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Taiwan 2015 Spring

Jiufen engulfed with clouds

Jiufen engulfed with clouds

After dry winter in Taiwan 2014 – 2015, the rain had to come down on us and spring was the time. This spring, in Long Dong, Taiwan, we have quite a bit of rain. However with a little luck, not many groups were affected by the weather. I would like to thank all our participants who have came to Long Dong this spring to climb with us. With the new multi pitch course, SNCS Sports Level 3, in place we were able to allow more climbers experience multi pitch climbing in a more structured manner.

The Bivy common area

The Bivy common area

I hope everyone had a great time in Taiwan this spring and I’m looking forward for everyone (readers you including) to come to Taiwan with us! In the autumn season we have some amazing things happening in Long Dong, including The Bivy 小屋岩!The Bivy is a climbers’ hostel that Kelly and I have created for the climbing community to base in when climbing in Long Dong,龍洞,Taiwan. Its a small and cosy home with 8 beds (extendable to 10) in Bitou Cape which is just 2km away from School Gate in Long Dong. A lot of efforts has been put into this project and its our way of paying it back to to climbing community. Providing a clean, comfortable and affordable hostel for all travelling climbers, The Bivy has many amenities that a traveller will need. Please log on to Facebook and show us some love on www.facebook.com/thebivytaiwan

One of the hot sunny days in Spring with Zhu Yan knocking off Oh Yeah

One of the hot sunny days in Spring with Zhu Yan knocking off Oh Yeah

Congrats to all new SNCS Sports Level 3 participants who have successfully completed the course. Stringent training and beach mark has been applied to this course especially when its done outdoors. Completing the course outdoors has provide the participants with valuable experience on realistic terrain making their next outdoor climbing experience better. Kelly and I have done thousands of pitches of climbing and I hope our experience has helped you understand the multi pitch world better!

SNCS Level 3 in a outdoor classroom

SNCS Level 3 in a outdoor classroom

The crew up on a multi pitch completing their 5 day course combo! Good job!

The crew up on a multi pitch completing their 5 day course combo! Good job!

Silvia and Sze ping, leading their first mock multi pitch on trad.

Silvia and Sze ping, leading their first mock multi pitch on trad.

Constantin watch on as Sze ping find his way up Wedding Day on Clock Tower

Constantin watch on as Sze ping find his way up Wedding Day on Clock Tower

See Cheong starts up on Climax

See Cheong starts up on Climax

Rocking some multi pitch with old friends, Ginno is the Qxadventures' first participant in Taiwan Rock Trip!

Rocking some multi pitch with old friends, Ginno is the Qxadventures’ first participant in Taiwan Rock Trip!

Embarking onto Trad climbing course or the SNCS Rock level 1 course, climbers will learn the world of climbing without bolts. Finding their way up the blank walls and learning to trust their assessment is the key to the course. Not for the faint hearted but once you have completed the course, participants understands mechanics of trad climbing increasing their knowledge of this rare and unique skill of climbing cracks. Congrats to all of you who have passed the SNCS rock level 1 and entering the world of trad climbing with me, I hope to take you to other places in the world where your unique skills will be put to test!

Adrain comes for trad course and raps in to 龍路 for a end of course assessment

Adrian comes for trad course and raps in to 龍路 for a end of course assessment

Kayne with his ET moment.

Kayne with his ET moment.

OBS group with Sherman climbing in Golden Valley

OBS group with Sherman climbing in Golden Valley

Alvin and Chermaine knocking off another trad route in Golden Valley

Alvin and Chermaine knocking off another trad route in Golden Valley

Zhu Yan on top of Caterpillar just as the rain hits us

Zhu Yan on top of Caterpillar just as the rain hits us

Gabriel returns for some trad refresher and Yosemite prep

Gabriel returns for some trad refresher and Yosemite prep

My proud moment with our oldest climber in Singapore Doc Kung to prepare for his Yosemite trip this summer

My proud moment with our oldest climber in Singapore Doc Kung to prepare for his Yosemite trip this summer

Terence and Juliet drops by for a day of climbing. Day  trips are great way to get out of Taipei city!

Terence and Juliet drops by for a day of climbing. Day trips are great way to get out of Taipei city!

Elenni and Clare from USA is on a girls outing with Kelly!

Elenni and Clare from USA is on a girls outing with Kelly!

Kelly and I are currently in US from June to 29th August 2015 and if you are keen to hit us up on some big climbs or experience the Valley living hit us up!

Taiwan Autumn 2015 Rock Trip is tentatively lock in from Sept 2015 to Jan 2016, work on your leave calendar soon!

Captain Ahab, Photo Op

Kelly placing a cam on Captain Ahab in Long Dong Taiwan

Captain Ahab is a short thin traverse on the face of Whale’s Head on the Music Hall sector of Long Dong. Its a face that doesn’t sees a lot of traffic as there isn’t a whole lot of trad climbing community here in Taiwan. It’s nice to know that if you have Captain Ahab as your project, you can almost be sure that no one will be in line to climb next.

Me on Capt Ahab in 2012

A while ago, I have posted the challenge for Kelly to climb Captain Ahab. The first time I took her up Easy Dick’s anchor, she chicken out before stepping off the belay ledge. I told her it was irrational fear and the fall on that route is super safe. However the exposure got to her and she decided it was too much for her.

