Fairest of All

Supertopo Post, 2008

Fairest of All: Recall

Indeed, there was something very knifing yet essential to me about the scare and beauty of a big new Fairview route. I craved the feeling, or did I? I remember the restless stomach and self talk to manage it: "Could we do it? It looks so grim and shady in the morning. Holds not looking like holds. Then the sun squirts in your eye ... can't see where to go ... Stop it. Hell, if we don't make it, we just rap off ... but what about getting too far out? And no place to drill? Shut up. Shut up!"

The first ascent of Fairest of All brought home all these fears. As I wrote in the AAC Journal, 1974:

"We have slept on and off the previous night in anticipation of the ascent. I never have butterflies, only a ping pong ball lodged in my solar plexus."

Yes to poster discussion, I do recall some skin crawl complexity on the lower pitches where it seemed easier the first time over them than the second. Kamps and I had done the first few pitches before, but had stopped at the roofs about midway. The second time was with Mike Irwin for the complete FA. I recall thinking, where are we? As I wrote back then,

"The next lead is so devious I forget what to do."

(Now I know it's all part of wooing that good witchy dome.)
 
But a much greater angst was in store as Mike and I began the traverse under the big roof with fading light. It began where poster Bob describes a nasty move above a ledge which, in a rush (and up, down, up, down just as he describes), I nearly did with no bolt at all, but then checked my stupidity, got one in, turned the corner and sank to see the hoped for easy pitch to the U shaped bowl looked hard. It turned into a dance between a dihedral and the face to the right of it, working back and forth in deepening dusk trying to make ground without stopping to drill, 5.8, 5.9, 40, 50, 60 feet out ... then, drilling one in supersonics, my last, as somehow the drill unclips, drops, sparks and tingles all the way to the ground! Mad as hell, I just go, go to the bowl.

In moonless darkness, Mike and I decided to stop the nonsense and spent the cold night in the bowl. We did so bunched together under ropes as I had brought no more than a light turtle neck and he the same. Next day, all was bliss in the sharp morning light on top, with that strange mix of barely getting by and having created a path on uncaring stone, but ours, quietly humming inside us.

Later, I told Vern Clevenger I had gone a bit nuts on the pitch to the bowl and it could use a couple more bolts. I think he fixed it. But the bewildering lower pitches, the move off the ledge, all of it is there as it was for those wishing to retrace the adventure, speculate on the madness, feel the quandary, even a bit of the stupidity. And isn't that the essential thing: to get not just the rock passing underfoot, but the choreography, the lives of those going first, and the feel of the time?

For those of that mind, the complete tale of our long ago adventure is here:

http://www.tomhiggins.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4&Itemid=20&limit=1&limitstart=0

Additional post about the ssame time:

spyork asked about the status of bolt replacement on Fairest of All. I checked with Greg of ASCA (very responsible bolt replacers, in my view, and worthy of $$ support to keep all as safe as possible) says:

"I don't know the full status of the bolts on Fairest of All, but I know that some of them have been replaced, and some are still original (as of last year at least). To my knowledge, ASCA gear hasn't been used for replacement, but I don't always hear back on exactly what's been replaced."

So, if you go, keep in mind. I have no issue with replacement old bolts on this route (or any of my FAs). Just do a good job, keep Greg posted and please don't add additional bolts so the old feel of our struggle (as per tale above) is still there.