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A Cloud In The Sky

5.10a, Sport, 100 ft,  Avg: 3.2 from 12 votes
FA: James & Franziska Garrett, 1994
Utah > Wasatch Range > Little Cottonwo… > Hellgate Cliffs > E Hellgate > Clamshell
Access Issue: Many Hellgate areas closed beginning May 21, 2018 through October 2018. Check photo on page. Details
Access Issue: Gate Buttress Area Recreational Lease: Climbs on Church Buttress above vault remain closed Details
Access Issue: Park off the main Little Cottonwood Canyon road Details

How do I climb this sand heap?

Oh, Cloud in the Sky... Where to even start? Perhaps with a disclaimer? The most prolific developer at HelmetGate over these past few years has a comment on his topo about ACITS: not recommended. Dun dun dun. Coming from a man who's established some highly climbable decomposing choss adventures, this shouldn't be taken lightly. The Ruckmans on the other hand seem quite appreciative of the line, stating that people love this line despite some friable rock. If you've climbed any old line at HellGate you might have already guessed where the truth lies: they must have been in their best sandbagging mood.

ACITS begins with bomber rock and a fun shuffle along an arching bulge feature. Solid marble-textured holds abound, bolts are close by, swallows swoosh around... Stash your boner away though because none of this pleasant stuff prepares you for what lurks above the 4th or 5th bolt. Surmounting the bulge sets a new tone as you realize it's a long way to the next clip and most of the holds now have the solid feel of your average church wafer. Turns out what sounded like those damn birds diving about is really the ominous buzzing of falling choss.

The feeling of uneasiness will grow through the next section as you come to terms with the fact that you don't belong on this vertical abstraction of a route. If you chose to persevere though, practice your 4-points climbing, tiptoe, levitate, summon your gods and spend those karma points you've accumulated. The reward will be reaching an even thinner section where the scattered marble crystals that kept you on the wall just vanish. You'll be left with nothing but sugary flakes to pull on and profound self-hatred to live by. Assuming you haven't taken a ride yet, don't get greedy and throw to those big pockets that litter the last few feet of the route: they're packed full of sand.

To summarize: the line is fun and has a drilled-on-lead feel to it (James? That would be beyond proud!) and makes for a decent warmup due to the insane amount of time you'll spend balancing on fragile stuff while overgripping for all you're worth. It will teach you not to bitch about choss ever again because it's the absolute baseline in that respect. I'd definitely recommend it if you're solid at 10a, it might feel a bit stouter though.

Also, don't believe everything you read.

Where do I find said sand heap?

Cloud is located on the far right (East) side of the Clamshell, the bulbous expanse of slabby white rock just past the Goatland Wall.
The route starts a few feet left of a pillar that must have resided high on the wall and at some point embraced the ways of the choss and came down to rest against the base of the Clamshell.

How not to DIE going up the sand heap?

12 bolts to chain anchors.

Mandatory long runners for the first 4 or 5 bolts and maybe a couple more for stray bolts up high. You don't want any form of rope drag making you feel heavier than you already are while negotiating this sand castle.

Lower/rap with a 60m.

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Getting into the fun...
[Hide Photo] Getting into the fun...

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Perin Blanchard
Orem, UT
[Hide Comment] Awesome. Jun 21, 2012
[Hide Comment] Great write up.

I actually really liked this which says something for my sanity.
Climbing good rock vs choss is maybe akin to a well protected sport route vs a tricky thin-gear run out trad line.
But much worse.

4 stars. Heh heh Jun 21, 2012
Boissal .
Small Lake, UT
[Hide Comment] Thanks guys! And I agree, without climbing rotten stuff once in a while you'd never appreciate the ability to paste your foot anywhere on a granite slab and stand up without plummeting down amid a hail of choss. Plus where else would you learn to tiptoe and climb with 4 balanced points of contact?

[Hide Comment] The description above is quite accurate and beautifully written. I think I pulled off more holds by climbing this route once than I had over my entire career of climbing. That being said.... what a rush. A calm sense of euphoria will over come you after reaching the chains, reclaiming many other a climbers bail beaner on your ascent. Sep 3, 2014
Seth Reelitz
[Hide Comment] Don't let the choss scare you, this is a fantastic line. Jun 24, 2016
[Hide Comment] This line is shit. Had no less than 6 hand/foot holds peel off by the 7th bolt. Not just random, off route choss...but key holds in the movement to the next bolts. I don't think I've ever climbed a more chossy, unstable pile of crap in my entire life. I know it's spring at Hellgate, but I can't imagine this one getting any more solid as the summer progresses. Do yourself and your belayer a favor and pass this one up for a climb on ACTUAL rock. Jun 6, 2017
Boissal .
Small Lake, UT
[Hide Comment] I hear Momentum is air conditioned and provides complimentary tissues to wipe away tears during the summer. Maybe a better option? Jun 6, 2017
[Hide Comment] What would they think of the Jungle? Or worse yet, the Grand Staircase? Well said Boissal! Adapt and enjoy whatever you climb...or back off and give credit to those who went before you. Whining is beneath us craggers, though I do it now and then. Jun 6, 2017
Boissal .
Small Lake, UT
[Hide Comment]
LCC Beater wrote:Are you always such a dick Boissal or only when you're in your tighty whities behind a keyboard? STFU
That struck a nerve... Tell you what, if you ever want to go back up there I'll belay you. And come back the next day for your bail biner.

This line has been shedding holds since the day JG bolted it. Breaking 6 or 7 in one go seems pretty normal. Doesn't sound like you died or even got hurt on your attempt, you just got scared/schooled. Happens to me all the time and I rarely think it's the route's fault, I just try harder or move on...

Roy Suggett wrote:What would they think of the Jungle?
Think? I doubt you'd ever know what they think of the place based on how fast they'd flee. All you'd find is a smear of fecal matter starting around bolt #2 of Welcome to the Jungle and a faint smell or urine and fear all the way down to Pine Lake... Jun 6, 2017
[Hide Comment] Climbing choss like this requires very delicate use of the holds. One does not just yard on a side pull; you have to put the pressure in the right direction where there is supporting rock. Learn to appreciate that, it's what makes this route interesting.

And for the record, I've always immensely enjoyed Boissal's comments.

Tony, double your meds. Jun 6, 2017
Boissal .
Small Lake, UT
[Hide Comment] LccMuncher, I'm impressed/honored you found time to go through 100s of my comments. I'll gladly accept the dick badge from you, you've obviously done your research. Maybe your time would be better spent training for sweet 10a projects at Helmetgate though, or trying to figure out how to be light on your feet so you only pull 4 holds on your noggin?
I think we're about 10:1 on this route not sucking. You're definitely entitled to being the 1 to dissent but if you bitch & moan you're bound to run into a certain amount of good-natured ribbing. Next time give it a bomb and STFU or roll with the heckling, it's hard being thin-skinned...

[/rant]Don't need any more off topic comments that will get this moved to the forum. This thread is to express your boundless love for CITS! Jun 7, 2017
[Hide Comment] That struck a nerve... Tell you what, if you ever want to go back up there I'll belay you. And come back the next day for your bail biner.

bwa ha haaa!

This guy is probably a nice guy in real life but the irony of that username just kills me! If you're worthy of naming yourself "lccclimber" you should be more than prepared for HelmutGate. This alone makes deserve every stitch of grief you're getting - and then some! [/frenchie+zosobeatdown=interwebsliferuined]

"When they kick at your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun?" Jun 8, 2017