Canadian Mike Doyle repeated the East Face of Monkey Face 5.13d in Smith Rocks while placing all of his own gear.
Doyle might be only the fourth climber to send the climb placing his gear (and third Canadian), after Sonnie Trotter, Will Stanhope and Alex Honnold.
“I skipped all the fixed gear and placed all the gear on lead, aka the Canadian variation,” said Doyle.
“It’s really kind of contrived (the bolts are in easy climbing without good gear) but just a fun mental challenge.”
Yesterday, after flying back from Vegas and landing at 3pm, I made quick plans to hike to the monkey with Ian Caldwell (@ian.caldwell.514). I wasn't sure how I would feel after not climbing for a few days, then the flight etc… When we got back there the conditions were great; cool and breezy. I decided to warm up on 'The East Face'', just to see how it would feel. At the first anchor I felt decent but not great. I shook out for a bit trying to decide if it was worth losing skin in the upper part. Finally I figured I might as well go for it. The crux right above the first anchor felt good but after the long runout pictured here I was a little flash pumped. I jammed in a good @metoliusclimbing master cam, skipped the bolts, finagled some gear in and clawed my way to the top. More shaky than I would have liked but at least I didn't fall :). Silly shenanigans for sure. I bought the BD (@blackdiamond) Vector helmet just for this route and I'm glad I did! #climbing #rockclimbing #workclimbrepeat #shenanigans @metoliusclimbing @lasportivana @rhinoskinsolutions 📷 @jasonkarn_
The East Face is a 45-metre finger crack originally aided back in the 1960s. It was a big deal in the 1980s when Alan Watts began freeing the moves.
Trotter made the first all-gear ascent in 2004 after working on it for seven days over two weeks before the redpoint.
He skipped all of the bolts, a piton and the first-pitch anchor and place 16 pieces of gear on lead. Trotter mentioned in 2004 that it felt like 5.14 because of the difficulty of placing all of the gear.
“It was super-strenuous to stop mid-crux, on bad feet and tiny finger locks, then try to place a small nest of gear and clip the rope in with 130 feet of rope drag,” he said.
“But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I get back so much more when I climb a route with all clean gear. My list of dream climbs just got twice as big — I think 5.14 gear climbs should be the norm, and I look forward to help making that happen.”
Watts said that the East Face of Monkey Face was the hardest route at Smith before the international scene arrived at Smith Rock.
He first climbed the route in two pitches, since that’s the way the original aid climb was done. “The first pitch was 5.12c and I did it in 1983. The next year, after a whole lot of work, I freed the upper pitch, placing the gear the whole way,” Watts told Planetmountain.com in 2009 here.
“Since I had already done Grand Illusion, it was clear to me that the upper pitch was the hardest redpointed lead in the US.
“The next year I returned, doing the route in a single pitch, again without pre-placed gear. But, unfortunately, after placing every nut several times (and failing on the final bolted moves), I settled for a yo-yo ascent the day before leaving for Yosemite.”
Watts said that in some ways it was a landmark climb and in other ways it wasn’t because of the the shift to sport climbing, it wasn’t nearly as influential as the bolted routes.
In response to Trotter’s skipping Watts’s bolts, Watts said, “I soon understood that Sonnie’s avoiding the bolts wasn’t any negative reflection on my ascent.
“In an age where sport climbing dominates, it was refreshing to see someone finding a creative niche in the sport. Original thinkers always have been (and always will) be a rarity in our sport. Sonnie definitely qualifies.”
Congrats Doyle on upping the Canadian count on the East Face, not that we’re keeping score.
Last Wednesday I went up 'The East Face' (13d on Monkey Face) just working the moves and figuring out the gear placements. It was raining and conditions were horrible. When I got to the top I set up a top rope for a friend trying the arete. Since it was raining I bailed on cleaning all the gear off the crack and just lowered. I didn't think I knew the beta well enough to send. Unfortunately I did send but with pre-placed gear. So to set an additional challenge I thought I might as well do it skipping the bolts at the top. It's an old aid line and when Alan Watts did the FFA (at the time the hardest route in North America) he just replaced tiny rivets with proper bolts. The climbing isn't difficult up there (5.11?) but there isn't much gear. It's been done only on gear already, by a few people. Here's a photo of me trying to sort out what meager gear I can use when skipping the bolts. I actually fell just below where this photo was taken, blew the rock apart at that purple TCU and was caught by a yellow TCU about 10' below that. It was… Exhilirating. I'll try again later this week 😊. 📷@jasonkarn_ #climbing #rockclimbing #smithrock #safetythird #shenanigans #silly @metoliusclimbing @lasportivana @lasportivagram @rhinoskinsolutions