Recently I had an interesting conversation with my friend Bayard Russell about getting "shut down". It was our second day out after spending all of the previous day on Cannon scratching around in vain to try and get up a hopelessly out of shape Omega. "Why do we always go after these type of lines," I wondered aloud. "These type of lines..." You know, the ones that seem barely there; that lure us in with tantalizing hangers, steep drytooling, and a low probability of success. These are the lines that get us psyched though and part of the deal is that many times things just don't click.
The South Face of Frankenstein with the arrow pointing to "Pole Dance"
This past Sunday after our frustrating fiasco on Cannon, Bayard, Kevin Mahoney and I found ourselves gearing up beneath another one of those tantalizing lines on the south facing upper tier of Frankenstein Cliffs. Kevin had a short chunk of time for the day and suggested a formula which had led us to this prospective line.
1. Difficulty (Is is gnarly enough?)
2. What is the probability of success?
3. Does it form often?
As we racked up the sun beat down unnervingly hard on the ice above. Kevin walked away for a moment to shoot a few photos and suddenly yelled "watch out!" as a huge hanger cut loose above. Bayard jumped clear and I tucked behind a large maple tree. Our gear, including Kevin's wife Claire's $800 camera, took a beating and was strewn down into the talus below us. After picking up our gear and moving to a safer spot we considered our options.
Kevin and his broken glasses after the ice fall...
Kevin soloed up the short ice pitch and found a safe belay on the far right side of the ledge. Once Bayard and I got to the belay we peered up at the inspiring yellow torpedo of ice hanging from the roof above us. A steady stream of water dripped from the icicle as the sun continued to beat down. Frightened by our earlier experience we rapped to the ground. In the course of that the rope got stuck necessitating Bayard to solo up and free it.
Bayard following the steep ice above the roof...
For the next hour and a half we hemmed and hawed for the as line we had come to climb moved slightly more into the shade. After taking a short walk to verify that everything else was getting just as sun beaten we convinced ourselves to give the line another shot. I grabbed the rack and ropes and soloed up to the belay before we changed our minds.
Myself following the crux
Kevin took the lead and fired the rest of the pitch past super fun climbing on thin smears to an iced up crack with tricky gear and then onto a free hanging icicle which led to a steep finish on plastic WI 5.
Bayard following the crux...
It felt good to get something done and especially good to put up a new line at Frankenstein. Kevin decided on Pole Dance (NEI 5) for the name and grade after the delicate climbing on the narrow ice pillar and the other similarly themed route names on the upper tier.
We had broke through the shenanigans!