Heatwave Baby! The Valley, July of '07
Originally posted on SuperTopo.com. Thread comments at the bottom.
(note: movies will probably require QT7 )
In standard fashion, it was one of the hottest Julys on record and we were going to the Valley. I'm not sure why we do it, but every year it is the same searing hell for a week or so.
This one would be no different. Trips like this start months beforehand in the planning and logistics. My plan was to sew my ass off for guys like the Pagan Monkey Boy and then still run out of time and have to beg and crawl at his feet for more time with which to fill his order.... I'm begging to go to the heat..... I hate it, but now after close to thirty years in the game, I no longer have a choice. The addiction takes over and suffering will be dealt out in heaping doses. Sooze arrives and does a quick inventory of our gear.... seems someone in the off season has sold their personal wall gear or traded it for beer.... I start to sew again..... aiders are needed... a haul bag is neeeded.... If a wall was in the cards, we would also need some sort of sh#t bag thingy.... I quickly sew up one of these, although I was planning on only eating cheeze and Jerky which will not be available for public viewing for at least a week after the fact if done correctly and in the perfect tube clotting ratios. Ok..... gear is adequate enough to cover any objective. Let's drive!
We stop in Bishop, mostly to feed on the soft money at the local poker game.... that and to see a few friends. Three hours later, I've won my gas money and am informed we will be going to a local crag in the AM.... good enough...... The approach is almost tolerable, but just barely. The illustrious Jingy and Tom (hmmm... no SuperTopo handle on him) are to meet us at the Dike Wall in Mammoth. We find Tom in the parking area waiting on Jingy... seems Jingy has been in the head for 45 minutes. The boy has some funny pipes. We eventually ditch the parking lot and find the cliff and crack off a few routes with a few hangs.... just to make Jingy feel good.
Here we are on something...... I fell off at the top but still downrated it.
Next stop is Tuolumne. We roll in and do what we usually do for the first 3 hours... look at the guide book and wonder why the hell helmet headed N00bs are all over the 5.8 Five Star routes..... on a holiday no less!!!! After a while I get desperate and fussy..... I settle on Hoodwink. Classic 5.10a. Says you need to be a real 5.10 leader to bag this beauty..... sounds like a n00b free zone. Before I can get out of the car, some fit looking metrosexuals quickly prance up the approach trail and I'm sure they are after this coveted prize... drats! I watch as they purposefully march up the trail and walk right past our proposed climb..... super! We gasp our way up the trail (we are in the Death Zone afterall) and scramble to the base...
Sooze takes off on the first pitch....
I lead the next one and since it is late in the day, there is talk of me busting it right over the crux roof and gassing for the summit..... this was not to be. The pro I took was not exactly inspiring, the rope drag was bordering on tremendous, and when I saw the roof I sh#t my pants.
I quickly set up a barely adequate anchor and brought up the Sooze.
The roof pitch is something to behold..... a crappy looking pin, a three finger flake at the lip, and then a view of nothing but air. After pretending it would be casual, I tell the Sooze to watch me close and I cast off right to the lip and do a free hanging thing (no pics.... whaddya, nuts!) to make sure I can actually hang the holds.... oh sh#t, I can hang them..... with my vast experience, I quickly deduce that there must be some righteous holds just over the lip, but out of sight.... only overcrimping severely, I slap up and left over the lip and find something that would usually be called a jug if you climbed 5.12 regularly... so I start some of the most ungraceful pulling of my career as I try to get my bacon over the lip of this roof. Pretty it was not, but the heel hook, hip scum, belly roll did the trick and I clipped the anchor of a very nice 9 foot pitch. Sooze then floated it...... damn! The next pitch has some very nice new 3/8" ASCA bolts and proved to be only mildly exciting for a few pulls.
On the summit while coiling the rope, Sooze got attacked by a hair monster....
OK.... down to the Valley for some heat. These bearable temps up in the Meadows are just too nice. We hook up with our buddy Will and take him to the only cool spot in the Valley on days like these...
the Blow Hole.
Here Will looks up in wonder.... and wonders how this crap will climb.
A shady spot with a consistent wind was just the ticket and we actually thought it was a nice day... even though it was probably 101 degrees down on the Valley floor. Looks like crap, climbs okay..... bolted sport type stuff with a lot of traffic noise and some vegetation....
