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Strategy for Prodigal Sun
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epic_ed


Aug 20, 2003, 3:55 AM
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Strategy for Prodigal Sun
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Well, here we go again. I'm teaming up with Timpanogos (Chad) to do Prodigal Sun over Labor Day weekend. We have similar experience levels, but neither of us is going to fly up this thing. A one day ascent is out of reach for us. So that leaves us with a couple of strategy options for a two day attempt.

Option #1:

- Plan to spend a night on the wall and haul to the top.
- Fix to the top of P3 the first day, set up the ledge, and possibly fix P4.

Option #2:

- Fix to the top of P3 on day one, rap to the ground and sleep at the base (we'll hang the ledge at the base if necessary).
- Jug 240 ft the next morning and blast for the top. No hauling.

Advantages of Option #1:

- No time/energy lost jugging lines on day two.
- Allows us to have bivy gear on the route in case we come up short of the summit on day two. Or to sleep on top.

Disadvantages of option #1:

- Hauling will have us climbing slower.
- Hauling the last two pitches will suck.

Advantages of Option #2:

- Faster, lighter.

Disadvantages of Option #2:

- Jugging 240 ft to start a very long second day.
- No margin of error for completing the route. Either finish the last 6 pitches on Sunday, or spend a long night toiling to the top. Or worse -- bailing.

Have at it, folks. I'd like to hear all the input you've got.

Ed


addiroids


Aug 20, 2003, 5:12 AM
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I would say fix and fire. Fix to 3 then rap off anchoring the rope to each station. Then lead in one block to the ledge past the bolt ladder (just before the curving C2 pitches) and another block to the top. That ledge is nice and spread out to allow for the lead changeover. Whatever you do, do not swing leads. Lead in blocks. It is much faster. Especially if you are not hauling. Yeah the jug up sucks, but you just have to deal with it.

Or you could just approach in the afternoon, get to bed early (you will not be hasseled for sleeping on the ground) and get up early (4am), get someone on lead ASAP (other packs up the crap) and get it done.

Or you could just be Ammon and do it in 2 hours.

TRADitionally yours,

Cali Dirtbag


passthepitonspete


Aug 20, 2003, 6:12 AM
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Uh, what about the one-and-a-half pitches per day option? You could bring a generator [and plenty of gas] to fire up your laptop, modem and satellite phone. One of you could send us pitch by pitch reports while the other solo fixed. You could fight over the "remote for the TV", and who makes the micro-wave popcorn.

Forget the "solar-powered shower" when you've got your GE water heater. And as for those propane fridges that the El Cap climbers use to keep their beer cool and ice cream frozen - pshaw! How yesterday. Your fridge will have a light inside when you open the door.


climbingcowboy


Aug 20, 2003, 6:39 AM
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Well you know my experriance level but having climbed with ya heres a couple things I though about for ya.

Option 1- Advantge:

Alot more practise getting things dialed for when you head back to Yos. to try Zodiac, (and the Prow with me again)
If you dont climb as fast as you thought you can take alittle longer and still complete a wall.

Option 1- Disadvantge:

Hauling SUCKS

Option 2- Advantge:

COMMETMENT its good to just commet and will push you to climb faster.
The jugging will be good for ya.

Optioin 2- Disadvantge:

You dont aid very fast, and will probably end up bailing. :wink:

Well dont kill me I'm just being honest. So for you I would say #1

Good luck bro. make sure theres a TR either way


epic_ed


Aug 20, 2003, 2:43 PM
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In reply to:
Optioin 2- Disadvantge:
You dont aid very fast, and will probably end up bailing. :wink: Well dont kill me I'm just being honest.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

No kidding! That's what I've been tryin to tell ya! Facts are facts, man. Fast I am not. However, in this case I think slow and no hauling will just mean a lot of suffering to get to the top. Think about it -- if we're 7 pitches up and out of food, water, and daylight, is it really any easier (or safer for that matter) to bail and rap 7 pitches? Or is it best to suck it up and finish off the last two pitches?

