Slab Alley Restoration Project

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Anders Ourom
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Post by Anders Ourom » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:47 pm

Thanks! I particularly like the second (traverse) pitch - a variety of climbing, with a nice 5.7/5.8 finger crack.
Although I did feel that on p2 you could place natural gear, instead of bolts 3 & 4, I feel they make that pitch safer, as too few leaders consider their seconds when protecting.
Maybe - but I spent most of two days cleaning out the traverse crack - grass, shrubs, dirt, moss. Including "pinning out" much of it. Until after the fourth bolt, you might be able to fiddle in some tiny nut, but there's nothing much reliable.

The first two bolts on that pitch were placed in 1961. Two more were placed in 1974 or so, so that one could do the traverse without using pins. The nuts of that period weren't much use in horizontal cracks. We changed their locations, having in mind where you could place gear, protecting seconds, etc.

And you're dead right about leaders not thinking about their seconds. Traverses are part of climbing, they just take a bit more thought and care.

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Post by islander » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:02 pm

Climbed this in June sometime and thought it was great (I'm a 5.9 climber). The elephant steps were very memorable! I would recommend the route just to climb in these steps!

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Post by squamish climber » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:21 am

I climbed this on Sunday, August 1st -- We started the route around 3:45 pm and were at the top around 5:45. I was with an experienced leader so we travelled fairly fast. Like others have mentioned above, the harder moves are on the first three pitches and are well protected -- fun. And the elephant steps are wild, It's strange to see a climber disappear up to their thighs in the deep water runnel. The technique for climbing the steps is unique.

I would say if you have done Banana Peel or Diedre more times than you can remember - you should get on this. It's a fun climb.
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Anders Ourom
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Post by Anders Ourom » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:16 pm

Did any of you feel that any of the bolts, especially the new ones, were unneeded or out of character with the route? Or that any are in the wrong place? I want to go back and remove and patch all the old mangled studs and such. The holes for all the newly-replaced and new bolts were over-drilled, so if there is consensus that any should be removed or moved, they can be countersunk, with the hole patched. Not ideal, but perhaps tolerable.

(There's one new bolt on pitch 1, one on pitch 4, four (+ belay) on pitch 5, and three on the pitch 6 'direct' finish.)

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Post by Anders Ourom » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:41 pm

Here is a photo showing the Slab Alley (right) side of the Apron, taken from the shoulder of the Malemute.
Image

And here is it, with the route of Slab Alley marked in blue.
Image

As you can see, I'm no great artist, nor have I access to any decent program for doing these things. The following confirms this:
Image

Anyway, it may help people find and climb the route. The photo and topo should be taken as approximations only. Many trees, and smaller features, aren't marked.

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Post by slopr » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:40 am

Great cleanup, climbed this one awhile ago. It makes a fine alternative to diedre or BP @ around the same difficulty but maybe more technical and with more variety as it requires you to focus on your footwork while the crack traverse and elephant steps are just fun easy features to climb. It is easy to follow the route and with the new approach trail it is easy to access. Go climb it and give poor Diedre a rest, she's been takin it real hard for a lotta years, probably had millions of fingers in her....uhhhhh..

great work Anders thanks!

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Post by willyz » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:48 am

Anders, thank you for all the efforts. We climbed Slab Alley last evening starting at 4:30 and were done in 2 hours. Bolt placements etc. were perfect. It was nice to experience some of the Squamish climbing history.

There is still some grit in the "steps", but I think that a day of rain will take care of that :)

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Post by Lurch » Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:18 am

Nice whitewash Anders. Very nice, bolts were all in the right places and elephant steps were very fun.

We simuled them because we mistakenly sent the leader past the tree, which made for a very long fun pitch. We sent question of balance after too.. seemed like a good link up.

Any thoughts on Bran Flakes? Seems like its completely unused, maybe a couple more bolts might help? I would lead it if it was bolted similiarily to question, a little runout, but not deathly.

just a thought...

Mike

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Post by Anders Ourom » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:13 pm

Thanks, everyone. I'm still hoping to get Glenn and/or Hamish on the route, to comment on what's been done. One of the reasons that the bolts were overdrilled was of course so that if Glenn, Hamish or others who were active in the 1960s think that any are inappropriate, they can be disappeared without too much fuss. (Yes, I still need to get up there and remove the old scrap, and do some patching.) I'm not sure how a route can be whitewashed, though. :?

I'd be reluctant to add bolts to Bran Flakes. There are already two routes on that slab that are exciting, but tolerably protected. (Question of Balance and Pig Dogs.) Although I was involved in Bran Flakes - I placed the first bolt - it always seemed something of a grid bolt thing to me, even in 1978. Its only saving grace being that it has few bolts, although it's not desperate. Given developments elsewhere on the Apron, grid bolting is rather a concern. And it's not like QB is much different from Bran Flakes. I could ask Peter and Tami what they think.

I'd be very reluctant to see bolts added to Eric's Route, both due to the above reasons, and in memory of Eric. I'm not sure if the bolts were ever replaced, so that could be done, and it could be cleaned up a bit. There's nothing wrong with having a few scary routes, e.g. Grim Reaper.

Spent today looking at Pineapple Peel, doing a bunch of brushing. It looks like it will be worth the effort, including a mandatory tree climb on the first pitch ( :D, a wandering slab pitch (~5.8), a groove pitch leading to a short 5.8 slab (sort of like the one on Sparrow), then perhaps a new pitch linking in to the upper part of Slab Alley. There are only two bolts on it now, and I need to talk with Frank and Terry, to hear their thoughts.

