Almost sticking the crux on All the Way, back in 2...
Do you want to lead a 5.12 at the Lake? I'm talking about a "real" 5.12--not some obscure short climb at Horse Rampart or some corner over at Sandstone. I'm talking about hard moves, tricky pro and mandatory runouts in groundfall territory. I'm talking about a 5.12 that is a hair's breath away from the mythical routes like Bagatelle whose leads only live in the memory of a few crazed souls. Yeah, you guessed it, I'm talking about going All the Way.
As with all 5.12 leads at DL, the stories about All the Way abound. Of course there was Deutchler's first ascent, which I didn't witness (I was two years old), but which I imagine taking place with a bunch of DLFAers sitting around, saying "Whoa man, that was groovy." Tommy's ascent did pave the way for other groundbreaking ascents of the era, Bagatelle included. Then there's the time that Zschiesche headed up the climb with no gear, and asked bystanders to throw him up the needed pieces. This technique never seemed to catch on, as the hassle I'm sure outweighed any weight savings. And finally, there was the time when I punted off the start crux moves, crashed into the arms of my spotters and may have broken, or seriously sprained, the finger of one willing spotter.
To start the climb, locate the funky corner to the right of Congratulations. Climbing from the ground to the obvious hourglass hold presents the crux of the route. I thought it felt about V6, but I used spotters and crashpads, so feel free to judge me as not a true trad climber. There is no real pro until you stick the hourglass hold. Once you stick the hold, however, you must steel yourself for some heady climbing to reach the belay ledge of The Pedestal. This section feels 5.11ish, and you pass a welcome horizontal that offers a good rest and some nice pro. Above the horizontal, a small stopper protects the final hard move, which is just tenuous enough to keep your attention as you reach The Pedestal ledge.
I'm not sure how the original route finished, but I like to think that Deutchler forged straight up the wall above The Pedestal ledge. On my lead, I tried to stay true to the line and I headed up steep rock above the ledge up to the long-forgotten mini-route called The Trick. This 5.8 wall is a harder ending to Lower Diagonal, and in my eyes, is the natural ending to All the Way. Climbing on that upper wall, I think I felt the "real" Devil's Lake 5.12 lead experience--moving up beautiful 5.8 high above your gear, but feeling solid and psyched because you've already passed the crux below. You did it, going All the Way to the top.
If you're planning on leading it, for the love of God, rap down to check out the gear yourself. Don't trust the ramblings of a climber who hasn't been on the route since 2009 and has a tendency toward hyperbole.
By Steve Sangdahl From: eldo sprngs,co Mar 21, 2005 rating: 5.12b7b26VIII+26E5 6b
I remember when Tommy led this it really opened our eyes as to what was possible.He showed us the "way"...we were on our way to a life of sleazery.
By JJ Schlick Administrator From: Flagstaff, AZ Sep 23, 2006
Boy, I have a light rep. as being a sandbag, but there is no way this thing is 12a. Calling it 12b/c begins to dust away a little bit of the sand though I would give it a solid, bouldery, 12c. Maybe its just not a tall guy route, or I just pick the slimey days to get on it...
By Jay Knower Administrator From: Campton, NH Dec 6, 2006 rating: 5.12b/c7b+27IX-27E6 6b
After TRing this a bunch of times, and some inauspicious lead attempts, this climb still haunts me. I worry about the piece protecting that last move to the Pedestal belay ledge. This move has always felt desperate, and there is just one piece, a brass offset, between you and the ground. If this piece holds, it's PG, if not, I'd say it's probably X.
Does anyone know more about this piece? Has anyone fallen on it?
By Steve Sangdahl From: eldo sprngs,co Dec 7, 2006 rating: 5.12b7b26VIII+26E5 6b
Jay,I know the piece you speak of well. For us it was some sort of rp.I led All The Way a number of times but never fell.One time though I remember knocking it out with my hand as I went past it.Kinda scary.
By JJ Schlick Administrator From: Flagstaff, AZ Dec 18, 2006
Dave Groth told me he slipped last year on that move and the piece is fine. I didn't try it on lead last fall, but that piece looks really good. The new wild country superlight nuts may fit really well here. They kind of go where no nut has gone before.
By Jay Knower Administrator From: Campton, NH Jul 3, 2009 rating: 5.12b/c7b+27IX-27E6 6b
I led this cleanly last night. I'm pretty happy given my history on this route (see comment from 2006 above). For the sketchy piece before the pedestel, I placed a #4 BD stopper. I don't know what I was thinking trying an offset there years ago. The stopper looked pretty good, though I'm glad I didn't have to test it.
By JJ Schlick Administrator From: Flagstaff, AZ Nov 17, 2013
Man, this route could use a more historical description of the badassery that surrounds this line.
By Chris treggE Administrator From: Madison, WI Nov 17, 2013
By JJ Schlick Administrator From: Flagstaff, AZ Nov 20, 2013
No, no you should give it to Jay. I just feel that there are certain routes which are of more historical importance than others. While I have always known the history of this line first hand from the old boys, I feel it does us all a disservice when this history goes unmarked. Especially the next generation.
By Jay Knower Administrator From: Campton, NH Nov 20, 2013 rating: 5.12b/c7b+27IX-27E6 6b
Alright, I updated the description with the history I know about the route--JJ, I'd be interested to hear the other stories.
