Lion's Head

New Areas. New routes. Retrobolting. Add-ons. Re-grading. etc.
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Xenomorph
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Real Name: Cormac Tooze
Location: Cape Town

Lion's Head

Post by Xenomorph » Wed Feb 17, 2016 7:17 am

Who pulled the ear off Simbarama?

Cheers
Cormac

Warren G
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Re: Lion's Head

Post by Warren G » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:27 am

'ear we go:

I put Steven on it for a ground-up lead attempt, and while he could get onto your beloved ear easily enough he hadn't yet figured out the next couple moves, and not wanting to put any gear behind it he would take honest falls. Well, it was late in the day and far from our first route of the session, and fatigue was starting to shine through. He threw himself at the ear- but with less control (he was tired) and came off with more than he was expecting.

The falls he was taking up to that point were already pulling me off the ground about 1.5m, and the fateful one was not much different, except for the other bits he shared some air space with. I could only control the bits I was attached to, and being mid-air for the arrival of 20+kgs of uncontrolled rock all around me was not part of the days plan. But I caught as much of the falling stuff as I could- him principally- while his remaining company landed all around me, severing his new rope cleanly and evenly- in two.

I was belaying with CU glasses (Les Lunettes as we call them), and it was a big lesson for us: the glasses are great for normal belaying, but you loose all reference in situations like that above, and I didn't really know where the many pieces of rock were going, so was truly lucky not to have been hit. Had I have been it would most likely incapacitated me, and I would probably have dropped Steven.

The final lesson we learnt was to clean routes thoroughly before opening them. Steven and I consider ourselves the "Constant Gardeners" of Cape climbing, and were quite upset when someone recently beat us to that name. We argue that part of opening a route should be making certain its safe, and I am worried about other hollow holds like the flakes on Africa Arrete
Sandbagging is a dirty game

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Xenomorph
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Real Name: Cormac Tooze
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Re: Lion's Head

Post by Xenomorph » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:36 am

We tried the route a few times before we sent it and used the ear as a gaston. It was Cuan that I saw use it the first time. Up to that point I did not think of using it and when I did, I used it cautiously. Now the route will be 0.5 grade harder and more committing, not a bad thing.

Lion's Head is loose in places, so you need to be smart about what you pull down or out on. About a month ago a party was climbing Fin Fiesta, Grade-19, they were 8m to our right, the 2nd had his foot on a microwave size block which dislodged and missed the 3rd by a few meters. It came to rest below the circular path.
One of the most popular routes White Face is also the loosest, be safe out there!
Cheers
Cormac

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Thermophage
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Real Name: Cuan Lohrentz
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Re: Lion's Head

Post by Thermophage » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:38 am

Xenomorph wrote:We tried the route a few times before we sent it and used the ear as a gaston. It was Cuan that I saw use it the first time. Up to that point I did not think of using it and when I did, I used it cautiously. Now the route will be 0.5 grade harder and more committing, not a bad thing.

Lion's Head is loose in places, so you need to be smart about what you pull down or out on. About a month ago a party was climbing Fin Fiesta, Grade-19, they were 8m to our right, the 2nd had his foot on a microwave size block which dislodged and missed the 3rd by a few meters. It came to rest below the circular path.
One of the most popular routes White Face is also the loosest, be safe out there!
Cheers
Cormac
I'm smaller than you so safer for me :P
But ya will be interesting to go and re-climb it now without that hold :)
Dayum fine route

BrianG
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Re: Lion's Head

Post by BrianG » Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:18 pm

For interest sake, I was the leader on Fin Fiesta referred to by Cormac above. The block in question was a great resting stance for me. I spent up to 10 mins standing on it setting up for the crux. It was not loose in any obvious way. Admittedly my second was a bit heavier than me but not overly so. Luckily for all concerned the block sailed clear of everyone. There were some walkers below but they were off to the side and the 3rd climber was also off to the side! I spent quite a few anxious minutes figuring out that everyone was OK since I could only feel a very heavy weight on the ropes after the second let go after the block came off! Definitely one of the scarier moments in my climbing career.

On inspection from below after we finished the route (it was about 10m up), we could barely see where the block had come from. It looked like a "solid" piece of rock had actually sheared off down the middle. In other words there was almost no way to predict that it was "loose". As has been said "be careful out there".

Cheers,
Brian.

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Q20
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Re: Lion's Head

Post by Q20 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 11:58 pm

This raises a few points.

1. Parts of mountains and cliffs do come loose, scree slopes don't just arrive out of thin air.
2. Sometimes it is obvious which parts are loose/will come loose, sometimes it is not. Sometimes while tapping and pulling on a hold it seems fine, but then if it is pulled in another direction it isn't fine.
3. Even with an accurate RD, over time people will end up using holds up to a meter or so left or right of the intended line.
4. Not all routes are rapped down with a brush and hammer prior to being opened.
5. Rock changes in seasons. Something that seems fine after a dry spell, may be must less 'fine' after heavy or extended rain.
6. Some crags are just made of shittier rock than others.
7. Sometimes it is not safe to trundle. A large rock displaced near the top of Plattekilp could bounce all the way down the path (which is always busy).

Over the last years I have spent a disproportionate amount of time opening routes, including the two mentioned above.
I try to make routes as safe as possible, within reason.

Just yesterday we pulled off many kilograms of rock off a route at Yellowwood, but more will come off. There is only so much you can do, especially climbing ground up covering over 200m at reasonable speed. On the other hand there are short pitches that I have cleaned extensively on a fixed line, but even then you can't tap and pull every hold in every direction. I once walked up TM at 2am with a crowbar to try fry a large flake off (because during the day there would be too many people below). While the flake sounded terrible, over an hour of torquing (at 3:30am!) with the crowbar and man handling the flake as much as possible it didn't budge. At the other end of the spectrum, in Tasmania, I pulled off a totally 'solid' jug, covered in chalk, on one of the most popular sports routes on the island. Hundreds of hands had hung and yarded on that 'solid' hold, it just turned out mine was the last.

So, yes, I think first ascentionists do need to try and make their routes as safe as possible, within the limits of reasonableness and circumstance. Climbers need be as careful as they can, again within the same limits.

I have also had two ropes cut in half by falling rocks. I have been nailed on the helmet by rocks of several sizes.
Like it or not, this is part of the game. No one is forcing you to play.
One life, one body. Use them well.

BrianG
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Re: Lion's Head

Post by BrianG » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:20 am

Agreed!

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Xenomorph
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Junkie and the Juicehead

Post by Xenomorph » Wed Feb 24, 2016 8:31 am

I broke the critical hold off 'Junkie and the Juicehead'
so more 21/22 now,
Cheers
Cormac

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tygereye
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Re: Lion's Head

Post by tygereye » Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:55 am

Like it or not, this is part of the game. No one is forcing you to play.
This is a quote I will use for years to come.
Well said, sir!

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