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Mt Humphreys Update
#59050 07/16/21 12:36 PM
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I recently asked this forum soliciting beta for Mt Humphreys. I had a go at it yesterday with a friend of mine. He’s summited every 14er AND 13er in Colorado, so he was a good buddy to climb with. We left with a rope, anticipating that we’d find a rap station at the top. But, I never rappelled off a cliff, so we’d see if I’d just feel more comfortable downclimbing that. I didn’t bring climbing shoes.

We left at 6:30 am from North Lakes trailhead. It’s an extra 20 min walk to the actual trail since you can’t park your car up there. The approach was long, but nice. After Piute Pass you essentially take a hard right up a hill and it’s very easy cross country travel. There was an unmarked trail which basically led to a long grassy tundra region leading you to the face of the mountain. We were anticipating boulder hopping, but it was like a carpet.

After this, long story short, we followed Bob Burd’s excellent trip report for the route finding up the face. We had a picture of what chute to take up, and it wasn’t the obvious one in middle. It was to the left and it led to the right. We took a class 2/3 ramp to the right of this chockstone blocking the main chute a third of the way up the chute. There’s some crains there which lead you to this yellow sandy region. Then you take a left up some loose screw to the final climb. I’m not being too detailed here because Bob did a much better job.

Well now for the climb. The “class 3” section was straightforward but not easy. It’s a crack system which lead you to the top of a rap station, and I took the wrong one. I veered to much to the left, and had to traverse to the right to find my partner no more than 20 ft away. It’s not easy to traverse to do this midway up since the holds aren’t the best. I basically got to the top of my crack, and found an easy way to the right to find my partner. We were at the top of the first rap station, which was a reminder that this class 3 isn’t trivial.

Now we had to make our way to notch. The traverse over this flake area to the notch is described as class 4 according to Bob. The holds really aren't great, and there is a lot of friction involved. But, it’s not hard either. I actually found it easier than the class 3 part going up. The exposure isn’t bad.

We’re now at the top of the notch and have no clue what to do. Nothing goes. Everything seems cliffed up. We look around and the only way up is up this 10 ft fin which led to yet another crack. We went up and down this 10 ft literally three times. Another trip report I found described that it felt like a bouldering problem. It was hard to do it with the bag with the rope. My buddy went up and found the right crack to the easy terrain to the summit. He looked around for another rap station and couldn’t find it. I then went up to the top of the fin and went inside the crack. This definitely goes. But I have to stomach what looks like a 400 ft drop. I make literally 2 moves up the crack and I’m basically vertical hanging on the side of the face. My buddy is looking at me, seeing what I’m going to do.

I’m in that position for a while trying to find another rappel station. We find a ring in the rock, but it doesn’t have slings. We’re now worried that this is the second rap station but it doesn’t have protection. I brought webbing just in case, but we don’t have the time to build an anchor. I couldn’t see the second rap station, but we’re 90% sure it’s there above us where we can’t see it. Do we want to take that 10% risk and downclimb? Even if we brought the rope, it didn’t really matter since my friend didn’t feel comfortable with me rappelling up here for the first time. I don’t have shoes for the downclimb.

I’m less than 90 ft from the summit. I can see it. 2 more moves up and out of this crack, and I’m on easy terrain. But I keep thinking about the downclimb. It’s been 10 minutes of me hanging in the crack now, and I’m beginning to get tired. I’m more comfortable with the exposure, but one wrong move on the down climb and I’m done. I came straight from sea level, and I know making a mistake isn’t out of the question.

We turn around.

We went through all that work and basically went past the hardest section. We could’ve been on the summit in 10 minutes since the climbing was easy. But the downclimb was enough of a risk to say no. There goes an Emblem Peak.

My buddy had been thinking about Humphreys for 2 years now, and I definitely felt like I held him back. He told me it was more sketchier than he had anticipated, and it’s not a guarantee that even he would’ve gone forward. But no point in the “coulda shoulda wouldas”. Call it a calculated decision, or call it me wussing out. Humphreys will be here for another day.

Now it’s time for me to do Mid pal tomorrow.

