|West Ridge - part C - Pony Express to Long John
The name of this route might be best understood by people familiar with Tool's album, Undertow. The namesake song was going through my head whilst I lead this pitch. Some of it was applicable in an abstract way... watching my partner come up on second through it. "I have found some kind of temporary sanity in this..."
This is a decent route with not much remarkable about it. Good moves and a nice long pitch. It was very dirty- but now that 3 ascents have put some effort into cleaning the face for holds and crack to protect it, it is solid, though the route has a few flakes and some lichen on it.
To find this route, start at the Pony Express area. Rossiter's book has a topo on p213 that I will refer to, and an analogous photo on p212.
Between the routes Drug Abuse and Sister Morphine, there is one additional route, Seemingly Innocent, which lies between them, but is not on the topo. This line is not well described in the book and not well defined. It likely shares some territory with P.S., but I do not know how much. Certainly there are differences, as there will be no mistaking their difficulty levels as similar (5.8 versus 5.10).
To climb P.S. start toward the right hand edge of the roof to the right of Drug Abuse. There is a 3.5" to 4" crack capped by a pinchable flake. Climb through the roof and up onto the flake (pinch hard) and get established. a 3.5-4 Camalot is crux pro and will keep you off of the ledge. This is a bouldery 5.10 crux move, power is key. You can cheat to the right of the roof to avoid it all together if desired. Continue to force a line directly up the right-most of a handful of seams, continuing more or less striaght up. Into a right facing shallow corner, flip-flopping into a left-facing, shallow corner and then up some thin cracks and just right of a small triangular roof (well to the right of some vegetation). There are sections which have no crack just above that, but the climbing there is not crux. Perhaps 1/2 way up (70') a second crux (5.10) is passed in a thin crack. You will come up below just right of a small evergreen, with a 3rd crux (5.10) just above that getting from a few flaring thin-hands moves and into a solid finger lock with great pro there, after the move. Next, pass the small tree on the right.
A 2 meter section of 4" crack is right a few meters of this, but will not be obvious until you are above it. Nonetheless, it is a landmark. From there the climbing is low angle. Go up and right to the massive pine tree to a fixed belay/rap.
To descend, rap from the massive tree. A single 70m gets you to the ground in a single rap, and MAYBE a 60m would too. Otherwise, rap to a slab with 2 bolts (17m), (the top of Hyperspace Roundup) and then to the ground (~16m).
A standard rack. A 3.5-4" piece will protect the initial crux (3.5 Camalot was perfect). From there the pro was occasionally lacking, however...
I made the error of only taking my "Indian Creek supplement rack" (a few sets of cams) that day and had no stoppers, so I'm not sure how many/how good they would have been. I put in 1 full set of cams from .3" to 4" without ever feeling a fear of severe injury being [imminent]. But it was "exciting."
The second time I did this route with a standard rack including nuts and it was protected reasonably well at the cruxes, but was NOT for the beginner with gear.
|By Tony B|
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jan 16, 2006
This route has now seen another ascent. On that ascent I cleaned the route much more and had an additional party follow it. The grade has now been confirmed by 3 people at a level of 5.10 and the climbing is pretty good. Now that the route has been cleaned, protection is adequate, although not always available where desired.