Friday, July 2, 2010
Gunks Routes: Phoebe (5.10b)
(Image taken by Anthony Baraff; I swiped it from mountainproject.com.)
I tried Phoebe the other day on top-rope and I have to say it is a nice little climb. It made Gunks 5.10b seem like a realistic possibility for the future, although I can't say I got the thing clean. My partner Liz was able to do it clean on top-rope on her second try. I could do all the moves but I wasn't able to put it together without a hang. Maybe next time. Probably. Definitely.
The climb has two cruxes, one low, one high. The low one requires a right foot high-step while your left hand is pulling down on a mediocre crimp and your right is on a mediocre sidepull. The kid climber in the photo above is above the low crux; her body is hiding the bolt in the middle of the face.
The high crux comes after you move past the bolt to the tiny overhang above. You have to gently move right on poor, smeary feet and then step up to grab the undercling hold in the next small overhang. Then it's all pretty straightforward to the top.
I would like to say that I'd consider leading Phoebe one day after working the moves a bit more... but I don't think it'll ever happen as I don't see how you protect the upper crux. You could definitely get a cam in the undercling just AFTER the crux, but if you blew it on the smeary feet with only the bolt clipped beneath you, you'd almost certainly hit the block at the base.
So I think it will always remain a top-rope climb for me but I found it surprisingly enjoyable. It is certainly worth doing after a warm-up on the wonderful Ken's Crack (5.7). The setup only takes a few minutes; there is a wedged block at the top around which you can thread a cordalette; I also placed two cams in nearby cracks for a three-piece anchor. Next time I'd like to go back and try Charie (5.10a) and Fitschen's Folly (5.8R), both of which are easily set up using a couple of trees at the top of Charie, just a few feet to the right of Phoebe.