Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chaka Khan

Photo Dwight McCann/Chumash Casino Resort / Wikimedia Commons

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Tell me that you like it

Dane and Ken completed the Tiger Stripe wall's Shere Khan in May of 2010. When we first explored the route, we had plans of going from the main ledge straight up the plumb line to the anchors. But the climbing down low proved much more difficult than what we were after at the time, and we chose the current line that follows a weakness 10 feet right, then traverses back to center at the small roof at mid-height. It is our opinion that this still produced what is likely the single best pitch at the North Rim.

But that direct variant continued to beckon, and more than once we stopped while lowering to work the crux section, which lies just below the Shere Khan traverse. Dane managed to stick the hardest move during one session, only to have a key right hand hold break shortly after. The much smaller hold that remained upped the ante, and we decided to leave the climbing for a future effort.

The future arrived on Saturday when we hiked up with the drill and the goal of establishing the direct line. Five bolts and a little cleaning later and it was ready. We worked it on t.r., and were each psyched to not only climb the powerful opening, but also figure out the beta for the crux and eventually do the moves. Seems our winter of bouldering in the gym has paid off. And the direct line that always looked so promising did not disappoint.

This variation is so awesome, and so legitimate in its own right, that we've decided it warrants its own name. Even though it deviates from the wall's tiger theme, we couldn't resist the play on words of Chaka Khan.

Chaka Khan is a killer route with exceptional position, movement and rock quality. It is surely one of the best sport pitches in western Montana!

Tiger by the Tail 5.10d (green), Shere Khan 5.11c (yellow)
Chaka Khan 5.12 (orange)

Here's the beta: Start 10 feet left of the Shere Khan/Tiger by the Tail belay station. Approach the first bolt from the left using the two small corners on easy terrain. Pull the small detached flake and clip the second bolt. Climb the bulge on bullet golden rock. This section goes at mid to upper 5.11 and requires some modern techniques that will make any gym climber feel right at home. Above this you get a recovery stance. The crux is above, at the fifth bolt. It's hard to grade, but feels like a V4 boulder problem that involves a long deadpoint off a small right hand hold to a marginal sloper in the bottom of a pod. A couple more moves and you arrive at the beginning of Shere Khan's pumpy mid section. Hang on for 40 feet of endurance and you'll arrive at the anchors.

For now, we'll just call it 5.12. We invite everyone to get on it and give it a go. Leave a comment if you do, and what you think the rating should be. We'll be going for the redpoint soon, but until then, Chaka Khan awaits its first ascent!