Adventures in Evolution (Mar 2012 Boulder presentation)

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First chick ascent of the Evolution Traverse (5.9, VI). Presentation given to CU Boulder Alpine Club and at Neptune Mountaineering; includes an overview of High Sierra climbing.

First chick ascent of the Evolution Traverse (5.9, VI). Presentation given to CU Boulder Alpine Club and at Neptune Mountaineering; includes an overview of High Sierra climbing.

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  • 1. Adventures in EvolutionMichelle PeotMarch 2012 First chick ascent of the Evolution Traverse
  • 2. The High Sierra Mt Humphreys, Basin Mt, and Mt Tom from the Buttermilks
  • 3. The AreaSierra Nevada Range• ~400 mi in length• Predominately granite• Most stable weather inAug-Sep, t-storms in Jun-Julbut not as regular as theRockies• High concentration ofquality alpine routesbetween Bridgeport andLone Pine (~150 mi) Map from UC Davis’ Information Center for the Environment
  • 4. Red Dihedral on the HulkThe Area | Bridgeport (5.10b, 12 pitches) Incredible Hulkphoto by Luke Stefurak
  • 5. The Area | Yosemite (Tuolumne) N Ridge of Mt Conness (5.6)Third Pillar of Mt Dana
  • 6. The Area | Rock Creek/Pine Creek N Buttress on Merriam Peak (5.10, 10 pitches)Bear Creek Spire photo by Jed Porter
  • 7. N Buttress on Mt Goode (5.9, The Area | Bishop pitches)W Face on Cardinal Pinnacle (5.10a,4 pitches)
  • 8. The Area | Big Pine PalisadesTemple Crag
  • 9. The Area | Lone PineN Ridge on Lone Pine Peak (5.5) Keeler Needles & Mt Whitney
  • 10. The Pioneers Peter Croft Glen DawsonNorman Clyde Barbara Lilley Galen Rowell Jules Eichorn Vern Clevenger
  • 11. Evolution Traverse
  • 12. The Mystique How we got spanked on Evolution Traverse (Shay of, 2007) “16 hours car-to-car; 22 miles; peaks reached: 0/9” (Warren C and Dave J, 2009) “Cycling through 3 partners over 3 attempts…” (Ryan H in reference to Josh G, 2011) “The best traverse I have done.” (Peter Croft in The Good, The Great and the Awesome; FA on attempt #3) 17 documented successful ascents prior to my 2011 attempt (all by men)
  • 13. The Route 5.6 5.8• 5.9, VI 5.9• 10 mile approach overLamark Col (3,600 ft ofgain and 1,600 ft ofdescent)• 8 mile ridge traverseover nine 13K ft peaks• ~16 mile hike out 5.7
  • 14. The Route | History1966Gordon Waddell does Spencer to Huxley.July 1997Peter Croft and Galen Rowell climb Mendelto Haeckel, with Croft continuing on alonefor the last 4 peaks.August 1998Peter Croft and Dayle Mazzerella traversefrom 13,360 to Spencer.June 1999Croft returns to complete the full traversesolo.Source: Croft’s The Good, The Great, and the Awesome: The Top 40 High Sierra Rock Climbs
  • 15. My Background Climbing  Been climbing on/off since the mid-90s  Since ~2006 increased focus on trad/alpine climbing  Comfortable leading ≤ 5.10 trad  Enjoy exposure, soloing, and mega days Work  Work full-time as a data geek for a search company in Glendale CA, but fortunate to work remotely
  • 16. The Prep First (half-assed) attempt in Sep 2010  Base camp support from Jascha  Bailed before the Mendel summit due to (chronic) hip flexor issues Major focus on the Aug 2011 attempt  Made the decision to do the traverse alone and unsupported  Ton of climbing (trad, sport, bouldering, alpine soloing) with a focus on alpine speed and endurance  Planning & logistics (balancing weight and comfort/safety)  PT
  • 17. The Prep 2011 conditions and my dismal ability to forecast snow levelsRaw data from Data from (in cm)
  • 18. The Prep Surprisingly early start to the alpine season given the winter’s record snowfall N Ridge of Lone Pine Peak (5.5), 30 May
  • 19. The Prep Spent much time on Temple Crag to avoid sloggy conditions Moon Goddess Arete (5.8)
  • 20. The Prep Sun Ribbon (5.10a) | Galey | Sill traverse
