Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lost on Ummaguma


There we were staring at the slab. All of us quiet, grinning with a twinge of confusion, and thus far, a pretty good taste of the route. We knew we had just rocked the pendulum, swinging like excited baboons on the rotten, fixed rope.  We had climbed through and over a half-dead tree in amazement, then were drop jawed by a slammer tower

"So where do we go?"

We look intently over each others' shoulders at the tattered, moist topo. 

Paulie starts in with " Well Myles, you said you did the route... Where to?" 
"I said I went so high, then bailed... Jackson over here said he did it". Then of course Jackson is chiming in with how he only said he did it because Paulie said he had. 

Just a little bit over half-way and the truth comes pouring out... We have all been goated.

"I'm not making that move" we all say at some point. 

Yeah, we're pissed at one another. There are groans and terrible comments being thrown around with nothing but love. We do some hard heckling and reflecting upon the moment... We are roughly 700ft up, no rope, no gear, not a sip of water, no shirts and a topo with nothing left to give. 

"I'm not calling for a rescue"
"Me neither"
" I'd eat Paulie first!

Jackson, the super strong Nome of the group, begins out first. Paulie and I leaning on each other giving words of encouragement. He criss-crossed and moved quite well even with our banter. Then the Bearded Hippie a.k.a. Paulie took over. He did some terrifying plant dyno swinging/slab climbing to get across. I went Jackson's way. 

Now standing on the other side, we are shouting and grunting. We are Exhilarated! Shouts are thrown from the wall along with Real Man Monkey Calls.

Hey we're only eighteen, nineteen and twenty-one; it's cool.

We finish the route, dying of thirst. With plenty of daylight, surprisingly, we feel like we just conquered a 1500ft giant, in pretty good style. Royal Arches in Yosemite National Park just has something special about it... Doesn't it?

Ummaguma... For the last three years I have been piecing together this "Royal Arches" in the Whitney Portal. I wanted something that you can run before work or after lunch: an adventure route with a twist. High, exposed and fun. I wanted a big wall.

It means "The Wandering" in Swahili... also a pretty rad album by Pink Floyd. 

So, I did some wandering up there. I kept wandering. A whole hell of a lot of wandering. Wrong turns there, down climbs here. Perfecting it with friends on every climb became the job. Adding some kind of variation to get it one step closer to perfect. For instance, Chris Orozco and I climbed the last main corner system on the summit pyramid, where I had bowed out solo a year earlier. Another time my buddy Hugo Perez and I decided to mix in the second to last five hundred foot dihedral, making the climb epic. Then Dave Daley joined me with a piece of 6mm cord which we used to lash together reeds growing out of the crack.  We then hand over handed up the bushel to reach the hold... different, but sure wild. Amy a few days ago got to that very spot looked at the bushel and said "you got to be kidding me?"… Perfect!  

The route consists of at least five tunnel throughs, hundreds of feet of slab, lots of lie-backing, one gateway move, two massive 500 foot corners, some airy traversing and one bushel climb.There just might even be pendulum...

 Ummaguma 5.7 III,  2'500+ ft
The Wrinkled Lady, Whitney Portal
Lone Pine, Ca
Summer of 2010-2013

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