By Chris treggE Administrator From: Madison, WI Nov 20, 2013
Awesome Jay! I want to do this route now!!!
By Steve Sangdahl From: eldo sprngs,co Nov 23, 2013 rating: 5.12b7b26VIII+26E5 6b
Thanks JJ for suggesting an improved route description for this climb, it really deserves one. Thanks also to Jay for delivering one. "All The Way" was one of my favorite routes at DL . What with the very powerful and tricky start that leads to sustained pullin down and then a tough finishing move, tough as a two dollar steak.......well maybe not that tough! All combined with some "precision" gear placements , it's a recipe for what Tommy use to say "have fun or get hurt bad". What it lacks in length it more than makes up for in kick ass-ness! The day Tommy led this was an event worth seeing. While certainly one of us DLFA "misfits" might have spewed "groovy" , most of us who witnessed Tommy,s ascent were left speechless by the lead itself! Probably the hardest lead done at DL at the time. We were also left trying to figure out how we could ever climb like Tommy and which one of us was going to have to clean the damn thing. Of note was the fact that Tommy even wore a helmet along with his swami belt, sans leg loops, a pair of EB,s ,and some fashionable flared hippy bell bottoms. He was belayed with a simple hip belay and there were two DLFA doctors present (not all dlfa,ers were total losers.....or maybe they were). We also were probably singing a little song about catholic girls, as that's where the route name kinda comes from. Go figure! While I hate to ruin the visage so funky of Tommy going to the top ,he actually ended at Pedestal ledge where the "difficulties" end, he anchored in and pulled up some swill. A DLFA tradition on par with running into the nite to evade the DNR !!! We proceeded to have a celebration on Pedestal ledge. It probably felt pretty real for Tommy who was no doubt scheming his next big lead. After Tommy,s lead Rich and I knew we had to step up to the plate with some serious pullin down, more pull-ups,more climbing,and more swilling. Well by next Summer Rich led ALL THE WAY with out the pin for its second lead , he stopped at the ledge too. Two weeks later I led it for its third lead and I went to the top. Rich set his sites on other hard leads with me ,but I often returned to lead ALL THE WAY because it was such a killer climb. I probably led it 6 or 7 times in a pair of E.B.s ,swami belt, no leg loops,no spotters or crash pads and a simple hip belay. I can,t remember us giving much thought to the grade but we probably figured if we could lead the thing it couldn't be that hard. Kept us humble. I believe Dave Groth was the 4th person to lead it. No problem for him as he is so strong. Then probably Eric Z. For the 5th person to lead the climb. Did Eric lead it barefoot also? I can't imagine doing the heinous start in bare feet. But he was a natural and he doesn't weigh anything. Anyone know if it's been led on sight ? Any on sight top-ropes ? Looking back Tommy,s lead of ALL THE WAY truly raised the bar at Devil,s Lake in more ways than you can possible imagine !!!! Club salute to Tommy, Rich Bechler (rip), and FRANK ZAPPA (rip) " All the way , that's the way they go,everyday and none of their momma,s ever seem to know". Peace and fuk-nes Steve S.
By JJ Schlick Administrator From: Flagstaff, AZ Nov 23, 2013
Nicely done gentlemen.
By JJ Schlick Administrator From: Flagstaff, AZ Dec 10, 2013
Good work Jay. It's hard to capture a route so iconic as All The Way.
Unfortunately I was only three or so when Tommy first lead the thing. That seems like a long time ago. I was there during Eric's fabled lead, though the details are fuzzy.... An unfortunate side effect of fuckness. The details. Anyway I've heard a few different versions over the years, and it warms the history of my heart. Eric and I had a lot of good times over a good stretch of years from Hueco Tanks in 1997, to Groom Creek in Prescott, AZ, to Indian Creek, Joshua Tree, and of course The Lake.
I remember Eric's lead more like a dream, or a series of images. I remember the crackle in his southern chuckle defying an ultimate confidence I wished he had had. Always the showmen though he bravely struggled to catch gear that was flying towards him from all directions like shrapnel from an exploding, overexcited crowd of supporters. I watched his feet tremble on the small holds. I think I was ready to catch him if need be. I watched, with a turn of his head gain a moment of cover from the crowd. His standard grin clamped down and straightened. He was getting serious.... I had spent enough time at the crags, and at late night drunken campfires in the desert to understand a thing or two about how old Eric Z. ticked. His heart ticked like a clock needing constant winding.... His mind, like his body was a carefully organized collection of compressed springs just waiting to be released.
Needless to say the master locked down, placed a couple small units in the horizontal, and then grabbed a few more pieces of whirling gear out of the air like a cat snatching a bird in flight. A few good shakes and he was off to finish the route. And while the crowd went wild, I do remember thinking about his flair for the dramatic, and the special seasoning that was and could only be Eric. It always impressed me how flawlessly he wove his character into everything he did. From his art to his climbing, he put every scrap of his universe into it. And, of course, often made things much harder than they needed to be.... Just for good measure.
I haven't seen old ZEESHEE in a while but I know he is still making art, and enjoying the art of climbing and all that comes with it. Probably overdue for a reunion trip.... Maybe City of Rocks this summer.
And when it comes to All The Way, take Eric's often heard advice, and "Git onnn it!