Will Mayo Sends Desperate Dry-Tool Route in Crazy Tunnel Called the Ghetto

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Will Mayo on the Existensionalist in the abandoned mining tunnel called the Ghetto. Photo by Ryan Vachon.

Will Mayo on the Existensionalist in the abandoned mining tunnel called the Ghetto. Photo by Ryan Vachon.

9/10/14 - Who needs ice and cold for dry tooling? In Colorado's summer heat, Will Mayo has just redpointed what's likely one of the hardest dry-tooling routes in the country.

Mayo's route,  The Existensionalist, is an extension of an earlier route called The Nihilist, created by Erik Wellborn and redpointed by Mayo and Phil Wortmann a couple of months ago. The longer route travels 87 horizontal feet along the roof of the Ghetto, an abandoned mining tunnel above Colorado Springs. It took Mayo nearly 23 minutes to climb it.

"The Existensionalist starts with about a half dozen really big power-endurance moves, six feet or more each, and then continues along the more straight endurance of The Nihilist," Mayo said. " It's definitely the hardest dry-tooling route I have ever done. But it's just training, so mixed ratings don't really apply. It's completely manufactured, from the tunnel itself to the holds. It's just a means to train for the Bozeman World Cup in December."

Mayo's fingers, blistered from attempts on the Existensionalist. He could only make one real attempt per day on the route because his fingers would blister even with gloves on. Photo by Will Mayo.

Mayo's fingers, blistered from attempts on the Existensionalist. He could only make one real attempt per day on the route because his fingers would blister even with gloves on. Photo by Will Mayo.

The Ghetto, a dry-tooling-only venue developed by Wellborn, Wortmann, and other climbers, has about a dozen routes, of which Mayo's, given G12 as a rating, is the hardest. The climbs usually are done with rock shoes on the feet and ice tools in the hands. "It is easier without crampons as it's less weight on the feet, and it's easier to do figure 4s and 9s," Mayo said. Plus, as Wortmann explained, "I mostly just use an old pair of rock shoes because I don't want to dull up the crampons on my fruit boots on the hard granite. It dulls them very quickly."

Wortmann, who is also planning to compete at Bozeman, emphasized the artificial nature of dry-tooling training routes like those at the Ghetto, saying, "The reason for using a different grading system is  the short amount of vertical and the disproportionate amount of horizontal at the Ghetto, as well as the fact that all the holes are well-drilled. This means that you won't find tenuous placements here like you would normally find on hard mixed or dry lines. We approach the development of the area from a purely safe training standpoint, as opposed to 'keeping it real.'"

The Bozeman World Cup, part of the 18th annual Bozeman Ice Festival, is slated for December 12 and 13.

Below, video of Mayo attempting The Existensionalist before the first ascent:

Will it to be! from Ryan W Vachon on Vimeo.

Date of ascent: September 2014

Sources: Will Mayo, Phil Wortmann, Erik Wellborn, Ryan Vachon