Sooze on what is probably the best route on the crag... maybe
Sooze ready for less belaying and more Margaritas
Next stop on the tour between peeks at various walls that have sweating flailers on them, is some aid practice for Sooze. We go over to Controlled Burn and she does that aid thing up and down the monster. The heat at this point could probably be called "oppressive".
Next day we dig up our pal Will again and I have a new plan. Since this day will be the hottest day of the heatwave, up to 108 degrees some say, I thought it would be a good day for some wide stuff. I suggest we go to 1096 and then Bad Ass Momma for a warmdown. Will recruits some fresh meat in the form of "Young Strong Local", an 18 year old waif with plenty of pull left in him. He don't know it yet, but he is going to lead the 1096. Ah, youth..... they are up for anything! We get over there and prep the YSL on just what the deal is.... fist in the back, left side in, pimp into a layback at the top..... bad slings for an anchor. YSL proved to be a real gamer and was pimping hard right up until the moment he popped..... see the video here: http://www.fishproducts.com/movies/1096.mov
He got back on the thing and started pimping again, with copious moans and wriggling he eventually made it to the top... and to quote, "I'll need a minute here before I set up the anchor...... I'm pretty dehydrated and I think I might puke".
Some pics of the YSL in action:
Will and I both were glad to have a top rope. We both pitched out of the maw before gasping and bleeding our way to the anchors. Damn..... This thing never used to feel this hard... must be the new sticky rubber.
Now that we are fully beat down, what better time to go over to Bad Ass Momma. I set up the TR and notice the tree is much bigger since the last time I was here.... must have been a while.
I give the kids pointers on how I did it back in the day.....
My Dark Art tips didn't seem to help much and any upward success was hard fought for Will and the YSL.
Here is Will punching away on the thing.... looks kinda hot, huh?
I broke out my secret weapon..... taped down cuffs on some Jordache jeans.
Will and I gave it a couple of valiant and sweaty tries (video here: http://www.fishproducts.com/movies/bad_ass_momma.mov ) before I needed help to untie my knot after leaving some nice DNA samples in the crack.
Due to blood loss, no water, and general lack of fitness, the walk back to the car was a long one... but man that beer was cold when we got there.
Next day was yet another scorcher.... what better to do than go to Short Circuit! (another bad idea!)
I set it up and a bikini clad and already sweaty Sooze gives it a few pulls:
To say it was greased would not do it justice.... There would be no summits today. We quickly switched modes and went to the river and floated around for a while, then returned to pack our junk and get the hell out of there.
In a condensed and out of order timeframe, we also talked to EpicEd and had a mini shittalkers fest in the Camp 4 lot, partied with the El Portal crew (you know who you are..... all hail Yngwie Malmsteen!) made margaritas in El Cap Meadow a few times, blabbed with various illuminaries, ate our wall food which gave me a mild bout of butt-water (note to self: do not take that Curry Dream stuff up on a wall) had a Werner sighting at the Deli, went back to Bishop for more poker, and then hoped the fire closed 395 would open so we could get home.
Misc. comments from SuperTopo:
Thanks for the great TR and for reminding me why I don't like offwidths though you almost tricked me into believing you were floating it.
Wow... I think I need to stretch more...
Author: Chicken Skinner
I had hoped to run into you in El Portal when you were here, but your vehicle was gone after I had run some errands.It got to be 116 degrees that day. The Blowhole is the only place to climb when it is that hot, good choice. I did 15 different pitches up there and the further left you go the harder and steeper they get. Did you do the 200' pitch above the picture? It is classic (Redheads with jugs is the name).I think the Blowhole is some of the more enjoyable face climbing in the Valley.
Sweet TR, Russ. That 1096 OW looks awesome...and hard. You look pretty hot in those Jordache Jeans, I'll have to score me some of those.
You still crank hard. Looks like you almost had it on the "Bad Ass Moma". I still credit you for showing me that technique on how to do that horrible off-width on the Moma.
It actually was 110 F that day.
Like they say, "You though hell was hot, it was hotter n hell!
(re: the glow on Will and Susan) This is what we in the south call "aggrosheen".