The Surprise (5.10a)


This was day five of our Fall season in Yosemite. Since the mornings were freezing, we spent from 7am-9am at Degnan’s Deli studying and then geared up for this short multipitch on Five Open Books. I have written the experience of each pitch as a picture caption.

The ridiculous unprotected dirty lieback start, the 5.10c start looked clean but sustained and hard. I belayed Rick at the Pine Tree.

P2: Mostly unprotected slab. From the pine tree go diagonally downwards finding the path of least resistance. Then traverse climber’s right to a dihedral and built a gear anchor.

P3: Long wild 5.8 which eats .5 and .75. This pitch is probably 5.8 because of the angle otherwise it would be atleast 5.9. It has one traverse left at double crack system which was delicate. Apart from .5 and .75, I placed a couple nuts. The final crack below the ledge looked quite steep and I thought to do the slab instead but that was unprotected and nerve wrecking, so I persevered through the steep crack, which fortunately took #1. Save atleast one #1 for the gear anchor at the ledge.

Looking down at the 5.10c start from the base of P3.

That bulge to my right is the ledge to belay for the surprise 5.10a pitch. While the angle to the bulge appears so friendly, I can attest that its mere a deception. This steep crack can be protected with #1s.

Belaying Rick from the ledge.

I had a lot of time to examine the 5.10a pitch and I really thought its such a benign short pitch with a ledge right above Rick as shown in this picture but that’s the surprise of this route. While Rick onsighted this pitch, I was glad to have a rope above me.

The finish of the surprise pitch as seen from above. There were two good .3s below these marginal nuts which came out so easily. Smear the right wall and use small thin edges and a crimp on the left wall to make a reachy move to the ledge with no crack towards the end.

Final 5.7 stemmy romp to the finish.

The other noticeable thing about the 5.10a pitch was that Rick kept saying that his toes hurt and I was thinking, what a baby, cracks are not supposed to be comfortable. When I followed the pitch, I realized that there is something about the shape of the crack and the pods that it is quite uncomfortable for the toes, more than normal cracks. Apart from the “You think it’s over…devilish laugh”, finish, the only other scary thing that happened during this climb was a big rolling rock while Rick was traversing the slab pitch. The big rock and additional small rocks started rolling down while we heard rejoice of parties who had finished Commitment. Overall it was a fun and eventful day which ended with delicious Garbanzo Bean curry with Soy chicken ,lots of vegetables and cilantro at the camp.

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