Andy in the Rockies

Trip reports, videos, and photos from hiking, climbing,
and mountaineering adventures in Colorado and beyond.

Lumpy Ridge - Left Book - White Whale
May 15, 2005

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This is a shot of the second pitch of White Whale from Orange Julius taken ...Julie begins the first pitch of White Whale....Julie climbs the first pitch of White Whale....Julie nears the belay ledge atop the first pitch of White Whale....The belay ledge atop the first pitch provided a nice view to the southwest....Julie begins the second pitch of White Whale....Julie jams the second pitch of White Whale. In this photo Julie is in rough...View of The Bookend from the belay ledge atop the second pitch of White Wha...View of The Bookmark from the belay ledge atop the second pitch of White Wh...Julie begins the final pitch of White Whale....Julie negotiates the little overhang on the final pitch of White Whale. It ...Looking up at the cliff during the walk off. The small tree sticking out of...View of White Whale during the walk off. You can make out a climber near th...Looking back at the cliffs during the hike out. You can't see White Whale f...
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Trip Report [hide]

Julie and I had been really looking forward to our first multi-pitch route. We had planned weeks out to go with our climbing mentors Sandy and Tom, so when I got a phone call from Sandy just a little before 8:00am saying that she had a raging migraine and wouldn't be able to join us we were a little disconcerted. However, Tom showed up a few minutes later and said that the three of us should soldier on without her. Julie had really been looking forward to climbing with Sandy and was bit intimidated to climb with Tom and me. We had to do a little convincing to get her to go with us, but in the end she mustered her courage and we set off.

After an uneventful drive up to the Twin Owls Trailhead we encountered our only difficulty of the day - the parking lot was full. The lot is completely surrounded by private property and there is no overflow parking or parking allowed on the road leading up to the trailhead. Not to be discouraged we dropped our kit with Julie at the trailhead and Tom and I drove back down to Devils Gulch Road where we parked just outside the MacGregor Ranch gate. This added about a mile walk each way, but what can you do? After a brisk hike back up the road to the trailhead we strapped on our kit and set out for our first multi-pitch climb the classic White Whale (5.7) on The Book cliff of Lumpy Ridge.

We made quick progress down the flat trail as it ran northwest below Lumpy Ridge, with Tom pointing out the various cliffs and routes. Soon we made it to our turnoff and began the steep ascent up to the base of the cliff. This was tiresome work and we were soon huffing and puffing. The trail wound its way up to the base of the cliff and we were glad Tom knew the way as it was difficult to keep all the cliff faces straight with similar names like Bookend, Bookmark, Left Book, Right Book etc. Eventually we made it to the base of the climb.

There were already several parties ahead of us, but by the time we got our kit sorted out and the ropes flaked out the party ahead of us had cleared off the belay ledge atop the first pitch. Tom quickly scampered up the first pitch and set up a belay on a nice big ledge near a tree. Next it was Julie's turn and she tied into both our ropes - Tom would belay her on one and she would drag the second behind her. As she ascended she unclipped her rope from the protection and then clipped the second rope (the one I would climb on) into the protection. Julie made steady progress up the first pitch without anything giving her too much trouble. When she had made it up to the belay ledge it was my turn. I wasn't really paying that much attention to the moves as Tom and Julie climbed the first pitch so it was all new and fresh to me. There was a mixture of slabby stuff and then this huge flake/crack thing. The slabby stuff was fun because the crystals in the rock provided much more confidence-inspiring foothold than the kind of thing we were used to at Red Rock Canyon Open Space. I found the huge flake/crack thing really fun. I don't quite know whether to call it a crack or a flake. It ran more or less vertically and the crack, instead of going straight back into the rock away from me wrapped around to the right creating a flake type thing. Anywho, I was able to grab onto it with both hands stretched out to my left and lieback to my right. I worked my way up the majority of the climb this way while smearing my feet. At the same time I was removing the protection Tom had placed. This was my first time doing this and I was trying to pay attention to how it was placed and what kind of gear Tom placed so that I could hopefully repeat the process some day. The cleaning was much easier than I had anticipated and I was able to clean everything without having to use the cleaning tool. Soon I made it up to the small roof directly below the belay ledge. This turned out to be a little trick as I had to traverse under the roof to my left with minimal hand holds. Once to the side of the roof I found a nice little crack to scurry up to the belay ledge.

