Sunday, March 30, 2014

Moonlight Buttress. Again.

We spent three full days in Zion. We shared camp site, food, and gear with our friends Wally and Kevin. We were all there for Moonlight. Moonlight Buttress is the most amazing long route I've been on. The position and the exposure make it worth doing even if you don't climb the grade. For me the crux pitches are too hard for sure. I enjoy the challenge and simply french free (pull on gear) if a move doesn't go. I'd be psyched to know if Finnish people have climbed it! I've been on it three times now so I have a pretty good understanding of what it would take to be able to free the route. I must climb more. Much, much more.

Moonlight is rated somewhere between 5.12b and 5.12d depending on who you ask. Or 5.8 C1. I say it's 5.12hard. The route is about 365 meters and 10 pitches. A single 70 raps the route so it works the best if you are not hauling. The descent is mostly paved trail. I brought a headlamp, four granola bars, candy, and a liter of water. We started climbing 7:30am and got to the top around 4pm. Long day. Check mountainproject for gear. Here is a summary of the day.

The first four pitches up to the rocker block are pretty mellow. I led the third pitch (5.11c traverse, 3 bolts and a #1 camalot) and hung a bunch of times. But I did it! The 5.12hard climbing starts from the rocker block. First comes two corner pitches: Jump to a flake and layback a bunch to a hanging belay. Then layback some more until the crack becomes an ow. Somehow get yourself up the crack and continue to another hanging belay.

Wally and Kevin above the corner pitches.

Then comes the 12a chimney pitch. Hardest move for me was getting from the belay to the chimney. A Couple of easier moves are followed by knee-barring up a flaring chimney. Should I face in or out? So hard. I guess facing out would be easier. Next time. The chimney gradually turns into a face which leads to (surprise surprise) more liebacking and the bivy ledge. Max hauled my backpack on this one. I was very thankful.

Time for lunch. We hung out in the sun, ate candy, and watched other people climb the wall on the other side of the river. We could also see Wally and Kevin on Monkeyfinger. My arms were pretty tired but the exposure and perfect weather made me happy. And candy for lunch! I wanted to pee but I didn't know how to do it safely. I'm used to it. I checked the time just before Max took off again. It's 2pm.

At the bivy ledge. The video upload is not working. Think of it as a slide show.

Next we climb the splitter finger cracks. First one has feet in the beginning so I can pull the moves. So much fun! Then feet disappear for 3 meters. Take! Take! Second crack is even more splitter and Indian creek-like. No feet so I pull myself up from a piece several times. Cleaning gear while climbing is almost impossible for me. There is a good rest in the middle of the pitch. It's a little tricky to get back to the crack after the rest. Hmmm. Take!

Last pitch is called the Nutting pitch. You place nuts and it's the easiest pitch of the hard pitches. Unless you are me and tired from the 300 meters of climbing you've done so far. I hung between every four moves. There is about 60 meters of rope out when you start the pitch so if you can't send (pull the moves without the help of the rope) you will hate your life. I climbed every hard sequence two to three times. The rope stretch made sure I fell right back to where I started. There is no way to communicate with your partner either. To avoid this and to minimize rope stretch I suggest belaying the second up to the bolted anchors in the middle, but it's a fully hanging stance and is very uncomfortable. The climb ends with a 5.10 roof crack.


At the top we changed into flip flops and hiked down Angel's landing trail. I was tired, thirsty, sweaty, and hungry. We were back at camp by 6pm. We made dinner with Wally and Kevin and played bananagrams. I lost every round.

Next Bishop!

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