|Owl's Head Cliff (Oliverian Notch)
This climb was a project. It took several months over 2 years to protect it. There were 5 bolts put in on top rope. Three for the rappel station and 2 on pitch three. The rest of the bolts and pins were put in on the lead. Because this cliff is Basalt, hand drilling bolt holes was slow and arduous.
Start up first pitch of Armstrong arches to the base of the left facing corner (5-8) to belay. Climb the corner (5-8) until it ends and move left (5-9) to bolt. Do friction moves left and up (5-10d) to shallow arch (stopper). Get past arch on right side (5-10b) and head up past second bolt to do long friction traverse (5-7) to long diagonal side walk. Walk down side walk to belay (3 pins). Both the leader and the second are in for some wild pendulum falls on this pitch so stay on task. Climb directly up to bolt. Do face moves (5-11b) to friction left (5-9) to bolt and long sling it to friction right (5-8) to bolt long sling it and rest. Head straight up shallow corner to dubious pin (5-8R). This is as far as I remember getting with Jim in 1986. Make a long reach (5-8) to clip bolt. Do friction steps across, below the bolt (You'll have to put much slack in the line to do this free. The slightest amount of any tension changes this crux to 5-11,A0). In this case anyone seconding it free isn't leading it free, and that's controversial.
Get to a face hold move to make a long reach past it, to a sloping large hold and dynamically swing and charge at the same time up (maximum no hands mantle step up) to reach a shallow arch (5-10). Get in stoppers and traverse under cling (5-10c) until arch ends move up face traversing to another shallow arch (5-10c) to hanging belay (stoppers and bolt). Use this bolt to protect (5-10d) friction step up to inside corner facing right and climb corner pins (5-8+). Corner ends at traverse ledge left. Friction up to corner like arch with 1-2" parallel crack underneath it diagonal under cling (5-6) to (5-8) no hand friction step up above arch to grab the ledge mantling onto the rappel ledge (This pitch can be combined leading it with two 60mm ropes). Rappel the route or climb up the break in the last arch above you (5-6) to easy 5th classing past many tree ledges 2 pitches to summit. I did the first complete ascent with Tom Armstrong in 1987 and he freed the crux third pitch at (5-11+).
I did all this work bolting it and ended up only leading the top section once. I'm sure this climb is in need of retro-bolting and possibly elimination of the run out caused by the dubious corner pin at the crux section.
It is unlike the Rapper. It is not dangerous and should be left as it was fashioned too be. The falls may be long on the easier sections but the cruxes are not run out and safe for both the leader and the second. It's named Spare Ribs because it is a climb that goes up many shallow under cling arches. Besides that if it was food for thought on how a friction/ face climbing should be it would be very yummy. vertical height 400ft.
At the end east side of the boiler plates there is a long sweeping arch heads up then west for a vertical height of 400ft. Climb starts slightly down hill or left of this feature.
Trad rack, fixed pins, 2 1/4" masonry bolts second pitch, 3 3/8" masonry bolts third pitch and 2 Petzl 10mm bolts third pitch. Three 3/8" masonry bolts fourth pitch belay station.
Scanned photo of myself starting FFA of 2nd pitch....
|By David Powers|
Apr 17, 2010
Amazing and complex route.Fear factor on this thing is terrific especially with the bolts being in such terrible shape. All the fixed pins came out in my hand. Very memorable lead on each pitch.
|By David Powers|
Sep 19, 2010
No i dont think it is quite 5.12, maybe 5.11c/d. I would have to give it a go again on a cool day to refresh my memory. The crux pitch is pretty damn heady especially with the old bolts so it might be a while until i step up to it again. I have done two other pitches there that possibly make the 5.12 cut, one being directly below the crux pitch of Spare Ribs.