Ryan Vachon Sends Jedi Mind Tricks (M14)

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Ryan Vachon on Jedi Mind Tricks (M14) near Lake City, Colorado. Photo by Beth Goralski.

Ryan Vachon on Jedi Mind Tricks (M14). Photo by Beth Goralski.

11/11/14 - Ryan Vachon, a 42-year-old climate scientist, has redpointed Jedi Mind Tricks outside Lake City, Colorado, making the probable fifth ascent and only the second without using heel spurs on his crampons. Vachon, who has climbed hard M13 in the past, including the route Stratofortress (M13+) in East Vail, Colorado, said Jedi Mind Tricks was "by far my hardest ascent to date."

Jedi Mind Tricks was put up in 2004 by Jared Ogden and Ryan Nelson, using heel spurs as was commonly done on hard dry-tooling routes at the time. (The spurs make it much easier to heel hook with crampons.) The climb exits a huge cave called God's Crag at about 10,500 feet in the San Juan Mountains, dry-tooling on tiny pockets in hard volcanic rock. The route is about 30 meters long and is protected with 20 bolts.

God's Crag, near Lake City, Colorado. Jedi Mind Tricks (M14) exits the right side of the cave. Photo courtesy of Ryan Vachon.

God's Crag, near Lake City, Colorado. Jedi Mind Tricks (M14) exits near the center of the cave. Photo courtesy of Ryan Vachon.

Scottish climber Scott Muir, who repeated the route in 2006, also using spurs, told Planet Mountain the route "required great care and precision due to the hard, skittery nature of the rock. Normally the picks bite into the soft schist or limestone, but this stuff required accuracy and complete control. The crux—five totally horizontal meters—is very technical, involving multiple strenuous and delicate foot changes to keep the feet on the roof, as the tool edges are not good enough to support dynamic moves or total body weight."

With heel spurs, the route was considered M13. In 2008, after winning the Ouray Ice Festival comp, Frenchman Jeff Mercier did the first ascent without spurs and said it felt like M14 in that style, making it perhaps the hardest dry-tooling route in the world at the time.

"The long roof is an endurance test, but there were two technical cruxes," Vachon said of the climb. "One after the first 30 feet, where feet become useless and you have to move upward and sideways on tiny slots. Then the route goes completely horizontal. There is a second crux in the roof that forces you to spin around in neat-o circle."

Vachon made three trips to God's Crag to redpoint the route, climbing with Chris Snobeck and Beth Goralski.

"The route has been done with redirected water over the edge, but it was ice-less when I did it," he said. "However, the blowing mist from the falls totally soaked me."

Date of ascent: November 2014

Sources: Ryan Vachon, Climbing.com