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Solar Arete T 
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Solar Arete 

YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b R

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 650', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b R [details]
FA: unknown
Season: Extended Alpine season
Page Views: 82
Submitted By: Tony B on Jul 24, 2006

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Tony leading P4 of Solar Arete

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Description 

The crux of this climb is keeping your head together as you try to:
a) find it
b) protect it
While Bernard Gillett does include a write-up and topo for this route in his most recent High-Peaks book, the wall is so featured as to be indistinct. Which one of the 4 'shallow left facing corners' would you choose?
Once found, the route requires some focus to protect and climb though we felt that pitches 2-5 were all about 1 letter grade easier than rated. All lengths given here are very approximate, as we were using unmarked ropes.

P1: (5.9, ~130') From a ledge to the West (left) of the corner of the wall, go a short distance up the ramp and start up a crack, which after some distance becomes a left-facing corner system. Go up this to a good ledge below some nearly parallel cracks and belay.
P1 alternate: (5.10, S, ~140') Continue up the slab further until you reach an arch of rock forming a roof. Protect on 1" gear, then pull the roof directly (5.10, S) and then head up and left on poor protection but good face holds (5.7, S) to the same ledge. This can be seen to the right of the line in the beta photo. F.A. Jason Haas & Tony Bubb, July 2006

P2: (5.9, ~110') Climb up on the left-most of 3 cracks that are up and just right of the belay. The right-most of these is harder and poorly protected (5.10, S). When this runs out, head up and left on good face-holds with infrequent protection to reach another ledge. The ledge has a fixed pin with some cord on it and a knot in the crack just left of it, which has obviously been bailed from, but it needed more gear added to be trust worthy as a belay.

P3: (5.10d, crux S, ~80') Climb the left-most of several cracks and corners above the belay. This pitch is closer to the arete than how we interpreted the topo proportions in Gillett's book. We did see first of the fixed pins 40' over the ledge, though only after a few false starts. The climbing is moderate until it reaches the pin, and then beyond that a little scary and hard. The holds are sloper and require delicate climbing. The pins are difficult to back up and are not of the best quality. Be careful. Continue up the crack to a roof, where you go left and up to a ledge. Be sure to put a long sling on the final 2 pins. We got on the cracks to the right of these and found them to be largely unprotected and outright crumbling in paces before down-leading back to try the correct pitch. Avoid these.

P4: (5.10c, S, 100') We combined the final two pitches together with a rope-stretching bid for the summit, relatively assured that if we fell short of it, that we'd find belay gear just before it, in the hanging corner. We made it with 2 meters of a 60M left to go. Climb up and slightly right in a steep corner from the belay (5.9) and then up lower angle rock near the arete to go right and reach a second corner which was the second crux of the climb. Gillett calls this "Funky 5.10d stemming" or something to that effect. It is 5.10 on bad RPs with ledges below, so bear this in mind. It appeared to be avoidable, if you decided to go to the left side a ways, into other less-steep systems. From the top of this, belay or continue. We continued.

P5: (5.9, S, 100') Head up and left onto the bulletproof rock of the arete, and run it out quite a way (5.7?) to get up into a deep, dark, corner which goes up 5.9 on good gear to a solid belay ledge. 2-3" gear is best for the belay, which is all I head left after combining P4&5.

Finish the wall via 70' of easy scrambling to the summit ridge, then walk ~400 meters to the top of the ridge to reach the descent gully.

Location 

This route climbs the left hand margin and arete of the Solar Wall on Mount Otis. Approach the Solar Wall as for the Zowie tower,and head left at the base. Go up a steep scramble left of a nasty, wet gully, and then come back to the lower left edge of the main wall. This involves some short and easy (5.5?) climbing depending on your path to the base.
To descend, hike and scramble north to the summit of the buttress after 6 long pitches and then go West into a gully to hike back to the base. The gully is quite loose and better footwear than climbing shoes is highly recommended.

Protection 

A light alpine rock since you are not going to sew it up anyway. I would take a set of stoppers plus RPs and a set of cams from .3" to 3 inches. Maybe extra 2-3" gear in the form of a few hexes or extra cams. As the pitches wander a bit, take long slings... and plenty of them if you link P4 & P5 as suggested.


