Stoner’s and Bircheff-Williams

We met up with Jens at Middle Cathedral to climb the first few pitches of Stoner's, then perhaps some other stuff. The idea was to do a minimum of walking since Theresa's ankle has been bothering her. After Stoner's I got back on Bircheff-Williams, which I hadn't tried since the first time, about three? years ago.

Stoner's gets three stars in the book and I've always heard good things. We actually did the second pitch a while back (did the 11c first-pitch variation) and then went down because it was late. It turns out that the climbing tends to be quite runout and wandering. The first bolt is way high up and it took me a whiel to work out the route on the first pitch. Finally got to the belay and Jens got sketched at the traverse (a huge swing for the follower). Since he was trailing a rope, Theresa put him on belay from behind as well and he came across. I thought this might be a strategic error since the traverse has some reaches on it. Sure enough, when it was Theresa's turn, she got to the traverse, stretched for the hold, came up short and did a huge pendulum, her legs pumping as fast as possible to keep her feet under her. Steve Schneider was next door and looked over when he heard Theresa shriek and yelled up “Way to run with it!” I was impressed too and was surprised that she escaped unscathed.

I was even more impressed when she led the next pitch which is pretty hard (10b, but Jens thought it was harder than the first pitch) and has a substantial runout at the crux. Theresa placed a ridiculous micro nut behind the brocken shaft of an old piton, but even that was getting low by the time she pulled all the way through. Since the pitch traverses, it would have been a big fall (30 feet at least). Pitch three was sort of more of the same – wandering, runout, not all that aesthetic. Since the day was already wearing on, we decided to go down and get on Bircheff-Williams.

I had tried B-W a few years ago and came off several times before stemming my way up the 11b part. Having no big gear, though, I jumped off rather than climb the offwidth. This time I went armed with a #5 Camalot. I found the bottom of the pitch surprisingly hard, but that was just the warmup for the 11b. It was as smooth and as weird as I remember. I've heard that tall folks grab the arete to the right and then swing back into the dihedral, but for us shorties it's a one-way swing. I just couldn't find a way to position myself where I could move my left foot and took a bunch of short falls/rests. Finally it just worked. Theresa says I finally did it by stemming low with my hands, so I climbed with my hands below my shoulders until I could reach the good hold. Somehow, though, I couldn't get myself sorted out to get comfy above the crux and ended up hanging on the #5 Camalot before getting myself sorted out and getting into the offwidth which proved to be fairly easy (5.9 or so). Theresa, meanwhile, only took one fall on the whole pitch. Clearly, she should have led it, not me, but she doesn't see it that way. Anyway, it's sort of a project for our housemate Nick too, so we'll have to go back… My projects seem to be multiplying faster than my successes!