Extreme Headpoints in CO and NY


Matt McCormick at the crux of Wheelin N’ Dealin (5.13c R) on the Spider’s Web in New York’s Adirondacks. Photo by Peter Kamitses courtesy of Mattmccormickclimbing.blogspot.com.

Matt Wilder working the crux of Cheating Reality (5.14a R) on the Devils Thumb near Boulder, Colorado. The pinnacle overhangs super-steeply toward the camera. Photo by Andy Mann courtesy of Mattwilderclimbing.blogspot.com.

Matt Wilder completed a spectacular and dangerous 5.14a route in the Flatirons above Boulder, Colorado, and Matt McCormick redpointed a run-out 5.13c climb in the Adirondacks. Both climbs have marginal protection and may be the hardest naturally protected routes in their areas.

Wilder climbed Cheating Reality (5.14a R) on the north face of the Devils Thumb, the severely overhanging pinnacle on the mountain skyline south of Boulder. The route follows an old aid line (thought to be incomplete) with some ancient fixed gear that Wilder chose to skip. Dangerous 5.12a climbing led to better-protected 5.12 and then a well-protected but improbable crux dyno that Wilder felt was about V10. Above this was another V7/V8 headwall, about 15 feet above the last good gear.

Wilder chose to headpoint the route and toproped it twice without falling before the successful lead. He also fell at the crux once while leading. The route is guarded by a steep approach of well over an hour, which may limit attempts, but at his blog Wilder urged other climbers to give it a shot. “The rock quality on this route is for the most part really good, and the climbing is varied (intricate, technical corner moves mixed with thuggy dynos on crimps and slopers). The location of the Thumb is extraordinary, and the bottom of the route has a perfect flat rock to chill at…. I think it will be a Front Range classic for sure.”

Read Wilder’s account of the climb and see more photos at his blog.

McCormick whipping from the crux of Wheelin N’ Dealin. Photo by Jamie Hamilton courtesy of Mattmccormickclimbing.blogspot.com.

On the same day, at the Spider’s Web cliff in New York’s Adirondacks, Matt McCormick completed Wheelin N’ Dealin (5.13c R), a beautiful incipient seam on the steep granite cliff. McCormick started working on the climb in July. In September, attempting to lead the route, he took a long cartwheeling fall from the crux, which yielded the route name. The next time he attempted the route, three holds broke, and he had to work out some new sequences. Last weekend he tried to lead the route again but, with that fall still in his mind, he felt shaky and jumped off before the crux. On Saturday, he led the route first try.

“This route forced me to use the worst feet I’ve ever had to use on a route, and completely changed my perception of what is possible to stand on,” McCormick said at his blog.

This video shows McCormick working on the route, taking that nasty whipper, and sending on October 17.

Date of Ascents: October 17, 2009

Sources: Mattwilderclimbing.blogspot.com, Matt McCormick, Mattmccormickclimbing.blogspot.com

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