This week, Mark and I made the stunning realization that the summit of the Grand Teton is not after 11 miles of hiking as indicated on the Exum Guide webpage, but a mere 7.5 miles. That’s totally do-able! So, for our training exercise this weekend, we hiked out to a fun climb at Lumpy Ridge. I left the memory card for my camera at home, so no pictures from this trip, unfortunately. Well, here’s to reusing one from last month:
Our first goal for the day was Melvin’s Wheel, a classic 5.8 on the Bookmark. The approach is probably about 2 miles long since the trailhead was moved 3/4 of a mile away, so it was a good morning hike for us. We got to the base of the climb a little late (around lunch), but it was a sunny, blue-bell spring day, without a cloud in the sky.
There was a party ahead of us on the climb, so we took our time re-organizing the rack and getting prepared for the route. We decided we only wanted to climb the first two pitches, as those are the best, and then rap off and hopefully get in another few pitches on some other climb.
Mark led up the first, very long, pitch. By the time he reached the belay, there was only 15 or 20ft of rope left on the ground. I packed my shoes into a backpack with our tag line (small, extra rope for long rappels) and then headed up the pitch behind Mark.
It was a fun, long climb, full of interesting, varied features. I would say the two cruxes were a thin steep crack about 50 ft off the ground, and then a roof feature just below the belay. There’s few things as exciting as pulling over a roof on fantastic, solid handjams, with 150ft of air below you. Mark and I both made the move easily, and enjoyed the pitch.
By the time I reached the belay, the party in front of us was already leading up the third pitch of the route. Their belayer was sitting on top of the large horn of rock covered in slings that marked the rap station for the second pitch. After some yelling back and forth to him, we decided Mark would lead up the second pitch, set a TR, and I would climb, clean, and lower down. That way we could get in our pitch quickly without interfering with the party above us.
As Mark took off on lead for the second pitch, a climber from a newly arriving party below us reached our anchor. Mark and I filled him on our plan as he added his carabiners and clove-hitched his rope to the rap rings, effectively creating a second anchor at the same location as us. He then brought up his second and began to spout some of the most obnoxious and annoying crap that I have ever heard from a fellow climber. He said (and I am not exaggerating)
- “Do you have an extra belay device? I left mine on the ground. Oh well, I’ll just use a munter. Have you ever used a munter?” A munter is a knot used to belay off of a single carabiner. Mark and I practice this knot each year when we go over self-rescue/contingency plans. He seemed surprised when I told him I had, and disappointed when his simple anchor and belay system didn’t scare me.
- “You guys are really freaking me out with all of this rigging and gear you’ve got here. You really are. You know that the more slings and ‘biners you chain together the more likely you are to have something fail, right?”
- “I can’t believe you use so many of these wire gates, those things are sketchy. Look at how your leader there is laying the biners over the edge of the crack. You know that’s dangerous, right?”
- “Why are you carrying a backpack? I don’t think you need a second rope for this route. Well, I don’t worry about how to get down. I just figure we’ll find a way when we have to.”
- He lifted up my chalk bag at one point and took a good long look at my butt, while I was belaying Mark. When I asked if he thought my butt was really that interesting he said “Oh no, I was just checking out all of the gear you have strapped on here. What’s this for? A knife? What, are you going to have to cut him loose? A tibloc, really? Why are you carrying all this stuff around?”
As Mark set up the anchor on the pillar, the party above us moved on, and the second from the party below us decided this was as good of a time as any for him to start leading up the crack that we were climbing. He leap-frogged his partner, and led up on his rope, placing his gear in the crack as Mark lowered off.
After some up and down climbing from the two of us (because our rope was just a little two short to do the top rope), which of course was sneered and frowned upon by our ‘friend’ at the belay, I started climbing up the crack behind the leader. This turned out to be a royal pain, because there were now two ropes (one moving relative to me) in the crack and two sets of gear. I wanted to jam the whole, beautiful 100ft of perfect hand crack, but I had to be really careful to not step on the other party’s rope or gear. I climbed slowly, carefully, patiently, as their leader pulled through the roof and continued on to the third pitch. I had to finish my pitch with his lead line slowly moving up the middle of my crack. Needless to say, I was not happy. I cleaned the pitch and came down just in time to hear some more gems from our ‘friend’ at the belay station.
- “I can see why you two would be so gripped [scared] climbing out here, you’re only using BD [Black Diamond] gear. And they CERTAINLY don’t have a history of good quality, do they?”
- “Check it out, my hands are bleeding. Those jams were great, why did you guys use tape? You know, tape is like a form of aid. You don’t need it if you know how to crack climb.”
Mark and I were both so flabbergasted and upset at this point that we clumsily set up our two-rope rap to get the heck off that ledge. Our ‘friend’ surveyed our knots, and surprisingly, they passed his inspection. He did make fun of how clean our tag line was.
We rapped off just as our ‘friend’s rope became tight, he unhooked the anchor and started simul-climbing the 5.8 route below his partner. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.
Mark and I were so PO’d after this constant critique and poorly mannered climbing party, that we packed everything up quickly and headed off to look for another climb. We found the bottom of Backflip, a climb recommended by Matt at about 4:30p. We probably could have gotten in another two pitches, but Mark looked like he had lost all of the wind in his sails, and I just wanted to punch somebody. We decided we were in no shape to keep climbing, and instead headed back to the car at a hiking pace that would put Dean Karnazes to shame.