Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Ha Ling Northeast Face 2014

Saturday June 21st - Northeast face of Ha Ling 5.6

Synopsis: 4 out of 5 stars.  It's a bit like visiting an old friend who hasn't aged well, but is still an old friend. 12 pitches of fun climbing, lots of fixed gear and we got lucky with the crowds.

I agreed to take Brian out for a long trad route as part of the ACC Rocky Mountain section ROCK program, originally Rebecca was going to join us but couldn't make it so then we were two. I hadn't climbed this route in 5 years so was keen to have a go at it.

Given it was a weekend with a good weather forecast we met early and were leaving the car at 7:15 am from the upper Grassi parking lot. The way up is pretty straight forward if you go right for a short bit once you hit the main trail. Then it's pretty much following the footsteps in the scree.

We actually thought we might be first (a bit delusional on my part) until we met two coming down who were bailing due to a slow group not letting anyone by. Not highly unusual for this route so we soldiered on, eventually getting to the top of the trudge and the single bolt belay at 8:40 am after a 560 meter stair master. As warned there was one party of three on the second belay and two young guys ahead of us who were just starting up.

We waited around for a bit and headed up about 9:15. Fortunately, the first party appeared to have pulled their fingers out and the young bucks were making pretty short work of it so other than a couple of short delays we were pretty much on our own (the advantage of being the slowest climbers!).

The route starts off a bit loose and given it was the day after a large rain event I expected a bit of shrapnel and it didn't disappoint. The party head got off route a couple of times and we were forced to take cover. Having said that it is nice to ease into it as the initial climbing is pretty easy and we didn't pull out the second double rope until the half way point.

We had a few chances to put together earlier pitches however I didn't due to the traffic up ahead. In two hours we were 5 pitches into it and the rock started to improve and some interesting climbing followed.

About this point, Brian came up to the belay with an odd look on his face. He caught a gear loop on some rock and in moving by ripped the gear loop open and lost some gear. Needless to say, the gear was the least of his concerns - my guess is that harness got retired!

Things progressed nicely, I wasn't using a lot of gear and it was all medium sized cams and nuts. That was until the bookend pitch where a couple of larger cams found a home.

It's really hard not to grin when you are climbing the bookend pitch. Although some of the middle pitches are getting a little greasy, the top pitches seem to climb just fine!

Once up high the views start to expand and close to the top we could see the hordes making their way up the scramble.

We topped out at 2:40 pm after roughly 5 1/2 hours of climbing, the joys of climbing with a strong partner! We took our time packing and finishing up some lunch and enjoyed the scramble down.

Great day, car to car in just over 9 hours with smiles on our faces!

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