Last edited by climby_climber; 07/16/21 07:38 PM.
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Re: Mt Humphreys Update
climby_climber #59052 07/16/21 06:29 PM
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Dude, I know it sounds harsh but you are an accident waiting to happen. The High Sierra is not a good place to start learning the basics of technical climbing. You need to build a solid foundation before attempting other peaks. Learn how to build anchors, rappel, follow on a rope and lead with gear at local crags with a good mentor. Also, as I said in my reply to your original post, you should be prepared to solo up to at least low class 5 if you plan on doing class 3 and class 4 routes ropeless since getting off route in the Sierra is very common. Your own report exemplifies this ... Having been involved in two extreme sports, I have met quite a few guys who tried to cut corners and progress to doing more and more advanced and technically challenging things too quickly, before they were ready do deal with unexpected situations. Unfortunately, some of these guys are no longer around. I hope you don't join this club and stay safe.

Edit to add: Not sure if you already know, there are also better places to get beta and other advice online. Join rock climbing.com and alpine climbing group on Facebook to get started.

Last edited by Anton; 07/16/21 06:37 PM.
Re: Mt Humphreys Update
Anton #59053 07/16/21 07:45 PM
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Anton,

I agree that Humphreys isn’t the place to rappel for the first time. That’s why the plan became to just down climb it. We brought the rope in case we cliffed ourselves somewhere unexpected and went off route. It was for the case that things went so far south that rappelling became the only option. It never was. The routefinding actually went phenomenally well since we had the pictures from Burd’s report.

I just want to clarify that I know what a class 4 means. It’s no joke, and it can cost you your life. I understand that. The climb was pretty straightforward, but the idea of the downclimb is what made me turn around. Not having rock shoes and coming straight from sea level also factored into my decision on how safe a down climb really was for me.

The purpose of me writing this was just to give others some perspective of what Humphreys was like for me. A lot of other trip reports come from experienced legends, and it’s hard to find reports of clowns like me getting spooked smile

Last edited by climby_climber; 07/16/21 07:46 PM.
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Re: Mt Humphreys Update
climby_climber #59054 07/17/21 10:26 AM
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On the positive side, it looks like you exercised a degree of good judgment at a critical time and didn't submit to summit fever. To Anton's point, however, I agree that this sounds like you bit off a bit more than you can chew. Learning skills for the first time should be done in a safe controlled environment - this is obvious. I can climb 5.11 and I still get jitters on certain class 3 sections, let alone class 4. I would work up more of the skills before attempting a peak that has literally killed several people.

Re: Mt Humphreys Update
climby_climber #59055 07/17/21 03:45 PM
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Thanks for sharing your experience!

Ideally, it would always be nice if we all were completely prepared. But I don't think it is right to poo-poo you for this trip when you made a safe call. Not being entirely (or even over-prepared) prepared pales in seriousness when you were cautious and made a safe call... even when the summit was in sight. I think that is what is important.

You had someone experience with rappelling who could have gone first and given you a safety fireman's belay. If you were going to do your first abseil and set up your own anchor... that would be another conversation. But that is not what happened. Plenty of super-experienced folks have died because of beginner mistakes. I think safety-cognizance is the essential attribute for a wise climber.


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Re: Mt Humphreys Update
Anton #59056 07/17/21 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Anton
Dude, I know it sounds harsh but you are an accident waiting to happen.

I hardly think this is a fair characterization. If OP had come to rappel their first time and set up their own anchor... that would be different. OP also had the space to turn back before needing to rappel given the circumstances.

If you prefer to stick to this characterization all of us mortals are accidents waiting to happen. Not right to single OP out.


@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain photos
Re: Mt Humphreys Update
Snacking Bear #59058 07/17/21 08:12 PM
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Snacking Bear: I am afraid you entirely missed the main point of my post and your comments about fireman's belay sound like you have no clue what alpine technical climbing is about. A hint: it is quite different from climbing at a gym or a local sport crag.
OP: The main point of my post was not to mock you, and I am happy you made a correct decision to bail. That being said, you will greatly benefit from building a solid foundation with an experienced mentor before attempting more and more challenging alpine routes. Good luck and stay safe.

Re: Mt Humphreys Update
Anton #59060 07/18/21 07:31 AM
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Anton: It’s good to hear you didn’t mean to be rude. But leading with an ad hominem as you did… that really blanches anything you said following. I did note you said OP made a good choice turning around, but smacking someone out the gate like that was not the way to communicate what you wanted to. It was sort of tactless. In your defense, had OP been brazen and made bad choice after bad choice, your response would have been arguably gentle (as sometimes firmer rebukes are warranted). It’s fairly clear to me that this was not one of those situations. Few people would have got the “main point” you purport to have made given your wording and tone.

There’s a lot of undue shaming on online forums and I don’t want WZ to end up like that.

