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Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Need a climbing partner? Trying to form a hiking group for an outing?
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Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby CarpeDM » Thu May 05, 2011 11:55 am

So I've got it in my head that I'm going to attempt Wham Ridge this summer. I expect to rope up for it (in case that wasn't obvious) and won't be leading, so I'll need a partner who can lead. Anyone interested? I'm also looking for any (constructive) advice about preparing for and executing on this goal. If you need any other info that will help you provide the advice, feel free to ask.

Here's some more info from my perspective:

- I've climbed low to mid class 5 multi-pitch trad before as second on several occasions over the last 15 or so years (3rd flatiron, popular routes on Eldo Wind Tower, et al), but my climbing to this point has been quite sporadic. I'm currently in the Basic Rock School with the CMC, which for all practical purposes is my first formal instruction. (I highly recommend it!)

- When I was young and spry, I also climbed to 5.8 on some sport routes/top-roping back in the midwest (Devil's Lake, WI and Red River Gorge, KY). But this was just 2 or 3 occasions, so never stuck with it enough to develop.

- I have already signed up for some CMC climbs over the next month or so, but I think it's important to climb with a potential Wham Ridge partner before actually doing it so we can be comfortable with each other.

- I would want to include Arrow and the Trinities on the same trip - and if PTO scheduling allows, some or all of: Jagged, Pigeon, Turret (others?).

- I have just created an account on mountain project, but thought I'd start here.

When would be the best time to go? Given that I want to get a little time in with a potential partner, and that I would also like to take advantage of the snow climb opportunities in the northern mountains this spring.

Thanks in advance!
"Skepticism is the first step towards truth." - Denis Diderot
"It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition." - Bertrand Russell
"Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure." - George Carlin
"Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory And I ain't saying it ain't a fact. But I've heard that I'm on the road to Purgatory And I don't like the sound of that.
I believe in love and I live my life accordingly. But I choose to let the mystery be" - Iris Dement

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby Brian C » Thu May 05, 2011 12:55 pm

Let's go climb some Flatirons together and try to figure out a date. I'll definitely be in there for Wham this summer. Shoot me a PM if interested.
Brian in the Wild
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"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her." - Wordsworth

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby climbing_rob » Thu May 05, 2011 1:48 pm

My Humble Perspective and points:

1) go early July, tons of daylight, slightly less thunderstorm worries. Before that might be a lot of snow. get beta on this snow thing. I think we did this on July 4th weekend, I'll have to check.

2) great plan! I did this same thing about 6 years ago, Wham, Arrow and the Trinities. You are probably a better technical climber than I, and I had zero problem following the short 5.6 or whatever crux behind a competent leader. the rest of the climb before this crux is only class 3/4 assuming you find the easiest way. We took way too much gear.

3) tough approach hike! something like 8 miles, go light. Taking the silly train only saves the 3 easiest miles.

4) I just went ahead and climbed Arrow on the way down from Vestal. Only added 2 hours or so. We started very early, hit Wham at first light, summited Vestal probably by 8-9am, came down the easiest Vestal route, summited Arrow maybe 11am, back to camp by 1pm or so.

5) the Trinity traverse was a tough but fun day. Easy to miss the crux move in the West-Middle traverse, get good beta. Middle to East sucked, but not too difficult.

6) watch out for Marmots! Chewed one of my pack shoulder straps clear through, had to jury rig it for the long hike out. Take Coyote urine and disperse it around camp (I'm not kidding).

7) Again, skip the silly train ride to Elk Park and just suck up 3 miles the 1500' (or whatever) gain to Molas pass on the climb out

Truly one of my favorite areas in Colorado.

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby SuperPolok » Thu May 05, 2011 1:49 pm

I think my advice based upon your listed experience would be: "Don't worry too much."
My second would be: "Expect more 4th class scrambling than 5th class climbing but be prepared to do the scrambling unroped for speed."

