|Type:||Sport, 1 pitch, 90'|
|Original:||YDS: 5.12d French: 7c Ewbanks: 28 UIAA: IX ZA: 28 British: E6 6b [details]|
|Submitted By:||Chris. T. on Oct 19, 2015|
|Comments on Botany of Desire||Add Comment|
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By Mark Rolofson
Apr 14, 2016
rating: 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
As documented in Bernard Gillett's guidebook "Rock Climbing St. Vrain Canyon" the first redpoint ascent to the original anchor (75-80 ft.) was made by Mark Rolofson, Mike Olson, & Henry Lester in 2002. We ended our effort at the chains. Gillett claims we grabbed the chains. Not true. We clipped the short draw on the anchor & then attempted one more move left to a jug, which we all failed to reach. Ending at the jug would have been preferable, but the climb ended at an anchor 15-20 below the top of the face, so it made little difference. We made it to the anchor. The date of our ascent was October 19, 2002. I had planned on returning to extend the climb to the top of the wall, but seasons changed. It got cold. Snow fell, & I never have returned.
Then Gillett extended the climb to the top of the face adding 1 more bolt & an anchor. He made the first ascent of the face in 2003. Bernard told me he thought the entire route was almost .13b. Seeing it rated .12d in his guide caught my attention. I felt like .13a to the original (first) anchor. Then again Bernard Gillett is a notorious sandbagger.
According to Gillett's guidebook, Purnell freed the climb on top rope & led it several times but never made a free (redpoint) ascent. I find it very hard to believe that Greg Purnell led this climb to the original anchor (placed by Paul Gagner in the early 1990s). In fact, it baffles me. Here is why. There were only 6 bolts. This excluded the crux bolt or the 2 bolts on the "dirty" slab. He would have been doing the .12c crux with the bolt below this feet (the bolt below the crux bolt). The start of the climb would have very dangerous & unprotected, climbing the face right? of the starting slab. The starting slab was covered in thick moss & lichen. After I equipped this lead, there were 14 protection bolts.
Here is my account of this route: after climbing "Temptation Arete", I swung over to the original anchor on "Botany Of Desire" (the name I gave to the climb). After brushing the supposedly climbed face, removing a large block around the 5th bolt, & brushing thick moss & lichen of the starting slab, I added 8 more bolts. If the start seems dirty now, it was unclimbable with thick moss, then. I thought I cleaned it well. Perhaps some of the moss has grown back. The crux at the 11th bolt is quite hard with tiny feet & small sidepulls. I can't imagine doing this crux with the bolt below your feet. I made many attempts on the route over Summer 2002. It was often very warm, even in the shade. My original crux beta proved to be a dead end. I had to figure something else out that worked. In cool conditions, we made our redpoint ascent.
This route is a brilliant vertical face climb. Lots of 5.11 leads to the 10th bolt. A 5.11d/12a move leads to the crux. A 5.12c crux ends at a good hold. 5.12a climbing leads to the last bolt. A 5.12 move leads left just below the original anchor to a jug. More 5.11? climbing leads to the top.
By Bernard Gillett
Apr 16, 2016
Hey Mark - your post brought a smile to my face as I'm remembering our day of climbing at Trojan Bunny Buttress on 8/14/2003. That was also the day you graciously shared the information you had compiled on TBB and on The Fang higher up the canyon; you gave me 6 pages of route descriptions and topos. What you've written here doesn't comport well with my memory of that summer and fall, nor does it agree too well with the packet you gave me. See the image below, which is a scan of the first page of the notes you gave me, with my hand written notes also visible.
The reasons I wrote that your team ended the pitch by grabbing the chains are twofold:
a) that's what I remember you telling me on 8/14/2003 -- you guys redpointed the pitch to the chains and then grabbed them to finish the last move.
b) your notes seem to suggest as much ("Redpointing to grabbing or clipping anchor…").
In my mind, it's not at all important whether you clipped the chains and then grabbed them, or grabbed them and then clipped the rope in, or clipped and attempted that one last hard move and fell. But I did want to clarify that I wasn't just making it all up in my guide (see (a) and (b) above). You guys put in an awesome route, and I simply reported the facts of the ascent as I understood them in my guide.
I very much doubt I ever told you I thought "...the entire route was almost 5.13b." For one, I had not yet attempted the route the day we climbed together, so I would have had no opinion of its difficulties at that time. My first attempt was on 10/2/2003, and this is what I wrote in my climbing log on that day:
"I led with several hangs/falls at crux, and at last bolt. Aided to clip #12. Very cool route, but there's nothing harder than 5.12c on it. Might be 5.12d overall. W/Ken."
I came back on 10/4 and led the route with one fall (and wrote in my log that day "Needs an extension."), came back another day (not recorded in my log) when I added the upper bolt and anchor, and then climbed the route all free to the top of the wall on 10/9 on my second attempt that day. Never in my log entries did my opinion of the route's difficulties change, so my guess is that you've got a manufactured memory of me telling you I thought it was 5.13b. [Note: please understand that the previous sentence is not at all intended to be derogatory. Our brains manufacture memories with regular frequency; see this article if interested.]
I'll also admit I smiled when you wrote I'm a notorious sandbagger! You give the route a 5.13a rating, I gave it a 5.12d rating -- seems pretty close to me. Further, the word sandbagging, to me, implies an intent to deceive the reader. I can assure you I have no such intentions when I supply ratings in my guidebooks. Yes, I tend to rate routes a bit more conservatively than you do. Is that such a big deal?
Regarding Greg Purnell's association with the route: read what you wrote about Purnell's ascent in the notes you gave to me. "6 bolts placed & A0 stick clip ascent by Greg Purnell in 2000." Based on what you wrote, it sounds to me that Greg sticked clipped the first high bolt he placed (and thus would have had no trouble top roping the initial mossy slab), and climbed it with rests/hangs/falls at some of the bolts, as this is how A0 is generally interpreted. I recall talking to Richard Wright about Greg's involvement with the route -- Richard was certainly aware of Greg's project as he referred to it in his description of Temptation Arete -- and I'm remembering Richard told me Greg had led the route several times but never redpointed it. You write that you "…can't imagine doing this crux with the bolt below your feet." To be honest with you, I wouldn't want to bust out 5.12c with a bolt below my feet either as I'm a chicken most days, but that doesn't mean Greg didn't do just that. People climb remarkably hard cruxes with protection WAY below their feet all the time. Just because you and I want a bolt at our chests when performing such feats doesn't imply that more talented climbers can't climb hard routes with less protection than we might prefer.
We're in complete agreement regarding the route's quality: brilliant describes it well. Thanks for putting up the route to Gagner's chains, thanks for a fine day of climbing at TBB in 2003, and thanks for sharing your route information. I hope you are climbing well these days -- Bernard (Gillett -- no e at the end).