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What did I just see in Eldo?

Original Post
L Kap · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 95

This afternoon I was at Whale's Tail and happened to see something unusual on Redgarden, Lower South. Here's what I think I saw: A climber (possibly a woman?) was seconding the first pitch, might have been on Redguard Route or thereabouts. About 25 feet up, their rope got stuck in a long loop below and to the left of them, caught under a small bulge. The climber then UNTIED from the rope, which eventually got pulled up by their partner. They then went up the rest of the pitch unroped. Looked like they might have been placing a few pieces, clipping in and climbing past before reaching down and removing the pieces. Possibly aiding on the pieces, but without a rope. If anyone knows the story, I'd love to understand it better.

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55

I would suspect they were just prepping to go watch Reel Rock...

Greg Davis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 10

Sounds like a send to me

Brent Kelly · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 36

Hmmm definitely sounds a bit unorthodox. I’d like to know the explanation/justification as well. My guess would be the party felt the terrain was well within their personal soloing comfort range even though the semi-soloing was unplanned, so the “pull the rope” maneuver was in the interest of timeliness or partial necessity.

Unless the party in question responds, might be necessary to have a SUPER detailed breakdown of what you saw in order to determine the most probable explanation.

Was there screaming? Did it sound panicked? Or were they super chill?

It would be somewhat revelatory if there was an opportunity for the climber to tie back in, but abstained.

And before everyone launches into an ethics debate/trollfest, remember:

OP asked for an explanation, not a dumpster fire.

curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 74

nothing says "hardwoman" more than untying mid-pitch. i'll buy her a beer anytime...

Cpn Dunsel · · Over There, But Well Hidden · Joined Jan 2003 · Points: 135

Sounds like performance art.

Was there an encore?

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,482

People still climb Redguard? Weird.

Mark A · · Golden, CO · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 91

hhhmmm the first pitch of Redguard is the crux pitch, so maybe they just...sorta soloed the rest??  Maybe it was Free Solo Trad which is of course the only true form of climbing.  Or prehaps they were using slings to protect each move....like 2 factor machines?

L Kap · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 95
Brent Kelly wrote: Hmmm definitely sounds a bit unorthodox. I’d like to know the explanation/justification as well. My guess would be the party felt the terrain was well within their personal soloing comfort range even though the semi-soloing was unplanned, so the “pull the rope” maneuver was in the interest of timeliness or partial necessity.
That's my guess too.

I'm not entirely sure why they didn't just downclimb a bit and free the rope. One possibility: they were close enough to the ground and there was enough slack / rope stretch in the line that they might have decked if they fell. Soloing up might have felt like a safer choice than soloing down through cruxy moves. I'm not familiar with the climb they were on so I don't know where the crux was. 


Unless the party in question responds, might be necessary to have a SUPER detailed breakdown of what you saw in order to determine the most probable explanation.

Was there screaming? Did it sound panicked? Or were they super chill?
No screaming. No attempts to communicate with their partner as far as I could hear. They were climbing slowly and deliberately and did not seem panicked.


It would be somewhat revelatory if there was an opportunity for the climber to tie back in, but abstained.
I don't think there was an opportunity to tie back in. They were climbing significantly to the right of the rope line once it was untied. It dangled there for a while and then got pulled up while the climber was still pretty far from it. I'm not sure if the climber was off-route or if the route was really traversing or what. I was too far away and not watching closely enough to see very well what pieces the leader might have placed, and whether the second was placing their own pieces or just clipping into (or simply cleaning) pieces left by the leader.

It's also possible they were using half or twin ropes and the second rope just blended into the rock better than the blue one that I saw get untied.


And before everyone launches into an ethics debate/trollfest, remember:

OP asked for an explanation, not a dumpster fire.

Thanks for this. 

L Kap · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 95
Mark A wrote: hhhmmm the first pitch of Redguard is the crux pitch, so maybe they just...sorta soloed the rest??  Maybe it was Free Solo Trad which is of course the only true form of climbing.  Or prehaps they were using slings to protect each move....like 2 factor machines?

