Climbing Junkie Story #16 Hanging out on Hallet

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• Hallet Peak has a difficult 800 foot North face. It became more difficult as I deliberately went off route via a finger crack passing a slow party . The finger crack was excellent, but soon disappeared and I found myself on a long blank face void of holds. On the face, I ran it out about 100 feet above my last good piece of protection before I had the opportunity to set another piece of protection. Here a fall would be twice two hundred plus the rope stretch and line slack.

• Did I mention I was too lazy to bring my rock shoes that day; why carry the extra weight on an easy climb with a long walk off? I used a lot of friction techniques with my boots and slowly made my way to a lone bucket hold. The only good hold on the entire blank wall rock pitch! I was probably sweating blood at this point. Leaving that bucket hold for a faint crack 15 feet away, hopefully this crack might make a descent belay anchor. This part of the climb was difficult and the rope was moving up very slowly for my second. So my partner wondering why the rope was moving so slowly yelled up to me: How is it going?

• It was not going well when he yelled to me at the exact wrong time, at the crux! I was trying to focus, I lost my cool and yelled back at 140dB: Shut Up! Then finding my way to the small crack, move by ninja move, I then nested a single stopper into the crack and made a hanging belay. What a relief! An anchor after such a long difficult run out!

• It is one of those times when you feel that up can’t go up and that you can’t go down that you get into trouble; big trouble. I had already learned that lesson well and without hesitation, I abandoned my only good hold to obtain the unobtainable anchor in the faint crack.

• To my complete surprise when my climbing partner climbed up, He complained: What the heck was that! I was so relieved to have reestablished the route, passed the slow guys, and to be off-belay with a good anchor. I just replied: Hey, you didn't have to lead it! It was quite a day.

• My partner finished off the next pitch in style. With the warmer afternoon weather, came water from the melting snow and ice above. It started dripping more and more as he finished his pitch. It made its way to our exit cracks and with everything wet, it became more difficult. Thankfully, I had the rope above me for that wet pitch. My climbing partner only had a few drops and ways able to climb that pitch in nearly ideal conditions.

• Lead by lead, my climbing partner and I took turns leading into the unknown above. With each lead, there came the gift of not knowing what the outcome would be. It was a great day for both of us and went back to our camp happy as could be. It was the only climb I can recall where I yelled out like that. But after all, he throw off my Grove!

  • Randy
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Comments (12)

Randy T (Randylikest… on November 16, 2012
  • This is a climb I did years ago and always thought about from time to time as a significant climb with great memories. At this position, I was in a secure hanging belay and my partner was complaining about the difficulty. He said something like: What the Hell was that! I had to inform him that he had nothing to complain about. After all, it was my lead and I was not in rock shoes that day. A short story is in the description above.

  • Hallet Peak Slide Show

  • Similar Climbing Junkie Stories of the same climb at This Link and another one at This Link


David Brown Photogra… on November 16, 2012

Oh..... done that so many times Randy, with and without the slow parties.

Once I let a less experienced chap take the lead on the second and final pitch not realising he had terrible distance judgment skills. He put some protection in 20 feet above me and then disappeared from my sight as the angle got easier. Soon we were down to the last 20 ft of rope and I let him know. He assured me he was close to the belay and I should just wait.

Soon we were down to 5 foot and it was still moving, however slowly through my hands.

Eventually he asked me to start climbing. He was still moving. I got to the protection and he asked me to take it out. We were now climbing together, with no protection, like solo but more dangerous.

There was loads of belays that we passed on the way but he just wanted to go 'to the next one'.

That was our last route.

Best wishes - Jethro

Randy T (Randylikest… on November 18, 2012


  • I understand your - so many times comment- all too well.

  • One guy I climbed with a bunch, in a similar situation took a 180 foot fall on Astroman, Yosemite. It is a 5.11C and he was doing the second free ascent. It was once an aid climb. He had a long run out and he came off clean with the exception of clipping and small ledge. He busted his ankle and had to wear a cast.

  • Later after his foot felt better he would wrap his cast with something like rubber and climb the off width cracks.
  • I have so many stories I could tell from just this one climbing partner.


David Brown Photogra… on November 18, 2012

I like the idea of the off-width crack. We used to wrap a sweater around our hands.

That didn't work either!



Randy T (Randylikest… on November 18, 2012
  • I like thin finger cracks, pinky or to the first knuckle, hands, thing hands, fist is OK too. But offwidths I have never really liked. This One was maybe four pitches and all offwidthy. What a grunt.

  • Here Too was just a miserable grunt. Inhale and with and arm-bar all is good. Exhale and I was grunting to stay in. It was truely hand to hand combat.

  • Makes my hands sweat just typing about it. That reminds me, I took a 60 footer on a blank wall in the middle of Wyoming just to avoid one off 7 inch wide nightmares. I came off clean, and avoided the helicopter resuce thanks to my partner taking in some rope on the fall. It was a photo finish to the ledge. I did not want to finish the lead however the ususal suspect insisted I just get over it. I did finish my pitch, but I never got over it.

  • The funny thin is that some climbers love the off widths and avoid finger or pinky cracks. For others it is just to opposite. I still think I should not have gotton back on horse after being tossed.


Don Z on November 20, 2012

Very nice photo.
Best regards, DOℕ ℤ

Joel Skok on November 25, 2012

Looking at the picture, for the life of me I don't see why he is not hanging straight below the last piece of protection, with those minimal fingertip holds he's barely touching. Maybe it is deceptive though...

Randy T (Randylikest… on November 26, 2012


  • This photo shows the last portion of the crux pitch. The standard route was perhaps 5.7 or 5.8. After our excursion we were into the 5.10s. I was just able to get by in my boots using a lot of smearing techniques such as letting an edge settle on the rock inflections. The face was smooth.
  • I had a secure hanging belay and my climbing partner having a good left hand hold and palming with his right hand felt secure enough for me to take his picture. It was also a tuff act to follow. When he yelled up to me I was in approximately the same position with the next piece of protection 100 feet below.


Randy T (Randylikest… on November 26, 2012


  • you are correct on the angle. I worked to the left to get into the crack. My partner would take a swing if he came off at that instant.
  • In general this climb had a nice clean vertical lines. The face is 800 vertical feet. There were only a few traverses and most of them were short.


АЙРАТ ХАЙРЕТДИНОВ on December 21, 2012


Randy T (Randylikest… on December 31, 2012


  • We would have several very bad names to call the Tourists! Especially when they would stop and watch our every move in the tourist areas. Fortunately, we don't see many in the wilderness.


Viktor Mandryka on August 1, 2013

it looks great! my hands are wet from adrenalin... :)

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