As to your comments regarding my perspective you are mistaken. I have summited many class 3 and a number of class 4 routes and finished multi-pitch climbing routes as well. I’ve also done a bit of canyoneering and I’m quite familiar with rappelling. My main point is having gone with an experienced partner affords you a variety of tools to mitigate risk. Perhaps I should have phrased it as such I understand my rec may have sounded kitschy. Fireman's belay is one of those tools. I didn't mean to infer it as a catch-all fallback. You obviously cannot use a FB in every situation, but it is a useful tool in a variety of situations and I have used it to help others as a backup on two occasions.


@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain photos
Re: Mt Humphreys Update
Snacking Bear #59061 07/18/21 09:45 AM
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Snaking Bear:

I am simply telling the young man that he needs to get structured training and mentoring if he wants to stay out of trouble in the mountains. My comment was prompted by multiple OP's recent posts. It was blunt (not rude) because bluntness tends to work better in such circumstances than sugar coating.

I also took issue with your reply and here is why. You clearly do not have much experience with climbing gear (sorry, the resume doesn't sound very impressive) but you choose to provide advice on scenarios where descending on gear could be necessary. This loops back to my original point, which was also emphasized by BFR - train in a controlled environment first. I understand that you want to moderate the discussions, but this is an issue of safety. Try sharing your fireman's belay thoughts on a real alpine climbing forum and see what kind of nice feedback you will get there. Do you want the local folks to always be mindful of not hurting someones feelings or do you want them to step up and say what they think is necessary and right ? I come from the environment whether the latter is the norm.

Peace

Last edited by Anton; 07/18/21 10:03 AM.
Re: Mt Humphreys Update
climby_climber #59062 07/18/21 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Anton
you are an accident waiting to happen.
Originally Posted by Anton
you have no clue what alpine technical climbing is about.
Those are the statements of someone who is trying to look smart by making others look stupid. It diminishes the impact of the things you said that WERE worth reading.

climby_climber has been posting for a while. He’s asking sensible questions, sharing his experiences, and admitting to his mistakes. We all started out knowing absolutely nothing. If you can’t remember several dumbass things you did that could have gotten you killed, you probably just weren’t smart enough to recognize it. Either that, or you never stepped off the trail.

Now for some comments on the discussion above, in no particular order:

I was aware of the technique, but I had never heard the term “fireman’s belay” until I read this thread. It makes no sense to use it climbing. If someone is incapacitated and can’t rappel, lower them. If they don’t know how to rappel, they have no business trying to rappel. (BTW, in this sexist world, it took no time to find one video and two photos of men saving women who apparently didn’t know how to rappel. How predictable!)

When I started climbing, I was just scrambling up and down whatever I had the nerve to try. I always told myself, “Whatever goes up must come down.” If I couldn’t downclimb it, I didn’t go up. You can do a lot of moderate climbing without a rope or a partner.

As Anton said, learn how to use all your gear before you go. Mt. Humphreys is not the place to learn about setting up anchors, putting on your harness, and rappelling. Don’t assume that you will find rappel stations, complete with fresh (not sun-rotted) webbing wherever you might need one.

Humphreys is a real prize. My first guidebook said, “No organized youth groups writing inane comments in this register, that’s for sure.” I was there a few weeks ago for the first time in 12 years. My partner and I did it using rock shoes, but no gear. It was a little more exciting than I remembered. We met three other guys, and they all turned back. Now there is talk of doing it again next year. Climby, if we go, I’ll send you a PM.

Re: Mt Humphreys Update
bobpickering #59063 07/18/21 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by bobpickering
Climby, if we go, I’ll send you a PM.

I'd like to join!

Re: Mt Humphreys Update
bobpickering #59064 07/18/21 12:44 PM
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Quote
Those are the statements of someone who is trying to look smart by making others look stupid ...

Bob, this is your interpretation of events. Are you 100% sure that this is indeed what I was trying to accomplish? Besides, your second quote is taken out of context and you seem to fully agree with both of my points. So, why steer the pot?

Last edited by Anton; 07/18/21 12:45 PM.
Re: Mt Humphreys Update
bobpickering #59065 07/18/21 12:50 PM
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No gripes from me here. I do agree that one should learn lessons prior to going outside. FWIW Ive never even considered lowering someone using a FB, only ever did it to add a little support just in case a newbie lost their grip on the rope to keep them from sliding too fast. Never commented RE extricating an injured climber.

I simply thought Climby made good calls by backing out before they needed to rappel. Thought that was wise. The general lesson well said by BFR and Bob to better know their gear/technique going forward seemed to be well taken.

Cheers all! Sounds like you’ll all have a good time making Humphreys later on.


