After returning to the States, I put the Travelling Stopper in my car and waited for the next recipient in the Brotherhood to send me an address to continue its journey. Meanwhile, I headed to Moab for a couple weeks. Little did I know that the hardy nut would get one more crucial placement.
It was a soggy day, so Michael and I headed out for the Crack House to find some dry rock to shove our appendages in. The approach to the cave follows mostly flat dirt road for six miles, which had a couple inches of snow on it. Both of us were rocking 2WD hatchbacks but had tire cables in reserve, so we figured if we didn’t need use them on the way in, we’d have a good chance of getting out.
We drove four miles until the snow got deeper, and enjoyed a cruiser two-mile hike to the cave. Crack House features a fifty-foot horizontal crack, approximately hand-sized, that’s six to ten feet off the ground. It makes for stellar all-in jamming while hanging upside down.
Most of the crack is slammer hands and feet with the occasional tight hand, cupped hand or fist to keep things interesting. The crux for me was a sequential spot where you move from a good fist through a couple desperate tight hand moves to a constriction. Protection involves having your spotographer slide the pad along with you.
It was just under 30F with no sun in the cave, but you don’t need your fingers for this kind of stuff anyways. The Loki Tech Hoodie stayed on until my “redpoint burn.” The entire crack includes some offwidth moves on either end but those were covered in ice or dripping water, so we got to play the ethics card and avoid them (whew).
It was Michael’s first time crack climbing — pretty stout way to learn to jam! I told him that any route with perfect hands, no matter how steep it is, can only be rated 5.10. So the middle pitch of Crackhouse goes at about 5.10+++. He did really well and locked in some good jams … I think we have a new convert …
Everyone knows that tape gloves and sticky rubber are aid. It’s a Scientific Fact™ proven by Science. What most people don’t realize, however, is that aid climbing is amazing. As much as I would love to get a proper Free ascent of Crack House (naked, barefoot, in a blizzard, in the dark, on an empty stomach, carrying and placing doubles to #6 but not clipping them), we had a great time cheating our way through this area classic 5.9+.
Speaking of shoes, this was the first use of The General by Evolv. I broke them in for a day while driving stick shift from GJ to Moab, and then wandered around town in them like a gumby. They were sufficiently broken in to wear for two hours straight and jammed the cupped hands and fists like a champ. I’m excited to throw them on some merciless desert offwidth.
These kicks are so keen on jamming that you don’t even have to wear them. I was like “Aiyo General, will you lead this pitch?” And they’re like …
So back to the matter at hand. How in the world do you place a BD #7 Stopper on this stuff?
When we got back to the cars, it had been snowing pretty hard. With a little elbow grease, we got both hatchies turned around and partway out, but then came the crux pitch: a double-dogleg into a steep hill. Our tracks were covered with fresh pow. I railed it a couple times but could never keep up enough momentum after the second turn to get up the hill. After several attempts, I went to throw on my tire cables, but then realized that the only cable stop that fit had ripped off, most likely in a previous misadventure on Kebler Pass. This set of chains was only barely big enough to fit with the outermost size, because I had gotten two flats in Mexico and they only had 195/55/16’s there instead of 185’s, so my front tires were larger. We tried running the hill with just one tired encabled, but to no avail.
What to do? In this time of spiritual crisis, I beseeched (besought? besotted? besmooched?) the Holy Stopper for guidance and it answered.
One BD #7 Stopper, one Neutrino wiregate and a quicklink gave us just enough extension to connect the damaged cables. Tire crampons in place, we tried again (with Michael sitting on the hood for good measure) and after many efforts, inched Jezebel up the slope.
Then we swapped my jerryrigged cables over to Michael’s Versa — in true dirtbag fashion, he hadn’t opened his set of cables and was hoping to return them for a refund at the end of his four-month road trip — and after several attempts, got him up the hill as well.
Eventually, we had to break into the second set of cables because the mellow hills that we encountered on the drive in had turned into stout WI-5 hardman testpieces. Michael conceded that it was a $40 well-spent.
Altogether, it took us four hours to move two vehicles four miles. We could have hiked the whole thing with less time and effort, but hiking is aid. And where’s the story in that?
Finally, as a culmination of our efforts, we received the Crown of Righteousness — a “well done, good and faithful servant” from Brother Tony, the founding father and OP of the Brotherhood of the Travelling Stopper.
And all G-d’s gotez said “YEEEEEE!!!!”