That all sounds possible.

Falling on static slings is a really bad idea for many reasons, but better than a guaranteed groundfall.

I was also pondering whether maybe they were linking up with harder pitches above and so they wanted the rope for that even though they were comfortable soloing the first pitch.

Or maybe it was a follower who is comfortable soloing the climb with a partner who isn't, and the rope was primarily for the partner's benefit. That would explain why the follower was casual about unroping on the first pitch even though the pair wanted the rope. 

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 10

Might have been the trail line for double rope raps that got hung up???

Redguard P1 is called the birdwalk and is old school 5.8+ and you would have to be a pretty solid climber to un-rope and freesolo it.

Were they wearing a pack?   

L Kap · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 95
Buck Rio wrote: Might have been the trail line for double rope raps that got hung up???
Not sure how that would work. It appeared to be a rope that the climber was being belayed on from above.  

ETA - Unless you're saying that the climber was tied into two ropes but only being belayed on one, and I didn't see the second rope they were actually being belayed on. That could explain why the rope I saw (it was blue) was so far to the left of the climber and got hung up so far below them. It could explain the big loop of dangle in the blue rope if the leader was focused on pulling up the real belay rope that was clipped into pro and had temporarily let the "trail" rope dangle.


Redguard P1 is called the birdwalk and is old school 5.8+ and you would have to be a pretty solid climber to un-rope and freesolo it.
Yeah, it didn't look easy.



Were they wearing a pack?   

Not sure, though they were definitely badass enough to be a pack wearer. :)  

I honestly was pretty focused on the "is this person going to die" question and didn't absorb all the details. 

John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 612
L Kap wrote: A climber (possibly a woman?) was seconding the first pitch, might have been on Redguard Route or thereabouts. About 25 feet up, their rope got stuck in a long loop below and to the left of them, caught under a small bulge. The climber then UNTIED from the rope, which eventually got pulled up by their partner. They then went up the rest of the pitch unroped. L

It's near to Halloween and, obviously, that was the re-incarnation of Catherine Destivelle.  

Go to about minute 19:00    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pbOAxxoC9c

Just by the by, I met Catherine on top of Crimson Chrysalis.  She was leading on a 100m x 8mm rope, doing at least two pitches at a time before bringing up her BF.    
Cpn Dunsel · · Over There, But Well Hidden · Joined Jan 2003 · Points: 135
John Byrnes wrote:

It's near to Halloween and, obviously, that was the re-incarnation of Catherine Destivelle.  

Go to about minute 19:00    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pbOAxxoC9c

Just by the by, I met Catherine on top of Crimson Chrysalis.  She was leading on a 100m x 8mm rope, doing at least two pitches at a time before bringing up her BF.    

FWIW: She not dead so is not reincarnation.

You made me check on that, though. I thought: when did she merge with the infinite?  
Turns out ... she has not, yet.

John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 612
Cpn Dunsel wrote:

FWIW: She not dead so is not reincarnation.

You made me check on that, though. I thought: when did she merge with the infinite?  
Turns out ... she has not, yet.

Good catch!   I had to check too.  (I must be thinking of another female climber from that era.)

So it really could have been her in Eldo  

Charles Vernon · · mind & body in Colorado, he… · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 2,624

I did something similar on the Bastille many years ago. I climbed Outer Space with a partner I had not roped up with previously. He was at the time a very strong sport climber without much experience with gear, and had not climbed in Eldo. I led the corner and he led the last pitch but didn't use any long slings. As he pulled up the rope to belay me it became completely stuck, and we could not communicate at all. I thought about ascending the rope, but instead decided to untie and traverse the belay ledge around the corner to the last pitch chimney (5.0ish) of the West Buttress, which I soloed to the top. On top I came up behind my partner and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around, and I'm not sure who was more shocked--him, to see me, or me, to see that he was sitting on top of the Bastille belaying "me" up without any gear in for an anchor. Good thing I didn't ascend the rope!

