They say in places like this (smith rock) "if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes". Well, unfortunately that was not the case yesterday. The more we waited the colder it got, the colder we got the less fun we had, but then again, the less fun we had, the more fun we had. Do you follow? So maybe it was worth it in the end. Our idea to climb the Pioneer Route on the Monkey Face all began the night before, a classic climb, a beautiful sunny day and Lydia's first real Smtih Rock experience. Perfect.
We started our day at 1pm. A glorious rolling hike up and over Asterisk Pass and to the base of the wall. We climbed the phallic feature from the West side and scrambled up the first 2 approach pitches 5.8, radical and much longer than we expected, full value. We gained the notch and the wind fell on us like a 50 story building, smothering us in blistering cold mountain air. The sun at this point proved worthless to warm our bodies and we scampered up the bolt ladder and into the mouth of the cave only to be trapped in swirling gusts of wind that nearly carried us off the into the Juniper trees below. The East face was pleasantly easy, shady and sheltered, the exposure was a welcome trade off from the cutting winds. Good thing we had our patagonia light weight shells with us. plug. grin. Here we thawed, laughed, took pictures and wondered why there was nobody else out on this dreadful day. We smiled and had the summit to ourselves.
The best part about going out climbing on shitty days is that nobody else wants to go and you tend to have the park to yourself, we bathed in solitude. On our way back we cruised by the Morning GLory area and found line ups to climb, we grinned on our way back home. It was a mini adventure and a tick off the list of mega classics. Tomorrow it is time to get in line and dance our way to the top of single pitch sport climbs. I got my eye on a delectable 5.14, a test of fitness. Funny I did the climb (I am a Badman) 7 years ago, when I was young stupid and strong, (now I'm still stupid, slightly less strong and not as young) I managed the line on my third try, well 2 and half if you count the fact that I lowered to the ground after my first redpoint attempt, ha ha, oh 'so now we are getting technical here eh?', stay with me… I suppose I sort of 'grey pointed' it and lets overlap that with 'yo yo style' because truth be told I climbed up, clipped the third bolt, down climbed and rested, then sprinted through the low crux to the fourth. Today I'd like to try and repeat the climb from the ground up, clipping all pre-placed quick draws on lead, ha ha ha. No really.
This brings up a funny topic. Is it okay to pre-clip the third quick draw?
My friend Lev says "anything counts as long as you can Rodeo Clip the links baby", he said it just like that. Meaning, you have to swing the rope Rodeo clown style into the biners from standing on the ground or a natural boulder or tree branch – no ladders allowed, no stick clip, wooden nor metal, no climbing up and down, no shoulder stands and no trick rope pulling, and then, only then does it count "fo real yo".
But as you may have realized, it gets harder and harder the higher the bolts are, I've seen hiim do an R5 once at Accephale, but of course this is all very objective, Derek Galloway a sport climbing monster based in Banff doesn't think R5 exists, "We are just not there yet" he says, "Ro-dayo clipping is such a young style that we haven't yet reached the limits, R5 is out there, for sure but I'm not certain we've seen it happen". By that account, Lev "claims" R5 but it may possibly be only R4+. Perhaps they should arm wrestle about it.
So here is my question. When climbing a route that you claim "all gear placed on lead", does it matter if you climb up place the last piece of gear and down climb all the way and then go again from the ground an hour later on toprope?
Personally I think it does count, it is still an ascent and it was "technically" climbed free with gear placed on lead, but I think that style can always be improved upon and unless there is a huge no hands rest, it's cleaner to try and rack up on the ground and climb the wall in one big SHABANG. But again, this is just my lousy opinion and it may change. Or Alex Hannold may just free solo everything and we won't have to discuss these puny little insignificant details anymore, but until then…lets. Smirk.