Cleaning gear for the second attempt

In Feb 2015, when she was back in Taiwan to work on our new Hostel project, The Bivy, 小屋岩, Kelly had some off days and decided to get on the rock with Maurice. According to her, she placed so much gear that she almost felt like she was aiding.

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This March, when we got to Taiwan and go climbing on the first day, Kelly hoped on the route and I decided to get the camera on her. Danger decided he wants to get on the route too and came along with us.11076399_10103512319849718_1846756318_o

It was a amazing position to shoot Kelly sending the route and very different from all the photos that was ever taken of this route. Most photos will show the climber climbing out and over the sea, however this photo we took, shows the climber and the entire wall below her. Giving the perspective of how expose the climb is, with no rocks hanging below the feet.

I hope it was a interesting photo for everyone and hopefully this becomes the poster girl photo on Arc’teryx Singapore store!

Singing Rock, Penta

I have owned several helmets in my short 10 years of climbing career and I remember when I started off climbing in the gym or the outdoors, I would tease people who used helmet while climbing in a sports climbing area. With the young and ignorant mind thinking that its uncool, reduced performance and there is not going to be rock fall mentality, I was lid less for the first few years of my climbing career.

Spotted without a helmet in South Africa in 2009 climbing a unknown route with my friends from Bloemfountain

Spotted without a helmet in South Africa in 2009 climbing a unknown route with my friends from Bloemfountain

However, ever since I started trad climbing and teaching trad skills in various countries, I have had rocks and various equipments coming down at me when I’m at belay duties or as a climber. I have since decided that helmet is mandatory in many if not all climbing situation. After all, a climbing helmet like my new Singing Rock, Penta, weighs like 205gm and thats hardly any weight for the muscle bugling, badass swearing, bra tearing macho rock climbers.

Spotted with the Tracer helmet on Supercrack, Dairy Farm, Singapore.

Spotted with the Tracer helmet on Supercrack, Dairy Farm, Singapore.

Well, the Penta is a evolution of the old Singing Rock helmets Terra II, which the latter a has a higher profile, plastic quick adjustments at the back and of course not so much colour choice (which could be the number one deciding factor when buying a helmet for many).

Terra II

Terra II

 

The interior, note the plastics and the amount of cushion.

The interior, note the plastics and the amount of cushion.

I did not hop on the Terra II for sometime because I did not really like the fit as it created hot spots on my forehead. So I was pretty much stuck on my Black Diamond Tracer helmet, which was with me for the last 5 years. The Tracer is almost good except for the fit and that is the most important thing for me.  The Tracer has hot spots at the top of the head for me and it slides forward and backward even when I have my chin straps and rear dial to the max and almost choking myself. Since I got the Tracer for free and is not willing to fork out money for other helmets, I lived and got used to the helmet.

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Campers’ Corner called me this week and told me the Penta arrived at their store and I was really excited to wear it and feel how the helmet stands up. When you first picked up the helmet, you can feel the lightweight foam without excessive plastic parts on it and it has a great CG with weight evenly distributed around the helmet. The adjustable straps at the back of the helmet eliminated the traditional plastic dials which I thought was a great idea. The plastic dials either breaks or it becomes sticky rubber/plastic mix after being in our tropical climate for sometime. These adjustable straps on the Penta, feels soft and skinny almost ‘g string’ kinda feel. It is also not hard to adjust the straps when you have your helmet on.

The straps the profile and the interior. All clean and minimum plastics

The straps the profile and the interior. All clean and minimum plastics

The Penta also spots 11 vents to make sure the head breathes well under our hot and humid weather in this tropical island. The headlamp retainers are also flush to shell of the helmet so it doesn’t snags with items in the bag pack or tree branches while maintaining its full function of retaining the headlamps to the helmet.

no rolling!

no rolling!

Generally when climbing with it, I feel the Penta doesn’t roll around my head like the old Tracer does and it has a pretty low profile, which will be great for climbing roofs like Psycho Killer, Cathouse, Long Dong.

4 attractive colours to choose from and 1 size of 51cm – 60cm girth. This is my choice for the next season in Yosemite! IMG_5176

Limited stock now in Campers’ Corner for SGD$140 only.

Kick start into 2015!

2014 was an awesome year. I want to thank everyone who have made it such a great year! Especially those who have came for our courses and guided trips in China, Thailand, Taiwan and US. It was great to share climbing knowledge and instructions with you. Moving into 2015 we have many new developments coming up!

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First a quick sneak peak into our 2015 climb calendar.

March – May —-> Taiwan Rock Trip

Taiwan 2015 spring

June – August —> Yosemite Rock Trip

Yosemite 2015 poster

September – Nov —> Taiwan Autumn Rock Trip

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Dec — SNCS Sports Level 1, 2 and 3 in Krabi (tentative)

The holes are what?!

The holes are what?!

Taiwan Trips updates

We have a new ride in Taiwan meaning we can take more people in each course per trip! Our new 小白 takes up to 6 passenger making our meal runs much more pleasant! Accommodation – we are no longer using the Long Dong homestay for the comfort of our participant’s comfort. Instead we have a new climber’s hostel operated by Qxadventures for climbers right next to the village of Long Dong, which is 2km from school gate. The hostel will be undergoing renovation works and projected to be ready in mid March. Stay tune for more updates!

