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North Astro Dome - Northeast Face
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Astronomical T 
Astroturf T 
Figures on a Landscape (aka Monkey on My Back) T 
Go Figure T 
Gunslinger T 
In Search of Hush Puppies T 
Nevermore TR 
Repo Man (aka Power Fingers) T 
Throat Warbler Mangrove  T 
Unknown Soldier T 
Zion Train T 

Astroturf 

YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b R

   
Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 240'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b [details]
FA: Ed Kaufer and Keith Cunning, 1981, First continuous ascent, Peter Croft & Bob Gaines 12/99
Page Views: 2,928
Submitted By: Bob Gaines on Nov 7, 2008

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (3)
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Peter Croft on Astroturf
Photo by Bob Gaines

Description 

Pitch 1: Begin on Figures On A Landscape. At the 5th bolt on the first pitch, instead of traversing right, climb straight up (5.10a R) to a huge flake, then lieback (5.9) up to a small ledge with a bolt belay. (35m rap/TR)

Pitch 2: Up, then left (10+) on steep face past 6 bolts to the top.

Protection 

A .75 camalot works well when you reach the flake (after the 10a R section) on the first pitch. Then #1 and #2 camalots (2 to 3 inches) for the flake.
The last pitch is all bolts (6 bolts) and there is a bolt anchor on top.


Photos of Astroturf Slideshow Add Photo
the moment of truth (5.10a R)
the moment of truth (5.10a R)
got it!
got it!

Comments on Astroturf Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 8, 2013
By Bob Gaines
Nov 7, 2008

This link-up only has about 25 feet of new climbing (the flake and second pitch climb a forgotten old route called Repo Man (aka Power Fingers)) but the entire route is a dandy.

I replaced all the bolts on the upper pitch in their original spots.

The 10a runout on pitch one is on solid, incut finger edges. If you're solid at the grade, this one is a must-do!
By susan peplow
From: Joshua Tree
Jan 5, 2009

Bob, thanks for the post, rebolting and info. Let's go!
By Randy
Jan 8, 2009

Though this is a very worthy climb, the actual FA was by Ed Kaufer and Keith Cunning in 1981. According to what Keith reported back in 1981, they climbed Figures up to the flake and then traversed left to top-rope -- and apparently establish the bolted belay atop -- the first pitch of Power Fingers (now Repo Man)*.

The flake and second pitch described above (as Bob mentions) were the second and third pitches of Power Fingers. Since Repo Man was (re)-bolted in a manner to make repeat ascents essentially non-existent**, no one ventured onto the excellent upper pitches of Power Fingers.

It is good to see these upper pitches to have replaced bolts and now getting their due.

  • (*) There has been some debate as to whether Ed and Keith (both good climbers) ever red-pointed the first pitch of Power Fingers since they rated the route 5.11b and all repeat ascents have confirmed the grade closer to 5.12a. But, perhaps all this means is that they worked it on TR a lot and sandbagged the rating a little too. At least the 5th bolt was placed on rappel (or with aid), the others may have been stanced.

  • (**) The first pitch of Power Fingers had 5 bolts. The crux moves (5.12a) were above the 5th bolt. After you pulled the crux, sustained and a bit heady 5.11- and 5.10 climbing took you to the belay. I thought the climb was super hard and heady when I did before the bolts were chopped. The bolts on the first pitch were chopped by unknown parties because the route had a number of enhanced holds. When Woodward rebolted the climb (on lead), he placed only 4 bolts, the 4th being near where the original 4th bolt was located. Now, you do the 5.12a moves already run out from the last bolt and the previously run out 5.11/5.10 is very run out.

