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Tangerine Trip

Pitch-by-pitch beta/report by Bob Ternes

I just read this again. Oh my god is it LONG. It's more or less straight from my personal notes, which I am convinced I must have written drunk. This is a Tangerine Trip (aka the Diagonal Drip) Report. I wrote this shortly after an ascent of this stunning line on the right (i.e. correct) side of El Cap. Reading the recent solo TR of the same wall, posted by Will Johnson, reminded me of this. It contains useful pitch-by-pitch info for aspiring ascentionists. Or posers who can regurgitate facts about climbs and techniques they've never done. Either way, enjoy, hope this will be useful. Uncertain details are marked with a ?. These are to the best of my recollection. Come to think of it, so is everything else, but I am specifically uncertain (hunh?) about these ?-marked points. Wed, 30 Sep 1998

I did this wall with Scott Brockmeier, a good friend, former tree hugger, and El Cap veteran (way more than me). We climbed it between June 2nd and the 7th, for 6 days on the wall: one day fixing, four climbing, and one day waiting for an obnoxiously indecisive rain to clear the valley.

I'll skip the obvious approach jazz (ref: Madbolter ascii gully picture), and go straight into the climb. When we fixed, we had to wear rain gear, as the 4th pitch (the drip) is incessant, and thanks to the overhanging nature of the route, airborne. Fuckin drip, man.

By the way, I think this will be very detailed, but there are some obvious points I won't include further: Traverses require pro to be left in if you want all the pro back when cleaning. A dowel is a short rod of aluminum pounded into a " hole. Sometimes washers are put on before hammer blows mushroom both ends. They are often placed so that they diagonal up. But tons o' people hanging on the washer ends (gumbies) bend em down. But often there's a little spot right up against the wall where rivet hangers have eroded a little notch. Bonus placement spot right there. Cinching rivet hangers are the bomb on dowels. Etc.

P1: The first pitch takes the rubble above the tree to a bolt ladder, then up to some anchors. The climbing through the bolt ladder, and on the subsequent jugs, was wetter than your drunk prom date. (No offense Casey: I'm talking about THEIR prom date.) I pulled out the Captain and Fish hooks and leapfrogged em to the Belay. Rating: Easy free to Baby Aid. Drunkable.

P2: Scott's: Walk up ramp (see Shoreline 'tattoo boy jugging' ad in the mags) to a bolt, then up like 30-40 feet to some anchors ?in a wet corner? Rating: A2+?

P3: Cruise up the left dihedral, and before you're at it's end, backclean to avoid rope drag (possibility of rope cut). Small RP's to ?Cam Hook?. But go LOW on the above ramp. Avoid the temptation to go high. Bad Pro here will make the clean treacherous. A2. You might need to belay in the middle of the pitch, in the watersheet, if rope drag is bad.

P4: Sketchy 2-cam placements to roof. Downward pendy's to the anchor. Rain gear MANDATORY for early season ascents. Since the fixed pins are driven into the widest part of the thincrack, they are in the wettest areas. And since the pins/attached slings become the focii for the drips, every deucy you do will situate you in a waterfall for a few minutes. SUCK!!! I obviously cleaned this pitch. A2

P5: Beautiful A2 forever. Backclean if you are 'equipping' the pitch for the next party. Probably the best pitch on the route. And Mine! All Mine! A2

P6: 20 minutes on rivets. Baby aid. We bivied here.

P7: Gold Corner: Baby Aid.

P8: Rivets to a 5.9 move, which is tensionable for the first part. Once you're standing on crappy slopers in your 5.10's, you have some REALLY interesting and rather hard clean aid to contend with. From what I could tell, most people put LA's, KB's, RURP's, Beaks, etc, in this section. My notes say: 'probably some easy short thin LA's or even bugaboo short thick.' Have a blast. I know you'll want a beak up higher. We were running 60 meter lines, and since Gold Corner was so short, we were convinced that 7-8 were linkable. Turns out I ran out of rope on top of the 5.9/hard clean section, and I belayed off a new bolt and three cams in a crack. Above this on P8 there is a pendy, etc. for 20 feet to the anchor. Scott got the rest of 8 and 9.

