| fast and light!!!
2007/08/11 ~ Coxcomb Pk.
SW Alcove ~ 5.2
Notch (on Top Rope) ~ 5.6
w/ John Marullo
This is a classic route on a beautiful Mountain...
By the way. I don‘t know what rock rating others give this one. This is only my humble opinion...
Firstly, many thanks to Jamie Princo for outfitting this one for me.
He and I humped all the gear in last weak on the 5th, but were turned back by inclement weather just below the summit ridge. We left the gear just below the route at 13,400‘, and I returned with a different partner this weekend as Jamie was unable to make it back. Loaded, the trip took 4 hours to the base. Without, we made it in just under 3 hours. There we found it, just as I‘d left it, in a pack fly under a boulder sealed up tight with a short talous wall for marmot (as well as people) protection.
John is a carpenter/contractor friend of mine whom I‘ve known for years, but never had the priveledge of climbing with. Whenever I talk about my adventures with him, he shows a sense of longing and expresses his interest in getting back out there. He climbed the Lizard Head back in 2000‘, and hasn‘t been up anything since for goodness sake. Well, he just happened to stop to visit with me last Wednesday to ask me what I was up to, and I told him I had to get back to Coxcomb on Saturday to reclaim my gear and have a little fun in the process, and I still needed a partner. I told him the gear was already there, but I just needed someone to help me pack it back out after the climb. He immediately asked if he could be the one to join me, and I of course responded in the affirmative. I hope John will join me more regularly after this positive experience. He was loads of fun to climb with.
We met in Ridgway at 3:10am and made for Owl Creek Pass. At the West Fork Trailhead (10,770‘) at 4:10am, we were hiking by 4:15am. The tundra was much drier than it had been 5 days earlier, and the creeks were much less swolen as well. We had the pass (12,512‘) at 5:55am. we descended to 12,100‘ in Wetterhorn Basin to round the lower cliffbands and struck out for the base of the summit ridge, arriving a little before 7:00am. We scrambled up into the 4th class alcove, and made ready the gear. I set out on lead, thoroughly enjoying the easily protectable pitch. It ate up anything I offered at regular intervals. Soon I was on top of the ridge. next to a newer looking rap sling, but I opted to set a 3-cam anchor instead... There were multible cracks in blocks up top to work with. John reached me in no time, and I believe "Outstanding" was the jist of what he had to say. We were both all smiles!
We made for the skyline, and shimmied along the narrow little causeway toward the summit. Hey! there‘s that nasty notch we were forwarned of, and no sling around the boulder to rap with. Fortunately, I had just grabbed two (15‘ & 20‘) from Ouray Mountain Sports to replace the ones I made use of on St. Sophia Ridge a few days prior. The 15 footer worked perfectly with a steel rap ring, and we soon found ourselves in the notch working a short exposed 4th class ledge on the North side to a short chimney which deposited us high on the summit side of the ridge. John heard voices in the notch which seemed rather unlikely to me, but hey... I was wrong once before. We followed the narrowing ridgeline and were soon at the top at about 8:00am. NO REGISTER? What‘s the deal?
I went looking for the North Chimney route, and hey... there‘s a dude down there about 30‘ below some rap slings, and he‘s reeling in some rope. I guess Johns ears are still pretty good! A young girl soon appeared and an older guy soon after. They all arrived on the summit shortly thereafter. I asked how they rated the route, because I‘d first heard 5.6, but more recently 5.3, and they all agreed 5.3, but treacherously loose. I saw the leader had a good size rack, so I asked him how it protected... He said there was nothing so he ran it out to a seated belay unprotected with a 50M rope . I don‘t think I would care to much for 165‘ of runout on loose 5.3, but they looked to be having a great time. The last guy just said he could have done without all of the rockfall... Well I guess!
On the return, we belayed eachother over the 5.6 side of the notch, broke down the sling/ring combo and made for the big rappel. The sling boulder looked suspect to me, but try as I might I could not make it budge, so in the end, we trusted it and rapped the chimney. The return felt heavy with all of the gear we hadn‘t had to deal with before, but after the 400‘ upclimb to the pass, it wasn‘t so bad. We made the truck in short order, and scurried down to a new bar in Ridgway called "the Doghouse" for a couple of Sunshine Wheats, and parted company soon afterwards.
"A Beautiful Day in the Big Blue"
Advice: Take your own 15‘ rap sling for the notch!