“Maybe that couple” I muttered to Scotty, trying to send the 40th pitch of Galactic Hitchhiker; the ride back down to the valley.
On a supposedly cool weekend in the beginning of June Scotty and I jumped on the longest route on Glacier Point Apron while Nate and Albert suffered in the heat on Lost Arrow Spire Direct. In the original topo it is listed as 39 pitches, though realistically its more along the lines of 20 with a little bit of 4th class simul climbing and a lot of linking. After getting some beta from Karl Baba about conditions we decided to climb on a 70M rope and bring an additional tag line in case the pitches up high were too wet to climb through.
We woke up early in the morning to a quite Camp 4. After shoving some food down our mouths we made the short drive to the trailhead and began the short approach. Unfortunately, since we had both climbed on the Apron and Scotty had done Goodrich Pinnacle, we didn’t bring the approach beta which had a net result of me having to down climb approximately 60 meters of 4th/easy 5th class (note to self: the route starts at the top of a hill).
Once we were about 3 pitches up (6 in the original topo) Scotty realized that we had left the pungent left-over cinnamon roles and cookies in his car. During the day this would probably not be a problem but we were on pitch 6 of a 39 pitch route with a 1 hour driving descent. Would we be down before bears gangbang Scotty’s 4Runner and NPS tows it? Maybe we were being paranoid but last time Scotty parked in that same parking lot past dark that exact scenario played out and he didn’t even have food in the car. This further fueled the fire already burning under our asses. We had to make it top out before dark so that we could catch a ride back down to the valley and save the car from destruction.
Fortunately, we were able to catch a pretty good rhythm on the route and managed to link and simulclimb a significant portion of the route. Scotty and I swapped leads throughout and by sheer chance Scotty ended up with the only significant runout of the whole route on the 19th original pitch. Scotty was around the corner and out of site when he expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation “uhhh….dude, I don’t think I want to do this”. However, true to form, Scotty persevered and sent the pitch and even linked the next R pitch (though it ended up being not nearly as bad).
Starting off on pitch 21 I encountered the first technical crux of the route the 5.10d/5.11a boulder problem. Feeling fatigued, I felt the holds and then proceeded to pull through on the first bolt that I could barely reach from the top most piece of the anchor. With silly ethics out the window Scotty and I picked up the pace and before long were standing on top of Glacier Point Apron after pulling through the bolts of the 5.11b/c crux on the final headwall.
The second car leaving the parking lot of Glacier Point gave us a ride all the way down to our car in the valley, which was sitting unharmed in the evening sunlight. Total time on route 12 hours.
* Rack: Doubles from blue TCU to #1 C4, 1 #2 C4, 1 #3 C4, Nuts, ~15 slings
* We each brought approach shoes and I brought an extra pair of laser beam climbing shoes to help me through the harder pitches.
* The pitches down low on Goodrich Pinnacle were kind of hard. Maybe I wasn’t yet tuned in to GPA friction but I through the 5.9 move on the 6th pitch was closer to 5.10b.
* Pass pitch 19 (5.10a R) to your partner
* We did the route in early June after a pretty weak snow year and we only encountered 3 wet pitches, all of which were climbable in that condition.
* The route is generally very well protected and we even resorted to skipping a few bolts on some pitches.
* There are a ton of anchors on the route to facilitate a retreat. However, the webbing on all of the anchors looks pretty bad, so one might want to bring a little extra webbing or biners.
* Pulling on a couple bolts the route is easily kept to the 5.10 level.
* We updated Karl Baba’s version of the GH topo to be more accurate. We included most of Karl’s linking information and regrading of the pitches in parenthesis. Galactic Hitchhiker Topo