  • You can see the 4th bolt of Repo Man in the nice photo Bob posted. It lies about midway between the two bolts shown on Figures, well to the left (a black spot). From here Repo Man head left then up some obvious small upside-down flakes (getting above these is the crux). You can also see the belay anchor below the flake. It is a long hard run to reach them.
By Randy
Jan 12, 2009

If Jonny and Henny would agree, I agree with Bob that a 5th bolt should be added (replaced where it was on Power Fingers) to this route. While the old bolts should be replaced in any event, I doubt just having four new bolts will coax anyone into leading it.

The chipped and enhanced holds are very unfortunate indeed (the route would have gone without the heavy handed tactics). But this is a stellar climb in any event.
By C Miller
Administrator
Jan 12, 2009

Perhaps the varition from Figures into Powerfingers could be called Astroturf and the Powerfingers/Repo Man route would include the other two pitches as per the first ascent.
By Darrell Hensel
Jan 21, 2009

Regarding Repo Man - I feel that there are things to seriously consider with respect to adding a fifth bolt to the pitch, and I'll comment on them in another post.
By C Miller
Administrator
Jan 21, 2009

After some thought my vote it to only replace the 4 existing bolts and leave it as a testament to Jonny and Darrell's vision. The Astroturf variation provides a reasonable way to access and toprope, if necessary, the Repo Man pitch. The vast majority of new routes going in these days at Joshua Tree tend to be "just another clip up", which is exactly what the Astro Domes don't need.

On another note - I did happen to find the original Powerfingers write up and interestingly enough they rated it 5.12b, although 5.11b is mentioned as well which is perhaps the root of the confusion.
By Darrell Hensel
Jan 21, 2009

Both JW and I would like the pitch left as we did it, with 4 bolts.

I don't feel that there was any obligation on our part to replicate either the number or location of the original bolts since Power Fingers no longer existed as a route when Repo Man was done. We hadn't done Power Fingers before it was chopped, so there was no prior knowledge of the route involved in the bolt reduction. It was done on sight, ground up, and without aid (no hooks).

Also, Chris touches on a couple more reasons for leaving it alone.

A partial explanation for the 4 vs 5 bolts along with the fact that there was a stance for a 5th bolt as mentioned by Bob. JW and I had decided to split the drilling chores, with him getting the top half. As it turned out I could have possibly placed both of the first two bolts slightly higher (by about 2 feet) than I did. JW drilled the 3rd bolt in the logical spot relative to the 2nd. He really wanted to go to the original 5th bolt to drill our 4th but decided not to because the lower bolts weren't quite high enough. He finally ended up drilling the 4th where it is. Then, because he didn't want bolts only a body length apart he decided to hit the gas and go for it. When it was all said and done I got a little lecture about "making" him run it.

(besides, in those days had we placed two bolts within a body length
we would have been laughed at, ridiculed, and scorned to no end)
By Bob Gaines
Jan 22, 2009

Darrell:

Thanks for the history of how that went down (or up!).

Your decision on not adding a bolt should definitely be respected.

My understanding of the "code of ethics" for adding a bolt to a route was that it was OK as long as you got permission from the first ascent party. This one is in a gray area since "Power Fingers no longer existed as a route" when you and JW reestablished the pitch (Repo Man) ground-up, but there had been an earlier "first ascent", albeit with egregiously tainted ethics (and one more bolt).

As a side note: all of the original Power Fingers bolts on the upper pitches of the route were never chopped. I replaced all of these. I have all the hangers, stamped KC. They are homemade, of some odd metal. Some sort of metallurgical galvanic reaction took place between the bolt and the hanger: they have a strange greenish patina coating on them.
By Darrell Hensel
Jan 22, 2009

I can understand the reference to a gray area. It is a little murky because of the whole tainted ethics, chopping, and subsequent re-leading by a different party. But keep in mind the ethics in play at the time, and just how strongly people felt about them.

More than anything, the Repo Man name was meant to capture the feeling that the line (which no one was ever going to do again unless it was replaced) had been re-established in the prevailing ethical style of the day - from which there had been more than one deviation by the Power Fingers team.