小白!

小白! The airport pick up rig!

Hopefully we can transform this beast into a beauty!

Hopefully we can transform this beast into a beauty!

Yosemite Rock Trip

This year is an exciting year to Yosemite for us as we are having the first participant who wants to climb Half Dome via the North West regular route! We are also happy that Yosemite Rock trip is running for the 3rd year in a row. I hope more and more climbers are interested in big climbs like these be it big wall climbing or long multi pitch.

Looking down from the belay

Looking down from the belay

 

This year, I have my eyes set on climbing Rostrum, a feature which I’ve always drove pass but never touched just because a friend told me that given our climbing standards I will never be able to climb it. It will also be good to knock off another El Cap route and hopefully free climb most of it. While all these are in place our camp chief, Miss Kelly Khiew, is busy learning how to dish out more delicious asian cruisine at the campsite! Looking forward for a larger ice box!

The Rostrum is the tower in the shadow on the right.

The Rostrum is the tower in the shadow on the right.

Krabi Rock Trip 2014

Tonsai, Krabi has always been an interesting place for me. I’ve been to Krabi perhaps more than 15 times and still feel excited when I touch down in this place I call paradise.

Tons Beach 2014

Tons Beach 2014

In fact, this place bears a lot of memories for me, it was my first outdoor climbing experience back in 2005 with Derek Yuen and Rachel Hoon. On the same trip I met my wife Kelly and took this group photo even though we never talked to each other after years later. To make things better, I got back to Singapore after a 4 days climbing trip to Krabi and immediately decided to head back. Instead of planning for another holiday, I changed my riding trip destination to Krabi and had my riding buddy stay in Tonsai with me. All these within 5 hours of arriving in Singapore. Tonsai left me a deep impression of climbing sends, drunk birthday parties, Spanish chickas and also valuable time off from my time in the army.

The oldies photo with Derek on my right and Rachel on my left. Its ok if you can't recognise the rest of them. They either lost their hair, grown older or disappeared.

The oldies photo with Derek on my right and Rachel on my left. Its ok if you can’t recognise the rest of them. They either lost their hair, grown older or disappeared.

5 hours after arriving in Singapore I decided to go back to Krabi again. This time with my pack packed full of gears!

5 hours after arriving in Singapore I decided to go back to Krabi again. This time with my bike packed full of gears! Still riding my AT 750

The last time we were there was during Slackfest 2013 and it was minimum climbing and all about slacklining trip. This time however, was the complete opposite and pretty close to every other Krabi trip I had in the past, except for we are running SNCS Sports Level 3 which is a new syllabus on multi pitch climbing by Singapore Mountaineering Federation. It’s not a new thing for me =D and I have conducted a fair bit of multi pitch training outdoors. Having 2 super keen participants this trip made things even better. On top of that we have Joao who attended my first few trad courses in Long Dong coming for guided climbing during the same time.

Long tail boat ride into Tonsai. If there is a storm, you are getting wet for sure!

Long tail boat ride into Tonsai. If there is a storm, you are getting wet for sure!

So it all worked out well. Kelly and I arrived in Tonsai a few days early and warmed ourselves up on some climbs before the group comes. A few burns on projects like K1 and Gillesnolimit on the first few days but no sends. Kelly is trying to get her first F7c and I’m just trying to climb as many F7c during my off days as possible.

Kelly on Gillesnolimit a year ago.

Kelly on Gillesnolimit a year ago.

The group arrived, together with a depression coming from the north that brought a lot of rain to Tonsai. Joao and Bee Kuen arriving from Krabi Airport had a wild time on the long tail boat journey travelling from Ao nang to Tonsai beach, while Zhu Yan and I were drenched on Thaiwand wall. The following day, the crew went out to do single pitch climbing at The nest, warming up on some steep easy climbs. The steep walls in Tonsai keeps rain out making many spots great places to hide out during rainy afternoons.

Photo by Ian.  Me on Voodoo Doll F7c+, Steep walls like this keeps some of the crags dry and climbable in the rain.

Photo by Ian. Me on Voodoo Doll F7c+ years ago, Steep walls like this keeps some of the crags dry and climbable in the rain.

On the second day, Bee Kuen and Zhu Yan head off to Monkey world with me to work on the skills required for multi pitch climbing. Some route finding, top belays, building of anchors and more. Within the first few hours, they found themselves lead climbing their first multi pitch, Curious George, F6b. The duo swap leads and they quickly found themselves getting pretty pumped from a simple short multi pitch.

Swapping leads on Monkey world

Swapping leads on Monkey world

Gunning off for the first multi pitch!

Gunning off for the first multi pitch!

On Curious George first pitch

On Curious George first pitch

Zhu Yan on Curious George second pitch

Zhu Yan on Curious George second pitch

Putting in some work for the end of day work out climb

Putting in some work for the end of day work out climb

Pumping the steep 6b section

Pumping the steep 6b section

Bee Kuen throws a heel!

Bee Kuen throws a heel!

The following day we decided to take on something bigger with a little bit more climbing. A mega classic of Tonsai is on the East pillar of Monkey world, The beauty and the beast. This time we roped up in a party of 3 to ensure that both of participants have equal practise on top belaying.