@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain photos
Re: Mt Humphreys Update
Anton #59066 07/18/21 01:56 PM
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Ben: I mentioned the June 20 Humphreys trip to you in an earlier email, but you didn’t take the bait. I figured that the exposure and the long drive were the reasons. When a guy I met on Thunderbolt in 1990 heard about Humphreys, he said his wife had wanted to climb it. I’m 72, and I wasn’t planning to do it again. However, I’m tempted to bring a rope and do it one more time for her. If it happens (and that’s a huge IF), you’re in!

Anton: Yes, I’m 100% sure. I have no tolerance for people that can’t post constructive criticism without being a jerk about it. I do agree with your points. I even began one paragraph with “As Anton said…” Trying to make others look stupid diminishes the impact of your completely valid points. Nobody is going to listen to you when you say they are an accident waiting to happen or that they are clueless about technical climbing. You can offer advice without being a jerk about it. I’m sorry that you disagree with me on that point.

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Re: Mt Humphreys Update
bobpickering #59067 07/18/21 03:08 PM
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I strongly second Bob's opinion on Anton's posts. I've been holding fire on commenting, but this is not the first time that I've noticed that Anton sometimes comes across as a condescending know-it-all. The most knowledgable and experienced outdoorsmen/women tend to be cautious with their words and slow to criticize... (see Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin...) which is a good policy in general. We were all young and dumb once.

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Re: Mt Humphreys Update
bobpickering #59068 07/18/21 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by bobpickering
Ben: I mentioned the June 20 Humphreys trip to you in an earlier email, but you didn’t take the bait. I figured that the exposure and the long drive were the reasons. When a guy I met on Thunderbolt in 1990 heard about Humphreys, he said his wife had wanted to climb it. I’m 72, and I wasn’t planning to do it again. However, I’m tempted to bring a rope and do it one more time for her. If it happens (and that’s a huge IF), you’re in!

My fitness wasn't up to par then. And it was right on my anniversary weekend. Next time!

Re: Mt Humphreys Update
bobpickering #59070 07/18/21 05:30 PM
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Bob: Perhaps we can just agree to disagree and move on.

Re: Mt Humphreys Update
SoCal Jim #59072 07/18/21 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by SoCal Jim
I strongly second Bob's opinion on Anton's posts. I've been holding fire on commenting, but this is not the first time that I've noticed that Anton sometimes comes across as a condescending know-it-all. The most knowledgable and experienced outdoorsmen/women tend to be cautious with their words and slow to criticize... (see Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin...) which is a good policy in general. We were all young and dumb once.

I was initially reluctant to reply to this comment because the whole thread is already sidelined, but the label is too serious to ignore. My posts in this forum by and large fall into two categories: 1) Asking questions about routes, conditions and logistics (quite inconsistent with the "condescending know-it-all" name tag) and 2) Answering mostly basic questions about gear, trails, routes ect. by folks who appear to be new to the area and/or mountaineering in general. I view the latter as a small service to the community, which I certainly do not expect to receive any reward for in any form. Perhaps the only exceptions include this thread (for the reasons that have been explicitly stated above) and a couple of responses to Ace and Hobbs on highly controversial issues that you and several other regular members seem to have similar views as myself. Since there are not many posts in total and all of these posts are accessible, my claims can be easily verified. Care to support yours by specific examples? In regards to attitudes of professional athletes who represent big corporations, let's not compare apples and oranges unless you know exactly what is going on besides the public eye. I have been fortunate to have several terrific, albeit not nearly as famous, mentors in two different sports that most consider extreme. Virtually all of them tended to be blunt when it comes to offering advice that keeps people alive with all the bones intact. Swallowing such advice is not always easy but when the time goes by you realize that substance has much more weight than form. Take care.

Re: Mt Humphreys Update
Anton #59076 07/19/21 10:44 AM
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Anton - did you actually read the post? I re-read it and I think the OP exercised good judgment here. I remember when I was less experienced I turned around several times when I bit off more than I could chew. This is a pretty natural experience for a novice mountaineer, and OP did exactly the right thing. I think your "hard love" approach could have worked in a different situation, but not here.

Re: Mt Humphreys Update
BFR #59079 07/19/21 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by BFR
Anton - did you actually read the post? I re-read it and I think the OP exercised good judgment here. I remember when I was less experienced I turned around several times when I bit off more than I could chew. This is a pretty natural experience for a novice mountaineer, and OP did exactly the right thing. I think your "hard love" approach could have worked in a different situation, but not here.

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