Without A Net
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John Benson looking it over prior to the start. Ph...
This climb is an experience you won't forget. For the most part, this might as well be a solo climb for the lead climber. Protection is nearly non-existant, especially on the 2nd pitch. We did this route in 3 pitches, and on the 3rd pitch, we used a large flake about 30 feet into the chimney to place #4 & 5 friends. The rock is very soft though, and these cams may not have held if we had actually taken a fall. The solitude of this area along with the depth we progressed into this chimney created a separation from the rest of the world that was unbelievable. The chimney is anywhere from 12 to 24 inches wide from the start of the 2nd pitch to the top. It's a chimney lovers dream, or nightmare. The 5.8 rating is acurate, but the fall potential makes this an extremely serious climb. I loved this climb, but I have no intention of ever doing it again. Whithout A Net is located on the east side of Merrimac Butte, on the right side of the paddle wheel, in view as you approach from the northeast on the 4x4 road.
Pitch 1 takes large cams or small bigbros. After that, while actually in the chimney, nothing short of a #4 bigbro will work. Even the #4 will most likely be too short. You will basically be unprotected through most of the chimney. The book "Desert Rock: Wall Street to the San Rafael Swell", shows bolt anchors at each belay; however, I couldn't see them and opted to head further into the chimney on the 2nd pitch to a large flake with a good platform to set my belay. This is supposed to be a 4 pitch climb, but with 60 meter ropes, we did it in 3 pitches. Decend from a rappel anchor on Merrymaker, to the right about 50 feet. The webbing was old and brittle when I was there, and I had to reenforce it, so take extra since this route is not climbed often.
BETA PHOTO: East side of Merrimac Butte.
|Comments on Without A Net
|By Frank Stock|
May 1, 2002
If you like the first pitch of Jah Man, or think Epinephrine in Red Rocks is a great climb, then this is the one for you. The belay at the top of pitch one is one of the coolest belays ever.
Yah, it doesn't protect really well (or really at all except belays), but that's part of the experience. The pins indicated in both the Burns and Bjornstad guides do not exist.
The climbing is straight forward-after the first 20 feet you pretty much should have the movement figured out. The summit is a pretty nice place too.
The next party to climb this could do the world a favor and bring a knife and 50 feet of webbing. The rap slings are pretty much a nest of incomprehensible crap-we brought a 20 foot cordelette to contribute, but it wouldn't have been enough to make it right. There are two new quick links up there (thanks for the locking biners whoever left em) and the rap pitons are fine, but they sit about 8 feet back from the edge. The slings/rope/cord combo to make the edge could be improved with a knife and new stuff.
It's pretty obvious when you get there, but Bjornstad's book identifies the rap route incorrectly (its one seam to climbers right but the only possible rap when you summit). One double rope rap with 60 meter ropes will get you to the ground.
A cool side note: You can clearly see the chimney from a 757 at 33000 feet on the flight from Denver to Vegas. Now that's a chimney.