Tuesday, February 19, 2008

West Face of Leaning Tower V C2, 6/07

After all my routes with partners I started to miss my preferred style of climbing, solo. So I set out to solo a moderate wall I had never done. The leaning tower seemed like a good choice as long as it wasn't a gumby conga line. I had attempted it 3 years prior with Matt in our big wall gumby season in 2004. We had gotten to awhanee no problem but I pussied out on the traverse pitch for some reason. I wouldn't get on a black alien or something so I complained about bogus missing fixed gear to save my fragile ego. We bivied and then tucked tail and ran back to camp with tales of exaggerated aid horrors for a beginner route. Ah, the learning curve.
This time, with a little more experience (20 walls) on my side so I decided to solo the route in a day. Because I was flat broke and out of gas I rode by bike from camp 4 to the parking lot. Bad idea, ropes and rack get in the way of the chain really bad if you're careless. After much frustration I arrived at Bridalveil Falls ditched the bike in the woods and began the slog up to the wall. I was way lost the whole time. Cairns are bullshit, only those who are lost build them. If you know where you're going why would you build a cairn? They are a trail of lost people following each other through the woods.
Upon scrambling out the traverse to the start of the route I set up my nights bivy. Sleeping bag, check. Food and water, check. Safety kit, check. Sweet, I had the makings of a nice night out on the ledge 400 feet above the deck. I wasted away the evening listening to Tupac and G-unit until darkness and sleep finally came.
At dawn I readied myself for the days adventure, luckily the rack is tiny and I can carry it on my harness. I stack the ropes in my ghetto blue tarp rope bucket and set off. The first pitches sail by in a familiar sea of bolts and granite. I link the pitches below awhanee into 2 and cruise up to this spectacular location. I hang out eating food and hydrating to avoid the deadly cramps one gets from this amount of exertion. I check my ipod for the time and it has only been 3 hours so I hang out for quite some time soaking up the view.
After rousing myself from the ledge I build an anchor and set off on the traverse, now the new terrain begins. I cruise the pitch on ample if not shitty fixed gear linking again two pitches into one. The route is great, easy aid in a overhanging position with a view not found on other valley walls. The next few hours lead me to the roof and then the ledge near the top.
I again lounge on the ledge for far too long enjoying the day. To my morbid delight I find a ranger doll on a noose hanging from the anchor! Fucking hilarious! After laughing my ass off for quite some time I solo the easy final pitch to the summit. Upon topping out I realize I have no idea where to go. With a mixture of down climbing and rappelling I reach the obvious gully descent. Again with a mixture of rappelling and 4th/5th class down climbing I reach the base of the route. Only 8 hours on route so I'm super stoked. I gather my things and rush back to my bike and pedal my way to the lodge to for an its-it ice cream sandwich and a burrito.

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