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Childhood's End 
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Sweet Catastrophe 

Sweet Catastrophe 

YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- British: E2 5b A2 R

   
Type:  Trad, Sport, Aid, 6 pitches, 850', Grade II
FA: Mixed Pitch FAs
Page Views: 2,170
Submitted By: William McGehee on Jan 1, 2005
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Peter Gallagher finally getting a chance to climb ...

Description 

Start by boulder-hopping up to the wall immediately south of the chimney system between the central and southern buttresses.

P1: Rough start to a long day. 5.9s until the first bolt. Smear out on 5.10 slab with 10 bolts to a two bolt anchor.

P2: Keep smearing (get good at it...) past four bolts to a decent ledge. You'll be at the base of the headwall. Look up and admire.

P3: Get your aiding leader pumped up for this one. Here's where the going gets tough (bring the #4, remember it?). Smear up tough 5.10 terrain on a seam to a bolt on the left side. Start hooking over to another bolt, find an RP in a "narrow corner" as Stewart Green calls it. Aid over to the big flake where you can get three cams of the #4 set. #1 RP gets you to the headwall's lip where you'll find a "Thank-God" bolt. Smear on up to a "comfortable" stance and set up your belay.

P4: 170' of run out slabbing on 5.8 terrain past a single bolt on the left side of the slab. Find your happy bolted belay.

P5: Lead until the rope is no more on... yep, you guessed it! 5.8 runout slab, but this time it's lower angled which means less holds... Bummer. You really don't get gear here. Just head for the little tree, if it's still there. Lead up until you are sure you can reach the Gumdrop.

P6: Steep 50m smear-fest to a left facing open-book. Head for the hanging block (5.9) and set up your belay on the nice happy ledge below the gumdrop.

P7: Climb right around the spire for an A1 bolt ladder and 5.9 terrain to the summit ridge. Rap 50' from the anchors at the top back down to the big ledge. Climb 5.7 and 5.5 slabs to the North of the Gumdrop for two pitches (runout) and top out on the summit of the Big Rock.


Protection 

Bring a 60-70. You'll be glad you did at times. A couple of big cams up to #4 (needed for an aid move on the flake of P3) varying all the way down to RPs. It's an adventure....



Photos of Sweet Catastrophe Slideshow Add Photo
Pete Williams on the summit of Gum Drop Spire after the FA. The last two pitches of Petered Out climb the slab in the background to the main summit of The Big Rock. June, 1980.
Pete Williams on the summit of Gum Drop Spire afte...
Pete Gallagher on the summit of the Gum Drop Spire. June, 1980.
Pete Gallagher on the summit of the Gum Drop Spire...
The steep slabs and crux overlap of the first three pitches.
The steep slabs and crux overlap of the first thre...
Peter Gallagher approaching the summit of the Gum Drop Spire on the FA. June, 1980.
Peter Gallagher approaching the summit of the Gum ...
Macro-view of Sweet Catastrophe
BETA PHOTO: Macro-view of Sweet Catastrophe
Pete Williams drilling on the third pitch. May, 1980.
Pete Williams drilling on the third pitch. May, 19...
During a rainstorm, a waterfall occurs right near the start of the route.
During a rainstorm, a waterfall occurs right near ...
Comments on Sweet Catastrophe Add Comment
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By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Jun 12, 2004

The third pitch was free climbed by two independent parties in July of 84. We rated it 12b. I recall the other guys rated it a little harder. Makes sense they where Boulder climbers and we where use to the Pikes Peak granite being from the Springs. Anyhow as far as I know the gumdrop is still waiting for a free ascent. It would make this a hard and classic Platte climb.

By Pete Williams
From: Dinosaur, Colorado
Apr 2, 2008

Allen, I'd heard rumors for years that someone had free climbed the overlap on P3, but the various names I heard all turned out to be of folks who claimed never to have been there. I'd come to believe the story was apocryphal, though I could see that the pitch had the potential. Glad to hear it really happened.

HERE'S THE FA HISTORY FOR SWEET CATASTROPHE:

Peter and I had thought about climbing what we started calling the Gum Drop Spire ever since we first started working on Fields of Dreams, but we initially dismissed it because we couldn't see a free route on it. Not only was the summit block overhanging on all sides, but the big overlap looked impossible as well. However, after we climbed Rotten Teeth in the fall of 1979, we began to think more seriously about doing a first ascent on each of the major buttresses of The Big Rock. Then, on our way to a party in early November, Pete showed me a photo he'd taken that made it look like one of the water streaks on the overlap could really be a crack. Down deep we knew we were deluding ourselves, but all the climbing talk at the party got us psyched, and we decided to drive out there that night. Unfortunately, on our way out of town we were front-ended by a hit-and-run driver, and my car was put out of commission. Thus the "catastrophe" in the route name! Not to be dissuaded, we switched to Pete's old Pinto and continued on. But the next morning revealed sheets of ice all over the initial slabs, as well as the truth about the delusional crack system. Still, we were hooked on the idea.

We came back in the spring and worked on the route over three separate days before topping out. In April we spent one long day establishing the first two pitches. Peter was still beat up from taking an enormous fall in the Garden of the Gods, so he spent the day belaying (a major feat of endurance in itself), while I drilled--five hours for the first pitch and three more for the second. In May we established the route as far as the sixth pitch before killer winds forced us to retreat. Finally, on June 28, 1980, we were able to add the final pitches to the top of the Gum Drop.

The only incident on the summit day was when the swedge failed on a tiny wired stopper I was using as a hanger on one of the dowels on the last pitch. One moment I was drilling about 12 feet up, and the next I was swinging free about a foot off the deck. The fall broke the bit off in the hole I was drilling, too, so I was bummed about having to start the placement all over again! (By the way, despite what was written in Climb! about the FA of Fields of Dreams, this was the only time either of us took a fall on The Big Rock because of an anchor failing.)

Personally, I think the great rock, wild slab climbing, and spire summit make this more than a one-star route, but I'm biased and so won't vote on it.

By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
May 30, 2008

Pete,
I was climbing hard that summer. I was living at the pinhead palace on Ruxton in Manitou. Becker had bought a house down the road and gave his old rental house and boulder to us. What a boulder it was. The problems where burly and the cast was even better. Jim Dunn would wander over and just watch us fail on problems and then spank us by doing it in a flash. Harvey Carter once found me at the house and attempted ...... well I digress. He wanted me to marry his daughter that very day! Me and Scott got super good at hard face climbing because of that rock.

As to the route. Charlie and I spent a night in a miners cabin before he left us.. above Telluride and we could not get the dates together. I actually think Charlie did it a month before us. Fowler was good. Anyhow it was a matter of lots of falls to free it. I have some slides somewhere of the second day. I do think Charlie did it first, though I don't remember chalk marks on the real steep crux third pitch. Rain I suspect. Anyhow it's a proud route and I'm happy to have climbed it twice.

Anyhow best I can do. Peter tells me you need help this summer on the Yampa/Green. I'm game in later August if you need help.