Warning: Pineapple Peel and the area around it may be somewhat dirty for the next while.

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Post by Lurch » Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:31 pm

My whitewash comment was actually based on a post you put on st, asking people to "help me whitewash my fence?" :).

As far as bran flakes, i would be willing to clean it up a bit and lead it if you can help me replace the bolts. Then we'll see if it gets enough traffic to keep it clean. If not, whats the point?

Mike

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Post by damien » Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:32 am

Anders Ourum wrote:
(It would be possible, but awkward, to combine pitches 1 & 2, or 2 & 3 - rope drag, communications issues.)
Perhaps if one was linking p1-p2, they could climb the crack behind the P1 tree and slab above to regain the tail end of the traverse crack. Then go more directly to the P2 belay reducing drag. Skips out the rather interesting traverse, but doable. I have not done this by the way.

I did go up the renewed Slab Alley and it was great fun. It has a good feel at the base, and i like the different perspective from the route.

Question: When climbing the 10d variation into the Elephant Steps, where are the belays (before and after the pitch) located? A 60m rope from the top of P2 gets you only part way up the E-steps. Is the intent to simulclimb?

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Post by Anders Ourom » Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:47 am

Thanks. The "crack behind the first pitch tree" is where Pineapple Peel branches off from SA - you go straight up the flake/crack, instead of off right, and climb the tree to get started. You can then go up to the SA traverse crack, or left a bit, and straight up to the belay at the end of pitch 2. Then PP goes straight left again, before going up between SA and Banana Peel. More cleaning and thought needed - I just got started on PP last weekend. But that first pitch may be doable, just a bit scruffy.

The bolt protecting the 5.10d variation into the base of the elephant steps is a galvanized one, and not to be relied on. Planning to replace it, together with tidying up the various other metal bits. Not sure what to do about the 'old' bolt ladder below it. Anyway, it's really just a few moves. If you were doing the variation with a 60 m rope, probably the best strategy would be to belay in the diagonal crack half way up the 'steps'. Makes for two short pitches, but should work - I'm fairly sure that Jim and Tony belayed there on the first ascent, having only a 45 m rope or so.

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Post by Ed Seedhouse » Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:13 pm

Anders Ourom wrote:The bolt protecting the 5.10d variation into the base of the elephant steps is a galvanized one, and not to be relied on.
Is it the original one? I managed to do that variation once back in the late 1970's. EBs and all. As I recall it was a matter of stepping up on a crystal and then lunging for the slap. I fell on that bolt two or three times and then got lucky and stuck the slap. By far the hardest move I ever made on the lead end of a rope. Given my weight, even back then, I assumed I had nearly tested that bolt to destruction...
Anyway, it's really just a few moves. If you were doing the variation with a 60 m rope, probably the best strategy would be to belay in the diagonal crack half way up the 'steps'. Makes for two short pitches, but should work - I'm fairly sure that Jim and Tony belayed there on the first ascent, having only a 45 m rope or so.
I always belayed at that crack. Took a couple of hexentrics quite nicely and the stance was almost enough by itself anyway. Well, once I did try to make the tree but the rope tightened ten feet below it and I was reluctant to ask my second to simul that bit, so I downclimbed back to the crack. Maybe if I hadn't put a runner in the crack the diagonaedl rope would have reached the tree, but I was too easily frightened to consider the whole pitch without a belay, easy as it is.

Back then the old bolt ladder direct had a 5.8 rating in Gordy's guidebook. I first climbed it on lead in EBs on a very cold day and thought 5.8 was about right. The next time I lead the thing it was much warmer and I ended up using aid that one time.

Then sticky rubber came along and helped a lot on that climb and other slabs.

I think it's great if people start climbing it again and am glad to see you clean it.
Ed Seedhouse

Victoria, B.C.

Anders Ourom
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Post by Anders Ourom » Sat Aug 21, 2010 7:04 pm

Damien: I tried to reply to your e-mail via the Squamish Climbing website "private message" system, without success. In fact, it's never worked for me - I carefully write a reply, it goes in my outbox, and there doesn't seem to be any way to then actually 'send' it. It just sits there, and nothing I try makes it go where I want it.

Maybe try smoke signals or a heliograph instead, the original forms of digital communications. Or send a note to aiourom@telus.net

I do plan to replace the one (galvanized) bolt on the 'direct' variation, perhaps when the bits of old metal get removed and patched. Not sure what to do about the old (left) bolt ladder. I guess a few may still climb it.

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Post by mountainmack » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:24 pm

Thanks for all your hard work, Anders! I did this climb a couple of times 2 years ago. The first time we were looking for a less busy route than Banana Peel, the second when we were looking for Pineapple Peel. We almost climbed it again last weekend (Aug 15) without evening knowing about the work that had gone into it! Now I can't wait to try it!

So with that said, we climbed it both times from pitch 3 up. I think your variation on pitch 3 up the scoop will be a welcome addition, as will the added bolt on pitch 4. Traversing to the scoops with no pro was exciting, but dangerous. Especially if it becomes a popular route and begins to get polished. One bolt, properly placed, can still keep it spicy.

That aluminum angle on the traverse to the block on BP was not exactly confidence-inspiring either! Thanks for replacing it. I look forward to trying a direct finish variation, bolts or no.

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