I guess that's how I'm viewing the worst case scenario on the "no haul" option. Pete, you've climbed with Chad. I know he's still pretty new at the game, but do you think a two day ascent of Prodigal is attainable?

And no, I'm not striving for the slowest, most comfortable ascent of Prodigal. ;-)

Ed


wigglestick


Aug 20, 2003, 2:47 PM
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Defineately Option #2. Don't haul. Considering you can fix almost half the route it is silly to work that hard. Fix to the top of 3 or even the extra set of anchors in the middle of pitch 4. Then blast the next day. Bring headlamps just in case and bailing is not an option.

Prodigal is totally doable in a day by a newbie party. I did it in 18 hours as my first successful wall and I had a grand total of about 8 aid pitches of experience and my partner had even less. There is so much fixed gear on that route you can really fly. Now that I know better I am sure that I could go considerably faster like 10 hours or less. You don't want to be one of the gumbies bivying at the top of pitch 2 and trying to haul up that gulley on the last pitch. Like Addiroids said lead in blocks and learn to short fix and you can cruise. Look for any opportunity where both people can be moving whenever possible.


passthepitonspete


Aug 20, 2003, 3:41 PM
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The choice is easy - Option 2.

I base my decision primarily on one factor which you have not mentioned, and that is the length of time required for "vertical camping".

Bivying in your ledge is fun, for sure. But man, it takes a long time, especially if you're new at it, which you guys are. The potential for clusterf*ckage is ever-present, and it just takes so damn much time to get ready and pack your pig in the morning. After 23 Grade VI's, I can tell you with certainty you should do Option 2.

A wall climber might might think that a 240' jug would be "long", but a caver would take it in stride, especially with two rebelays. Why is this?

Because cavers know how to jug, dude. I mean, they really know how! With nothing better to do with their lives than crawl around in the mud and the darkness, a caver's idea of a good time is to hang his fixed rope under a bridge somewhere, and practice jugging. And believe me, they get their jugging systems fine tuned. Most any basic middle-aged lard-assed redneck caver Alabama [or] with NSS stickers on his bumper can jug faster than many Yosemite wall rats - even slim, trim, svelte and sexy hardmen like Ed and Chad.

This is because cavers use the Petzl Frog Ascending System, which was invented by the Ooh-la-la French cavers in the late 70's while the Merricans were still fighting and struggling with their Gibbs ropewalkers and their Texas systems. One of my Brit caving mentors Steve Worthington introduced us to the Frog system in 1981 when we explored Sotano de Trinidad in Mexico to a depth of -829m, at that time the 4th deepest cave in the western hemisphere. I think this was the first time the Frog system was used here in North America. You sure as hell wouldn't want to "Yosemite jug" or Texas up from that depth! And your Gibbs Ropewalkers simply wouldn't work on all the rebelays we used.

Incidentally, we were the Traddest of the Trad. We explored that cave half a mile deep without placing a single bolt. Not one! We used rebelays and deviations to keep the skinny 9mm static ropes [also new in North America] away from the rock, and all sorts of threads, pitons and wired stoppers, though we called them "pegs" and "chocks". Another team later explored it, and needed a bunch of bolts where we were able to do without.

By following the instructions in the post above, and by forking out another $15 or less to get a Petzl C26 Torse chest harness, any wall rat can convert his hugely ineffecient Yosemite jugging system to a Frog system.

Here's another look at the Torse. As I have written in the links above, you could use an elastic cord around your neck, too. But the Torse is cheap, lightweight, easy to use, and incredibly efficient. You'll read my testimonials in the posts beneath. I sure as heck wish we had Torse harnesses back in 1981! Any Petzl supplier can get you a Torse, though it will most likely be a special order.

Note: The Yosemite system IS marginally better than the Frog system on low-angle rock. If you are jugging the fixed ropes up to the Heart on the Southwest Face of El Cap, your Yosemite system will probably suffice, though the Frog works well, too, especially when you back off a bit on the tension in the Torse.