P9: An easy ramp leads to a choice: a Marked 'A3+' section on the topo bypasses a 10b fist crack which Scott frenched. On the clean, I'd frequently pull into the crack, hold myself, pull out the gear, and then drop/pendy to the next piece. Exhausting to lead and clean. I don't know which looked harder: the 10b or the 'A3+' on the bottom of the flake. Oops, I screwed up. I didn't run out of rope on P8, well, not yet. I revert to my notes: " DO NOT try to link 7+8. Not possible. I ended up belaying from the bolt past the 5.9 on P8. This was backed up with some pieces in the crack above (bomber). But still sketchball. SERIOUS rope drag and ZERO communication (which made the pendy impossible) were to blame. I'd call P8 C2+. 2 camhooks above Zero Gear then a #1 Offset to a mantle.

Pitch 10 was pretty easy. But there's a BIG rope eating/slicing/fucking potential CUISINART about 40 feet up that would have sent me reeling. Here's the lowdown. I aided/frenched up 30 or 40 feet, up this flake to a point where the flake opened up into a chimney. I chimneyed up about 10 feet, where the chimney pinched down again into an overhanging thincrack, and placed the first of many 00-1 TCU's and Blue Aliens. These were WAY sketchball pieces. Serious RIOT potential here. Since my last piece of pro was about 5-10 feet below the chimney floor, a fall would have been very bad. The chopper flake formed the outside of the chimney, and since the crack above led out above and away from the chimney's open side, back cleaning was necessary for both leader/cleaner. As I was leading, I had my belayer tie off the haul line. Since every TCU I put into the Black Diorite spat grit at me, I was pretty concerned about the fall. Anyway, if I remember right, the belay is pretty cush. Right nice for 2 singles. A2.

P11-12 go in one. I remember Scott missing a bathook hole. I pointed it out to him as I cleaned, and asked, "Fun Bathook?" or something. He was decidedly surprised. That section was a LONG topstep off of a dowel without the bathook. So also on 12 I saw the first of many dowels. Fucking sketchball, I thought. Oh, I had so much to learn.

P13 was WAY small RP's to some sketchy rivets. I turned a roof to hit some more small RP (and HB offsets, I use the term interchangeably for the small sizes, but only offsets RULE THE WASTELAND). I got a SWEET hook (grappling) in a pocket, reached up, clipped a #2 fixed head, and had it SNAP. So I looked around, and finding nothing, saw another fixed mashie above. I was a bit reticent about clipping it directly off of a topstep (since the hook was all the way in, just nothing for outward pull on it.) So I reached over, and put a #1 camalot behind a big diorite dagger to the side, weighted it slightly, and had the dagger EXPAND from the wall. Nope, I say, I pulled that cam out super quick. The dagger was part of a loose formation above me, and I had paranoid delusions of this keystone dagger unleashing laharesque rockslides onto my pathetic puny little body. So I pulled that cam out, Way hero-loop style topstepped the hook, clipped the next mashie, then a rivet, and shortly afterwards clipped the anchor.

P14: a sketchy A2+ corner to the fucking loosest 5.7 I've ever laid my eyes on. My partner daisy fell when a blue metolius #1 FCU pulled in what I thought was a good placement. NOT COOL. FYI, P14 has all the hangers on the anchors. When I was jugging this pitch, the rope was merely contacting a Big Rotten Slab of Diorite. When I weighted the rope over it (on the outside) SERIOUS kitty litter came out the bottom. It's like I broke a motherfucking aquarium behind the flake and all the gravel was coming out. I suddenly heard myself saying, "I'm not gonna die now. I'm not gonna fucking die. Not now. Not ever. I won't fucking die." Or something to that effect. The next thing I knew, I had free climbed almost the entire rest of the 5.7 to the belay. My jugs were hanging on a desperate loop of slack way below me. Exciting. Glad nothing pulled. We bivy'd at the belay. We added a bolt. The belay is under a big roof (also a home to Swifts, which kept us company while we waited out the storm the next day). Anyway, the roof keeps the rain off ya. The next day, we sat out the storm. I've never, while well, sat in one place for 35 or so hours. Welcome to rain days. I sat and counted everything I had, twice, read all the labels, and I was really jonesin for something when I remembered the MAG, MAN!!! Scott had something to the effect that this was the first wall he had done where he didn't bring a book or something like that, and then I remembered it. The MAG. The big, glossy, lurid, filthy, more entertaining-than-sitting-around, filled-with-naked-female-bodies MAG. The fucking PORNO, MAN!!! THE FUCKING BELAY CHAIR!!!! I stood up, unzipped the A5 belay chair, and grabbed the mag which a previous wall partner, Bill Binder, had left as 'belay literature.' I counted the pages, made a careful incision at the exact middle, and Scott and I took turns reading the pages (we only read it for the articles, duh). Hardly enraptured with Penthouse's finest content, I could have been reading manuals to lawnmowers or journals about gardens or diaries about sailing. This was a glimpse of a world where you could move (apparently naked), sit down on chairs (also naked), run freely (yet again naked), and pose with out any clothing on. I was lured by the Penthouse, disgusted by it, but most of all, it was a world outside my sickly green FISH rainfly, which cheers you up for a while but then it gets as annoying as a consolatory mother who keeps barging in on you (probably while you're also reading penthouse). No, I did not, well, umm, you know.

