Jonathan Siegrist - Dark Matter
I first spotted this line during the summer of 2018 as I was bolting and cleaning the neighboring multi-pitch, ’Aeolis Mons’ 14a...
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That route- burly, steep and intimidating, also sadly featured some not so incredible rock for a section down low. To my left, I could faintly see that maybe it would be possible to bolt a complete line that didn’t stray from the dark, bullet-proof grey rock for its entire length - bottom to top. Just maybe…
On my first day that I went up to explore this new idea, much of the potential route was running with water leftover from the incredibly wet spring. This was, believe it or not, a good sign. Generally, as annoying as it may seem, running water means good, polished rock. At this point, there was still a massive field of snow looming at the base, and snow gathered on the ledges above. It made for an awesome alpine feel while being less than an hour’s drive from my desert home in Las Vegas.
I came back as the wall began to dry out and slowly found a path of absolutely brilliant rock. Pitch after pitch I got the anchors in place and slowly started to work on cleaning and bolting each unique section of rock. Finding the right line of holds, directing the path of climbing, imagining belays and spending days and days alone dangling and swinging around is some of my favorite work. Some parts were impossibly thin slabs, others were steep and bouldery. I saw the potential for a full package, challenging route.
When it came time to set down the drill and pick up the chalk bag, my attention narrowed. Not long before, I was bouncing around and squinting my eyes left and right, but now with rock shoes on I was looking straight ahead. I saw rad, unique holds, smeary feet, pockets, and chert bands. The little run-outs I had only envisioned were now a real feeling of excitement. Some parts were surprisingly hard, others much easier than expected. The work was seemingly done, now the days on the route felt more like play.
In some ways, it’s a bummer how so many weeks of effort can boil down to just a long afternoon of climbing. When I spend an entire day cleaning and bolting a single pitch there is a part of me that feels like it should take an entire day to climb it and enjoy it, but it ends up being more like 10 minutes. The best I can hope for is to share in joy and excitement of this monster as hopefully others quest up the wall and come home with stories of their own.
It’s always hard to tell how genuinely good a new route is, because of how naturally bias the first ascentionist tends to be, myself included... That being said, I tend to think this is a pretty damn good one!
Photos by ©Irene Yee
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JONATHAN SIEGRIST is a member of the La Sportiva Climbing Team.
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