Pardon the length, but I am pretty dang excited!
What a way to start off the 2009 NST season! Old man winter has finally started to loosen his grip on the Wasatch. Rod, the cat that adotped our house last summer, has been twitching nervously at the window everyday at the sight of twittering birds. Steve and Isabel (the dogs) meander about the back yard all day, occasionally picking a random pedestrian to bark at. And with a few phone calls, the No Star Tuesday crew was called into action.
Everyone complained of weight gain over the winter. For some it was all in the legs: the result of too many miles on skis. For others it was due to a few too many 12 oz curls. The die-hards rearranged their mid week schedule to ensure they could climb all day. Gear was dusted off and the hexes were reslung.
Crescent Crack Buttress was the plan of attack this trip and we kicked things off with an all-hex ascent of Kut Korner (5.6) This short chimney was only a little bit wet, just a tad dirty and hexes were the only allowable gear. The perfect start to the NST season.
Atop Kut Korner, we started up the 5.9/A0 OW known as Paraplegiac Ward. The 5.11 free variation to the start looks very promising, but in the end we relied on an old reliable aid technique.
More than a few NST members were caught off guard when their desire to wear shorts resulted in some bloody knees and shins. Paraplegiac Ward seemed to be made of the big-crystal, sharp granite that is characteristicly NOT Little Cottonwood Canyon. The gear was good and the pain tolerance high enough to succeed.
A Kat That Grumps (5.7) is the crack system just up and right of Paraplegiac. I think that it is best described on Mountian Project as “Gritty and rotten rock galore, but somehow it all felt good on this route.” The kitty litter nature of the route does not come as a surprise, but keeps the climber on his toes.
Just around the corner, two more climbers were sucked into the Journey to the Moon (5.10) Two wide pitches uniquely suited for a no star outing; the first a sopping wet and wide off-width and the second a dirty pitch of block-weaving in a chimney.
This fun route demonstrated the superiority of cotton-to-granite friction in relation to rubber-to-granite friction when dealing with extremely wet conditions (on the first shaded pitch) and the benefits of having a trundle-happy photographer cleaning the route above you (on the second pitch). It should be dry soon (not that it matters), and is now considerably cleaner than it has been in who knows how long. A highly recommended outing of good quality wide climbing.
In keeping with the wide theme, as so many NST’s do, Body English (5.9) was next on the list. I was unable to stick around for the entire ascent, but it was described as “wide, awkward and time-consuming.” The pictures seem to back up that statement.
Interplanetary Voyage (5.11) provided the next challenge. This was the first route of the day that was apparently star worthy, but that distinction was not necesssarily deserved. It begins in a brushy corner just uphill and to the right of Slam, Jam, Thank You, Ma’am. Climb the slabby corner up and into a squeeze, then wriggle your way out and along a flake until it’s possible to pull back into the slot above, which is gritty and features loose rock. A helmet, in this case, would almost certainly hose you as your head would become irretrievably keyed-in at the top of the first squeeze. Wear pants and long sleeves for good measure.
By far, the most exciting moments of the day took place over on Waterslide (5.9+) On his way to the (high) first bolt, one brave climber suddenly lost his footing on the slab and tumbled all the way back down to earth. Undetered, he scampered back up to his last position. With the left foot up just a tad higher on a greasy chickenhead baking in the sun, he stood up and pulled into the undercling. And then came off again! This time he was able to self arrest his fall on a small slopey ledge and managed to stay off the ground. Without hesitation, he pulled right back on and this time sent the route in good style. Three star slab climbing can certainly make up for a zero star slab!
Slam, Jam, Thank You Ma’am (5.11d R) became the top rope route of the day. It certainly is a “debauchery” full of “awkward and insecure liebacking.”
As the last of the topropes were cleaned up, the grill was started and the chips, broccoli, ranch and salsa started to show up. Brats, hot dogs and even cheese injected dogs mixed well with the PBR and the bragging and trash talking began. This was by far the biggest turnout ever at a No Stars event. The cops stopped by, but they were only mad at us for not having any “real brats” and declined our offers for some cheese-injected goodness. Thanks to everyone who showed. Keep it up, the 2009 Wasatch NST shirts have been made.