Whether Power Fingers or Repo Man represents the valid first ascent is a matter of opinion, but the ethics at the time of those ascents would seem to tip the scale towards Repo Man. At least for me, others could see it differently.

----------

It would be great if the bolts were replaced on the first pitch. A 1/2" bolt would be in order for the 4th, without a doubt. The story of the belay bolt shearing on Scott is frightening. The belay was still there when we did it, so we just clipped and used it. I wonder, do you remember what year it was when that happened to Scott?

I agree with Randy, the climb is stellar. The worst part of the whole thing is that the rock still bears the scars from the unnecessary chipping. Too bad.

As an aside, all this talk made me think it would be fun to repeat the route. Then I started looking at Bob's (excellent) picture to measure the runout. At first I was thinking, "Aw, c'mon Randy, it's not that far." Then I starting thinking, "Let's see, a body length using the climber for scale means...!" It may take more than new bolts to coax me back onto it. Ha, see... there's a good reason for preserving the runout. It keeps the riff-raff off!
By Bob Gaines
Jan 22, 2009

Darrell:

That belay bolt sheared on Scott in 1992.

You're right about the strict ethics of the 1980's. I remember John Bachar chopped a bolt in the early 80's not because the bolt was placed on rappel, but because the first ascensionist had toproped the route before he drilled the bolt on the lead!

Back then hang-dogging was a sin and if you were caught in the act you were ruthlessly chastised!
By Russ Walling
From: www.FishProducts.com
Jan 22, 2009

Bob writes: I remember John Bachar chopped a bolt in the early 80's not because the bolt was placed on rappel, but because the first ascensionist had toproped the route before he drilled the bolt on the lead!

As it should be! Previewing before faux lead bolting! The SHAME!!!!
By Ed Kaufer
Feb 25, 2009

Just came across this and I feel compelled to comment.

PowerFinger (not Power fingers) is and has been one of the best routes in Josh hands down. When Keith Cunning and I did the FA in Sept 1980 (reported in Climbing and Mountain Magazine in March 1981) the North Astro Dome only had one route. We saw this obvious line one day when we were climbing on South Astro Dome and decided to give it a try.

The first pitch follows a line straight up to below the left side of the flake. The first 4 bolts were hard thin face, (5.10c/d to 5.11b/c) that led us to the crux (which we rated at 5.12b). The bolt to protect the crux was placed using aid (a fact that was never hidden). Our view was that a fall on the crux would likely result in a grounder. I believe this is the same concern being discussed today about replacing the 5th bolt. In the interest of safety, we used a skyhook, put the bolt in, then I free'd the entire route the next day. We new that this technique had previously been used on several classic hard face climbs in Josh (ask yourself the next time you are clipping in near a crux how the bolt was placed on the lead).

As to the "hold enhancing". That was never done! There were large flakes that dislodged from the underside of the second pitch that struck all over in the first pitch leaving scarring but no "hold enhancement" was ever done. Why would we have left it 5.12b if we were enhancing things?

I'm not surprised that certain individuals are still making eronious proclamations about Powerfinger. Sometimes I wonder if it was just sour grapes. Regardless, they chopped it and told stories about hold chipping etc. Nevertheless, It is a great route and I'm glad that it's being climbed again.

BTW Keith and I did the FA of Rock Candy in Rock Garden Valley. Another great face climb.
By Bob Gaines
Feb 26, 2009

Hi Ed:

Thanks for chiming in and telling your side of the story of the FA!

Just to set the record straight.... so you guys never "climbed Figures up to the flake and then traversed left to top-rope" as Randy mentions previously in this thread?

Just curious, for purely egotistical reasons, as I claimed a "first ascent" of the link-up from Figures to Power Finger, which is an easier, and ultimately will be a more popular variation featuring the flake and excellent last pitch that you guys established.
By Randy
Feb 27, 2009

Thanks for chimming in Ed. And it seems that this route was mistakenly reported as 5.11b originally instead of 5.12b (which is pretty close to the real grade). I don't really doubt that Keith and Ed did climbed the route (and I don't think my comments suggest otherwise).