  • 21. The Prep Last minute Evolution crux recon and bivy gear stash 1.5 weeks prior
  • 22. The Approach Darwin and Mendel from Lamark Col
  • 23. The Approach Darwin Canyon 2010 Darwin Canyon 2011
  • 24. The Approach Darwin Canyon Darwin Benches Base camp at Darwin Benches
  • 25. The Climb Darwin Canyon Darwin Benches 13,360 from Darwin Benches
  • 26. The ClimbLooking into Evolution Basin fromthe ridgeline on 13,360 Darwin CanyonDarwinBenches
  • 27. The Climb Self portrait en route to 13,360 Darwin CanyonDarwinBenches
  • 28. The Climb Mendel from the 13,360 summit (5.6)
  • 29. The Climb Ridge traverse to Mendel
  • 30. The Climb Mendel headwall (~25 ft, not 5.9)
  • 31. The Climb Darwin from Mendel
  • 32. The Climb Picket fence to Darwin (5.8)
  • 33. The Climb Darwin summit block
  • 34. The Climb Chimney section off the Darwin summit (5.9)
  • 35. The ClimbMore down-climbing off the Darwin summit
  • 36. The Climb Traverse to 13,332 (5.9)
  • 37. The Climb Golden slab (photo from recon)
  • 38. The Climb Bivy #1 with the evening’s entertainment, This American Life
  • 39. The Climb 13,332 summit
  • 40. The Climb Haeckel from 13,332 (class 3)
  • 41. The Climb Looking toward Wallace from just below the Haeckel summit
  • 42. The Climb And…the wall
  • 43. The Climb 5.6 5.8 5.9 5.7 And…the wall
  • 44. The Climb Emma
  • 45. The Climb Fiske from Wallace?
  • 46. The Climb Warlow from Fiske Photo courtesy of Laura Molnar
  • 47. The Climb Bivy #2 Huxley from Warlow Photo courtesy of Laura Molnar
  • 48. The Climb Morning light from bivy #2
  • 49. The Climb Huxley, the final obstacle (~5.7)
  • 50. The Climb The last summit!
  • 51. The Descent Hike back on the John Muir Trail through Evolution Basin
  • 52. The Descent Darwin Canyon Darwin Benches First real food in 2.5 days
  • 53. Summary~22.5 hours of climbingover 2.1 days
  • 54. Tips Go as light as you can taking into consideration your limits and conditions. Be efficient at route-finding, moving quickly unroped over 4th and easy 5th class terrain, and rope/gear management if you plan to use them. Consider your water options (snow melt versus dropping down 500’ to Haeckel Col). Acclimate. A full day at the Darwin Benches helps significantly especially if you are a flatlander. Note to self: Have your food plan perfected and make sure your camera is fully functional. Have fun. It’s an amazing climb no matter how far you get.
  • 55. Questions | Beta user name fossana on summitpost and mountainproject slides will be posted on (same user name)
  • 56. Gear List 80’ of 7mm Mammut Pro Cord – did 1 pack haul, 1 pack lower and 1 rap 3 nuts (sm, med, lg) – didn’t use ATC guide / locker Camp XLH 95 harness 40’ 9/16” tubular webbing – way too much Lightest pair of climbing shoes I could find at the Gear Exchange Western Mountaineering VersaLite (10 degree bag) 2L MSR Dromedary bag (for melting snow) + 100 oz hydration bladder Black Diamond Speed 40 pack Montrail CTC approach shoes Camp Corsa ice axe (left this at Lamark Col on the hike in) Cheap closed cell foam pad cut down to ½ length and minimal width* Rab Storm Bivi* * Cached on recon
  • 57. More Eye Candy | TRs Josh Garrison’s video covering 3 attempts: Patituccis’ blog: sierra-nevadas-evolution-traverse/ Alan Cattabriga’s TR: evolution-traverse/ My TR: Traverse-How-I-Owe-it-All-to-an- Apple/t11143n.html
  • 58. Many Thanks Tothe following people for beta, encouragement, company on recons/training climbs, and tolerating my obsessive ramblings:Alan C, Vic L, Peter C, Mike C, Ben H, Jason L, Ian C-B, Tricia L, Matt S, Tai D, Em H, Todd T, Joe L, Lisa R, Wills Y, Jascha L, Joan P, Miguel F, Sandra S, Janel C, Jessie M, Yoshiko and Jim M, Nathan W, Laura M and especially Emma
  • 59. Many Thanks To especially the Limits episode (Apr 2010)