Watchful belayer

Watchful belayer

Climbing on Monkey world

Climbing on Monkey world

The team did well and climbed to the top of The beauty and the beast, without much problems. It was a great climb and we worked on different descend options to end the day off.

Descend with backups and smiles!

Descend with backups and smiles!

All good after hard day of work out!

All good after hard day of work out!

After 3 days of climbing, everyone was feeling a little tired and opted out of the 5 pitch classic I have installed for them. So instead we work on some anchor building and rescue techniques with a little climbing thrown in.

Our little friends around here

Our little friends around here

While the course has ended, Zhu Yan has arranged for an extra day at the end of the trip and so I climbed the famous multi pitch in Tonsai, Humanality. A long 5 pitch climb, with a brilliant crux pitch in the middle. Its one of those climbs that I still sweat in my palms when I think of it. Its never too hard at any point but the exposure and the never ending climbing keeps every climber on their toes. Zhu yan gets the second F6a+ pitch and he was pretty overwhelm by the exposure.

Zhu Yan heads out of the cave on exposed ground

Zhu Yan heads out of the cave on exposed ground

3rd pitch with great views

3rd pitch with great views

The holes are what?!

The holds are what?!

Ah! Climb in between! Pitch 4, crux pitch

Ah! Climb in between! Pitch 4, crux pitch

Rest after the crux!

Rest after the crux!

Top of the climb!

Top of the climb!

While the multi pitch crew’s program came to an end, Joao is busy sweating his way through the limestone jungle. Coming from Sweden, the heat and humidity is too much for him. Of course we had to introduce him to some pineapple fried rice and Thai massage since its his first time to Thailand. However he also climb loads with Kelly everyday and it seems like it was a great trip for everyone!

Joao on Thaiwand Wall, Circus Oz first pitch.

Joao on Thaiwand Wall, Circus Oz first pitch.

At the end of the trip, with some off days left, Kelly went on to send K1 on full lead and I sent both K1 and Gillesnolimit and whole bunch of other stuff. It was a great trip and I felt really happy to show our participants the way of climbers in Tonsai. I hope they enjoyed the trip and hopefully see more of you you out here for SNCS Sports level 3!

My Mimi this trip! We already miss her!

My Mimi this trip! We already miss her!

Incredible Hulk – Sunspot Dihedral

The world is small, it is even smaller when it comes to the world of climbers. In 2010, Matt Robertson, author of Long Dong Climbing Guide, put together a team of 21 climbers from all over the world including some big names like, Mayan Gobat Smith, Hazel Finlay and Tim Emmett. Somehow the average Joe, climber wana-be, me managed to get into that climb as well.

During this climb of course we forged good ties, made new friends and climbed a pretty tall building. It was during this time I met Mike Knarzer from Phoenix. Of course Mike is a great climber known to climb desert cracks and towers. All this did not make any sense to me until last week when Mike and I shared a rope on the Incredible Hulk in the high Sierra.

Mike in blue shirt in 2010 climbing tower 2 of Marina Bay Sands and me in red shirt to his left

Mike in blue shirt in 2010 climbing tower 2 of Marina Bay Sands and me in red shirt to his left

The first time I heard about the Incredible Hulk was when I watch the video, Orgins, featuring Lisa Rands and Peter Croft climbing the route Venturi Effect. The video will seem a little boring to those who have no interest in alpine trad climbing or is expecting to see Lisa Rands crank another boulder problem. But the more interesting thing about the video features the amazing legend Peter Croft. This guy is a bad ass, in case our Singapore readers out there doesn’t know. He is the Alex Honnold of the 90s and has some amazing feature under his belt, first one day link up of Salathe Wall and the Nose in 1992, free soloed the Astroman and the FA of Airstream, 5.13 on the Hulk.


The only thing I can imagine myself doing, is to climb 5.9/5.10s at 11000ft. To climb a 5.13 trad route at that kind of height is a serious undertaking and not the same as climbing the 5.13 in Tonsai beach where you can have 2 Khao pai pak (veg fried rice) in between burns!

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk

I met up with Matt and Mike at Black Sheep cafe in Bishop when Kelly and I were passing through to get to LA after the whole month of guiding in Yosemite Valley. We had a great season, having 2 big wall summit and also guided another 2 clients on big wall summits and now its time for Kelly to go home and I will be without a climbing partner for 1 week. However when Mike talked about the Hulk, it struck me that this climb has always been at the back of my mind. The long approach, the altitude and the beauty of the wall is what draws me to wanting to try to climb something similar. Something more alpine like with big long routes.

Pretty high up in the Sierra with view of Outgarde Post on the opposite side of the valley.

Pretty high up in the Sierra with view of Outgarde Post on the opposite side of the valley.

Mike and I finally settle for plans after a few days of cragging in Bishop with the Singaporeans. We decided the 5mile approach is going to be our rest day and blast up Sunspot Dihedral on the following day, rap the route on the same day and descent. Sounds doable, after all its ‘only’ 11b and 8 pitch of climbing. Seriously, I have my doubts as I have never climbed so hard so high before and I know the approach is steep. That means the calves will blow out early on those crazy stemming and endless finger cracks.

The final approach before getting to bivy site. Hulk hiding behind the approach.

The final approach before getting to bivy site. Hulk hiding behind the approach.