Epic Ed, you have already learned the folly of not practising when you found out at the base of the wall that you did not know how to operate your hauling system! You can click here to read Epic Ed's Bail from the Prow, which is an excellent trip report that predates the phuck philters. This trip report, along with the "post mortem" analyses which follow should be required reading for all BWT's wanting to reach the summit. Ed and Chad, you guys should definitely reread it, and make copious notes.

My suggestion is to make like the cavers and practise jugging. Make damn sure that you can jug 240' without flailing. If you use the Frog system, this will be a cakewalk. You can make a Frog system from your existing components. I do not know how steep the first three pitches are on your route, but if they are vertical or overhanging, learning how to operate your Frog system could tip the balance in your favour.

No bridge to practise under? Set up a pulley under a tree branch. Have your partner wear his harness, and run the rope through his belay device up to the pulley and down to you. Measure how much time it takes you to "jug" your 200' rope.

This method of practice is both easier and harder than the real thing. It's easier because you are not lifting your full weight - there is some advantage in pulling down the rope. This is the manner in which the NSS holds its speed jugging competitions. I have always wondered how this compares to jugging a fixed rope. I suspect it's a bit easier.

It's a bit harder because you don't have the weight of the free-hanging rope beneath you to pull the rope "automatically" through your lower ascender. This is OK - you will learn how to squeeze the rope between your feet using the Petzl system, which is how you have to start the beginning of each pitch. You should practise jugging with ten or twenty pounds of gear on you, too. This way when you hit the wall, it will feel much easier.

Under the tree, the Yosemite system might seem easier - for the first thirty feet or so. See how you feel after 239 feet.

Now, for those of you who might think me a bit anal to suggest you practise jugging, let me point out a few things. If you were going free climbing, would you not practise the fundamentals in a climbing gym? Jugging is fundamental to aid climbing. Being competent is critical to your success. I've spent a lot of time at the base of El Cap while fixing ropes for ascents [Option] and have had the opportunity to observe many many climbers. In my opinion, the #1 way that most wall climbers can become better is to learn how to jug.

Almost sounds counter-intuitive, eh? I mean, don't you just slap your jugs on the rope, and start climbing? Isn't it easy?

Jugging should be fast, and it should be second-nature. Get yourself to a reasonable level of competence beforehand. Waiting until you get on the wall to realize you don't know how to jug efficiently is a recipe to bailing.

Good luck, chaps!


passthepitonspete


Aug 20, 2003, 4:09 PM
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In reply to:
"I guess that's how I'm viewing the worst case scenario on the "no haul" option. Pete, you've climbed with Chad. I know he's still pretty new at the game, but do you think a two day ascent of Prodigal is attainable?

It is a fact that you will be slow. This is why I suggested the other option above. Taking extra food, extra water, and a ledge, and then taking longer and hauling bigger loads allows you to win by attrition. I have defeated many big walls in precisely this manner.

However, this being said, I still think Option 2 is viable for you guys, and that you have a chance if you keep your act together, and just keep frickin' climbing, and don't frickin' bail. [It is amazing what you can achieve if you simply do not bail.]

Your first Dr. Piton Homework Assignment is to click here and tell me if you have what it takes. Your second is to tell me if you have sufficient quantities of practice, balls and heart. [These]RANTS are fundamental reading for Dr. Piton aficionados.]

You both have the heart, and I already told you that you should practice. And I think you both have the balls. The fact that you are willing to go out on a limb, and tell us of your plans, suggests that you do have the balls. Because if you fail, your Dr. Piton assignment will be to write a post entitled, "How to Join the Bailed Off Prodigal Son Club"!

But besides the three essentials outlined above, you must make sure you have enough of four things - food, water, clothing and light. These are your rocket fuel - they will propel you to the summit.

I'm fortunate - I can go a long time without much food and water, and I frickin' hate power bars, anyway. But I've seen other people bonk. Keep yourself fed and hydrated.

