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Day 4: Lightning Bolt Cracks on North Six Shooter
Blondie on approach to the North Six Shooter Tower.
Alarm goes off at 7am – the windows on our truck canopy are coated in ice. We make the short drive to the trailhead finding that the huge flood had actually improved this approach (4WD & high clearance required but it’s a cruise!). We’re at the base by 9:30 and 15 minutes later I’m already hanging on a piece on the opening finger crack crux. OK, this is supposed to be the hardest section…bs – the top of the crack on P1 is a bitch ass OW that gently overhangs. First semi-hanging belay and then a cool short chimney and a strenuous (if good sized) hand crack through roof …and another semi-hanging belay. Ledges do not abound on this face. Above and to the right we admire Jeff Achey’s classic Liquid Sky – OW to squeeze chimney – all done horizontally through a huge roof and w/o pro. I hear the lines are not that big on this one. Our next pitch up to the roof is nice and very unique – kind of a dihedral going to an easy chimney going to a weird side-ways chimneying to the lip of the roof. Pulling the roof itself as well as the terrain above are hard and I’m not looking forward to the final 40-foot squeeze chimney looming just above.
Shirley at the belay atop P1 of Lightning Bolt Cracks.
Instead of resting like me, Shirley opts for the much cooler option of peeling off the upper part of this pitch…just where it starts to traverse toward the final squeeze. I hear bad, bad words like “fuck” and “shit” and recognize my wife’s feminine voice as she tries to get back onto the face from the void below. The last pitch is easier but exciting. From our full on hanging belay, fire in two Aliens, mantle into the squeeze and sling a chockstone. If squeeze chimneys are your thing, prepare for Nirvana! For fat bastards like me, much sweating begins. 30 foot sequence goes like this: exhale and scum up one foot higher on the outside with only left shoulder in, inhale to lock yourself in by the chest. Repeat. Don’t worry it’s not so bad as you’re not preoccupied by nonsense like pro on this section. After much bleeding and cursing and hanging we top out. Stellar view indeed though perhaps not as good as stuff in Castle Valley (more monotonous). The double 70 meter rap leaves me 6 feet short of the deck (should not have done fishermans…) and I have to construct a short pile of rocks for the 50% lighter Shirley to land on. In summary: the first pitch was the technical crux, the second pitch was strenuous, the third pitch was awkward AND strenuous and the last pitch was scary. Good fun.
Blondie on approach to Lightning Bolt Cracks on North Six Shooter Tower (Nov. 21, 2006).
The amazing North Six Shooter tower!! Lightning Bolt Cracks climbs the face on the left (Nov. 2006).
Leading pitch 1 of Lightning Bolt Cracks…the start was hard…bit of…how you say? Not so clean, yes? Cruiser crack after the first 4 feet though…till it gets wide at the top and not so cruiser.
Blondie exhaused after running up Lightning Bolt Cracks (begin just above her rear end in this shot) on North Six Shooter Tower (solo & with a sit start of course; Nov. 2006).
Entering the wide slot near the top of pitch 1 of Lightning Bolt Cracks…do not worry pussycat, the soul crushing chimney above is not your concern…unless you’re climbing Liquid Sky route (Nov. 2006).
Leading pitch 1 of Lightning Bolt Cracks – crux fingers right off the deck followed by good hands followed by this here wide slot groveling.
Shirley starting up pitch 1 of Lightning Bolts Crack and Blondie starting her nap at base (Nov. 2006).
Shirley following P1 of Lightning Bolt Cracks on Six Shooter Tower. Remainder of the 75 meter route visible in photo: up and left under the roof, over the roof, up a crack to a squeeze chimney and summit. Wide crack through roof on right is a Jeff Achey classic Liquid Sky (5.12+ ? off-width). Photo taken Nov. 21, 2006.
Shirley nearing the top of pitch 1 of Lightning Bolt Cracks (Nov. 21, 2006).
Starting chimney on pitch 2 of Lightning Bolt Cracks (Nov. 2006).
Shirley at the belay atop P1 of Lightning Bolt Cracks (Nov. 21, 2006).
Out of the chimney and into the hand crack – pitch 2 of Lightning Bolt Cracks.
Starting up pitch 3 (Nov. 2006).
Shirley at the pitch 2 belay (Nov. 2006).
Leading P3 of Lightning Bolt Cracks – dihedral to flared chimney (weird but not too bad) followed by hard (for me) roof and cracks above and out of sight (Nov. 21, 2006).
Looking down from midway up P3 of Lightning Bolt Cracks (from just below the roof). Shirley is at a hanging belay and our packs and Blondie are visible at base (Nov. 21, 2006).
Shirley following P3 of Lightning Bolt Cracks above the roof. We both found this section very hard (and hung some). Photo taken Nov. 21, 2006.
Leading the squeeze chimney on (our) P4 of Lightning Bolt Cracks. The larger you are, the more spicy it will be… (Nov. 21, 2006).
Looking back towards Shirley from midway up the finishing squeeze chimney on Lightning Bolt Cracks (Nov. 2006).
Shirley topping out on the North Six Shooter via Lightning Bolt Cracks. The south cousin is on the right as are the Bridger Jack Spires and other Indian Creek walls (Nov. 21, 2006).
Another great tower summit (Nov. 2006).
South Six Shooter from the summit of the North Six Shooter. The Bridger Jacks and the rest of Indian Creek lie beyond (Nov. 2006).
Tail end of a good (hard climbing) day at the base of the North Six Shooter (& its shadow).
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