Like Bob, maybe Ed could verify what I recall Keith telling me -- that the belay was put in, before it was fully lead, by climbing up to the roof via what is now referred to as AstroTurf. In fact, I recall Keith asking why I didn't head up that way when we did Figures, because he thought it was a more natural line.
By Kevin Duck
Nov 25, 2012

In 1982, I asked Keith if they (he and Ed) had chipped holds on the first ascent of Powerfinger. I say ‘they’, because I believe that both climbers would have had to be in agreement on how to proceed with their climb. Keith told me that they had done some cleaning of loose rock, but nothing with the intent of facilitating the ascent.

Both Keith and Ed were 5.12 climbers at that time. They were well aware of prevailing ethics and as far as I ever saw, they were in agreement with and climbed by those same ethics.

It doesn’t make sense that intelligent climbers would chip holds, when rehearsing moves on a top-rope would yield a better result. It seems unlikely to me that the first ascent of Powerfinger saw the employment of either technique.
By Josh Janes
Mar 20, 2013

Yesterday I hiked out to the Astro Domes to climb Such a Savage. That went quite smoothly so we decided to finish off the day by trying Astroturf (I had climbed Figures on two occasions in the past and had always admired the cool flake feature). If, as Bob Gaines posted, "The 10a runout is on solid, incut finger edges", then how bad could it be?

Well, I clipped the fifth bolt and launched upwards. Hmmm, the edges were mostly good and mostly positive, but higher up the biggest holds seemed awfully hollow. I tried to pull straight down and was much happier once I was standing on them. I was now 15+ feet above the bolt and exactly one foot away from pushing a 0.75 Camalot into the bottom of the flake.

Karen Roseme was nearby toproping a variation to the first pitch of Breakfast of Champions.

The problem was the final move to reach the flake was definitely not 10a and definitely not on positive holds. I was gripped - unable to leave the friable flakes I was standing on. I stretched up, brushed bird shit (ignoring it as it fell into my eyes and mouth) off a sloping, hollow 1/4" flake. The hold was bad - slimy, small, flexing. I whimpered and stepped back down.

I joked "Oh man this is NOT GOOD. I'm in a REALLY BAD situation here."

My girlfriend was silent.

I said, "Oh. Ohhhhhh. What am I going to to do? Seriously???

Silence.

"Should I downclimb? I can't downclimb! Should I jump?" I laughed. "I can't jump!"

I spent five minutes just getting my breathing under control and repeatedly wiping hands slimy with sweat and guano.

My joking was a desperate effort to calm myself the F*#@ down: Holy shit. The flake looks totally chossy even if I could push the 0.75 in. Maybe I should forget about the gear and grab the flake itself... But what if it rips? I have to downclimb. Could I even downclimb? If I reverse the last mantle I'll have to pull outwards instead of downwards on those flakes I'm standing on and they're shit...

I tried the sloping hold again only this time smeared my feet high off the flakes and rocked up. I was now close enough to push the 0.75 in, but I just stared at the place it would go for an agonizing second. It felt so out of balance that I was afraid to move my hand let alone place a cam and pull up rope. Oh shit.

I stepped back down.

Karen said something positive and encouraging but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. I wondered what the words would sound like if I begged her to somehow, somehow, climb up there and throw a rope down to me. Could I phrase it in such a way that she wouldn't feel inconvenienced? F*#@, getting up there wasn't even possible.

The anxiety was incredible. Jumping would immediately end it. Suddenly I liked the idea. For some reason the thought felt good... warm... As if with invisible hands gravity was suddenly pulling at me, encouraging me to just relax and let fly. Unfortunately I also had this image in my mind of just barely clipping a foothold on the way down and my ankle snapping in half. I've had that happen before (the whole ordeal flashed through my mind in a split second) Nope, not an option, but the anxiety had reached a tipping point.

