The first time I did that route I followed the first pitch and lead the second. There were also cool skid marks below the first bolt after the rightwards rising traverse. I remember the skid marks still, although I don't remember who my partner was that day.Anders Ourom wrote:When we did A Question of Balance, there was a lot of lichen on it, hence the early grade of 5.10a. I rappelled down it a year or two later and brushed it a bit, but for some years, there were skid marks in the lichens, from where people slid off the runout bit. Graphic evidence.
By the time I got courage enough to lead the first pitch, there was an extra bolt added, which made it much less of a runout. Next time I got to lead it the bolt was gone, much to my surprise, but I finished it because by then i had some Fires.
Legend says you chopped the bolt, but I don't actually know if you did. If it was you, you were right to do so, I think.
It's clean now, and with sticky rubber you could probably stop there and drill.
In 1979 or so, someone placed a chicken bolt at that spot, which I soon removed. Someone re-placed that bolt in about 1988, which I removed in 1989.
Having done the climb with Glenn, and thought about it, I may remove (retro-sink) two bolts on the fifth pitch, and one on the direct sixth pitch finish. That would leave two on the fifth pitch, and two on the direct sixth. Overall, on the original line, there will be four new protection bolts (one where a pin was used) and six new belay bolts. (Total eight belay, twelve climbing bolts on original line.) Plus two new protection bolts on the direct finish. But wouldn't mind more feedback.
The first two pitches of SA may be a bit gritty for the next while, as stuff washes down from the traverse crack, and from cleaning of Pineapple Peel. As it's forecast to rain for the next week, hopefully that'll take care of it. There's a bit more cleaning to do when it next dries, but not a lot. Still, something to watch for.
The other project is to remove and patch all the old studs and such, but that'll be a bit later.
1. Last pitch of SA below Broadway (pitch 6), sank the middle of the three bolts, then added one about 5 m below Broadway, at the last 5.8 bit. Based on input from several, including Glenn - remember that in the 1960s, they did this pitch without any protection at all.
2. Second last pitch of SA below Broadway (pitch 5), sank the second and fourth bolts, again as a result of input received.
3. Put one bolt into the new link pitch. Still needs a bit of cleaning, and removal of a snag, but quite climbable. Essentially links from the top of the third pitch of PP (the ledge) to the end of the fourth pitch of SA.
4. Patched all the bolt holes with some cement repair stuff. Did my best to ensure it works, but no promises. The old holes should be less visible, anyway, and if the stuff doesn't stick, it shouldn't be hard to peel off and replace. (There were five old holes at the belay at the end of the third pitch.)
All that's left is some cleaning on the first pitch of PP, the steep flake, plus patching the old holes on the lower pitches of both climbs. Maybe relocate one or two bolts - we'll see. But both quite climbable now.
The bolts on the last two pitches before Broadway have changed, and all the old bolts and holes on the route have been patched as best I could - about 20 total.
The one outstanding question is whether the three bolts 'ladder' on the third pitch might be consolidated into two bolts, perhaps with one bolt a bit higher and left replacing the first two.
1. (35 m) Climb a corner on the left (5.6, but often damp), or an unprotected slab (5.7) to a tree at the base of a steep wall and crack. (Either way about 20m to the tree.) Step up and right (5.7 move) to bolt, then a slab/ramp that leads right and up (15 m) to a bolt belay at a stance beneath an overlap.
2. (35 m) There's a bolt just up and right from the belay. Make two "step up" moves (5. to and past it to a second bolt, then straight left to a third and then fourth bolt, just above a horizontal seam. After the fourth bolt, continue straight left along the crack, past a steeper bit (5., to a bolt belay at a down-hanging tree. Leaders should place gear on the traverse, to protect their seconds - it seems easier to hand traverse after the fourth bolt.
3. (45 m) Go back along the crack for a few m, then up and left into a groove with shallow potholes. Straight up the groove (class 5) to a bolt, then up and a bit right to a cleaned patch at a steeper bit. (Please stay off the grass at the pothole/rock garden.) Climb past three bolts to a bolt belay (5.8+). [I removed the original bolt ladder, as it was well to the side of where it was freeable.]
4. (55 m) Mantle up from the belay, then left (class 5) past a bolt for 10 m to a large groove, the Elephant Steps. Up the groove via some high steps (ungradeable), with protection after about 15 m, then it eases off into a low-angle groove. Belay at a stout tree on the left (actually, there are two), or to gear in the good flake crack just above. In the spirit of the first ascent, you get to make your own belay here.
5. (65 m) Look for a cleaned streak. Straight up an easy groove (20m) to a bolt, then slabs (5.7) up and eventually left into a a prominent crack/groove. Up the groove past a shrub (good crack, optional belay here for those with 60 m ropes, or coming in from Pineapple Peel), then continue past another bolt (5.7) to a fir in a pothole, where there is a bolt belay.
