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Old 10-27-2008, 12:57 AM   #87
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,840
Each climber will take a diferent approach to protecting a pitch, and the same climber may take a different approach to protecting the same pitch on different days.

I've been up the sword a zillion times in about every style imaginable (I have not climbed it at night, or in the rain...). But I have followed it; led it many times, sometimes with lots of gear, sometimes with less; and free soloed it a few times.

We sometimes climb the grubby pitch from the ground up to the dirt ledge; other times we rap in from the top.

The usual line that most people take is to climb around to the left past the overhangs to get onto the arete; up the arete sort of on the right about as far as the bolt; after the bolt the best holds are on the left side for a couple moves; and then it's back to the arete, with the easiest finish being back around to the right side for the last few feet. So it's sort of a back and forth thing, like lots of climbs. But as far as being "off route," you can climb on either side and be on route, as long as you are in contact with the arete somehow. If you find yourself far enough to the right or left so that the arete is completely out of reach, then you might be off route. Too far to the right and you'll be climbing the neighboring route, Coors Corner. Too far to the left, and you'll be in the bushes.

Most of the time when I lead it now, my gear is as follows (this is just one sample, as I said; others may do it differently): after the overhangs, at the nice stance before you begin climbing the arete proper, I get a good nut the fissure right at the bottom of the arete. The next gear is the bolt. (I think from everything I've read here that you clipped the bolt, and the bolt is what caught your fall. I also saw a runner on the bolt when I looked down from the top that day.) Above the bolt, which protects the crux moves, there aren't really any more good placements (hence the PG rating). I've never tried to place anything above the bolt, because the climbing gets easier toward the top, but looking at the pitch in my mind's eye, I can't see any really good gear there. The horizontal breaks in the arete that form those big handholds seem kind of flaring and untrustworthy for gear.

But, as I said, others will do it differently, and just because I didn't find any good placements there doesn't mean there aren't any...

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