mardi 8 janvier 2013

A Whale of a Time on Moby Dick (Jan 5, 2013)

Moby Dick 5.8 (6 pitches) West Cochise Stronghold

After a couple of chilly days of hiking around East Cochise and West Cochise, we decide to make a dash for it and climb the classic route Moby Dick on Whale Dome. We woke up to -5C weather and as we drove towards West Cochise the temperature dropped to -9C. Lucky for us, the sun came out just in time to warm us up for the enchanting hike in along the Stronghold Canyon. 

Within an hour we arrive at the base of the route and by now the rock is well into the sun. We rope up and start climbing at 10 am. We marvel at having the entire canyon to ourselves on a weekend day.



The route is pure fun! We start the first pitch in the wide crack/offwidth that leads directly to the tree and slung the tree for our first piece of protection. Better gear (#3 and #4) is found immediately above and the layback move above the bolt is quite positive. 


Pitch 1: Start below tree, then move right into middle crack
Climbing in Cochise Stronghold consists of the art of slinging chickenheads. These chickenheads ressemble "plates" and often are the only available type of protection. I slung my first chickenhead using a slip knot and am was pleased with the result. However, as I belayed Bill, the sling got pulled off by the tug of the rope. For subsequent chickenheads, I tried the trick of weighting the sling with a big cam and it worked - the slings stayed put. 

Good gear is available throughout most of the climb since it follows a giant rounded left facing corner. My #4 camalot came in handy in a couple of occasions.

Pitch 3: Looking up at it from the Pitch 2 anchor station
Still not entirely 100% comfortable with the chickenhead concept, I opted to set up the second belay station off the small tree and a good camalot. For the third pitch anchor, I put in two cams (purple and green) and slung a chickenhead. 

Pitch 3 Anchor: Two cams equalized with a slung chickenhead
Pitch 4 ended with an exciting move to mount a block to gain the belay ledge. However, it too, was well protected with a cam below the block extended with a double length sling.

Pitch 4 Bolted anchor on ledge
According to the topo, Pitch 5 contains a 30-foot runout section between two bolts. I was able to sneak in a few small cams between chickenhead plates in this section and continued up easily. 

Pitch 5 Fun face climbing up chickenheads
I managed to link up Pitch 5 and Pitch 6 with no/minimal rope drag with our 70m rope and built a good station with cams. We took a couple of photos from the summit, ate our sandwiches and then prepared for the reportedly "wild" rappel down the west face of Whale Dome.

Bill on summit of Moby Dick

Renee on summit of Moby Dick
Having read the numerous reports on the Mountain Project website that suggested a 70m rope would do just fine for the rappel, we opted for this choice of rope. (All topos suggest a two rope system, specifically for the rappel.) We located the rappel anchors and noticed there were two sets of anchors: an older station with dubious bolts which was located lower right and a newer station with nice shiny bolts located a few meters higher. We preferred the newer station but were concerned that our rope might not reach the ground. We decided to extend the new station with a 5m cordalette. A wise decision, as even with the anchor extended, our rope did not quite reach the ground; luckily we were on good terrain for the remaining 2-3m downclimb.

Rappel Line
All reports describe the rappel as "wild and airy" and we now understand what they meant. It was quite a feeling to start this rappel as you can't see the ground from the station and don't know quite what you're going to encounter. What you encounter is air. Lots of air. And lucky for us it was not windy that day.

Moby Dick is a great route! We had super fun day out on rock and were utterly pleased to be back in Arizona with the opportunity to continue our adventures!

1 commentaire:

Mamie a dit…

C'est le temps de prendre une pause pour la visite, onarrive là!!!