I went and did the Wham, Arrow, and the Trinities a few years ago and loved the heck out of all of them (Trinity Traverse was my personal fave). Each day storms rolled in about 11:00 so early starts are obviously a good idea. The quartzite that makes up these mountains is amazingly high quality and also amazingly slick when wet.

I'd say doing a few flatiron routes and a couple of crack climbs in Eldo would be a perfectly logical way to prepare. We only roped up for a pitch and a half and scrambled the rest. Also donn't expect a Class 2 descent but a steep, moderately loose Class 3 descent off Vestal. Best of luck, these are very enjoyable peaks.

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby CarpeDM » Thu May 05, 2011 3:03 pm

Thanks for the responses so far. Keep 'em coming.

Brian: I am interested and will send a PM shortly.

Rob: I have seen a TR or two where Arrow was done on the way down from Vestal. I guess that would be my first choice as long as weather permits. Thanks for the perspective on the train. I can imagine that not using the train also provides more flexibility in scheduling. And thanks for the info about marmots/coyote urine. I had expected that the area would be a bit more wild, and I'd heard about the tough approach, but had not thought that the marmots would be extra aggressive.

SuperPolok: Thanks for the vote of confidence. I am actually pretty confident that I could do this even today, but I'd rather worry a little too much now to make sure I am completely ready. Yes, I have heard that you can keep it to no more than two technical pitches. And they are at a grade that I am comfortable with. But Vestal is pretty far out of the way. And I think I might be more afraid of doing the class 4 unroped than the class 5 roped - a psychological thing, ya know. Just trying not to take anything for granted, and also wanting to confirm that I'm not missing anything.

Thanks again.
"Skepticism is the first step towards truth." - Denis Diderot
"It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition." - Bertrand Russell
"Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure." - George Carlin
"Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory And I ain't saying it ain't a fact. But I've heard that I'm on the road to Purgatory And I don't like the sound of that.
I believe in love and I live my life accordingly. But I choose to let the mystery be" - Iris Dement

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby Kiefer » Fri May 06, 2011 8:39 am

CarpeDM,

Like SuperPolok stated, expect more 4th class scrambling than actual 5th climbing. However, the unless you're used to constant exposure, having a rope along will definitely make your
mind a bit easier. As steep as the ridge portion is, the rock and holds are phenominally good. The crux is a little 'worrisome' if you're not used to that kind of exposure but we found a hard 4th class chimney around the corner, as it were, on the west face that we climbed up to bypass. For it being 4th class, suffice it to say, the whole route is a no-fall zone.

This has to be hands-down, undoubtedly in my top-5 all time favourite climbs in the whole state.

The Trinity Traverse is likewise, in my top-10 all time favourite routes. We climbed it going from West to East Trinity and like Rob, added on Arrow Peak at the end of the day.

Obviously, there's a few groups heading back in there later this summer. Stephanie and I have plans on going in August. However, we'll be climbing a route on Wham called 'Center Shift'.
We'll be doing the Trinities and Arrow and some other peaks that I want (13ers) and basically repeating what Chris, Brian and I did 3 years ago. We'll take about a 7-9 days or so.
If you can get that chunk of time off, you're welcome to come with us.
Other peaks I'm looking at for this trip: Graystone Peak, Electric Peak, Peak One, Two and Three, Peak Seven & Eight and MAYBE Peak Four and the Heisspitz (time).

Climb the Flatirons. Perfect training terrain! :D

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby Summit Lounger » Fri May 06, 2011 9:12 am

+1 to all of the replies. Great info. The 3rd class descent is no cakewalk. Go down lower than you think, until you can see a clear scree field to the Vestal Arrow saddle. Do the climb, it will not disappoint.

