Horizon Line Direct

by SteviDx

I was climbing on Discovery Wall in the early spring, when I encountered a man named Brad Young. At first I found him a little annoying as I had type-cast him as just another loud mouthed know it all at the Pinnacles. Though, I must admit the shear audacity of his request to borrow my rack gained him a foothold on my respect and the story behind the route he wanted to do sparked an irresistible curiosity in me. He explained that he wanted to do the original and undocumented two-pitch "Lost Horizons" which traverses right to a bolt and a ledge at the point where the current popular finish traverses left to the "Stupendous Man Ledge". Wow, this guy actually knew something! I cheerfully gave him my rack and kept half an eye on his progress. The route looked cool and next time I was on Disco Wall I gave it a go. I ascended the "Lost Horizons" book and started the spooky traverse right. Though the route is two pitches I had no intention of setting up a superfluous belay and spent a little extra time in the traverse trying to engineer good pro that wouldn't produce rope drag. In my search I noticed a cool finger crack splitting the small roof-lets that I was traversing under. I filed the crack away in the must explore folder and finished "Lost Horizons Original".

A stormy Spring Day just a short time later found me starting up "Lost Horizons" with some extra small stuff and a drill hoping to climb the mystery finger crack. Some questionable pro, good by Pinnacles standards, allowed me to pull the roof-let. Which I think goes at 5.9+ PG. The crack led to large cobbles, which allowed me to ascend the face to the wide crack on the second pitch of "Lost Horizons Original". Here I was able to place a cam and climb to a no hands stance where I put in a bolt for a 5.10- bouldery finish that makes a moderately straight line to the sturdy oak tree anchor at the top. The bolt causes me a little concern as it lies a few feet from the walk off ramp of "Lost Horizons Original". Its only redeeming qualities are that, one, it makes a nice straight line to the anchors and two, pulling the bulge with 120' of air under you makes for a nice exit. Subsequent ascents have convinced me that the bolt will be much happier 10' to the right and I will either move or remove the current bolt in the fall. Also, any input from you would be greatly appreciated. You would think that the story ends here, but it doesn't.

Later that Spring I finally got Kelly to climb "Horizon Line", my variation to "Lost Horizons". After his lead he posed the question of a direct start that would avoid the dirty pillar that is the start for "Mammary Pump" and "Lost Horizons". An interesting idea, but ridiculous as you would have to climb out of the absolutely rotten cave under the dirty pillar. A quick precursory inspection netted nothing better than a few laughs and a face full of rubble. Maybe it was the time we spent under that cave looking up, but I was pretty sure I could slot a good #1 Camalot high enough to keep a climber off the ground. At least for a little while. I bouldered up a few feet, reached high and stuffed the cam as deep as I could into the rotten crack. When I got down I gave Kelly a "so what now look" hoping he would volunteer to test the cam. An exhaustive ground inspection of the placement convinced us of two things, one, the cam was sound and two, neither of us was interested in testing it. Finally after much posturing and veiled bickering I caved and sorted out a limited rack to kill myself with. With an hour and a half of light left I felt no need to rush. The crack is only thirty feet long and I was secretly just going up to retrieve the cam anyway.

I started up the slightly overhanging and right leaning hand crack on the left wall of the cave, clipped the pre-placed cam and made about one and a half moves before I felt a little too run out. It was a bit of a struggle trying reach past the first cam to place the second cam, a #2 Camalot, that coupled with the first left me no real excuses to quit. Poor Kelly was getting showered with copious amounts of Pinnacles crud as my feet scraped off the first few inches of the rock's skin, but good hand jams allowed me to inch up a little further. I was already fifteen minutes into it and my tie-in was just even or below the first two pieces of pro. I recognized a decent stance just a little way up, but opted to stay in the awkward 5.9 crack and make another high reach, cam in hand, to a small roof crack up and right thus preserving my so far top roped ascent. Upon reaching the afore mentioned stance, I proceeded to spend at least fifteen minutes backing up and rearranging the pro in the roof crack. When I finally ventured forward to pull the roof, I had a #.75 and a #3 Camalot even with my tie-in and a very nasty flared and right arcing finger crack, the crux(?), above. Some gymnastic stemming bought me a tenuous stance and the chance to build a nest with two yellow and a blue Metolius Tri-cam in the two-foot section of the crack I could reach. Another fifteen minutes of checking and rechecking the gear convinced me that I was suicidal, but logic spurred me forward. After all, I was only twenty-five feet up and had no less than seven cams in the crack behind me. Another contorted stem brought a medium good flaring hand jam into reach. Now I had to commit to getting a foot above the roof and climbing above the shitty pro for the first time. It took everything that hand jam had to offer to disengage my self from the stem and pull my leg up and onto the face above the lip (.10c). Virgin knobs allowed a quick scramble to the top of a small pedestal where very carefully I wiggled into a sitting position with my back to the wall. After a few deep breaths I looked down to see Kelly, barely thirty feet below, trying hard to suppress open laughter. I also had to suppress a smirk when I realized that my hour long epic had gained me about twenty-nine feet and some odd inches of altitude.

Another fifteen minutes of dicking around got me a hastily placed #.5 Camalot and the where with all to take a peek at the flaring squeeze chimney that guarded my deliverance to the familiar ground above. Thrashing and bellowing I wiggled up under the watchful eye of my trusty 3.5 Camalot, which, by the way, walked all the way up the crack with me. Near the top, a tremendous display of forced flexibility got my left foot on a knob that was even with my nipples and then all it took was a grunt, a pull and a scamper to find my hands stuffed into the solid crack of "Lost Horizons" book (Yosemite style .9 squeeze). Some courage, a handful of nuts, and one sling got me to "Stupendous Man's" anchors where three bent gate biners and a lot of rope drag allowed me to safely bring up Kelly in the failing light. And that is the end of a long and laborious story about a very short and inconsequential crack.