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Richard leaving "The Perch", starting pitch 3.
Bolts & hangers: $3.25. Gas to the crag: $3.00/gal. Coming home after a brush with eternity: Priceless. The first route to go to the top of The Halidome, this 350' sport route starts from the Catwalk, about 30' right of the EIH, just behind a long boulder. Overall, the route is very nice with some sections of less than perfect rock, but most is on good stone.
Pitch 1: 5.11a, 18 bolts, 140', 3-bolt anchor. This pitch can be broken into two shorter pitches (1: 85', 12 bolts + anchor, 2: 55', 5 bolts), but works fine as one long pitch if you have enough draws. Done as one pitch, be sure to take two long slings--one for the first rap anchor @ 85' and another four bolts higher. The hard parts are at about 50' to 60' (when in doubt, move left...).
Pitch 2: 5.12b, 13 bolts, 90', 3-bolt anchor. The crux pitch is on excellent rock throughout. It starts out moderately (.10a) for 40' where you'll layback up a steep corner that ends at a roof. The crux starts here, moving left on a sloping finger rail and then up a steep layback rail for about 15'. Transitioning onto the slab above feels really hard until you figure it out, and then it's only pretty hard. Cruise up the corner and deal with a .10+ move at the last bolt. Belay on a spectacular "perch".
Pitch 3: 5.10c, 9 bolts, 75', 3-bolt anchor. A good pitch with nice moves and great position, but unfortunately on somewhat grubby rock. The crux feels trivial if you can see the holds which tend to blend in. A biner was left on a bolt in order to guide the rope away from a sharp edge when rapping--please leave it for yourself and future parties.
Pitch 4: 5.12a, 5 bolts, 55', 2-bolt anchor. The final pitch climbs a short, vertical wall on great stone to the top of the cliff. It feels more like .11+ when you've got it wired (as I did when bolting it), but it might be .12a to onsight. Check out the magical landscape on top when you're at the anchor. Treat this pitch like a 1-pitch sport route and lower back to your partner.
Descent: Rap the route. 1: Last pitch: Lower back to the belay. 2: Rap 75' back to "The Perch", (be sure to use the biner to route the rope around a sharp edge). 3: Rapping the crux pitch is a full 90' and it's overhung, but you'll end up exactly at the anchor (near the ends of a 60m rope!). 3: A short rap down to the first anchor. 4: 85' to The Catwalk.
Near the left end of The Catwalk, about 30' before the Easter Island Head.
12 to 18 draws depending on how the first pitches are combined, plus 3-bolt anchors after each pitch. Long slings useful if pitch 1 done as described. 60m rope.
Richard on the crux pitch.
The rope shows the real angle of P3 crux.
Looking down the crux pitch, Priceless.
Priceless is in dark blue above The Catwalk in bab...
Nearing the end of pitch 2, with some wily moves a...
Mark on the typical Halidome "choss" of P1.
Mark setting up the P3 crux.
Latched. But with only 20 more feet of crux climbi...
The top headwall pitches of Priceless and Loosey i...
By Richard M. Wright
From: Lakewood, CO
Jul 2, 2007
I'm not sure that I can add anything of substance to what Mark has described in the detached monotone appropriate for a climbing guide or a textbook on French cooking. What he told you here is just what you will find. But, age and decrepitude buys me a moment of reflection that may or may not alter your own perception of the climbing. Opening a big crag like Halidome is huge effort, and it is an effort that may very well fail. Rock may deterioriate, sections may not link up, parts may not even be climbable. This is something I know well, and it is the reason that this huge crag has remained almost entirely untouched. At 10,000ft plus these problems are compounded. So it is absolutely terrific that Priceless came together as well as it did. It is a fine statement about the vision of the route and care that Mark took in putting it together. The climbing on Priceless has excellent continuity, never backs off below 5.11, and is very well protected. The exposure at the top of P3 (the crux pitch) is fantastic and airy. You can watch the swallows from above. It's a tad difficult to rate a route like Priceless. Mark gave it 3 stars, which is probably fair. But stacked up against other four star routes Priceless compares well. When you consider Superslab, The Yellow Spur, T2, The Naked Edge, Priceless is not out of the line-up. However, it is bolted and that changes things. Priceless stacks up well in contrast to the routes on The Lost Angel in Boulder Canyon. Earth Voyage comes to mind. While, anyone who climbs Priceless will make up their own mind, if it gets four stars from me and three from Mark, we'll probably have just on at three and half. This is definitely a terrific route, and all of the next steps on the Halidome will be easier now that it has been done.
By Richard M. Wright
From: Lakewood, CO
Jul 2, 2007
NB: my comments on Priceless figure the route to have 5 not 4 pitches. A lot of parties may not string P1 and P2 together as Mark indicated. With care rope drag will not be a problem linking them. Communication could be a problem in brisk conditions. Rapping down will almost certainly deposit you at the top of P1 unless you run it on double ropes.