Sunday, July 03, 2011

Weissner's Dike

After months of driving by and staring up slack-jawed, trying to avoid the guard rails on 93, I finally made plans to head up Cannon Cliff. It is big, it is loose, it can be fun.

Saturday proved weather worthy of an all-day climb after several weekends of wash-outs.
Tony and I talked about Weissner's Buttress, a climb from the 1930s on the northern end of the cliff. It is not as popular as some of the other routes, but it is supposedly moderate and can be dry. Not today, it turns out.

So, we tracked around the buttress to try Weissner's Dike, starting with the diagonal cut across the lower section of the cliff. Sunny day, cool temperature, mostly dry rock.

It was nice moderate climbing. Just when I was wondering how far to go a nice double-bolt rappel station came into sight and I decided to set up shop. The climb was not as run-out as it looks here, the last couple of placements are hidden.

Tony led the second pitch, around a loose horn and up a gully of sorts through some shrubs. I took the lead for pitch three and had one of the more interesting leads in a while. The pitch tracked up some slabs with occasional protection over to a brushy corner. The preferred route might have crossed onto the better rock up a side wall from the brush. I stayed low and found myself among some soft granite that turned to sand when I pinched it. Easing my way down from the crumblies I head back to some scrub. That's when Tony yelled "10-feet of rope left." I could see a piece in 20 and there was nothing here to build an anchor with. I found a stance and plugged in a #3 cam as he moved up to a rap station that was just below our last anchor. That little bit gave me room to climb up onto better rock and build an anchor. Tony led off from there onto the beginning of the good climbing on pitches 4 and 5 (below).

Pitch 5 has an overhanging first move and is nicely vertical for the rest of the pitch, though it is still 5.6 At the top of the pitch, feet from the anchor, I grabbed a horn and pulled myself up. And then the horn, crack-less before, pulled off and disintegrated on the ledges below. My faith in the rock around us started to dwindle. Just above me the silicone-filled cracks that used to line the Old Man of the Mountain faced out into the void.

The last pitch climbs the chimney in what was the Old Man's left ear. The first move, over a tall slice of granite called the Archival Flake, or the Hump, is famous for its awkwardness. Tony led. Next time, I will. The last fifty feet climb an interesting, flaring chimney. Usable features switch from side to side, so there is a lot of looking for the next move, but it is always there. Sometimes it's just behind you.

Cars line the road to hike Mount Lafayette (as seen from the Old Man's comb-over braces.



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