Sunday, November 16, 2008

A tale of the route that Laurel and Dan climbed today that might be Hubris and/or Atlanta but may not be

The weather was forecast to be warm today so our plan was to get to Chautauqua early and climb a Flatiron. We picked two shorter routes in case it got cold. The first was East-facing for the morning sun and the second was South-facing for the afternoon -- by 1 or 2pm the sun isn't hitting the East faces any more and by 2 or 3 it's behind the mountain.

Finding the first route, Hubris, was a challenge. The book describes how to get to the start of the climb: "Start at the same place as Atlanta..." For Atlanta it says: "Start 230 feet southwest from the start of Baker's Way..." Baker's Way is described as being "...several hundred feet from the top of the Witch's Cabin..." Measuring these distances is near impossible, since 1) the trail switches back so much that you may hike 200 feet along the trail but only gain 20 vertical feet and end up 40 feet away, and 2) there are trees and rocks in the way, so you can't always see where you were.

We eventually decided that we must be at the start of the climb, even though the rock didn't match up with the description. In any case it seemed that a few hundred feet up we would meet up with where the route was supposed to go, and the lower section looked like easy enough climbing. The route was supposed to climb a "well-formed dihedral" but there wasn't anything in sight that I would describe that way.

In the shade the rock was cool but once we reached sunlight it was quite warm, especially with a heavy long-sleeved black shirt! I led up the rock as I have on any Flatiron climb: disregard any beta found in a guidebook. Instead, look for cracks that will take pro and aim for them. Runout the easy sections a bit. Tackle some harder sections if there's good pro. Eventually we made it to a large Juniper tree; from that point on we were no longer climbing what we thought was Hubris and had moved over to what seems to be Atlanta.

Atlanta tops out on the North Arete route. Lots of traffic today -- more than 10 people passed me while I was belaying Laurel up to that point. From there it should have been one short pitch to the summit, but since there were many people around we made it two really short pitches. The air was calm for a while but eventually the wind picked up, probably around 50 MPH. Laurel had a tough time rappelling with the wind blowing the ropes all around.

It was a fun day climbing the First, and unlike last summer's ascent, this time there were no thunderstorms (and I got to sign the register!). We didn't have time for the second climb -- we were pretty beat too. Maybe if the weather holds up...

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