Photos of Solar Arete Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Note that the position of the climbers is a good 2...
Note that the position of the climbers is a good 2...
Rock Climbing Photo: This is roughly the line you should follow.  The t...
This is roughly the line you should follow. The t...

Comments on Solar Arete Add Comment
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By Dave Stewart
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 24, 2006

I think its funny that in Tony's description for the Solar Wall he mentions that it is unlikely that you will be climbing below another party. This is true, however, it is exactly why my partner and I did not climb this route. Despite this route being on a more obscure alpine rock and less visited than most, we arrived only minutes too late to be first in line for this climb. But generally speaking, I'd say this wall sees very little ascents during the year. I suspect the reason is poor rock quality. After climbing for two previous days in the Mt. Otis vicinity, I learned that the rock quality in the area can be less than ideal. In fact it can be down-right shitty. My thinking on the rock quality and safety of following a party on this route was substantiated by the frequent cleaning of rocks by the party above on the first two pitches. Most of the cleaning I assume was intentional and done safely, but I could not entirely dismiss the prospect that it only takes one unintentional cleaning of a large block to make the party below very unhappy. This being said, my partner and I explored a route to the right of the climb and encountered rock that was far more crumbling, chossy, loose, wet, mungy and dangerous than any route I have climbed in Rocky Mountain.

So I guess my point is, the rock quality can be challenging at places. Climb with caution.

I did manage to take a picture of the first pitch while waiting. Although the shot is kinda' a wide angle, note that the position of the climbers is a good 20 feet left of the line drawn in the previous photo. Take this for what it is worth for routing finding should you choose to climb this route.
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jul 24, 2006

Dave, I think you might have intended to say that we are 20 RIGHT of the line drawn in. This is why I highlighted the difference between P1 as in the book and the Pitch Jason and I ascended and the poorly protected option I took leading the beginning of P2. They were different pitches. The differences can be distinguished by looking for the left facing, arcing corner up and to the right of me in the picture you took, you will see that it is quite further to the right of the line we drew in, which is what we believe to be the original first pitch and the correct start to the second pitch, in hindsight. Like you and Mike B., we had a hard time identifying the first pitch from the ground and just climbed 'whatever.'

The rock where we were was low traffic, but generally not so bad. I've encountered far worse. I guess you got the rotten apple over there. If it is of any comfort after-the-fact, the cleaning was mostly rock intentionally tossed down into the visibly empty gully on purpose to make the route safer. Sorry if you found it disturbing. I told Mike that we knew you were not below, but didn't say anything to you. In reflection, It was probably not the right thing to do in that circumstance. I have in the past had a hard time focusing with that kind of stuff going on. If this is what motivated you to stay to the right after we told you we located the actual route, my apology. I should have asked both you if it was OK instead of continuing to clean it.

I told Mike about my intent to do those routes about a month ago when he returned the cam borrowed for Road Warrior. I had the impression that is where he'd gotten the idea to do this one too, since he asked me for details about it. Mike and I talked about it again when he asked me the ride to Estes Thursday PM... So, I knew we'd all be in the area, but had not presumed we'd be on the same route. Anyway, maybe that caused the sudden 'blip' in the traffic on the route; we were not trying to snake it.
By Dave Stewart
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 24, 2006

Oh yeah, you're right. I meant to say RIGHT. No worries about getting to the route first. Fair is fair. We snooze, we loose. If Mike and I didn't put in 1700 feet of climbing the day before, we might have gotten more of an alpine start that morning. As for the route cleaning, I guess maybe on a subconscious level it does make me nervous to constantly hear rockfall. I have had close calls in the past. But, I clean routes as necessary, too. Your cleaning of the route in no way affected our decision to climb to the right. I'm sure we could have climbed below you with no problems - there is just always that small chance, especially in an alpine setting on a route that gets little traffic. No worries there either. The route was hard to find. I was also more excited to find a hidden gem FA under the circumstances. But what we found, well, stay tuned. I was thinking of posting it. I'm not sure if it was an FA, but we found no evidence of previous passage. And I could not figure out why anyone in their right mind would want to climb such mank. Had we more closely studied the wall from afar before standing right under it, we should have noticed the giant, nasty chimney system that monopolized the RIGHT side of the wall.

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