4 miles… Setting the Line Free

I did a four mile run over the Queensboro bridge and back last night. It was loud, and kind of dirty, and not a super pleasant run, but it is quintessentially New York, and if it’s about achieving a Zen state, like the Sri Chinmoy 3,100 Mile Race of Self-Transcendence then a short run across the bridge is an easy thing. I am not out of shape, per se, I’ve done a fair amount of hiking and cycling over the last few months, but I’ve been meaning to do some shorter easy runs. Greenpoint may be a better direction to head in, not that the Pulaski Bridge and the Newtown Creek are any cleaner. The point being, if I want to do longer multi pitch climbs, or alpine routes, I need to be in shape to carry packs and gear to get up the mountain. In Joshua Tree we top-roped and only did single pitch, but hopefully this spring in the ‘Gunks I’ll start doing some 5.5 and below of some of the “classic” easy leads. Which brings me to Yosemite, and “The Leaning Tower”….

Lynn Hill is one of the most famous female climbers in the world, and is still actively one of the best. Three years ago, she and a younger rock star Katie Brown did the free route of the west face, of a big wall in Yosemite, “The Leaning Tower”, at around 5.13b. That is crazy. This is her blog entry. But the standard west face route, is a Grade V, 5.7, A2+ (C2F), clean aid. Meaning, that it is a few days to the top, average free climbing is 5.7, with quite a few sections of serious aid climbing, requiring multiple hook moves but on good placement. There just aren’t that many people in the world that could hookup and go free climb a Grade V route at 5.13b. That’s no shit. The “Leaning Tower” is described as this: 11 pitches of rope, steep and strenuous, 700 ft of continuous overhanging rock, the lower sections overhang at 110 degrees, the upper at 95 degrees, the face has dark mineral clots in rounded shapes, giving a spotted appearance, known geologically as Grandiorite.

Anyhow, read the blog entry if you are into that sort of thing. Lynn is obviously a pretty serious person, and I imagine them to be an odd couple of sorts, at the end of the blog she basically says, “Yeah, Katie didn’t make it all the way up free, but she’s young, and has things to learn.” Beth Rodden, is another younger female climber, climbing 5.14+, who I imagine jibes better with Lynn’s personality. But that is my interpretation of it.

Note: The photos below are all Creative Commons’ licensed, click on them for their respective photographer’s Flickr page. The YouTube video is the official Patagonia video of Katie Brown and Lynn Hill’s climb at The Leaning Tower.

Yosemite - Valley Panorama, by Jason Coleman

Bridalveil Fall and Leaning Tower by RandomCuriosityThe Leaning Tower, Yosemite, CA by AmbitiousWench