posted by dpm on 02/10/2014
Yesterday, Steven Roth and Ethan Pringle claimed the 3rd and 4th ascents of Alex Honnold's highball Too Big to Flail at Bishop, California's Buttermilks. DPM photographer Anthony Lapomardo was on the scene snapping photos for issue 27 which will be online in just a few weeks.
The pair spent two (half days) on the line sussing out the beta on top rope and building their psyche before committing to the send, fighting both the mental crux and the weather.
A storm had been brewing on both days and offered the climbers high winds and small bouts of rain throughout each session. After the first day, both climbers rallied friends and pads for a possible ropeless attempt of the full line.
The crew managed to rally a total of 18 pads to the Luminance block for "protection" of the opening crux which was the bottom half boulder problem estimated to be V10/11. After this section, the top half finishes with a hard 5.12 slab on credit card edges, well beyond any protection the pads could offer. Pringle suggested that the problem in its entirety might be 5.13c/d.
Steven Roth on Too Big to Flail. Photo: Wes Miraglio
Roth, a relatively unknown Berkeley college student who works at Touchstone Climbing, went first and, utilizing slightly different beta than Pringle, steadily cruised the line and was standing on top in disbelief in minutes. His movement was confident and precise, just like his prior burns on top rope, and his execution was flawless.
Steven Roth on top. Photo: Wes Miraglio
After gaining some inspiration from Roth's send, and a slight jog to warm up, Pringle stepped up to the block. The weather had begun to shift as the wind increased along with the rain/mist.
Ethan shoed up and, pulling on steadily, made his way through the first section. He paused momentarily to warm his fingers (gripping them to the back of his neck) to prevent them from numbing out. Once he gained some circulation, he proceeded to attack the top half which involved long lock offs on small, less than half pad crimps and steady footwork.
He pulled onto the top with confidence and was greeted by the bellowing winds and screams from the spotters. After he came down, he celebrated with Roth and stated that he had not climbed anything this big in a long time and that he felt "19 again!"
Pringle enters the no fall zone. Photo: Wes Miraglio