Ron O · · middle of nowhere, southern… · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

Charles, reminds me of when I took an idiot up Prodigal and let him lead the easy exit pitch.

He was supposed to go up 80' and fix the rope for me to jug with the pack and aid gear.

Instead this genius runs out the rope to where we can't communicate and after 20 minutes of ineffective noise I just start to jug.
When I get up halfway he announces that he doesn't think he can hold me much longer.
Fucking idiot decided to change the game plan and belay me (and naturally he is ignorant of belay escape technique).

BTW my Destivelle story is going to the Buckathon in St. George with her and Jeff Lowe and seeing a bull rider get stomped by a bull 10m in front of us.
Lay there twitching for 20 minutes before they could get a second ambulance (the first one having been employed by a cowboy with a mere broken leg 15 minutes earlier)
One more cowboy went to the hospital, and then a horse broke its leg to the collective gasp of the crowd.
Quite the debacle.

Charles Vernon · · mind & body in Colorado, he… · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 2,624

I oughta add, to be fair, that I kept climbing with the guy--we hit it off and had a vigorous chess rivalry, to boot--and he soon fell in love with cordalettes (read: took thing to far in the other direction) and became a bad-ass trad climber sending cracks far beyond what I've ever dreamed of. 

Brent Kelly · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 36
John Byrnes wrote:

It's near to Halloween and, obviously, that was the re-incarnation of Catherine Destivelle.  

Go to about minute 19:00    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pbOAxxoC9c

Just by the by, I met Catherine on top of Crimson Chrysalis.  She was leading on a 100m x 8mm rope, doing at least two pitches at a time before bringing up her BF.    

Oh my god.

Just watched the snippet of that clip.

That is absurd. I didnt watch the rest of the clip, but I really hope they make it clear that the “oops my rope is stuck, better untie!” idea is a joke, and the climb was always intended to be a solo.

This would be like if Honnold’s “Free Solo” movie storyline was predicated on some fabrication that he needed to solo El Cap for some reason other than “He wanted to solo it, and was extremely confident that he could, because of all the hard work and preparation.”

A rational solution would be to fix the sharp end of the rope and then descend the line carefully (by rapping, shuffling prusiks, or something similar).

Humorless “Holy shit that’s irresponsible!” diatribes aside, thats a pretty gorgeous video of the tower and a remarkable feat by Catherine.

(bullets because paragraph/line break formatting appears to not work for me on mp.com when commenting from mobile.)

(Edit: Thanks Lawry for helping me understand that to get ONE carriage return on mobile, the markup language interpretter or whatever requires THREE line breaks.)
Bill Lawry · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,696
Brent Kelly wrote:(bullets because paragraph/line break formatting appears to not work for me on mp.com when commenting from mobile.)

It is a pain, eh.

For some, editing to add extra returns also seems to help.
Jon W · · Longmont Colorado · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 75
Brent Kelly wrote:

Oh my god.

  • Just watched the snippet of that clip.
  • That is absurd. I didnt watch the rest of the clip, but I really hope they make it clear that the “oops my rope is stuck, better untie!” idea is a joke, and the climb was always intended to be a solo.
  • This would be like if Honnold’s “Free Solo” movie storyline was predicated on some fabrication that he needed to solo El Cap for some reason other than “He wanted to solo it, and was extremely confident that he could, because of all the hard work and preparation.”
  • A rational solution would be to fix the sharp end of the rope and then descend the line carefully (by rapping, shuffling prusiks, or something similar).
  • Humorless “Holy shit that’s irresponsible!” diatribes aside, thats a pretty gorgeous video of the tower and a remarkable feat by Catherine.

Yes it was staged. But she did it because she COULD.

Here, this is better yet. Especially at 4:30.

 She was a big deal when I was a young climber.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Colorado
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