|Dave Z sending StratusFear, the dream project.... and me cleaning/finding the path on the extension, Above the Clouds.|
This past month has been a dream come true. Sorry to get sappy here, but it is true. For years I have walked by this massive king line at Lion's Head and wondered why it hadn't gone yet. I'd asked around about it and learned that it was once aided years and years ago by John Kandoorp, and it apparently took him days to get to the top. This left me very intrigued. I mentioned it to my good friend/inspiration, Dave Zuly. Dave has been a major part of the more recent trad development at Lions Head, not to mention sport and retrobolting. Dave has kinda been my hero for years. His attitude, his eye for new classics, his climbing ethics. I was pleasantly surprised when he had said that he had been thinking about that line too.
The seed was planted.
So we went to work.
This climb proved to be incredibly epic since the very beginning. Not only is it insanely overhanging, but it also traverses and it is capped by several roofs. To access it was no easy task. Back clipping through the roof, through death blocks, experiencing several pieces ripping, taking monster swings into space. It literally took us days until we finally we had a plan. Until we could see the path.
The first 30m is a jaw dropping overhanging crack, the definite meat and potatoes of the route. The entire line is over 45m, and the final third needed bolts. We decided to add anchors to the top of the pure crack line. Then add an extension later on that is mixed. Dave is an animal with a drill. Once we had a plan, the next day he told me that he had anchors in and 4 bolts, using some magical tool called "hooks" for aiding, which the entire thought of made me want to puke. But now it was official. The route was ready to work.
Scrubbing mud out of the cracks, ripping off death blocks, removing lots of choss...
this took a couple days.
In the meantime we would play around on some of the moves and get giddy with excitement at how good the route was shaping up to be. When things really started to clean up, we gave it a top rope burn, finding the sequences, chalking the holds and scoping out gear placements.
The best part of all is that it was going to be totally safe on gear. No bolts needed!
Ground up is definitely an option now as the death choss has now been removed in the beginning sections. However, we did leave a bolt way up in the upper headwall to give people the option to do a rap inspection and cleaning burn. As most of you know, Ontario cracks are quite dirty in the spring/early summer, so this would make the climb a lot more enjoyable for future enthusiasts.
We both new that this was shaping up to be one of the best trad climbs around. A perfect hard traditional classic. What a gift!!
After that great day on TR, with only one fall; I knew it was ready to start working ground up. Next climbing day was one of those Lion's Head days that the wind just slams the cliff. It was freezing cold! I was so nervous about the lead that I was really looking for any excuse to not go for it. But alas, I arrived beneath it and how could I keep walking by? My time had come. I tried to block out visions of me taking the fall in the crux.
From the moment I left the ground I felt totally in touch. Like I was meant to be in that moment, on that rock. I arrived at the crux and moved through it with much more ease then before. I opted to run in out to the anchors, not from lack of gear options but merely lack of stances to place it. I was facing a very serious fall because I didn't extend my pieces. Kyle had 4m of slack on the ground as he had to drop me well below the roof. I took my time, I breathed, and I arrived safely at the top of
pitch one.........Stratus Fear.
|Calling Dave to tell him the good news.|
I called Dave the second my feet touched the ground. He was so stoked that he bailed on a visit from his mom and drove up the next day. This is why working a route with a buddy is so amazing, it keeps you so psyched. Him and I have been back and forth with motivation, and having eachother has really helped keep the fire alive.
|Getting the 2nd ascent of another Zuly trad classic, Global Warming 5.11a. Training for Stratus Fear. Staying psyched.|
|A little pep talk before the 2nd FA. Kyle ready for Bluepoint #2.|
|Zuly placing a key piece in the first roof crux.|
|Dave backs up the "Antique" with a yellow alien.|
This line is a masterpiece. I can't believe how it all came together and how classic it ended up being. It was worth all of the blood, sweat and tears. This route was a gift from the climbing gods. A dream come true. And the best part of all was getting to do this with one of my greatest buddy's...
|These are the days.|
But it isn't over yet.
Oh no it is not.
I unfortunately have been feeling like a bag of ass on the rocks for the last week. I think work/planning a climbing festival/Stratusfear/training have finally caught up with me.
Dave and I have also been feeling rather lost, and unmotivated since this incredible experience. As much more work is ahead now.
Step 2 is to get the bolts in the right place for the extension and take this monster to the top!! It will be a king line. It is HUGE. We need to finish what we started.
The tradical Stratus Fear 5.12d pitch is complete.
Stayed tuned for the progress on the bolted Above the Clouds extension!!
|Zuly sending, and me working the upper pitch. Eventually we want to link these all into one king line.|
Living the dream!!!
|North Shore 5.11a. Another trad classic on the Stratus Fear training circuit.|