Monday, July 23, 2012

Slimedog Millionaire!


(above)  Slimedog Millionaire (IV,5.9) goes up the North Arete of the "Third Tog," the righthand skyline as seen in this photo from the South Fork of Crater Creek valley.  New route completed on third attempt, last Saturday, June 16, 2012, in a 22 hour, 9-pitch fun-fest, in good weather with Phil Westcott, new guy with great attitude.  Best rock climb I've done yet in the Kigs!

(above) Phil on Pitch 1, where we defaulted to green ledges  (cheerful with poppies) for speed's sake, somewhat perverting the true and future line of this aesthetic arete.  The true and future Slimedog will take the prow at the left edge of the photo (below), the one with the incut overhang;  for the reason that we didn't go that way, our route must be considered unfinished.  I just wanted to get up the whole 1200 ft. buttress, and so chose line of least resistance in the green strips at center of photo.
Pitch 2, went fast, more green strips on golf course ledges leading leftwards to the Slimedog itself, a greasy seep that stains the wall black.  Pitch 3, a giveaway also but for treacherous slime, traverses left through the Slimedog and over to the base of the upper arete, where the good climbing definitely begins.
(above and below) Stemming a slot Pitch 5.  How novel to be climbing in the Kigs on good rock:  pitches 4, 5, and 6 provided a nice flow of granitic climbing over featured, fissured gneiss, relatively clean, and spectacularly situated.  In a Lower-48 rock garden, these pitches might be described as fairly continuous 5.7;   we must have done a 5.9 move in there somewhere, hence the overall rating, and a Grade IV because you're not in a Lower-48 rock garden, man.  A move of pure layback up high on the route stands out as fine in my memory.  We banged a few pins, but good climbers could do without them.  In truth, Phil and I spent the majority of our 17 hours on the climb dully sorting out great "smegma-tangles" of gear we created with our double-rope technique and large rack.  A confident soloist could do this climb Norman Clyde style and have a very good time. 
(above and below) Phil emerging from overhangs, pitch 5.

(above) Topping out on Pitch 5.  Phil admitted to that glorious phenomenon where one "forgets to be scared." I am almost always scared out of my ever-loving mind high on a Kigluaiq wall.  On Saturday, however, the vibes (subconscious cortical function processing input from the snynaptic interface, i.e., the energy body, with surrounding "quantum energy foam" associated with nuclear matter, as well as normal inferential predictions based on stored information in human neural network, i.e., weather, smile on partner's face, kinks working out of my lower back as I climb on gneiss, pale stone, etc., resulting in an assessment and decision-making framework that takes into account input from domains other than the 5 physical senses....) were good.
   Pitch 7 was good too and transitioned us away from the prow to the horizontal summit ridge.  Pitches 8 and 9 were nebulous and involved scrambling to the left of a prominent spire which is the top of the climb via ledges and bouldering walls that lead to the true summit of the Third Tog, and the 3rd Class walk-off.

 (above) Third Tog from northwest, further up valley.  Slimedog Millionaire is the arete on left.  Phil and I descended in rock shoes the painful talus slopes to the right in the photo above.  Torture, like wading through canted bowling balls in ballet slippers, like your knees are 15 years older than they already are.
    A further note on the above photo: the west-facing slopes in the picture are excellent for boulering/soloing—  good rock, lots of options, Lake Mary kind of thing, recommendable.
(above)  Crater Creek near Kougarak Road, June 2012.  The 5 hour approach hike in and out of Crater Creek was greatly expediated by a species of Aufeis we nick-named "The Board." 

(above) Map of Crater Creek.

  Adrenal glands wide open to the universe, we perched on the wall in green eyries pulling on strands of spider web and praying to hold off the storm dragons, we mined sinh tala from the stone and transferred it to the physio-electrochemical data banks in the fibers of our bodies, and when we got back to town, though there was no parade for the local heroes, things were different from that moment on.

    Slimedog Millionaire has some awesome climbing on it. Double camalots through 2, an extra 1, nuts worked very well on this climb, didn't seem to need much big stuff...  It's still the Kigs though, and pins are the only thing that ever make one feel secure on these Volkswagoning stacks.  Banging pins behind stacks sometimes produces an audible creaking sound that I don't like.

(below) Other views of "Tog 3"(Pk. 2150+??). 

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