Mountain Project Logo

Questions about Lurking Fear


Original Post
Ryan Arnold · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 536

I'm planning to climb Lurking Fear with a friend this year.  I feel more comfortable than he, and will probably be leading every pitch.  He's a good belay and can jug and lower out, but he's worried about cleaning the traverses on pitch 7 and pitch 12.  Our initial plan is to have him aid as follower through both traverses as he cleans.  It seems he will need a set of hooks to aid follow pitch 7, and on pitch 12 I would need to place lots of gear on the traverse and not back clean anything so he can aid piece to piece and backclean as he follows.

Is this how most people clean these pitches?  Any other bits of advice to my nervous partner for LF?  Thanks!

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415

Honestly, your partner is simply not ready for El Cap. 

Cody Hays · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

I agree with Mark.  Your partner is not ready for El Cap.  The Big Stone is not a place to have to lead every pitch unless you have climbed the route many times.  

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 430

Try a dry run on South Face of the Column or better, The Prow. 

If your partner comes off of that and wants to jump on Lurking Fear then you have a high chance of success. Its a fucking hump with loads up to the base of LF and I'd rather find out sooner than later if someone wants to be on the ground.

El Gato · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0

Some people will tell you that Lurking Fear is "El Cap's easiest route" They are lying to you and themselves if they state that. Like others have said: just getting to the base is a haul. Don't underestimate that hike and slope getting all your shit to the base. The climbing is straight fwd. But the traverse pitch on 7 is bolts, hooks and mirco cams and pitch 12 you won't always have the option to leave gear for him to re-aid. He is going to have to lower out.....

And now you get to the summit. Where you top out you have to now shuttle loads to the top, re-pack and hike all the way back to the east ledges which is another haul. If he's nervous today..... wait till he's belaying you on pitch 7

Hayden robinson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 90

Pitch seven is fat bolts closely spaced, easy enough to clean with a jug and a gri. Pitch 12 has loads of fix gear and tat, I'd have a knife and fresh tat handy but I just back cleaned in between fixed pro I backed up until the horizontal crack before the hooking. Rope drag is bad on that pitch even with a hefty amount of back cleaning which can be interesting on the hooks. The window pain p3 is probably the worst pitch to clean on the route if the leader doesn't back clean from the lower out point belowthe C2 awkward flare through the roof of the flake until below a straight line underneath the bolts, If you back clean the first part of the pitch and then back clean everything after the Penji to the anchors, then the second basically just has to do two huge lower outs and clean a hand full of quick draws and maybe a few cams. If you do that strategy besure to protect your rope for the first lower out. Don't skip the pane though, it's the best pitch on the route IMO

Ryan Arnold · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 536

Thanks for the responses.  Good points all around.  The Prow looks fun.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 355

Sooo what do you mean specifically by “he’s worried about cleaning the traverses”? As in is he worried about how to technically clean a traverse? 


Because it’s not like you can’t practice cleaning traverses almost anywhere in the country prior to heading up.

Ryan Arnold · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 536

He's followed traverses as a third member of the group but wasn't in charge of cleaning the gear.  Those pitches on LF seem rather striking in how much distance you travel horizontally, and as pointed out by others, it's not the best place to work out kinks in the system.  We'll look for similar pitches here in SLC to practice on, and probably do a few more smaller walls before hitting El Cap. 

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,471

A friend of mine made two attempts at The Nose with the same partner who was not ready and they bailed both times because of that weak link. Some people just don't want to be up there enough. For that reason, I would never agree to go up there, either.

Mydans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 70

I led pitch seven and cleaned pitch 12 many years ago.  Systems wise they are definitely the most challenging pitches on the route.  I aided pitch 12 to clean and that definitely seemed the way to go.  I only remember doing 1 or 2 short lower outs.  Cleaniing traverses can be scary if you don't use the right techniques.  Also, even though you are the more comfortable leader don't underestimate how tiring it will be to lead and haul the whole route.  That kind of workload should be reserved for people that already have a couple walls under their belt. Lurking fear is "easy" in terms of the aid rating but it is still a 20+ pitch grade VI and if you haven't done a lot of walling its gonna feel like a big deal.  Have fun

Ryan Arnold · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 536

Great input from everyone.  Stoke level is high.  Yesterday we aided and followed two traversing pitches in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Also practiced hauling and setting up the portaledge.  I think our next trip will be a Zion wall like Spaceshot or PS.
King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 430
Ryan Arnold wrote:

Great input from everyone.  Stoke level is high.  Yesterday we aided and followed two traversing pitches in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Also practiced hauling and setting up the portaledge.  I think our next trip will be a Zion wall like Spaceshot or PS.