There was no time to waste, we cooked a big asian dinner at Matt’s place and started to pack for the 1 night stay up in the high Sierra. The following day’s drive from Bishop to Bridgeport is about 2 hours and that includes getting to the ranger station to get our Wilderness permit. And we park in the village at the trail head which requires a USD 10 parking fee that last for 7days.

Parking at the village

Parking at the village

Packed our bags and have Mike’s little Miss Pather come along with us! The first 2.5 miles of the hike is on hiker’s trail which is easy to follow and pretty flat. We made good time to the fork of the trail before taking a break at the river.

Miss Pather!

Miss Pather!

The trail head

The trail head

Pretty good view!

Pretty good view!

From the river its another 2.5mile climber’s trail and steep rocky terrain. As we started gaining altitude, the body begs  for more air and the legs become sluggish. We took about another 2 hours for the last 2.5miles.

Crossing the river to the climbers trail

Crossing the river to the climbers trail

At this point of time, the objective is right in front of you and the size of the rock is just amazing. With many routes going up the wall, we chose something which is in between, not super easy like the Red Dihedral, 10b or something crazy hard like the Venturi Effect, 12+. The Sunspot Dihedral is a long sustain climb with 3 pitches of 5.11 back to back and the crux pitch is a 11b face climb protected by bolts.

Getting water before the heading to our bivy site

Getting water before the heading to our bivy site

The bivy cave!

The bivy cave!

The following day we bolted off at 0830hrs after a double breakfast and some coffee. 15 mins hike gets us to the base of the climb from our rock cave. I took the 1st pitch 10a warmup and accidentally climbed the 10c tips that Mike has been wanting to do! Sorry Mike! Its a great climb and one could actually link it up to the 2nd rap anchors from the ground with a 70m rope!

View from inside the cave.. 1st class!

View from inside the cave.. 1st class!

The 10c tips section I stole from Mike

The 10c tips section I stole from Mike

Funky stemming already low down on the route

Funky stemming already low down on the route

Pitch 2 was a breeze after the 10c crux is out of the way. I got pitch 3 which was pumpy underclings and roof that requires you to traverse out to the left. However the crux is actually high up on the pitch with a insecure shallow crack with huge run outs!

The runout before the bolt. Can you see the last gear?

The runout before the bolt. Can you see the last gear?

Mike down low after the underclings section

Mike down low after the underclings section

Entering the spooky section as described in Supertopo

Entering the spooky section as described in Supertopo

And a looooong reach out!

And a looooong reach out!

Mike got pitch 4 which is the tiny tips crack and super long and sustain! None of the crux on the pitch is hard but the route just keeps going and going for another 50+m ! Pitch 5 is a short bouldery crux with only 5-8m of hard climbing which pass a steep face and enters the Sunspot which is easy climbing all the way to the anchor. And if one as why is this called the Sunspot Dihedral, its not hard to spot the climb which has a big red patch of orange rock in the middle of the route!

Shadow of the wall! It doesn't get sun till late!

Shadow of the wall! It doesn’t get sun till late!

The cruiser sections after the crux of the route.

The cruiser sections after the crux of the route and to the right is the sun spot

Can you see the sunspot?

Can you see the sunspot?

Pitch 6 is a easy 11a and it all goes easy after that. Instead of climbing the summit we traverse right to the last steep headwall pitch of Positive Vibrations to climb another 5.10+ 70m pitch to get the the first rap anchors. At this point we are just a few meters short of the summit of the Hulk. Since we have a long day ahead and sunlight is quickly fading away, a few quick photos and off we go rapping the rite with a single 70m rope.

The mandatory selfie

The mandatory selfie

Just short of the fake summit

Just short of the fake summit

Summit shots!

Summit shots!

At the rap anchor!

At the rap anchor!

Going down!

Going down!

Windy and high Sierra clouds!

Windy and high Sierra clouds!

My first time wearing the Arc'teryx Atom Hoody to climb! Its too cold to wear other combos!

My first time wearing the Arc’teryx Atom Hoody to climb! Its too cold to wear other combos!

The day ended with a great dinner at Denny’s in Bishop at 1130pm and a 6 hour drive to LA at 4am for my scheduled car appointment.

Overall the climbing feels not too hard since there is not hard distinct crux but its long and keeps going and going. I’m happy to onsight the crux pitch and climb the whole route in good style with Mike. I will be back next season to climb another route on this wall and for now its the end of the climbing trip for me, just waiting for the flight out of LA tonight!

The route we took

The route we took

Taiwan Rock Trip 2014 is full for this October but we have Krabi Rock Trip in Nov and if you are keen to learn how to multi pitch get in contact with me! I will be running SNCS Rock Level 3 courses and guiding in Krabi in Nov!

Climb some classics on the Thaiwand Wall during your SNCS Level 3!

Climb some classics on the Thaiwand Wall during your SNCS Level 3!

Mega Classic climb of Tonsai that you should not leave without! Humanality 6b

Mega Classic climb of Tonsai that you should not leave without! Humanality 6b

Salathe Wall, July 2014

The route demarcated by the red line. (photo from Supertopo.com)

The route demarcated by the red line. (photo from Supertopo.com)

35 pitches and 3500ft of climbing, it is the longest thing Kelly and  I have climbed. Previously having done The Nose on El Capitan too, we knew that Salathe Wall would be a level up from climbing The Nose, since there is more wide climbing/offwidth in the route and many spicy chimney pitches including the Half Dollar pitch and the Ear.

