Pizem Completes Massive 5.13+ Roof Crack

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Rob Pizem working Army of Darkness (5.13d) near Moab, Utah. Photo by Andrew Burr / www.andrewburr.com.

Rob Pizem has done the first ascent of a long horizontal crack near Moab, Utah, that he is giving 5.13d, making it one of the hardest roof cracks in America.Army of Darkness crosses a cave ceiling by a crack approximately 45 feet long that requires a full arsenal of techniques: fingers, hands, and offwidth. The route is an endurance testpiece, with three crux passages requiring feet-off campusing and 180-degree changes in body position on bad jams. “What was most difficult for me was being able to hold the core tension of being totally horizontal for the length of the route and having the power to not make any mistakes,” Pizem said. “Any weakness in the core or the power meant failure.” Pizem tried the climb around 35 times in all, mostly last autumn. When it finally warmed up enough to return to the underground route on March 9, he hadn't been on it since Thanksgiving, but he sent on his third try that day. He led the route with preplaced gear. Despite placing the pro in advance, it was not secure. The crack flares inward, making it difficult to seat nuts and cams properly, and Pizem decked six times from the first crux, about 12 feet off the ground, when gear ripped out. “The landing is very soft in fine-grained sand,” he said, “and I made a point of making sure that the rocks had been moved after my first fall. I debated on adding a bolt to prevent the cam from blowing, but decided that I should just stop falling there.” Pizem did place two bolts on the route: one to protect crumbly rock at the start, and the second by a wide section of the crack near the lip of the roof. “I also decided not to boulder out the route because I would have needed about 20 pads and huge spotters to keep me alive from the horizontal falls,” he added.Date of Ascent: March 9, 2008Sources: Rob Pizem, Andy Burr

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