Glad you guys are stoked. Following traverses is elemental Big Wallin' and nearly every route has some feature that traverses....And on any trade route there are virtually always fixed pieces with slings on any required lower out. After that, its just up to the leader to not hose the second by reading the pitch for what he needs and leaving it clipped in. Jugging with one jug and a gri-gri is very useful technique on such pitches too (though its a little slow otherwise).

ps Can't quite see ur guys rig but be sure to use a carabiner on the top of the ascender to keep it on the rope when traversing.

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 132

Dude, major kudos to you for resetting and coming up with a reasonable plan that gets you both there on what sounds like more equal terms.

JohnnyG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 10

Hudon is right that he is not totally ready today, but the certainly doesn't mean he won't be ready this year. Keep practicing the traversing pitches together and you should be fine. 

Agree that following a traverse is basic, required big wall skill

yet, I have friends who brought the book 'How to Climb Big Walls" on Washington Column and cracked it open midway through following a traverse, hahaha. They eventually made it to the top!

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415

Yes, I agree, major kudos for resetting.

Not to get too far into it, and I’m not talking about you in particular, but is the route appropriate for your skill in regard to its popularity. Learning to wall climb on the Nose, for example, is simply inconsiderate and rude. Clustering Up the route and going too slow will affect other partie’s experiences. Really, in all honesty, you need to be able to keep up with the crowd. Everyone else has hopes and desires that are just as valid as yours. I know it’s tough these days with the routes being as crowded as they are but it is what it is and these are the times we live in. 

Mydans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 70

Come on Hudon!  The nose and lurking fear are the easiest routes on the captain. They are by definition Gumby wall routes.  Most people first routes on the captain are either the nose, lurking fear or zodiac. Your expectation that every party move at a speed that is acceptable to you is not realistic.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 355
Mydans wrote:

Come on Hudon!  The nose and lurking fear are the easiest routes on the captain. They are by definition Gumby wall routes.  Most people first routes on the captain are either the nose, lurking fear or zodiac. Your expectation that every party move at a speed that is acceptable to you is not realistic.

Oh come on. You’re conflating first route ever with first route on el cap. It’s obvious Mark was talking about el cap specifically when his tone changed based upon the OPs change of plans to do smaller walls in preparation first.

It’s one thing to say that you should stay off El Cap until you can make it up in acceptable speed by doing smaller walls to get your system dialed. 

It’s a whole other thing to say what you’re saying that noobs need to start somewhere so they might as well muck up a 20+ pitch super popular route by learning both systems and stamina as exposure all at once. 

Mydans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 70

I see your point Kevin but since they are easiest routes on the wall thats where the gumbys are going to be.  Should people be considerate and do a shorter wall first to get competent on the systems? sure they should, but there aren't really that many places to aid climb and even if they do a couple trade routes in Zion like moonlight or prodigal son or a route on the column or leaning tower they are not going to get traversing skills like they will find on the captain.  I had 5 shorter walls under my belt before I did lurking fear but I had never done a pendulum like the window pane or a traverse like pitch 7 or 12.  Those things are hard to replicate most places.  I had plenty of journeyman experience and a lot of what we were doing on our first couple routes on El Cap felt really out there.  I did climber traffic research for the park service and counted parties on el cap for the month of June in 2003.  About 50% of the parties on the wall were on the nose and most parties took between 4-6 days. In the supertopo book Chris Mac says fast parties do the route in three days but the reality is that most parties (other than NIAD) do the route old school wall style and haul lots of gear and take 4-6 days.  I agree with Mark philosophically but from my experience in the valley that is not what is actually happening.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Questions about Lurking Fear"
in the Big Wall and Aid Climbing

Log In to Reply