Starting off the first pitch of Salathe wall (the first 10 pitch is commonly done as a multi pitch route also known as the Free Blast)

Starting off the first pitch of Salathe wall (the first 10 pitch is commonly done as a multi pitch route also known as the Free Blast)

After just 4 days getting off Mount Watkins, my mind was set on Salathe Wall, knowing that this is the most probable block of climbing days we have left before our clients are here for the Yosemite Rock Trip 2014. So we throw Ribbon Fall Wall’s plan out and focus on the preparation for Salathe.

Easy but run out chimney after the Hollow Flake (https://dreaminvertical.wordpress.com/tag/el-capitan/)

Easy but run out chimney after the Hollow Flake (https://dreaminvertical.wordpress.com/tag/el-capitan/)

The main crux for me on this route is the Hollow Flake pitch, a quick search online will show you endless horror stories of people bailing or freezing half way up this pitch. That definitely sounds like a show stopper for me and I did not want to get up to that pitch only to realise I cannot climbing this 5.9 runout off width flake.

Over view of the Hollow Flake (picture from http://mayangobat.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/salathe-wall/ )

Over view of the Hollow Flake (picture from http://mayangobat.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/salathe-wall/ )

We started training on off width climbing since we arrived in Yosemite and that includes, Moby Dick, Captain Ahab, La Cosita left(5.9 variation), Sacherer Cracker, Copper Penny and more. Trying to climb 5.9 and above off width which is inline with my army teachings, train hard fight easy. To be frank, after all those wide and off width climbing I have been working on, it all seems more natural to climb with one side of the body in the crack and the knees, elbows quickly become very accustomed to be the weapon of choice.

Me onsighting  Sacherer Cracker (Photo by Sam Cheng)

Me onsighting Sacherer Cracker (Photo by Sam Cheng)

Gunning for the onsight of Moby Dick

Gunning for the onsight of Moby Dick

Kelly muscling some funky off width and squeeze variation on La Cosita left at the base of El Cap

Kelly muscling some funky off width and squeeze variation on La Cosita left at the base of El Cap

Big run out off width on Five and Dime

Big run out off width on Copper Penny @ Five and Dime

However, bringing a set of really good off width skills is one thing however being up there with 100oft of air below you, knowing that a fall onto that pendulum can possibly land you the fast way to hospital. Kelly and I decided that I should spend the money and get a big ass cam.

The big ass Friends #6 from Wild Country

The big ass Friends #6 from Wild Country

So we got on Freeblast on Monday and as usual we had a late start at about 9.30 knowing that its 1o pitches of hard climbing (at least hardest we have attempt to free) there was no time to waste. Flake the rope, got the tag line out, rack up and off we go on the first pitch of Freeblast which is 5.10c fingers. I would say finger crack would be more of mine and Kelly’s thing as compared to say wide cracks or chimney. The climbing on Freeblast went pretty well and I would onsight the 5.10 and below pitches (except Half Dollar pitch) and pull on gears on the 5.11 pitches. It was great to climb with a small rack without hauling and move quickly through the 10 pitches of superb climbing. The only pitch which we really had problems was the Half Dollar pitch which was a chimney with good hand jams but very slick on both side of the rocks. I think I was facing the wrong direction when I went into the chimney and that’s why I fell.

On the third pitch of Freeblast and muscling the 11b section which I couldn't free

On the third pitch of Freeblast and muscling the 11b section which I couldn’t free

The exit from the roof and getting into the chimney could be the hardest move which I fell off in this photo

The exit from the roof and getting into the chimney could be the hardest move which I fell off in this photo

Beauty crack system before getting to the Half Dollar pitch

Beauty crack system before getting to the Half Dollar pitch

In total we spend about 10 hours getting to Mammoth Terrace and back drop to the ground via the 6 raps on fixed ropes. Not the fastest but enough for our standard. =) The body however was feeling it and we decided to drive to Wilson Eastside in Bishop to get my big ass cam the following day. The big ass cam isn’t really that big after all, if you put the Wild Country size 6 claiming to be 7.6in side by side with BD’s size 6, you will be surprise they look the same size! However the shape of the cam for the WC size 6 gave it a larger camming range at the end which allows it to be used when its almost tipped out. Paid for this expensive cam and drove back to Yosemite the same day to get ready for the long week on the wall!

Finishing up the last 2 pitch of Freeblast with easy climbing

Finishing up the last 2 pitch of Freeblast with easy climbing

On Mammoth Terraces at the end of the day!

On Mammoth Terraces at the end of the day!

Kelly is tired and Qx is hungry!!!

Kelly is tired and Qx is hungry!!!

What is this expression?! haha

What is this expression?! haha

Sibei shag face

Sibei shag face

Driving on Tioga pass to East side for that WC #6 friends

Driving on Tioga pass to East side for that WC #6 friends

Day 3, we woke up early, cooked a lot of food, ate a lot, drank a lot and started to packed our haul bags. drove to Fern spring to fill up close to 35 litres of water for the haul bag and started off with hiking! Here’s our packing list,

– 35 litres of water

– 2 haul bags

– 9.8mm 55m climbing rope

– 9mm KM III static haul line from New England

– Camalot C4 double rack to 4, with 1 #5, 2 #6  ( 1 from WC)

– 2 offset TCUs + 1 offset masters, 1 set of C3 to #00, 1 set of nuts and 1 set of micro nuts.

