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The Piton Of Shame


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Up Yours · · Fascist Kalifornia · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 11

The " Crystal Chimney ". Pitch 12 of The Triple Direct.
The section is named because the rock is translucent,  like it has depth, like you can look in to it.

It was my turn to lead so I started up on micronuts. I recall glancing up at The Shield roof directly above and being almost breathless because I was so gripped.

SNAP!!!

In a split second I am at the bottom of the rope a few feet off the belay ledge. I looked around me and yelled out. I was out of my mind almost, with fear. I climbed back up and sat there trembling for a few minutes.

I pulled out my hammer for the one and only time and took a lost arrow from our ' emergency ' pin rack and I drove that steel into the rock with great two handed blows, feeling like a frightened rabbit as I did it, but looking at it as my tether to life itself. I was wild eyed, looking again at The Shield. Once it was home, I could move up to solid cams above.
My partner was disgusted because he could not remove it. I called it  " the piton of shame " for years.

Then, in this age of online reports I read other climbers describe that pitch as the crux of the route.
After I fell, and it was only 10-15 feet before the rope caught me, it was like a spell broke and the complete grip fear had on me went away. I started yelling the.lyrics to The Rolling Stones song, " sympathy for the devil " at the top of my lungs.
We topped out three days later.
It was magnificent.

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 250

Don't feel too bad.  I spoke with Richie Copeland once on the Heart Ledges about that pitch and he told me that after seeing a number of people take bad falls and a few  break their legs on that belay ledge, he said he nailed that pitch, it wasn't worth the risk of a busted leg.   

Up Yours · · Fascist Kalifornia · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 11
Kevin Mokracek wrote: Don't feel too bad.  I spoke with Richie Copeland once on the Heart Ledges about that pitch and he told me that after seeing a number of people take bad falls and a few  break their legs on that belay ledge, he said he nailed that pitch, it wasn't worth the risk of a busted leg.   

Thank you.



I feel good that it didn't occur to me to nail it until after I fell.
Mydans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 70

I've lead that pitch twice and it is definitely thin off the belay.  I remember a couple of cam hooks getting me past the worst of it.  Compared to what we saw up on the shield it was pretty pedestrian though.  

nathanael · · Riverside, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 370

Great story, thanks for sharing

Up Yours · · Fascist Kalifornia · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 11
Mydans wrote: I've lead that pitch twice and it is definitely thin off the belay.  I remember a couple of cam hooks getting me past the worst of it.  Compared to what we saw up on the shield it was pretty pedestrian though.  

My goal is to do The Shield.



And yes, after I fell I moved up on cam hooks and bashed the pin after a few of those in a row put me in deck zone on that ledge.

Is The Shield a complete horror show?
Ron O · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

Did the 7th ascent of the Shield in '76. Position was gripping but the climbing relatively easy.

Added a direct start the following year (Alpinist incorrectly indicated only the 3 pitches from Grey Ledges, but there was a lot more new low down).

I thought the bar should have been raised when Fowler did it hammerless, but it'll likely become a gently overhanging serenity crack.

Mick S · · Utah · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 60

Only if you do it clean!

Up Yours · · Fascist Kalifornia · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 11
Ron O wrote: Did the 7th ascent of the Shield in '76. Position was gripping but the climbing relatively easy.

Added a direct start the following year (Alpinist incorrectly indicated only the 3 pitches from Grey Ledges, but there was a lot more new low down).

I thought the bar should have been raised when Fowler did it hammerless, but it'll likely become a gently overhanging serenity crack.

Wow.  7th ascent.  That's rad!

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

I did the Shield in 2016 and I thought it was incredible! When you pass the roof and are up on the headwall you feel like you're on another planet.  The headwall is pin scarred but I don't think that took away from the quality of the rock or the climbing and the position is amazing.  There was very little fixed gear on it when we did it.  Only 4-5 usable pieces on the groove and only 1 piece per pitch on the triple cracks and pitch after.  We didn't place many sawed angles but we did use quite a few beaks.  A couple taps in the bottom of the pins scar and they were bomber.  They also cleaned easily without a funkness.  The only other route I've done that compares to it is Mescalito.  The Shield should definitely be on any big wall climber list.

Shield roof



Starting the triple cracks

Up Yours · · Fascist Kalifornia · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 11
Mydans wrote: I did the Shield in 2016 and I thought it was incredible! When you pass the roof and are up on the headwall you feel like you're on another planet.  The headwall is pin scarred but I don't think that took away from the quality of the rock or the climbing and the position is amazing.  There was very little fixed gear on it when we did it.  Only 4-5 usable pieces on the groove and only 1 piece per pitch on the triple cracks and pitch after.  We didn't place many sawed angles but we did use quite a few beaks.  A couple taps in the bottom of the pins scar and they were bomber.  They also cleaned easily without a funkness.  The only other route I've done that compares to it is Mescalito.  The Shield should definitely be on any big wall climber list.

Shield roof



Starting the triple cracks



Badass.



Most describe the Shield as a cruise but I've been sandbagged in Yosemite before, which usually feels like a nde.
Mydans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 70

I wouldn't call it a cruise.  The headwall pitches were challenging and they are so exposed. its just a crack in the face with no real features to hide in.  I suppose if you have climbed A4 it would feel pretty cruiser. I guess its all relative. The rock is solid and it's steep so a big fall would be clean.  Regardless of the difficulty the position is amazing and following in Charlie Porters footsteps was cool.  That guy was such a badass..

Ron O · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

He wasn't up there alone. Gary Bocarde is a very cool guy.

But yes, Charlie Porter was one of the greatest adventurers of the late twentieth century.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Big Wall and Aid Climbing
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