6A. (60 m) Straight left along a cleaned streak, then up and left (5.7) into what is now the last part of Banana Peel, and so to Broadway. This was the original finish, so Slab Alley traffic has the right of way.
6b. (50 m) Go easily up, a bit right and then back left to a bolt. Straight up 8 m from there to a second bolt (5., then easing off for about 20 m to a third bolt, just below Broadway.
6c. (20 m) Up and right from the belay, then down and right, and so into the slabs descent. Class 5, some protection available.
7. (70 m?) Boomstick Crack (5.7 or so).
From end of Boomstick, continue up via Squamish Buttress or to other routes, or rappel to Broadway.
Gear as noted on the topo. Watch for heffalumps, trolls, and nOObs!
ps Note that the topo is not to scale, and not to be relied on - I can't draw too good.
Does anyone know why the forum automatically converts the number (in words) "five point eight" into 5.8, adding a smiley face? Is 5.8 some particularly good grade for a climb?
Overall, Slab Alley has quite a lot of moderate 5th class slab climbing, often a bit runout, with short harder bits. The harder parts are generally well protected. It's maybe a step up from say Banana Peel in terms of difficulty and effort.
There seem to be very few real new route possibilities on the Apron, either to the right of Diedre, or the Upper Apron to the right of Granville Street. (Even if you think it's a new route, and there's no record, it's probably been climbed.) The possibilities mostly seem to be squeeze jobs, only a few metres to the side of existing routes, without a real line. Perhaps it's a subject for another thread, but I'd like to suggest that there be a voluntary moratorium on new bolts in these areas, without some community consensus that it makes sense. (Maybe also cliffs like Neat & Cool, and Burgers & Fries. Oh, sorry - we're supposed to call them 'sectors' now, not cliffs. ) Restoring the other existing routes - Sickle, Wildebeeste, etc - makes sense, including replacing any bolts that need it. But adding bolts to any existing route, or adding any new bolts for trivial variations, seems of dubious value. Maybe this should apply to all of the Apron, but I suggest it's worth considering.
Anyway, just reporting that Slab Alley had its annual spring cleaning - particularly the traverse crack on the second pitch, which tends to fill with stuff washed down. If those who climb that bit can take a moment and dislodge anything that collects there using a nut tool, it would be appreciated - in fact, a helpful thing to do on all routes.
Last August, Jeff Thomson, Hamish Thomson, Tami Knight and I created a first pitch variation for Slab Alley. It starts on the far left side of the 'bay' in which the route starts, at a three step wooden ladder. Climb the ladder, mantle onto a ledge that goes left and around the corner, then climb the slab past bolts to a belay at trees. Thence up 10 m to rejoin Slab Alley, at the end of the second pitch. We called it 5.9, A0, with an SLS - step ladder start. Jeff and Hamish did most of the work. They planned to return and secure the ladder. Probably one could climb that bit, but it'd be pretty hard - which is why no one had gotten around to it. It's maybe 40 m of climbing.
After considering some witty, pointed, barbed and/or blunt names, we decided to call it "Due Diligence". That being something that was conspicuously lacking in consideration of the gondola project, particularly on the part of governments. Such process as there was, was a travesty. But then, the agenda of the provincial government, to encourage commercial and industrial development in provincial parks, and their privatisation, is no surprise. And cuts in government funding to B.C. Parks are a scandal.
In April we added a short variation to the fourth pitch. The groove/elephant steps pitch, that is. Traverse across to the base of the groove, then continue left and up across more moderate slab to a diagonal crack, which leads up and right, back to the top of the steeper bit of the steps. No evidence of a previous ascent, so we'll say that the FA was by Sean Draper and his friends Kate and Sigrid. It's about 15 m total, possibly as hard as 5.6 or 5.7 - although I totally crushed it while on a toprope, with a jumar belay. A variation for those who aren't friendly with elephants, although if you put protection in the diagonal crack you may have rope drag problems. It would be silly to give such a short variation a name, so we didn't.
just a note of appreciation for all your hard work. I do some of this work myself here in Wa. around Index, Leavenworth and North Bend, and know how hard it is. I don't think many climbers know what goes into this cleaning in the NW anyway. The moss, ferns, salal, brambles, sod, trees, roots, bushes, dirt, loose rocks etc. It has been fun and interesting following this thread for a while.
I have been climbing around Squamish for about 12 years and am just beginning to get used to slab run-outs. I feel ok on Sparrow, the climbing is not the problem, just the leading is unnerving for me. The Bottom Line seems well bolted to me for 5.8, a few longer runs on it. Would that be considered over bolted for a Squamish slab? I liked Over the Rainbow and One Scoop, two newer routes that have more bolts, but seem reasonably bolted. I don't get the sense that many people climb Sparrow, and am guessing it is because of the run-outs, and I suspect that is the reason for the neglect of Slab Alley. It sounds to me that you gave quite a bit of thought to the rebolting, so I would vote for leaving any bolts you added, if it's not too late.
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