Lynn Hill: Climbing the West Face of The Leaning Tower with Katie Brown

In Climbing

Here’s an excellent story from Lynn Hill’s blog you’re going to have to read.

Lynn: Getting to the base of the Leaning Tower involved a one-hour hike uphill through large boulders, a thick pine forest with voracious mosquitoes, then along the base of the wall, and finally, across a third class ledge system leading out to the middle of a massively overhanging wall. After ascending a fixed line up this wall for 250 feet, we arrived at a small ledge demarcating the beginning of the free route. Fortunately, the weather was unusually cool, and we were able to check out the first four pitches while it was still in the shade. Of course, I always try to climb as well as I can and ideally, to climb everything on sight, but since I had been busy with many other projects and not climbing consistently, I didn’t expect to do it completely on sight. Our goal was to climb every pitch free, alternating leads all the way to the top. Katie chose to lead the first pitch up a steep dihedral with wide stems and the occasional thin finger jam, or face hold. It wasn’t an ideal warm-up at 5.12c, but we both climbed it. The next pitch was the so-called “crux,” which followed up a steep face with a shallow corner system leading out of sight from the belay. I made it through the first bit of strenuous climbing to the top of the corner system until I could no longer see where to go. Once I rested, I found a hold underneath some vegetation in a shallow seam and climbed up to the tricky slab at the end of the pitch. After trying a few different methods, I found a crucial knee bar using my knee against a handhold. My foot smeared on the sloping face beneath a small roof, which allowed me to stabilize my weight enough to reach up to the key hold on the slab below the anchors.

Be sure to read the rest of the story. The photographs are excellent and really bring it to life.

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