A Cloud In The Sky
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|Park off the main Little Cottonwood Canyon road|
Park your car off of the main canyon road.
How do you climb this sand heap?
Oh, Cloud in the Sky... Where to even start? Perhaps with a disclaimer? The most prolific developer at HelmetGate over these past few years has a comment on his topo about ACITS: not recommended. Dun dun dun. Coming from a man who's established some highly climbable decomposing choss adventures, this shouldn't be taken lightly. The Ruckmans on the other hand seem quite appreciative of the line, stating that people love this line despite some friable rock. If you've climbed any old line at HellGate you might have already guessed where the truth lies: they must have been in their best sandbagging mood.
ACITS begins with bomber rock and a fun shuffle along an arching bulge feature. Solid marble-textured holds abound, bolts are close by, swallows swoosh around... Stash your boner away though because none of this pleasant stuff prepares you for what lurks above the 4th or 5th bolt. Surmounting the bulge sets a new tone as you realize it's a long way to the next clip and most of the holds now have the solid feel of your average church wafer. Turns out what sounded like those damn birds diving about is really the ominous buzzing of falling choss.
The feeling of uneasiness will grow through the next section as you come to terms with the fact that you don't belong on this vertical abstraction of a route. If you chose to persevere though, practice your 4-points climbing, tiptoe, levitate, summon your gods and spend those karma points you've accumulated. The reward will be reaching an even thinner section where the scattered marble crystals that kept you on the wall just vanish. You'll be left with nothing but sugary flakes to pull on and profound self-hatred to live by. Assuming you haven't taken a ride yet, don't get greedy and throw to those big pockets that litter the last few feet of the route: they're packed full of sand.
To summarize: the line is fun and has a drilled-on-lead feel to it (James? That would be beyond proud!) and makes for a decent warmup due to the insane amount of time you'll spend balancing on fragile stuff while overgripping for all you're worth. It will teach you not to bitch about choss ever again because it's the absolute baseline in that respect. I'd definitely recommend it if you're solid at 10a, it might feel a bit stouter though.
Also, don't believe everything you read.
Where do you find said sand heap?
Cloud is located on the far right (East) side of the Clamshell, the bulbous expanse of slabby white rock just past the Goatland Wall.
The route starts a few feet left of a pillar that must have resided high on the wall and at some point embraced the ways of the choss and came down to rest against the base of the Clamshell.
How not to DIE going up the sand heap?
12 bolts to chain anchors.
Mandatory long runners for the first 4 or 5 bolts and maybe a couple more for stray bolts up high. You don't want any form of rope drag making you feel heavier than you already are while negotiating this sand castle.
Lower/rap with a 60m.
Jun 21, 2012
Great write up.
I actually really liked this. Which says something for my sanity.
Climbing good rock vs choss is maybe akin to a well protected sport route vs a tricky thin-gear run out trad line.
But much worse.
4 stars. Heh heh
From: Small Lake, UT
Jun 21, 2012
Thanks guys! And I agree, without climbing rotten stuff once in a while you'd never appreciate the ability to paste your foot anywhere on a granite slab and stand up without plummeting down amid a hail of choss. Plus where else would you learn to tiptoe and climb with 4 balanced points of contact?
LONG LIVE THE CHOSS. CITY CREEK 4 LYF3!!
Sep 3, 2014
The description above is quite accurate and beautifully written. I think I pulled off more holds by climbing this route once than I had over my entire career of climbing. That being said.... what a rush. A calm sense of euphoria will over come you after reaching the chains, reclaiming many other a climbers bail beaner on your ascent.