FIrst Lead Rope Solo - Saturday December 6, 2008

Draper Red Rock, Gum Cheese 5.6. 10 AM.

Anne came to watch Tan and Bren while Angie is in China with Dallin, so I took off right away and got to the parking lot at about 8:30. There was another car there - larger SUV with no obvious stickers or racks, so that was odd. No one was obviously on the rock.

I set off up the trail with my Osprey Exposure 50 pack (my favorite climbing pack - can even hook up fruit boots and leashless tools on the back panel fairly easily). It was a chilly 28 degrees and I had on smartwool light weight top and bottom, REI Mistral shoeller pants, my Mountain Hardwear Windstopper vest, my Oakley Softshell hoodie (alas, they don't sell them this year), my TNF Apex Bionic Aerobic jacket (the one I lived in every single last day of Ecuador - it's been washed - doh!), and once I got to the crag, I put on my Red Ledge Primaloft belay jacket (total clearance from a store in Breckenridge where I also got my TNF stuff, like the Oakley I got on - if you want stuff like 90% off that's the place)

At the top it was obvious someone was there, but they had some saws and shovel type gear. A guy was fixing the fence where people were hanging gear and leaning on it. He seemed to think that people were vaulting it and running downhill, so he was going to put a stop to that by gathering up brush and making an obstacle course for them. If that's the case it's an admirable cause. He also mentioned that vandals frequently stole the route name plaques (which I really appreciate and wish were more common) but since you'd have to lay in the dirt to get to them, they leave the bench plaques alone. Lazy vandals.

I wasn't sure what to do, since my plan had been to lead rope solo something just to test it out, but I didn't know if that would be okay or not with a spectator, so I hiked up top and checked out anchors and all, noticing that the tiny crag to the East had some interesting routes reminiscent of the Traverse Wall at Swan Mountain Road outside Breckenridge/Keystone in Colorado. I also found two variants of anchors for the section between the 5.11 and the Eastern 5.8. Have to try that as well sometime.

I also found what I think would be an interesting new 5.8 on the Red Rock proper, just in a place between stuff that isn't developed yet. Interesting indeed ...

So I decided what-the-hey and started building the foundation of any Lead Rope Solo system - a bomber mult-directional bottom anchor. I slung a keyhole, got an upward-pull nut in solid, and got a very solid tricam in (lots of people don't like tricams, but they work great for this application) all semi pre-equalized, but then added a sliding x to it as well, so it should do the job. I think.

About that time the guy left (wondered if I should ask if he is the dentist). He said that if no one was coming to be my partner I could just top-rope solo. So nice when people are open-minded.

I harnessed up, shoed up (madrock flash lace with socks on!), set up my belay system and headed up.

I had a slew of minor issues, the most annoying of which is my belay system kept locking up on me, which wasn't too bad until the 2nd to last bolt was an odd clip, and mantling the little bulge by the offwidth crack I got hung up when it locked on me, so I had to wedge myself in the crack and hang by my stomach while I pulled up slack. About then my fingers got really cold (still in the shadows, crag facing roughly Northwest) so I stopped atop the bulge where it gets flat and pocketed my hands for a bit. Maybe if I wore fingerless gloves?

I clipped the right set of top anchors and just threaded them, then dropped the rope down the route and undid my belay system and threaded my Petzl Reverso3 (love that one). I tied into the end of the rope for safety, undid my daisy and stowed it, then started rapping down.

I cleaned on the way down, which is the first time I've cleaned rapping. I had a tiny hassle undoing a backup clove hitch at the 2nd bolt hanger. It was a hassle to set too. Oh well, it's all good edumacation. And my hands thawed inside my leather rapping gloves.

At the bottom I paused to take my pic, then while I had a toprope set up for myself, started on the very vertical bouldery start to what may become a new 5.8. It was a blast for the first 10' or so, then I had to downclimb since with my current solo belay system it is a pain to manually take up slack, which was difficult with the overhang. I'll have to get that worked out down the road if I'm going to keep this up. My toes were pretty cold so I put my running shoes back on with both pair of socks on.

I checked out a few other routes for possible bomber anchor setups, then since I had to be home at noon I packed up and headed to the car.

It was a ton of fun, and a great way to learn and grow. More later....