the whole thing, one day. From big powerful moves, to techy sharp crimps on perfect rock, the climbing is simply amazing.

Putting this route up was very difficult because of its traversing and overhanging nature. 99% of the time we climb something ground up - starting from the bottom and climbing up, placing bolts from stances, if needed. As we wanted to make a worthy free climb, we decided to go top down and see if it is even possible, as GU approach would involve 1) a huge bolt ladder or 2) bolt, a shit ton of hooking, bolt, repeat, but we needed to figure out best clipping holds and if it would be worth bolting the feature in the first place, there are is no way to drill from stances on this dike. Yes, it would be possible from hooks, but as I said pretty much the whole 1000 ft dike overhangs and it would suck to put up three pitches and encounter a totally blank spot. If it was more reasonable to go GU it would be amazing as we wouldn't need to put so much pure labor into it. Two years ago, Chris and I spent days working individual pitches on fixed ropes, placing chalk marks for possible bolt placements, then switching and climbing the same pitches again to see if the placements make sense to the other person, then do it again. Because pretty much every 6 feet involves at least a 5.10 to 5.11 move and some moves we were only imagining, the process was taking so much energy that in the end of the season we close to drowned in a thunderstorm/downpour and bailed on this project returning to finally completing it from the bottom to the top, having at least one of us being able to perform each individual moves free, yet totally a redpoint. It is unclear if some of the moves will be reasonable at 5.12 to people with less than a huge ape index. Chris at around 6'4 is able to do a few big moves Brian and I could not do, yet at least. We are not short at 6'2 and 6ft tall, maybe we had bad beta, but who knows?? Hope the route will go all free in the future for us, but I am 100% sure that if not for us, it will go free for someone much stronger. Though we hope to complete our prozh before it is tried by other climbers. :)