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Shortoff - Dopey Duck - Good First 5.9 Lead?
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By Chris Massey
Oct 1, 2012

Feeling pretty solid leading 5.8 trad. White Lightning, Gemini Crack, First Return, Boardwalk, Lost at Sea, Slippin into Darkness, etc. Looking to start ticking off some 5.9's. Dopey Duck at Shortoff looks awesome. Would it be recommended as a good 5.9 first lead? I dont mind climbing hard, as long as I have good gear. Thinking about Manginot Line as a warm-up, then hitting Dopey Duck. Thoughts/opinions?


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By wes calkins
Oct 1, 2012

Hey I would not do dopey as a first 5.9 lead. Here's why, its remote and overhung and a real potential for big air. There are lots of good routes at shortoff though. Maybe a good primer would be Paradise alley, then construction job, then Dopey. If you are just looking for 5.9 routes to do then table has a good selection in that range. The honeymoon, tall climb to be good on, slippin into darkness, and second stanza. good luck and stay safe...shortoff and the gorge in general has a rep for more adventure than some people bargain for.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Oct 1, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

I can see both sides here. Dopey Duck is an easier 9. It is almost all endurance and not too technical, and the gear is ok, so I think climbing-wise it would not be a bad first 9. But it is a little more remote, and you'd have to leave gear to bail, and it would be harder to rap and retrieve that gear. In general, I don't think it is a great idea to break into the next grade on a multi-pitch climb, but that's me and I tend to be a little more conservative.


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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Oct 1, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

Yer gunna die!!!!

But seriously- Dopey's a good one. I could see it being a decent 1st 5.9, though I climbed it as a 5.10 leader for what that's worth. There are certainly many 5.9s in NC that are more challenging. The pro is really good if you're used to placing in horizontals, which it sounds like you are based on the routes you mentioned you'd done. But, like others have said, it is remote (by NC standards) and you'll have to leave gear if you "opt out".

Wes suggested doing Construction Job @ Shortoff first- I found that one to be quite a bit harder and a totally different ballgame than Dopey. CJ is corner lieback/roof pull crux if I remember right, and you already know what the ballgame is on Dopey.

Have you done Airlie Gardens @ Ship? If you're comfy on that one, Dopey will be no problem.


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By TomCaldwell
From Clemson, S.C.
Oct 2, 2012
Me on One Pitch Wonder at Whitesides.  Photo credits to Kyle Jones and his lucky anti-rain jacket.

The crux on traverse on the crux pitch of Construction Job is not very well protected. Dopey isn't a bad first lead. The gear on the first pitch is a little tricky, but is there. Dopey has a bit of a pump, but you can sew it up all the way. The crux on Paradise Alley is essentially 5.9 (5.8+), but it is no where near as fun as Dopey. Lost and Found is pretty good as well. Mostly slab, so lots of good stances, but some well spaced gear.


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By Neil Rankin
From Greensboro, NC
Oct 2, 2012
Looking down from the top of pitch 3 on Rights of Spring, Pine Creek Canyon, CA.

The second pitch of Dopey would be a great first 5.9 lead. Great climbing, good straight-forward gear, clean falls. Be aware that there are two different ways that people approach the first pitch, by either doing the first pitch of Dopey Duck or Toxic Shock. Toxic Shock is the obvious seam/crack, and Dopey starts just to its right. The first pitch of Toxic Shock is 5.9, and I would not recommend it for your first 5.9 lead. It is a good pitch, but the rock quality is not the best and the protection is a little sparse and difficult to place. The first pitch of Dopey is only 5.8 and protects ok from what I remember. Have a lot of fun!


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By goatdavemac
From Flat Rock, NC
Oct 2, 2012

It is super easy to rap in to Dopey Duck to get your gear if you bail, you to have to do 2 raps, but that is it....If it were me, I would much rather have a clean fall on overhanging rock,than a fall on vertical or slab....go for it...great gear, and a nice pump to boot....


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By Chris Massey
Oct 3, 2012

Thanks for the feedback guys. I am ready to give it a try, but alas, my partner for Friday cannot go! All this build up for nothing. Looks like I may be taking a newbie up the Great Arch instead. Still should be a good day. Will hit Shortoff in a couple of weeks. In between going to give Airlie Gardens and Linn Cove Lullaby at Ship a try. Done all of the 8's there and I like that style of climbing.


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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Oct 3, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

If you can do both of those clean and comfortably, I would guess you would do just fine on Dopey.

I also disagree with the goat guy above who said it's "super easy" to rap in and get your gear back.... I guess it depends on what your definition of easy is!

Just think about the implications of that for a second... getting your gear back would still require leaving a gear anchor (unless someone's put fixed anchors on this thing in the 5 years since I last did it). So I don't really know what he was thinking. Don't look at it like a pitch at Ship or something where you could easily walk to the top and find a fixed anchor if you decide to bail.


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