And then just keep climbing. Make sure you're warm enough. "Any fool can be uncomfortable," and this fool knows. Man, I'll never forget the last belay on Jolly Roger. We were gunning for the summit, and my leader pulled an all-nighter while I belayed beneath. I had no sweater in the ledge, and tried to stay warm by wrapping the ropes around me! If I knew then what I know now, I would have put him onto solo belay, and rapped down a pitch to where the pigs were docked, and grab some warm clothes.

As a caver, not only do I know how to jug, but I also know the importance of seeing. The cavers' credo is three sources of light per person, which might be a bit of overkill on the wall. Big walls are much friendlier to light sources than the tight, wet and muddy confines of a cave. I would bring one headlamp each, and one spare headlamp between the two of you. Bring plenty of spare batteries. I would not go on lead at night without a mini-mag on a cord. I wear it round my neck, and I have wrapped duct tape around the end so I can stick it in my mouth. You never know when your bulb will burn out [you probably use LEDs now] or my batteries will go flat.

Think about it:

If you're up there with enough food, water, clothing and light, and you have what it takes, you'll just "keep on keepin' on" til you make the summit. It's an easier Grade V - the climbing will be well within your reach.

And when you think about bailing, which you may, please think about these kind and loving words of encouragement from your Wall Doctor:

"Shut up and climb."


ep


Aug 20, 2003, 4:24 PM
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Ed, Pete's probably right that you can succeed with option #2, but based on your Prow TR, I'd wager that your odds of success with option #1 are higher. You never know what might go wrong this time. You could arrive at the base and find a party in front of you that looks just like you did earlier this year. I'd say build up a record of successful climbs before you start trying to push it. Just my opinion.


flamer


Aug 20, 2003, 7:08 PM
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Ok, no matter which option you choose there is one thing that will allow you to move alot faster. DON'T TAKE TO MUCH GEAR!
As Wiggle already stated, there is a TON of fixed gear on Prodigal, and most of it is quite good. All of the anchors are bomber. Prodigal can be done more like a big free route than an Aid line. You do not need to take 3-4 sets of everything!! Find a post by Wigglestick concerning racking gear for speed, there is alot of info in it specific too Prodigal.
Goodluck! Have fun!
josh


dsafanda


Aug 20, 2003, 10:22 PM
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Don't you think it's a matter of what's most important to you Ed? Style or getting to the top?

If getting to the top is the number one priority(why shouldn't it be?) I vote for #1. Drag all that crap as high as you can on the first day and before you know it, it will be just as much work to go down as it would be to finish the climb. ;)

Then again...what do I know. Anyway, that's my strategy for a moderate wall next week. I'll let you know how it goes.


crotch


Aug 20, 2003, 11:05 PM
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Ed,

I'd vote for spending the night on the wall. It's a great place to hang out. The first two pitches should go pretty fast and the approach won't take all that long. Just make sure to be the FIRST on the wall. That means getting up really REALLY early.

The time you spend hauling and setting up the ledge will be equal to the time you spend rapping down at night, then jugging up in the morning. And it's good practice for the bigger stuff that you won't be able to do from the ground in a day.

I think you can link to the top of 2 with a 60m, so there's one less haul. Hauling the last pitch will suck as it goes sideways. The rest of the route isn't too bad to haul.

Bring some talons and ignore the stuff about needing big tricams. Up to a #4 camalot should do ya.

One thing I learned on this route is that placements in navajo sandstone can get buried when it rains as mud flows down the cracks. If it's rained recently (and it might have as Vegas got 3" in 1 hour yesterday) you may need to clear some mud out of the cracks with your nut tool. Obviously I'm not advocating enhancement, just mud removal.


epic_ed


Aug 21, 2003, 1:52 AM
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Excellent feedback, guys. Some things have been mentioned that I hadn't thought about. Suppose that's why I asked.

Chad's input is missing at this point since he's out of town. His goals will certainly play into the decision. I'm really torn at this point. I'd kind of like to use the trip as a warm up for my return to the Valley next month. Hauling and setting up aledge would be great practice and would virtually assure us of success since we can take as much as we need and go as slow as necessary.

