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Written by Parsifal, and reproduced without permission from Climbing No. 101, with a few omissions to shorten it up:
The line to do here is The Mule. We'd all been up on it, and all of us had failed: blasted off the thin lip that disappears into a blank face. We'd seen the light though: a finger crack maybe four feet away, tempting us with that insane feeling of security you get jamming your fingers in a knife-edged crack up to the first digits....
We wanted that climb. You could tell because the chalk slated up the thin edge to the face and then kind of powdered out in a mass of futile slaps. I remember taking one long, last dive trying to clip the bolt. I had the rope pressing the gate of the biner and suddenly found myself 30 feet lower. I decided then to back off before a bullet came out of the barrel.
Most of us had given up -- the climb smiling up there on the mountain -- we could feel it giving us the finger every time we drove past, daring us to be good enough. We'd duck a little and pretend we had better routes to do.
JS was the only one fired up enough to go back again, taking perennial visitor EZ with him. When they came back down off the mountain EZ was waving his arms and hollering with his Carolina twang that he'd found his purpose in life.... JS explained that EZ had flashed up to the face but was forced to bail out because it started to rain. EZ was certain he would 'bag that sucker' the next day.
EZ didn't sleep that night -- he meditated thinking 'light.' Morning and up they went. It was effortless, or so it looked from our perspective on the ground. He was up and off, drifting away with a smile that shared something with the route. Next morning, when he spoke again, he named the route The Mule because of its kick.
All true, at least as far as I can remember; keep in mind that, in 1985, the local FA ethic was to do the route from the ground up, with no dogging (although some of us were beginning to slip). The Mule may be one of the last 5.12s on Lemmon put up traditionally before rap bolting became vogue. By the way, there's a great picture of Parsifal on The Mule in the same issue of Climbing.
Start on Ripple Cracks. At the first fixed pin, go left and up, using three bolts and gear for protection, to the chains on What An Ass.
See the description for Ripple Cracks.
Standard Tucson trad rack.
From: Tucson, AZ
Dec 7, 2010
great stories and posts john! thanks for putting in all these classic hardman routes. it's really neat to read them.
By Craig Smith
Sep 30, 2013
I climbed a new route to the left of The Mule in '86 with Ray Ringle. It was a sport route that went up a runnel at about 12+. Did this route get chopped because I don't see it in the guide?
By 1Eric Rhicard
Sep 30, 2013
It is in the Guidebook Squeezing the Lemmon II as What an Ass 12+.