– Cam hooks, 1 of each size

– Arc’teryx Atom hoody X 2

– Campers’ Corner light down sleeping bags

Preparing to hike loads up the wall

Preparing to hike loads up the wall

I have to say getting the pigs up to the fixed lines of Heart’s Ledge is not that bad since we hike 2 manageable loads. However the hauling is mad, there will be always a small little roof to get the bag stuck on or the rope will be running over a ledge that made the hauling impossible. Kelly and I spend a lot of effort and time to get the bags to the Heart’s Ledge before taking a rest. It was close to 4 hours of effort to jug the 5 fix lines and bring the pigs up.

Starting the jug!

Starting the jug!

Sat around waited for the sun to set and I set off for the pitch to Lung’s Ledge. P12 is a weird line, moving off with some face climbing to gain a crack then up to a roof and traverse to the left before traversing back to the right. I had too many gears down low and the rope drag was just incredible. There was a time I could hardly move and I had to down lead back to the last gear and remove it. Close to 1.5 hours to get the bags up to Lung’s Ledge where we spend our first night.

Kelly after a night's bivy on Lung's ledge

Kelly after a night’s bivy on Lung’s ledge

Lung’s ledge is a great ledge, as there is loads of space and you can choose to sleep on a sloping ledge, rocky bed or right at the edge. I chose right at the edge since its the flattest.

Looking at the monster off width on the left and the 5.10d and the Ear pitch to the right

Looking at the monster off width on the left and the 5.10d and the Ear pitch to the right

Kelly following on the easier 5.10 pitches after those scary wide climbing

Kelly following on the easier 5.10 pitches after those scary wide climbing

My turn to 自拍

My turn to 自拍

Day 4, is a early start, we have a whole bunch of climbing up to El Cap Spire consisting of 8 pitches of climbing with 3 pitches of wide climbing. First off the class 4 pitch was Hollow Flake, the fixed ropes from the belay to the flake meant that we will end up directly at the 5.9 crux of the flake. The crux was short and the WC size 7 works superb in there. I work my way above the crux bring the WC with me to a point where there would be little rope drag and I started to climb above the gear where the crack starts to widen. Taking my time and being very care (my belayer cannot see what I’m doing) I placed another Big Bro #4 about 20 feet above the WC #6 and started to climb the Hollow flake facing towards the Valley. To look at El Cap Meadow and climb this flake at the same time actually made me feel very calm, there wasn’t actually a lot to do except to jam the thighs in and keep pushing the body upwards. I also have a A0 wooden block attached to my BD #6 for the last part of the flake in case I needed to take a break.

My A0 ammo on the Hollow Flake

My A0 ammo on the Hollow Flake

When my wife gets bored belaying me, she takes pictures instead

When my wife gets bored belaying me, she takes pictures instead

Bio hazard!

Bio hazard!

Thank you for the warm sleep!

Thank you for the warm sleep!

The pitch after Hollow Flake is worth mentioning, graded at 5.7 there is little gears that you can use on this chimney as its kinda big. First good gear is about 45ft off the belay and its a mental game to keep it together and not fall, as falling would means falling onto the ledge below. 3 more easy pitches (we took the optional belays) and that get us to the Ear pitch. A Bombay chimney that becomes smaller and smaller upwards, I took off my helmet and hang it off my daisy just 15ft into the chimney and started to squeeze and leap frog the 2 #6 outwards. This is indeed a spicy pitch! I back cleaned the whole chimney leaving a free rope to jug so Kelly wouldn’t need to waste time squeezing in to retrieve gears.

Dangling the helmet on my daisy in order to squeeze deep into the Ear

Dangling the helmet on my daisy in order to squeeze deep into the Ear

One more hard pitch and we got to the Alcove, its such a relief to be at the Alcove as we can bivy there if it gets late or if we are too tired but also its such a big spot to hang out and rest the tired body! I decided we should push on and get to El Cap Spire since its such a beautiful place to spend the night and I still have some gas left in the tank. Kelly at this point of time look trashed.

Looking at the El Cap Spire from Alcove

Looking at the El Cap Spire from Alcove

Airy 5.7 chimney before El Cap Spire

Airy 5.7 chimney before El Cap Spire

Getting the bags up to El Cap Spire and the last haul for the day!

Getting the bags up to El Cap Spire and the last haul for the day!

Getting to the ledge before sunset. (watch out for mouse on the El Cap Spire!)

Getting to the ledge before sunset. (watch out for mouse on the El Cap Spire!)

Good night and enjoy the ledge!

Good night and enjoy the ledge!

Day 5, we climbed a few easy pitches to Teflon Corner followed by the Sewer pitch. Luckily it is in the middle of summer, Sewer pitch is all dried up with a huge garden to climb through and a quick link up to the Block, a sloping bivy. I fixed 1 pitch to Sous Le Toit (below the head) to a bird shit infested ledge and head down to enjoy the beautiful sunset. While doing so, a big piece of bird shit hit me on my pants. What great luck I have today!

Warm up dance..

Warm up dance..

First pitch off El Cap Spire. I regretted not wearing my free shoes as I had to climb the 5.9 squeeze in my approach shoes.

