Tuesday, July 23

the almighty

After wrapping up Moonshine, I was pretty stoked to move on -- with our work at Wolf Point pretty well sewn up, the temperatures on the rise, and my primary Iris goals finished. I absolutely loved my 7 weeks in Lander, but a few other things in Wyoming were calling my name. Getting to the know that place and spending time with some incredible characters was the highlight of my year thus far. I went back to the Iris for one more day-- I wanted to put in an effort on Moonshine's neighbor, 'Ghost Moon' 13d and also grab some quick b-roll footage for a short piece Mikey Williams is putting together for Deadpoint Mag.

wolf point..... until the fall my friend... 
Next stop was Jackson, Wyoming. A stark contrast to Lander as I spoke about in a previous post - it feels like quite the metropolis... My primary mission for revisiting Jackson was to check out this semi-legendary route in Teton Canyon that remained a burly open project for years until Driggs local and master bread maker Ty Mack finally put it to rest in mid October of 2011. Teton Canyon is essentially Ty's backyard - with the closest gym at an hour drive away, he frequently jets out from work and chucks mini trax laps on the stunning granite. Super humble Ty remains very much under the radar, but his ascent of 'The Almighty' deserves serious praise. On a short list of traditional routes this hard in the country, this is unquestionably one of the best quality.

fresh food from the garden... cool evenings... great people...  loving life in Jackson

Back in early June, my buddy and bad ass all arounder, Brendon O'Neil provoked me to consider this route tucked away in Teton Canyon when Lander got too hot. It stayed on my radar, but another good friend, Colby Frontiero (who'd put in effort on the route) warned me that Ty's beta would never work for me (Ty stands well above 6 foot). Regardless, I was intrigued and stoked to see if I couldn't find a way up it. Once I finally saw the route in person, I knew I needed to climb it. It's nothing short of stunning... I spent 3 days working out the route, rehearsing gear placements and wrapping my mind around how to redpoint this beast. Ty established the route with pre-placed gear through the bottom half and then finished on a logical and awesome, hard, bolted 13a called 'Super G' to the top. I was really ambitious to place all of my gear on lead, and thankfully my beta just barely allowed for safe(ish) placement on the go. 

sussing gear at the bottom of the crux - my rack for the route ended up as follows:: orange Metolius TCU, grey (00) Metolius Mastercam, blue Metolius Mastercam, small DMM(?) offset nut, Metolius #3 astronut, fixed nut, bolts... 
There are 2 main pieces that protect the longboulder problem on The Almighty -- the first one is a sinker offset nut, that requires perfect placement- which is a little tricky because it's completely blind. This nut literally keeps you off the deck if you fall from the middle of the crux, and although it is bomber, I rehearsed this placement tirelessly because you never actually see on the go if you've nailed the placement or not - it's all by feel. The climbing up to here is probably 11+ or so, but it quickly gains difficulty. A strange boulder problem and rock over move bring you to a stance above that nut. Above here it turns up even more. The crux for me is shoulder intensive and punchy with horrible feet. The next, extremely crucial piece is very stressful and hard to place. I hang off a 3 finger sloper in the crack and I used a tiny #3 Metolius Astronut which was absolutely perfect. Body tension and high feet bring you above this placement and to a fixed nut just before you join 'Super G' and start clipping bolts.

on TR
Yesterday I successfully top roped the route, faux-placing gear on the way. This was hugely inspiring for me, but I knew that on the sharp end it would be an entirely different animal.

Ty was keen to come out to the crag today, and it was awesome to have him there on the belay. I stacked a couple crash pads at the base, in the spirit of safety... When sport climbing I have essentially no fear - partly because of my experience but also because I feel that there's very little rational reasoning for being afraid. However, on hard trad leads, I, like most everyone, definitely fight with anxiety, fear and always try to remember to ask myself - is it worth it? Because here, to me, there is inherent danger that is unique to hard headpoints.... so the rationality part of it goes out the window. You're afraid because you actually are in danger. Skillfully limiting that danger is the best we can do I guess.

I warmed up with a lap on Super G, brushed the holds and reviewed my gear placements again quick as I lowered down the Almighty. I started off feeling strong, climbing well, nailing the first placement and firing into the mid-crux. When I stuck the hold for placing the #3 I felt pretty strong but for some reason I was slipping. With feet well above my last nut, and adrenaline racing I pealed off. Zooming to within a body length of the crash pads, I instantly celebrated the offset for keeping me on the rope and off the ground. Whoa. Okay so the good news was I can blow it from way up there and not die, the bad news was that now I had a kinda severe adrenaline hangover. I took my time cooling off as Emily and Ty lightened the mode with jokes and playful chatter.

My second go I started off well and found myself entering the mid-crux again, this time with fire in my eyes. I nailed the tenuous #3 placement and carried on towards the fixed wire. I let out a scream as I threw into the final finger lock, soon thereafter finding a nice rest and clipping a bolt. It was a relieving moment, but I knew I needed to keep it together. The boulder problem just below the chains was a formidable one. Here, Ty, does one go-go-gadget long arm crux move, where I do 9 moves to reach the same hold - smearing my feet and rocking over right and back left. It's a fun sequence but certainly was stressful on the go. I lurched for the last rail and clipped the anchor, elated.

This is one of my favorite ascents to date - I feel that it is my hardest trad lead and it was a really cool process to get there. Ty suggested .14a for The Almighty and I think personally I would suggest .14b for the short person method through the lower and upper cruxes. Because of size we really did climb the route entirely different. Ty's effort here is really sick, and I want to make a point to congratulate him again for his efforts opening The Almighty -- there really is nothing else like it!

Just to make sure this wall got maximum action, I did the awesome crimp route 'Freerider' 13a and Ty finished the day with a headpoint lead of 'Off With Your Hands' 13a. Wicked day in Teton Canyon!