Monday, 31 January 2011

The Expedition Reports - 3 - The Crack

Its time for more Expedition Reports from Chad. This time, Alex takes on one of the most disgusting routes I can imagine...

So this dispatch is about a cool arch I got to climb. I’m typing it from the back of the jeep while we quest around the desert.

We stopped at the Sao Paulo [sp??] Arch a few days ago while we were driving just to see it as tourists. But when we parked underneath we discovered an amazing offwidth crack that split the whole formation from one side to the other. The whole team decided that we should give it a go, but we didn’t have any wide gear and no one else really seemed thrilled to climb a sandy offwidth. Tim was kind enough to go up top and drop a line down through the crack to give me a toprope belay and I set out up one side to check out the rock. My first attempt I chose the side with better rock that looked a little easier. I made it half way across the roof before my legs gave out and I collapsed from fatigue.

We broke for lunch for a while and then I tried it again from the other side, which involved a sandy boulder problem on friable face holds before gaining the crack. This time I gave the whole things the fight of my life, knowing that once I made it to the middle I would be back into familiar terrain. Jimmy was hanging in the middle of the arch shooting pictures, which always makes things a little more fun to have a friend hanging out next to you. And Mark and James were shouting up encouragement from below while I grunted and struggled across. The whole process took an hour and ten minutes of hanging from my legs and thrutching wildly. I broke off tons of holds and a certain points could hear sand pouring into my ears.

In some ways it was the most disgusting route of my life in terms of poor sandy rock and hard climbing. But it was also the most satisfying pitch of the trip for me. It was awesome to try my very hardest for so long and barely be able to squeak it out. I’ve deemed it the hardest offwidth in Chad. I don’t think there’s much competition. Alex Honnold

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