First pitch off El Cap Spire. I regretted not wearing my free shoes as I had to climb the 5.9 squeeze in my approach shoes.

Trying to get a picture like Royal Robbins on their FA

Trying to get a picture like Royal Robbins on their FA

Under the Teflon Corner

Under the Teflon Corner

Happy to be on the Block

Happy to be on the Block

Check out the sloping ledge!

Check out the sloping ledge!

View from the Block

View from the Block

My wife gets the super single on the Block

My wife gets the super single on the Block

Day 6, after waking up from a ok sleep, I did not slide on the Block as I used a haul bag to cushion my ass against some loose blocks. Kelly however had a nightmare and scream as though she fell off the Block and I actually thought I would find her hanging off the wall somewhere.

Following morning we ate our usually breakfast, bread with tuna and salami and gunned for the last bivy! Guarding the Long Ledge is the head wall, a split pitch of 12a and 12d which we took the optional belay as our rope is too short. The aiding on this pitch is tricky with some flaring pin scars and long reach for good placements. I took a few falls before getting to the belay under the huge roof.

Off the Block with Kelly jugging back to the last high point

Off the Block with Kelly jugging back to the last high point

Jugging to the last high point with El Cap below me

Jugging to the last high point with El Cap below me

Check out the steep cracks before the Roof

Check out the steep cracks before the Roof

Below the roof..

Below the roof..

The exposure is big!

The exposure is big!

The bongs on the belay. Pretty solid!

The bongs on the belay. Pretty solid!

Sticking my ass off the roof as I'm aiding the whole thing.

Sticking my ass off the roof as I’m aiding the whole thing.

The 5.13 crux of the route. Steep!

The 5.13 crux of the route. Steep!

The roof is great and manageable for free climbing and the great position you are in when pulling those steep moves and having the whole El Captian under you is pretty rad. I skip the chains right after the roof (bad move) and went for the bolted belays instead. This could be the hardest aid climb of the whole route with tiny gears, steep wall and hard to communicate with the belayer (under the roof) I pulled a few pieces of small nuts before getting to the belay. I would think this bit would be a really hard free climb clocking in at 5.13s!

Looking down from the belay

Looking down from the belay

Tired and moving very slowly we catch a full view of the El Portal fire from the start on the head wall. The fire spread really quick and soon Kelly and I were just covered in smoke and dust from the fire.

Fire just started

Fire just started

Grew really big by the time we reached Long Ledge

Grew really big by the time we reached Long Ledge

The window of light and ray of hope

The window of light and ray of hope

We got to Long Ledge which really lived up to its name, about 35ft long and just shoulder width apart, it made the last bivy really interesting place to be at. As usual I would rest drink some water and eat some cliff bar and try to fix a pitch before the sunset. Knowing that we have 3 more pitches to climb, the mood of the climb suddenly lighten up and we ate and drink all we could for that night. One word of advice for Long Ledge is there is almost 15litres of water left there and if you could drink some of those and bring the empty bottles with you, it could prevent the place from becoming like Camp 6 on the Nose.

Take a rest first la..

Take a rest first la..

Off Long Ledge on the hidden crack and just 4 pitches from the summit!

Off Long Ledge on the hidden crack and just 4 pitches from the summit!

Day 7, was straight forward climbing, the body could hardly free 10d cracks but it doesn’t matter anymore since getting to the top and jumping into the Merced river for a quick wash off was all the body is asking for.

The Long Ledge and the rest of the route downwards

The Long Ledge and the rest of the route downwards

Smoky morning but lets take a picture first. After all its not every day you get to sleep on the wall huh?

Smoky morning but lets take a picture first. After all its not every day you get to sleep on the wall huh?

The last few meters of climbing!

The last few meters of climbing!

Summit shot!

Summit shot!

My best big wall partner on earth

My best big wall partner on earth

The pine tree at the top marks the end of the route

The pine tree at the top marks the end of the route

I’m happy that we free climbed more on Salathe Wall, instead of the full aid mode we were in on the Nose 2 years ago. I’m also glad I have muster enough courage to climb the Hollow Flake which ended up being not a big deal. The Ear was actually the scarier one. Kelly and mine 8th big wall together and 2nd big wall on El cap, I guess we have come a long way and I will work towards being a better climber so I can free all the 5.12 pitches when I get on Salathe Wall the next time!

Our sponsors Arc'teryx Singapore for helping us so much in the last 2 years for all our wall adventures! Big Thank you!

Our sponsors Arc’teryx Singapore for helping us so much in the last 2 years for all our wall adventures! Big Thank you!

The descent off East Ledges

The 4 hrs descent off East Ledges

Got to the Manure Pile Buttress bus stop at 5.50 pm and wondering if the bus is coming.

Got to the Manure Pile Buttress bus stop at 5.50 pm and wondering if the bus is coming.

Yes got on the last bus!

Yes got on the last bus!

Hope everyone enjoyed the read and look out for the trad course and Taiwan climbing trip in Oct 2014! Hope to see more aspiring big wall climbers and trad climbers soon from Singapore!

While soaking in the Merced river, El Cap is staring down at us with the sunset on it

While soaking in the Merced river, El Cap is staring down at us with the sunset on it

Many more big walls in this couple!

Many more big walls in this couple!

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