Julie had been belaying me while Tom managed the rope and organized his rack. When I arrived at the ledge I tied into the anchor and handed Tom all the protection I had just cleaned. It only took Tom a minute or two to organize the rack and he was off. It turned out that Julie was the designated belay slave as she belayed Tom up the second pitch. Consequently I got to just hang out and enjoy the view. Tom made quick work of the second pitch as it was Julie's turn. She untied herself from the anchor set out. I paid a little more attention this time as Julie ascended the second pitch. It seemed like there where several more difficult moves on this pitch including several that involved a mantle/smear combo. A little over halfway up Julie began jamming a crack. I couldn't see what she was doing with her hands but I could see her performing many successive foot jams as she ascended. Soon she was through this portion of the pitch and traversed over to the left below a roof and then was out of site. I waited for Julie and Tom to organize the ropes up on the ledge above the second pitch until I heard Julie shout "Belay On!" I dismantled the anchor at our old belay station and set out.

The first half of the pitch went smoothly but when I ran into the crack that Julie had jammed I found the going more difficult. Jamming my feet worked really well, but I couldn't find anything good to do with my hands. The vertical crack was flared with beveled edges. The slabs of rock on either side of the crack were smooth and featureless. After a couple of hesitant moves upward I finally settled on an awkward technique that seemed to work - I put my left hand on the left side of the crack and my right hand on the right side of the crack and pulled apart. This wasn't terribly efficient or attractive but I generated enough pressure so that I could keep my balance as I continued sticking foot jams up the crack. After about fifteen feet or so of this the crack narrowed and I was able to get my fingers in it and lieback with confidence. After a few moves of this I traversed over to a crack on my left and scampered up this to the roof below the belay ledge. This was similar in trickiness to the last roof below the previous belay station. However, this one was complicated by an awkwardly placed nut that I needed to retrieve. As I was clipping the nut into my gear sling I heard a clink. That didn't sound good and as I looked down I saw my cleaning tool sailing through the air. I yelled "Rock" as loud as I could as the tool hurtled through the air within fifteen feet of the next party of climbers who where setting up on the belay ledge above the first pitch. I felt really embarrassed and thankful that the tool hadn't whacked one of the climbers below me.

As I approached the belay ledge Tom and Julie gave me a hard time about dropping the cleaning tool. Tom joked that the people below were like, "Wow - that's a shiny rock - a $15 rock!" Luckily Julie had her tool with her so I snagged it to clean the last pitch. I gave Tom the rack and he sorted out the ropes before he continue on. The final pitch was pretty short but a little harder and very run-out. There was a little roof section above our belay stance and then a twenty foot smooth slab of granite where there was absolutely nowhere to place protection. Tom made short work of it however and then it was Julie's turn. She had little trouble with the overhang but the slabby section above was a little more challenging. She hung with it though and was soon on top. My turn and I dismantled the anchor before heading up. I found the roof a lot easier than it looked from below. The slabby section was a little tougher but a series of mantle-smear, mantle-smear moves got me through it. The last fifteen feet was really juggy and I made my way easily up it until I got to the last piece of protection. This Friend was stuck tightly in a crack and Tom said the rope and caught it a little and had swiveled it in the crack a bit making it even harder to remove. I struggled with it for a few moments before I finally got it out. I threw it on my gear sling and scuttled up the last ten feet to the final belay ledge.

Success! Julie and I felt very pleased with how well we had climbed. We were still a ways away from being able to lead such a climb on our own but this outing got us a little closer. We coiled our ropes and scrambled down the side of the cliff back to where we'd left our packs at the base of White Whale. Tom had cleverly brought sandals up with him but Julie and I had to walk back down in our climbing shoes. It was a bit of a scramble and I'm not sure which I would have preferred - the uncomfortable climbing shoes with sure footing, or the comfortable sandals with unsure footing. One thing was sure though, by the time we made it back to our packs my feet were killing me. It felt soooo good to peel the shoes off.

There was a couple at the base of the climb toproping who had found my cleaning tool and gave it to me. I was sure I had lost it either because I wouldn't be able to find it or some other climber had claimed it as booty - so it was really nice to get it back. We had some PB and J sandwiches and candy bars before sorting our stuff out for the return hike.

As we walked back down from the cliffs we spotted several parties in mid-climb and Tom did his best to identify the routes for us. It is really amazing how many routes are jammed onto Lumpy Ridge - certainly enough for a lifetime of climbing. By the time we made it back to the trailhead we were all feeling pretty tired but we still had the last mile to walk down to the car on Devils Gulch Road. This went quickly though down the nice smooth road and soon we were cruising back home down Big Thomson Canyon. The only thing that would have made the day better was if Sandy could have been there. Oh well - this just gave us an excuse to get out again real soon!

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