Irene’s Arete

Since the rock hasn’t changed since last year, this will be brief. We got to and from the climb in running shoes. Sheila had an unfortunate encounter with some snow and rocks, but shook it off quickly and took the first lead, giving me pitches 2, 4, and 6 (5.6 variation). While I would once again miss the top-out pitch, these would all be new to me on lead, and pitches 2 and 4 feature some of the cruxy moves.

The climbing was challenging but not scary, and everything went fine other than my totally blowing gear placement on P4, leading to unbearable rope drag. This pitch climbs to the left of the arete, then does a rightward traverse protected by two fixed pins. To limit drag, it is crucial to avoid placing gear on the left side, or to extend it so the rope can be flipped back to run straight to the first pin. Failing to do this, I had to belay from a small stance below the normal belay ledge. This turned out okay, since P5 was still doable with our 50m rope, and the ledge was occupied by the unfriendly Exum guides doing a photo shoot ahead of us.

The 5.6 variation of the final mini-pitch out of the notch descends to the right, then makes a couple of exposed moves around the corner to low-angle ground. It is much more pleasant than the steep, slanting wide crack of the 5.8 finish.

Also, my partner this time was handy with the camera, so I have actual action shots of me flailing around on a rope.

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