The next day saw P15: a Rivet ladder with a bomber C1 hook right in the middle. 2 real bolts or something ridiculous like that on it. Watch the Aluminum dowels, don't bounce em, bring a few cinching rivet hangers and whatever the fuck you do, DO NOT FALL. It will be all clean but you'll pull more gear than a ripper on A4 sandstone. Ok, It's actually not that bad. Wing nuts allow security, and the few bolts on the pitch add some sanity. Except for the dirty bottom section (do NOT look up while placing), you can leave the rack at home. Bring some wireds for wicked reaches, and bring like 10 rivet hangers for fun.

P16 is more rivets to a pretty sane C2 crack. Again, don't back clean too much.

P17: Bathooks off the belay, then 5.9 off of a rivet. Fucking AWESOME. Real anus on a cinchcord kind of thing. Seriously Bonus pitch.

I recommend doing the Baby Aid up to the top of pitch marked '18' on the topo, rather than belaying at '17'. The belay's good, with a bomber fixed pin, a 5/16" buttonhead and some cams, but It's not worth stopping for. It's just that without a 200' rope, you'll run out of rope on the 5.6 exit slabs.

Gear: What this route lacks in 2-cam alien 'placements' it makes up for in hook, camhook, and RP placements. Our Rack:

#4 Camalot
2 #.5-#3 camalots.
1 full set aliens Blue-red, double yellow
2 #00, 0, 1 Metolius TCU's
1-2 #2-5 TCU/FCU's
3 Cinching Rivet Hangers (ohhh so nice, these are NOT normal hangers, get em 
at the MTN shop)
All hooks, from 2 bathooks to Fish/Captain hook
~20 runners
1 keyhole hanger (used once)
First 3 lowe balls (VERY handy)
All 3 camhooks (didn't use 'baby'
15 Tie offs
10 " nuts, and wingnuts, too. I suppose a few doubloons would be good.
2 sets nuts 
3 sets tinys (1 set offsets super important, another set, vintage unimportant, 
necessary. We brought 2 sets of Brass Offsets to #4. I always seemed to get 
the 'tiny' pitches. I really appreciated them.

At one point, Scott passed an offset #2, and unclipped it before cleaning. Just the quickdraw's pendulum dislodged it and sent it. Fucking SUCK. A sketchy little piece, as I remember.

Oh, before you slip a Rivet hanger over a dowel's washer 'hanger,' open the wire a little bit, forming a bit of a loop. Slamming that washer against the wall, and blocking the notch there, one too many times almost made me cry like a little girl.

We threw in a meager selection of Iron into the bag to be safe. I'd take nothing larger than a 5/8" baby angle, since anything wider is just too easy to clean aid. Bring a couple of KB's in the larger sizes, maybe a rurp, 2 beaks, some bugaboos, and some SHORT LA's asstd. Widths.

We used our bolt kit, putting a 3/8" slug in the P14 belay. If you're feeling charitable, pull some P15 dowels and slam in some bombers. Those dowels are time bombs, man.

P.S. East ledges in the rain sucks with a fat, soaking haulbag. Russian Roulette with a semi-automatic would be more fun, and perhaps safer. "

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