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby CincyBearcats » Fri May 06, 2011 10:14 am

Although Sarah (the wife) and I fully intended to rope up for a couple short pitches on Wham Ridge, the low angle and solid rock made for much easier climbing than we had expected. For reference, we trad climb (multi-pitch) in the 5.6 to 5.7 range. Most of the others in our party are far more experienced on rock and had soloed the entire route in trail running shoes. We were glad to have our climbing shoes, however. For what we thought was the crux, the move required a hand jam while stemming on solid ledges. I was comfortable soloing the move, but Sarah opted to get a quick belay for the move. She's not super comfortable with hand jams, so it was the conservative thing to do. She pulled the move without any problem. A few photos of the area near the crux are below. More of our photos can be found here.
IMG_0101.jpg
easy stemming just below the crux
IMG_0101.jpg (234.73 KiB) Viewed 562 times
IMG_0103.jpg
getting ready to pull what we felt was the crux move
IMG_0103.jpg (212.62 KiB) Viewed 557 times

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby CarpeDM » Fri May 06, 2011 10:29 am

SummitLounger,
Yeah, I've heard the walk-off is the worst part of the day. I'll be doing some research to make sure we can find the easiest/best route down.

Kiefer,
I am definitely open to doing the Center Shift route. It looks like Brian C and I will be climbing some Flatirons routes soon, so we'll have some discussions about that and about timing. I remember talking with you and Steph about the Wham at the Winter Gathering. Weren't you also going after Pigeon and Turret? Or will that be a separate trip due to logistics?

In general, even on some of the class 4 portions, it sounds like the risk v reward calculation might fall on the side of roping up as far as I'm concerned - another topic for discussion with Brian C. And I'm open to discussion on this thread as well. Yeah, I know that sometimes speed = safety. There's a trade-off. We'll see - maybe it's a game-time decision - I don't know yet. It may well turn out to be like CincyBearcats experience. I do find that when I'm actually climbing I'm more comfortable than when I'm sitting here thinking about it.
"Skepticism is the first step towards truth." - Denis Diderot
"It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition." - Bertrand Russell
"Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure." - George Carlin
"Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory And I ain't saying it ain't a fact. But I've heard that I'm on the road to Purgatory And I don't like the sound of that.
I believe in love and I live my life accordingly. But I choose to let the mystery be" - Iris Dement

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby BrianH » Fri May 06, 2011 11:48 am

It's about time we got some buttshots in this thread! I would love to climb this route this summer, it looks totally awesome.

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby Garrett » Fri May 06, 2011 11:48 am

You may want to learn a bit about simul climbing. That will give you the security of a rope and the speed. That's probably the best way to do Wham or other long easy climbs when you want a rope but don't want to burn a lot of time at belays. You'll want to practice with your partner before hand so you know what your doing. You and your partner should both be comfortable with the process, it's simpler in many ways to climb this way on the right terrain and within your ability range.

If you're not familiar with simul climbing basically someone starts leading and placing gear while on belay (minimum 3 pieces between climbers). When the end of the rope gets to the belayer, the belayer begans to climb at the same rate behind the leader and clean the line. When the leader gets to a point where the technical stuff ends or they are getting low on gear they build an anchor and belay the second the rest of the way. Read about it, practice it, and be familiar with your climbing buddy and you should have now problem. You climb the technical part of wham easily as a simul climb connecting the pitches.

For more details feel free to send me a message and I can answer any questions you may have.

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Re: Wham Ridge Partner and advice

Postby mattpayne11 » Fri May 06, 2011 11:54 am

I would agree the crux is the hand-jam and push-up move on the ledge. It scared the crap out of me, but I was in hiking boots and did not have good footing the whole climb. I LOVED this climb, it was an incredible experience. We opted to climb Arrow separately at dusk, allowing us to watch the sunset from the summit - quite an incredible experience to say the least. Top 3 memories of all time, for me. You can see my long trip report if you are interested (on my site).

I think the advice above is perfect. The only extra advice I'd give to echo is that the back-side downclimb is awful. Make sure you have good weather for it, because it is nasty as hell and not easy to do, route-finding wise. We went up and down so many damned gullys - it was exhausing and exasperating. And I would say my partner and I are pretty good at route-finding.

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