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Kris Solem drilling on a hook. FA of From Afar. P...
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Pitch One: The technical crux of this pitch is the bolt protected face at the start. The crack above is long and strenuous, and serves up a second crux at it's top. This pitch ends at a bolted anchor on a stance. 5.11c.
Pitch Two: Begin by moving left and up to a second very thin crack. While not as steep or hard as the lower pitch, this section is tricky and the protection is very thin wires. The pitch ends on ledges just below the top of the cliff. 5.10d.
We rapped off from the top of pitch two, from where a scramble leads to the top,. leaving some nuts as an anchor. There is a rappel route down the north face, but beware that 50 meter ropes come up short getting to the middle station - a hanging belay - if you choose to go that way.
Approach as described on the Gorge of Despair main page. The Cobra Turret is the second major formation as one descends the east side of the canyon and is distinguished by the long clean prow formed by it's west face.
"From Afar" ascends the South Face of The Cobra. The route is found about 2/3 of the way up toward the eastern end of the face, to the right of a large alcove. Three bolts protect the steep face climbing which leads up to a beautiful crack. Although it may seem odd to some to hike 12 miles across a high pass to do a two pitch route, I have to say that this climb is on some of the most incredible rock I have ever seen or touched. The face is composed of bright orange granite with flanges and ear like features, all perfectly clean and as hard as steel.
Two ropes are needed to descend, even from the top of the first pitch.
1 set of stoppers, #1-10 rocks or equivalent
1 set of tiny wires, BD #1-5 (maybe a couple extra #1-#2)
1 set of cams, tiny TCU's through 3 inches
The usual runners and draws
Webbing to make a 15 foot extension on the north face rappel anchor if you choose to descend that way on 50m ropes.
The bolts on this route are 5/16" rawl buttonheads placed in 1992. They were properly placed and see little use, but a bolt kit should be considered. This is beautiful rock so please only attempt to replace the bolts if you have the proper equipment and experience.
On their first visit to The Gorge of Despair in 1992, "Guyzo" Keesee and Kris Solem made a beeline for the striking Silver Turret. They were immediately obsessed by the prominent and unclimbed natural line right up the middle of this large formation, which would four years later become "Despairadoes". On closer inspection, the two explorers were forced to accept the fact that they were not well enough equipped to undertake a route of such scope. An attempt to climb the old 5.8/A2 North Buttress route was denied by thunderstorms. It was then that Guyzo caught sight of a crack on the Cobra, clearly visible in the distance, across on the opposite side of the canyon. An epic bushwack ensued, and the fine looking crack was quickly climbed and dubbed "From Afar". The Gorge of Despair had it's first 5.11.
Guy Keesee on the summit ridge of The Cobra, The Silver Turret is seen behind.
Photo by kris Solem, 1992.
Guy Keesee following P1 of From Afar. Photo by Kr...
Kris Solem climbing the fantastic crack on P1, FA ...
After topping out on From Afar we were rewarded wi...