Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Zodiac solo, 9/07

Corbin had to go to the Needle's to work for 10 days so I had to fill my time in another way again. Well whats a wall climber to do when you're bored? Go climb another wall! All year I've wanted to solo the zodiac ridiculously fast. 18 hours is good but I knew I could do better so I tried again.
This time I'm going super light. NO bag just a 2 liter camelbak and what food fit in my pocket, one 9.7 mm 70 m rope and a rack that I kept paring down till it was almost gone. OK, not almost gone its still a nailing route but by now I didn't bring any superfluous pieces. If I don't place it why bring it?
The plan was simple, use the loop belay system. Not the standard continuous loop soloists use. This works more like a rappel when you pull the rope through an anchor but from above. The system works like this-tie into one end of your rope, thread said rope through a rap anchor or leaver biner, tie into other end of rope, climb the pitch backcleaning everything!! and then pull the rope from above, rethread the rope and repeat. I used this method for almost the whole route. By doing so you face a 120 foot fall when you leave the anchor and a 230 factor two fall if you whip near the end of the pitch. Rule number one is don't fuck up and fall.
Again I did the direct start as it is way faster than the original and allowed me to link to the top of the third pitch bolt ladder and build an anchor to rap. I went down cleaning only select pieces on the way down and then jugged up cleaning it all. At the rap anchor I left one oval taped shut on a bolt, threaded the rope and began hooking to the 5.10 free climbing that leads to the 3rd pitch anchor. At this anchor I again pulled the rope from below me and rethreaded it through the rap anchor. I then free climbed the 5.6 traverse and then the arching C1 to the next anchor backcleaning as I went. From there I pulled the rope, rethreaded and repeated it for the next pitch bolt ladder. Then again for the next pitch that leads to the base of the black tower. Here I built an anchor, threw out 40 feet of slack and started free climbing up to the top of the tower. here i started aiding on beaks and angles, reached the anchor and rapped. I continued lead/rap/cleaning all pitches in the grey circle as opposed to the loop belay due to the difficulties. This was problematic on the nipple as I had to do all sorts of trickery to clean the pitch. At the mark of zorro I resumed the loop belay method and used it for the rest of the route using anchors when I could and biners taped shut when I couldn't.
I reached the top in 12:52! I was stoked to chop 5 hours off my time even if I did fall short of my sub 12 hour goal. The route is still waiting for me to try again.

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