But I'm not sure that's the best strategy for this particular climb. First of all, the crowds will dictate our pace as much as anything. I don't think it would be fair to others who may end up behind us if we were in "no hurry" mode. I have no problem with other parties passing, but it still ends up a CF. I guess I'm leaning toward the fix and blast strategy. I'm not concerned about running out of food or daylight, but I sure as hell don't want to run out of water. Temps are still likely to be in the lower 90's. So that means someone would have to haul a small bag (I have an Atom Smasher) to carry the extra H2O.

Some additional considerations; I have soloed the first two pitches and so has Chad. We know what the approach is like and either of us should be able to blaze through the first three pitches in good time. If that's the case, then we might be able to fix P4 and rap back to the ground. Were looking at 370 ft of jugging the second day if we do that. Point well taken about practicing jugging, Pete. I'm dialed, and reasonably fit. Prodigal is vertical, but not past vertical so it shouldn't be too bad. Just one hell of an energy burn to start the day.

Thanks for the input, guys. Anything else I haven't thought of?

Ed


passthepitonspete


Aug 21, 2003, 2:08 AM
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[Ribbit]

370' of vertical jugging with the Yosemite system will fry your arms to bits.

[Ribbit]


epic_ed


Aug 21, 2003, 2:10 AM
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One week to practice. Don't have a croll. Reading your entire post will fry my brain.

:lol:

(I'm not ungrateful for the effort, though)


epic_ed


Aug 21, 2003, 2:52 AM
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In reply to:
Your first Dr. Piton Homework Assignment is to click here and tell me if you have what it takes.

Yep. Definitely. I have had some success fer cryin out loud.

In reply to:
Your second is to tell me if you have sufficient quantities of practice, balls and heart.

I'm a little short on the balls thing, but I am pretty darn stubborn. I'm certainly not worried about the difficulty of the route. It's well below the stuff I was doing in Yosemite and in Sedona. Plus, I have soloed the first two pitches of Prodigal, so I'm familiar with the approach, the start, and the top-stepping necessary to reach between the bolts/drilled angles on the route. I don't think bailing is going to be a problem on this trip unless it's weather induced. The key for me is -- how would I like my dose of suffering on Sunday. Less pitches, but more hauling and groveling up the last pitch? Or in one, long, grueling day in which we wil probably run out of daylight and water?

In reply to:
And then just keep climbing. Make sure you're warm enough.

Don't think this will be a problem this time of year. Temps are forecast for the low 90's next weekend.

In reply to:
And when you think about bailing, which you may, please think about these kind and loving words of encouragement from your Wall Doctor:

"Shut up and climb."

Much thanks for the encouragement and words of wisdom. I'll be very surprised if bailing is even a remote consideration on this trip.

Ed


passthepitonspete


Aug 21, 2003, 2:52 AM
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Don't need a Croll. Any ascender will work, mounted as low as you can get it, and held up with a 1/4" elastic shock cord round your neck. Wear a shirt with a collar. You can pad the shock cord with an old T-shirt wrapped around it, held around the shock cord on each end by secure and tight wraps of duct tape.

All you need is a tree branch, and someone to let the rope go through their rap device.

Three .... hundred .... and ..... seventy ...... feet .....

Fry now, or fry later.

And I will say, "I told you so." [Ribbit]


climbhigher


Aug 21, 2003, 3:10 AM
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Prodigal son is not that steep, use the basic Yosemite Method. And I would fix all the way to the first bolt ladder and Blast to the top the next day. Otherwise, I would do it in 4 days and bring everything.
All you would have to do is climb 2 pitches a day to make it to the top. It seems to me when you try to send kind of one way but also kind of the other way is when you suffer the most. The hauling on Prodigal is not bad except 100 + feet at the very top hauling up the chimney slab. Try not to send any rocks down up there. One almost took me out standing at the base of the route 3 feet to the left and I would have perished. Have Fun. It's a great route. Chris.


epic_ed


Aug 21, 2003, 3:16 AM
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In reply to:
It seems to me when you try to send kind of one way but also kind of the other way is when you suffer the most.

