Wide Boyz Blog

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Goodbye and Thanks for all the Fish

It's a bit of a sad goodbye to the USA today - we have finally reached the end of our trip and there's no more climbing in store for us. We've had an absolutely incredible time, climbing way beyond our expectations and have met some really cool people along the way. Before we left though, we decided to check out one last offwidth project on the White Rim and also to do some easy (and nice!) climbing in Indian Creek.

The project down on the rim, looked incredible - it's a proper beast of a line. We'd found it on a drive a week before, but held off until we had a car and some skin grown back.We had enticed crack climbing specialist Mason Earle to come down to try the route with us an he seemed pretty pscyhed. Mason seems to have done 5.13+ cracks from tips to offwidth and seems like a really well rounded climber so we were excited he wanted to come with us. I think probably the offer of a possible first ascent on a pristine 50ft roof crack was something to do with it.....

Mason Earle on Witness the Wideness

Intially we had to overcome the problem of the Shafer Trial road that led to the climb being closed. After finding out we would get fined by the National Park Service for going down when it was closed, we took the risk and went for it. After 15minutes of trying to solve the combination on the lock, a talk with the ranger and a 75 dollar fine later we were at the route.

The climbing on the route is amazing and is split down into 3 sections. The first section involves a few thin hand jams and an invert into a squeeze chimney. The chimney then climbs like a shorter version of the sidewinder section on Lucille. This leads to a chimney rest then some de-Leavittation into a short section which climbs like the end of Gabriel. the final section is a bombay chimney with hand, fist and hand stacks in the back. All in all a pretty involved and varied route, with a number of invert squeezing techniques involved. To our surprise we all managed to tick the route one after the other in a period of about an hour.

Pete onsighting the FA of Witness the Wideness, 5.12d/5.13a

Even though the roof is pretty big and looks daunting the climbing on it is not so bad and most of it is restful, so its definitely a worthwhile route for anyone seeking out this sort of madness, or for anyone wanting a bit of a training route for harder ones like Gabriel. The access to the route is one of the easiest for the White Rim, so there is no excuses for not getting down there. From the ranger station in Canyonlands its no more then a 15minute drive - convenient for getting fined by the Ranger then!

Invert armbars - lovely!

Overall we reckoned it to be around 5.12d/13a, which might seem tricky to some, but for a 50ft offwidth roof its definitely not too bad.

After leaving the White Rim for the final time, headed over to Moab for a night's kip...... and guess who we came across??? Dave Simmonite, Mike Hutton and Martin Kocsis - the UK massive! The usual banter ensued, but most importantly, Dave gave me and Pete a quick lesson on photographic composition. Half and hour later, we were psyched. Yes...... RULE OF THIRDS!

Pete show's he's got what it takes in a photographer's world. Holy moly.
Saw an American using Dragon Cams.... short stem sir???
Ouellet, Ekins, Randall, Whittaker, Pack, Anderson & Kingsbury (c) Mike Hutton
Here is a google map of where 'Witness the Wideness' can be found.

View Larger Map

...and a photo of what it looks like from below

'Witness the Wideness' from below...get to it!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Century Crack - Part Deux

Around a month ago, both Pete and I made the first free ascent of Century Crack, at a vaguely guessed grade of 5.14b. At the time, we were both pretty psyched to do the FFA seeing as we'd spent 2 years training specifically for this project. Although nothing compared to the legendary Stone's efforts at Raven Tor!

When we'd climbed Century and it'd all happened in a timescale that was way beyond what we expected - it was pretty weird to step away from a major goal, without some kind of massive epic fight. It'd all gone waaaay too smoothly. Despite our reservations about doing the route on preplaced gear (because of time constraints) there was still a huge feeling of satisfaction.

All that started to change a few weeks later though......

The future for protecting wide cracks? The tied off leg...
Suddenly we found ourselves with 95% of our entire tick-list for the trip completed and 2 more weeks of free climbing time left on the trip! Holy smokes, the idea of having time to go back to Century started to dawn on us.... No longer, did we have any reason not to at least make an effort to tidy up the ascent and at any rate at least we'd know for 100% whether placing the gear on lead would make any difference.

We've just written an article for UKC which covers a lot of the reasons why we went back to Century and also some of thoughts on what the climbing was like. Aside from some of these rants and ravings, we've listed below some of our main thoughts on the whole deal - don't take it all too seriously!

1. Century Crack is no harder placing gear on lead, than it was having it pre-placed.

2. Eight Friend #5s (collectively weighing around 2kg) felt adequate to complete the route in this style.

Pete racked and ready for Century Crack

3. Using the amount of gear that we used certainly made the climbing much bolder but no harder. By carrying more cams the weight of the rack might start to become noticeable and affect the climbing.

4. You can place the gear behind you or in between your legs when putting the gear in on lead, this way you don't have to step both feet round a load of cams, so reducing the amount of mini cruxes on the route.

The crucial Anasazi Blanco was placed in the crack
and stopped the rope getting caught behind the cam lobe at the lip

5. The whole of the crack is the crux and also the whole of the crack is a rest, so you can fall off at any point, but you can also place gear at any point you want.

6. As crack master Peewee (the French Canadian one....) said - horizontal shuffling is all a piece of piss, so don't get hung up on grades, styles or anything. That was us told!