Extreme gear beta and sandbagging tips for the aspiring Grand Wall leader …
Rope: 60 meter (committing, you can’t rappel with one rope. You can rappel from anywhere with two ropes, though it might be tricky from the top of the flats.
Rack: Depends on skill, but I normally use:
2 #1 BD Camalot
1 #2 BD Camalot
1 #3 BD Camalot
1 .5 BD
1 Yellow Alien
1 Red Alien
1 .75 BD
1 Orange Alien
1 .4BD Nut
If you don’t want to run out the Split Pillar, add an additional #1, #2, and #3 and you can really stitch it up.
My vote for best non-alpine multipitch trad climb in Canada. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Pitch 1: Apron Strings (5.10b) – A sketchy lead for a 5.10- climber, with difficult-to-place protection and insecure laybacking. A lot of people get hurt here.
Pitch 2: Apron Strings (5.10a) – An easy romp to the anchor.
You can walk around Apron Strings and scramble the Flake Escape ledges to the start of Mercy Me, as a faster alternative to Apron Strings.
Now for the real start of the Grand ..
Pitch 1: Mercy Me (5.8) – 3 bolts in 30 meters on a slippery dyke. No gear. Don’t fall.
Pitch 2: Mercy Me (5.8) – 4 bolts in 30 meters on a slippery dyke. No gear. Presumably these two pitches keep some people off the wall.
Pitch 3: 5.10b Traverse – 2 bolts in 30 meters, with some optional gear. Don’t put anything in if you dislike you second. Don’t stop at the chains – continue up the bolt ladder to the base of the split pillar. For maximum enjoyment, don’t tell your second about the bolt ladder. Tell them it’s 5.10b slab, and make laugh at them when they fall.
Pitch 4: The Split Pillar (5.10b) – Amazing pitch, steep and exposed! Protect the start with a .75 camalot, then pump up the lieback corner. If you’re strong enough to place gear from the lieback, you can pop another .75 in there. If not, keep liebacking. There’s a small ledge on the left for your foot but keep going another half meter until you get to a bigger ledge on the left (a few centimeters wide, just a smeary foot really). Stop here and plop a number one in the crack, take a break, then start jamming up the widening splitter. Run it out or put as many one’s, two’s and three’s as you like. When the crack widens to rattly hands, it is best to plop a three in, and lieback to a jug. Reach high and put another number one in there, then pull a little move, and backclean the one. Make another move, and protect high with the one, then lieback or jam up to the chimney. You can put a red alien just before the chimney, bump the number one on your left, and/or clip a fixed piece in the chimney. No you can shimmey up the chimney (easiest) or climb the face on the left, much harder but easier if you have a pack.
Pitch 5: The Sword (5.11a) – Welcome to the World Famous Pitch The Sword. Begin with an easy 5.8 lieback which can be protected with a #4 camalot – or just run it out. Next piece of gear is a #3 just before a lieback move gets you to a stance and the business. Here you can place a bomber #4 grey BD nut, and place additional bomber nuts as needed. Do not put cams here! I once saw someone put two red c3 cams and fall at the crux, rip them both, and drop well below the belay. After placing a couple bomber nuts, make an insecure lieback move to a nice fingerlock, then place a bomber .75 above the lock. It doesn’t look like it fits – but it does! And it’s bomber. Now pull the crux moves with some funky liebacking – there’s a big crack jug up above the bulge and out of sight. If you get the jug, you can even put a .5BD in there before you actually pull over the bulge – or just make the move and accept the fall, it’s not so bad. Now move a little higher and clip a bolt. Just above the bolt you can place a yellow alien or yellow metolius mastercam or just run it out a bit. Make a wild left traverse step onto the face and continue easily up on jugs and sketchy horns, slinging them for psychological value as needed. Best to just run it out – the climbing is easy. When you can’t go any higher, look around right and put some gear in the splitter corner – it takes .5bd, .4bd, and red alien. I recommend putting two or three bomber pieces, then running it out to the chains. You’re looking at about 3 meters of burly liebacking with poor feet and placing gear might just make you fall. Go for the chains! Get a long running ready on your harness so you can quickly clip in – as you might not have much strength left at this point. Now do the long bolt ladder and take a well-deserved rest.
Pitch 6: Perry’s Lieback (5.11a) – The sport pitch! No gear needed, just draws. Skip bolts as needed, because clipping all those bolts might just make you fall. You can take a nice rest in the chimney feature at the top – you will need it. When your second comes up, point to the big roofs above and say ‘Are you ready for the hard shit, or what?!’
Pitch 7: The Flats (5.10a) – Ok, no big roofs in your future. Easy traversing rightward on a ledge leads to slabby moves and well-spaced bolts. No gear needed, although a #2 might make you feel better for one of the moves. Make sure to backclean it. Also, put long slings on every bolt, or you’ll regret the rope drag. The final move of the pitch is 5.9 but very difficult for short people. Be sure to ridicule any climber who can’t do the move because he or she is short. ‘That’s the 5.9 move, buddy!’ Bring a big nalgene bottle and stand on it, or keep traversing rightward to climb a short 5.10c corner, watching rope drag. Or make a tall person lead the pitch.
Pitch 8: The Sail Flake (5.10c) – This is where people can get hurt. Climb a tree, then up a shallow corner on the right, and place a .75 in the start of the flake and a #1 BD in the corner to the left, with a long runner (or even two runners). Now downclimb a bit to take a rest. Get a .75 (better is orange alien) and .5 (better is red alien) ready on your harness! Make some committing undercling traverse moves with poor feet until you hit a tiny foothold. Stop here and place the .75 and .5. Make sure to extend them with a long sling. Continue rightward and up a short corner, then clip a .5BD and pull a little bulge. Backclean it, and put a #1 a little higher up with a long runner. Now continue to the top of the pitch without much difficulty, using a #1 to protect some flake liebacking and a #2 to protect the final exit move onto bellygood ledge. A #3 can be handy for the very top, but not really necessary.
Pitch 9: Now continue to the top via Roman Chimneys, Grand Finale, Upper Black Dyke or Millenium Falcon – or just traverse Bellygood Ledge.
When your second arrives at the belay, untie quickly and solo across the exposed Bellygood Ledge. When your second asks what’s going on, tell them to pack the rope and gear and hurry up. If they show signs of fear, just say ‘what the fuck, man, sack up!’