I told my girlfriend, Karen, all of the Wonderland: "I really want to jump. But I'm worried my ankle will snap in half. I really, really don't want to get injured. Not now, not again."

Karen said she didn't think I should jump. Oh shit, it must be really bad.

So, I blew the crap off the holds below me, wiped my hands, chalked one more time, and told my girlfriend to watch me.

I then downclimbed 20' to the bolt and bailed right to the anchors on Figures. How I downclimbed without falling I do not know. I reversed the mantles and the flakes did not snap, but I believe in some other alternate dimension they did, and the story ended very differently.

(And then there's this thought I can't quite wrap my mind around: knowing that the effort of downclimbing was orders of magnitude greater than that single move upwards to the flake, gear, and a send of a beautiful route.)

Karen let out a whoop when I made it to the bolt. I said "Oh come on!!! I know you wanted it..."

She said "I didn't want to watch that fall!"

I said "Come on! EVERYONE wants to see that fall!"

Later on her partner simply stated to me, "Exciting."

I have so much respect for the old guard of Josh climbers. Even though I also sent the Beaver this weekend, downclimbing Astroturf was not only more memorable, but also one of the greatest moments in my climbing career.
By Bob Gaines
Mar 20, 2013

Nice story Josh!

You wouldn't want to fall from the last move to the flake....you'd probably go 60 feet with rope stretch. That's why it gets an R rating.

If you look at the photo of Peter leading up to the flake, if you climb straight up above where he is, then move left to the flake, the rock is solid, with good incut holds.

It's easy to get suckered into standing on that ledge just to his left, but that's a harder way to go.

The top half of Solid Gold's first pitch has the same bird shit problem...swifts must be hanging out in the flake.
By Josh Janes
Mar 20, 2013

I was standing with my right foot where his left foot is in the photo. My left foot wasn't quite on the "ledge" (it was a little too far left and down still), and the flake was still a little out of reach.

I remember seeing more solid rock out right, but I wasn't sure if I'd then be able to move left to the flake. Not knowing, I wasn't about to wander even further away from that bolt - it was either straight up or straight down (one way or another)!
By Bob Gaines
Mar 21, 2013

Hey Josh,

I posted some pictures of Peter making the move up to the flake. The .75 camalot is "less than bomber" because of the dubious rock, although just clipping into it might have a nerve calming effect when that far out from the bolt. I think the way to go is to put the cam in after you grab the flake.

I remember discussing with Peter that at least for the last move (grabbing the flake) you're going off a very solid, incut handhold, so at least you don't have to worry about the hold breaking.

Once you grab that flake, you're in!, and the rest is a steep lieback that you can easily protect. That whole flake formation reminds me of Boot Flake on the Nose, in that it's cracked on all four sides!
By Kevin Duck
May 8, 2013

The cause of the rock scarring on the first pitch of Powerfinger seemed inconclusive to me when I last looked at it, thirty years ago. I never questioned that there was scarring, only the level of certainty that others espoused, as to its cause. I believe that scarring could just as likely be the result of the cleaning reported by Keith, as that of chipping or enhancing of holds, which the first ascentionists have steadfastly denied doing for over thirty years now.

While recognizing the bold and impressive ascent by Jonny Woodward and Darrell Hensel, in my opinion, the vision and effort that Ed and Keith displayed in the first ascent of Powerfinger is worthy and deserving of full and unqualified credit. I believe their three pitch route should be restored, which would include replacing the fifth bolt on the first pitch so that the route could be climbed and enjoyed by others, safely. Those wishing to measure themselves against the ascent of Woodward and Hensel could do so by opting to not clip the fifth bolt on the first pitch.
By Kevin Duck
May 8, 2013

An article on climbing ethics:
splitterchoss.com/2010/03/17/d...