You know, this really does bring up a good point. How much more work would it be to just try the whole route in one push? Couldn't be much more effort or time than re-ascending to the top of P4 the second day and then logging another five pitches of climbing. Something to think about, I guess. One very long day of climbing. Hmmmm...


passthepitonspete


Aug 21, 2003, 4:09 AM
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It's all big wall theory til you actually go do it.....


flamer


Aug 21, 2003, 5:03 AM
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In reply to:
[
You know, this really does bring up a good point. How much more work would it be to just try the whole route in one push? Couldn't be much more effort or time than re-ascending to the top of P4 the second day and then logging another five pitches of climbing. Something to think about, I guess. One very long day of climbing. Hmmmm...
Ed, the only advice I would give you here is to know your own limits. We can all sit a spew about have fast we did X route, and in what style(I'm guilty of this!) and tell you how we think it should be done. But the thing is we aren't you! Do it your way, whatever that way may be! I would hope that it is the way you have the most fun!!
You can do this route!!
josh


epic_ed


Aug 21, 2003, 5:45 AM
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Re: Strategy for Prodigal Sun [In reply to]
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It's all big wall theory til you actually go do it.....

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Ed, the only advice I would give you here is to know your own limits. We can all sit a spew about have fast we did X route, and in what style(I'm guilty of this!) and tell you how we think it should be done.

Yeah, nothing like a bunch of pre-climb mental masturbation. I'll report back with our results. Thanks again for the input.

Ed


chitlinsconcarne


Aug 21, 2003, 6:30 AM
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Prodigals a short route and a relatively easy one..have you considered just going for the push and planning on climbing through as much of the night as you can? Theres nothing on that route thats not leadable in the dark. Whats the moon that night? Take a couple of plywood belay seats and a small bag and at worst you spend a few hours sitting in a cool place waiting for the sun.

Whatever you do-its a fun route, enjoy!


passthepitonspete


Aug 21, 2003, 1:43 PM
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"Yeah, nothing like a bunch of pre-climb mental masturbation. I'll report back with our results. Thanks again for the input."

It's part of the game, mate.

I'm going caving this weekend in Kentucky. As long as there isn't any rain forecast, we're returning to continue surveying our passage we discovered last time. It's two feet high and full of six to twelve inches of water. This time we're wearing wetsuits, as it gets quite miserable lying in the mud and water to make the survey shots.

We normally exchange dozens of emails talking about strategies and passages and where we think it'll go and stuff to bring and not bring - it's just part of the fun.

Bringing the pre-trip banter to the internet forum, where other climbers can join in, is just the next evolution.

[Note: There will be post-trip banter, too. This is also part of the game]


brianinslc


Aug 21, 2003, 4:07 PM
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Well, here we go again. I'm teaming up with Timpanogos (Chad) to do Prodigal Sun over Labor Day weekend. We have similar experience levels, but neither of us is going to fly up this thing. A one day ascent is out of reach for us. So that leaves us with a couple of strategy options for a two day attempt.
Option #2:
- Fix to the top of P3 on day one, rap to the ground and sleep at the base (we'll hang the ledge at the base if necessary).
- Jug 240 ft the next morning and blast for the top. No hauling.

We easily fixed and fired. Boggles my mind why folks would sleep only 1 or 2 pitches off the deck...

You can fix the first 4 pitches with 2 ropes. And, the climbing is very easy and straightforward (fast) for those first four pitches (easy to lead the first two as one pitch). Backclean the roof on the first pitch for your partner, if he's not used to cleaning a traverse.

Don't underestimate how badly it sucks to haul thru the last pitch or two at the top. Go light and use a small bag/pack your partner can wear on the last pitch.

You'd want an early start...but...the shuttle bus doesn't really support that...so, a bivy at the base makes some sense. Easy to pick up your bivy gear after you top out too.

Brian in SLC

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