Michael Farnsworth came back up for another dose of route dev this morning. I went ahead and set a rope on his Isobuttress project. He arrived shortly after this was done, and commenced work cleaning and prepping the route, while I went out and set a rope down his longterm target, the awesome outside corner at the right end of the Amphitheatre. I began setting another rope on my own project, to the right of Amphitheatre Crack, when Tom arrived. He and Mike went over to take a shot at the Isobuttress project while I began scrubbing.
I descended to see how things had gone for Mike. Not great, as it turned out; he had pulled on gear within mere feet of finishing the send. Tendonitis in his arm was partly to blame; a bit too much scruff still on the cliff played a part, too. But Mike felt he had had a loss of will, a moment of fear, and was not happy about the way things turned out. Uncertain whether his arm would allow another attempt, there was nothing to do but wait and see.
We continued our cleaning tasks for a few hours, then Mike and Tom went off to climb Moehammed, Larry, & Curly while I settled in to prepare mentally for a shot at my line. I wasn’t sure it would go. The bottom 20′ are strenuous, particularly the gear placements. Done right, the crux isn’t bad, but it’s easy to get out of sequence on it, and it becomes very difficult if that happens. While I had TR’d the line a few times, it was more for cleaning purposes than a sending test. I still didn’t have the sequence firmly in memory.
My two partners arrived from their ascent. Mike settled into the belay seat while Tom grabbed a camera and began searching for good angles. I racked up, put on the magic shoes, and the attempt began. There really isn’t much more to say; it went without a hitch. In a short while, I clipped the anchors and lowered, pleased to have another fine line at the BAW.
It isn’t quite ready for prime time; the upper 25′ is unprotected 5.6 climbing, so until decent pro is found, that will turn the crowds away. But once that obstacle is overcome, the route makes a fine addition to the burgeoning list of Crane Mountain Climbs. I dubbed it Pinch an Inch, in part because it requires several pinches, one or two of which are “backwards,” open-palm pinches; and in part because I’m so out of shape right now (blueberry season does that to me). At 5.10a PG 5.6 R, it’s a challenging lead.
Mike decided to take one more shot at the Isobuttress project, so we moved over there. Tom held the rope, I held the camera for this attempt. Mike was determined on this go, fighting fear and soreness as he worked up to and through the crux. A tense moment ensued as he worked gear in to protect the last difficult moves leading to the ledge, but resolutely, he placed, clipped, and climbed those last few feet free. There’s a new 5.11b on the Isobuttress, Scaredy Cat, that deserves a go by anyone climbing at that level.