The Madcap Laughs
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Named after the Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd's early frontman) solo album, The Madcap Laughs is one fine pitch of rock climbing. From the moment you leave the ground this thing keeps after you in one way or another for a long ways... it's only one pitch, but it feels like an eternity.
Begin by climbing up and into a huge, overhanging scoop of rock; one bolt protects the initial moves, and another in the roof protects a grovelly move onto an airy perch. Here a small TCU in suspect rock will provide some peace of mind for an awkward sequence working leftwards past hollow holds to a very small stance at the base of the left arete of the formation. The exposure here is thrilling.
Launch up the arete, clipping three bolts, and then move through a steep section utilizing blind, thin horizontals. Wiggling in 0 and 00 TCU's here is pulse-quickening. A bolt here would have changed everything - I'm very appreciative of the FA's vision in leaving this thing naturally protected where possible, yet reasonably safe, even though as such it is all so unlikely. Anyway, a few more moves leads to a thank-god placement, then some easier climbing to an intermediate anchor at a small stance. This is a hands-free sit down rest and the route could be done in two pitches with a belay here. In any case, regroup and launch straight up onto the overhanging, chocolaty checkerboard face above. This is the crux: huge lockoffs on good holds and fiddling in small wires in a vague, crack-like seam.
A single 70m rope allows rappel from the anchors atop the formation all the way back to the staging area at the base. While the climbing is probably safe, long falls on this route are possible if you're trying hard, hence my giving it a PG-13 rating. This is a neo-classic if there ever was such a thing.
Look for a beautiful column of brown rock laced with obvious checkerboard cracks and a pronounced roof feature on the left side. It sits far above the ledge system a few hundred feet right of Desert Gold and can be approached by a dangerous scramble up the right of the two gullies beneath the formation. The left gully goes too, but it's worse.
Some small cams (nothing bigger than 0.5"), wires, a single #2 Camalot and a 70m cord.
By Abel Jones
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 13, 2012
Very entertaining description Josh. Can't stop thinking about this one. Wild and committing for a grand single pitch!