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By Nate Ball
From: Portland, OR
Mar 10, 2013
Today, the scorcher that it was, Matt G and I went up to climb Arupa and Verdon du Taiwan. As we were starting up our climb, Milk (牛奶) and a crew of others were going up Ten and Freedom Crack, each group continuing past their first anchors to a ledge where they could all meet up on. Meanwhile, I was failing to lead the first 35m pitch of Arupa, not being able to sack up and mount the arete. Then Matt put it up, and I followed with a second rope. The next pitch was sketchy from the beginning, with widely spaced bolts, loose rock, and a killer corner section before I topped out at...
... two very widely spaced mechanical bolts with quick-links, one of which had a rope hanging from it. Well, I didn't bring my trad anchor cordelette, and I wasn't about to risk a 55m fall to two bolts which looked more brown than gray. So I continued up to the "castle wall" and slung a horn, clipped into it, and used myself as a top anchor. Matt made it up fine, and we were finally ready to get off this rig. We added another sling, which we knew we could come back and retrieve later anyway, and Matt began to rappel.
Only he went in the wrong direction. There is a sharp arete to the left of the second pitch climb, and he came down on the wrong side of it. So, he has to put on a third-hand, jug up the rope to where he can stand and try to communicate all this to me, 30m above with tourists constantly walking up to me. Our first blessing was that 牛奶 and his group were there to communicate between us so that we could figure out how to get Matt back to the anchors. It involved putting Matt on top-roped rappel, him traversing across some horribly loose rock (with one large chunk nearly braining our friend Chet, below), and flicking 30m of rope around this arete. Finally, Matt reaches the anchors and clips in.
Now I come down, leaving the slings at the top and making sure to go down the correct direction. Everything is fine, although the rock here is so fragile that even putting your feet on the wall will send sandstone meteors. I clip into the anchors, and try to pull the rope. Stuck fast. Absolutely not what we need to have happen right now. But thankfully (second blessing), Chet is right there with a third rope, which we can retrieve with the rope I trailed up the first pitch. We get the rope, we tie our knot, we come down.
Later, I am able to retrieve the slings and rope from above.
Lesson learned: epics can be still be had at Long Dong