Mar 2, 2006
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c PG13
Ridgeline route #4: "Sudden Impact" (Fazio book rating 5.8+ with a note about a "hard start;" my rating is 5.6+ to 5.7+ for any of the three starts I found, with an actual 5.8+ crux at the 4th bolt where the line passes over the roof-swell.
I first led "Sudden Impact" back in 1994, and I remember thinking then that it was a 5.7+ to maybe 5.8- route. In these latter days of my approaching decrepitude, I still think it has no more than a 5.7+ start, but now I believe that the roof crux is a solid 5.8 or even (on arthritic days) a 5.8+.
I have already noted that E. F-R's "Squeezing the Lemmon II" calls "Sudden Impact" a 5.8+ and refers to a "hard start," so some climbers may assume this "hard start" will be the crux of the route. It is not. The moves that carry the climber above bolt 4 (at the roof) are decidedly tougher than any of the starting sequences I tried.
I further note that on this climbing site, Nick Wilder (Jan. 1, 2005) also mentions a "Hard start with a nice mantle move." I never found this mantle, and instead, I combined stemming with simple hand-over-hand climbing. I did three separate starts for this route: the left-hand start using a vertical crack and lots of stemming; the center "plumb-line" variation with a restricted use of stemming; and a right of center version. I followed all three variations through the first bolt as separate leads. The left of the "plumb-line" start seemed to provide the easiest mounting sequence, maybe somewhere in the 5.6 or 5.6+ bracket. Going directly up the plumb-line to the first bolt, provided me with the most difficult mount -- especially if one does not stem much -- a 5.7+, probably. The right hand start seemed to hit no more than a 5.7-.
Not being able to find the mantle shelf Nick mentioned, I began to wonder if he was referring to the next route, #5, where there are two distinct mantles in the starting sequence that leads to the first bolt on "Never to be the Same?" However, there is an obvious mantle shelf on "Sudden Impact," between bolts 3 and 4, far above the starting moves. Maybe this is the shelf Nick refers to? I also counted 7 bolt placements on "Sudden Impact," and two chains at the top, so the 4 bolts listed by Nick must be a typo. Keep in mind here, that Nick and others may indeed have found/ used a mantle move on the start of route #4 (S.I.) but I missed any such move entirely, and seemed not to need it.
For me, the crux on "Sudden Impact" (located between bolts 3 and 4, and continuing for three feet above bolt 4) involves working one's feet as high into the concavity of the overhang as possible. Then one can reach several thin holds and crimpy knobs directly above bolt 4 (about a foot or so up). Another useful crimp is 6 inches further up and a few inches to the right. Keep working the feet up as you pull on these holds until you can snake a hand up to a deeper rim-ledge that should give 5.8 leaders a secure enough grip to pull past the crux. Using these holds I did not have to use the large shelf to the left at all, but it is a very inviting platform and most climbers grip it tightly, especially if they need a rest before making the final crux effort. Here, bypassing the shelf and climbing directly over the bolt (and slightly to its right), I think the difficulty reaches 5.8+. Slightly easier climbing may be found by traversing left and using the broad shelf as a platform for the right hand -- maybe a 5.8?
An even easier alternative for "Sudden Impact" -- one I have seen many climbers use -- goes left four to six feet, almost putting the climber onto the "Firezone" line. Out here, the roof may be turned on bigger, more comfortable holds, including one that looks like a saddlehorn from the belayers' perspective. I think this variation may be a 5.7.