Sound of One Hand Thrashing
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An extraordinary climb, this is perhaps the best trad route of its grade in the Dragoons. It was one of the Three Sisters climbed by RR and Chip in the summer of 1980 in the corridor between the main Rockfellow Dome and Chay Desa Tsay: three steep and forbidding crack systems rising out of the darkness and disappearing into the slice of sky above. This and other routes in the corridor are great summer routes because they rarely see sun, except for their summit pitches. (As of this writing, though, there is a Forest Service peregrine falcon closure from March 1 through June 30, which apparently is an annual restriction).
Sound of One Hand Thrashing is the best of the Three Sisters. It requires a variety of skills, including Dragoon groove climbing, technical stemming, creative use of gear, and steady nerves. Most pitches have some climbing above questionable gear. When we summitted, we were greeted by a group of vultures eyeing us from the top of Bastion. Eerie.
For decades, after my and Herb Norths ascent in 1981, I called this line Coming to Grips, and used that name in raving about the route to many an ear. When I saw it named differently in Bob Kerrys 1991 guide, I wondered how he could have gotten the name of such a classic route wrong. I later got the chance to post the line here with the name that had been stuck in my head for so long. Recently, at a reunion of sorts, Chip and RR gently informed me that this route has all along been called Sound of One Hand Thrashing. In our mutual haze of senility, Im not sure mine is worse than theirs, but it was two to one.
Begin by climbing a short section of 5.9 to the base of the dihedral. Clip the bolt and climb the nearly flawless corner, past a pin, to a three-bolt belay (5.11c/d). (2) Continue up the groove/corner above past two bolts (5.10d) to a belay from gear maybe 20 below a roof. There were two fixed nuts at the belay when we did it. (3) Wild climbing on slightly overhanging rock traverses left and up to a bolt. Stiff climbing past the bolt (5.11b) leads to an obvious traverse left to a ledge and thankfully lower angle rock. Gear belay. (4) Climb a somewhat short 5.8 pitch to a gear belay just before the climbing gets harder and spookier. (5) Continue up the crack/groove system above, stepping left and then back right at one point. Above are the pitchs hardest moves, which slowly let up as you get closer to the summit jug (5.11a).
Start up the massive chimney (the Inner Passage) just right of Abracadaver and Knead Me. A short distance past Lumpy Unmentionables on the left is a striking dihedral with a bolt at its base. This marks the start of Coming to Grips. The crack to the left that arches into Coming to Grips line is the original start of the Sound of One Hand Thrashing. Rap Abracadaver (2 ropes).
Double cams to 3.5; full collection of wires, including at least one set of micronuts; runners, some suitable for slinging flakes.
Casual climbing on pitch 4
Pitch 3 finding the last bolt. I fell about ten fe...
Awesome groove climbing on pitch 2
Pitch 1 and its classic dihedral
Pitch 5 has some more hard climbing before topping...
Pat o'herron getting funky, and the redpoint.
From: Tucson, AZ
Nov 8, 2012
rating: 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a PG13
This climb is amazing. Pitches 1 and 2 have some of the coolest climbing I have done in the Stronghold. Thanks, John, for posting it up!!
Modern climbing gear protects this climb well enough that the R rating is probably not warranted, however, all but one of the pitches have some tricky pro and demanding climbing.
We felt that stoppers, singles to .75 camalot, doubles of #1-#3, and one #4 camalot would work well for protecting this climb. All pitches are under 100'.
Thanks to Dave Merin and the ASCA, all of the bolts have been replaced with stainless steel sleeve bolts. The route is in prime condition now.
If you are interested in a topo for this route, feel free to PM me and I will send you one. You can also get one by registering at the toofasttopos website.
By Clay Mansfield
Dec 7, 2012
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a R
This route deserves way more attention than it gets. And now maybe it will become more popular, thanks to modern gadgets and hardware upgrades.
In terms of quality, I think it is in the same ballpark as Abra...!!!
Save for the low angle OW on pitch 4, there is challenging climbing bottom to top, on incredible rock. I have never climbed or even seen anything like the semi-circular groove on pitch 2.
By Clay Mansfield
Oct 14, 2013
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a R
A Southern Arizona heavyweight. Just did this again, and wanted to give it some attention for incoming Beanfesters (2 weeks away).
This climb seems a bit under the radar, but it is badass.
Current temps are perfect, and a puffy for the belayer is nice.
By John Steiger
Nov 16, 2014
Name changed, for reasons explained in the text. I understand that Rock and Ice will be publishing a piece by Geir sometime this coming spring that may illuminate the mystery of Coming to Grips and what Im labeling as Namegate. (And, um, sorry Bob K).
By Jared Guglielmo
From: Tucson, Arizona
Mar 1, 2015
The first 3 pitches are fantastic and loaded with difficult and committing climbing. The 2nd pitch in particular had some well spaced and questionable protection with plenty of climbing at the grade. Make sure your Stronghold trickery is solid.