Though a personal, lifelong dream, “Astroman” would have not gotten done without the efforts and care from many, many others in direct support! Jenn’s help alone was beyond remarkable, more on her later. Good friend Jeremy from Momentum Sodo was the obvious choice to badger into the idea of being my partner on the big climb. Dave has been providing the best rope combinations from Sterling. Heck, the 2 guys at the crag gave us such good route beta. Mike and Brit again provided a place to stay, shower, and I brought them much less trauma with this visit. Bree and Vivian watched our dog. Only through all of these players could WE have achieved success on one of the most notorious climbs in Yosemite!
The preparation was months in the planning for us. Training and planning along side my life partner was a welcome constant. With minor protest, she let me bring in a partner for my dream climb right in the middle of our first vacation to California! I made sure that we were positioned to have fun the rest of the trip.
We got right after it grinding out the astounding Arrowhead Arete the next day. What a big day dealing with the dastardly approach, wild, old-school climbing, crazy summit, and insane descent to boot (done partly in the dark!!) The mt project comments aren’t too far off. Justifiably less popular, it is still one amazing adventure climb.
Jeremy then flew in for 48 hours, with the idea of getting after Astroman with me. The weather looked and was perfect. Midweek meant only one other party that we ultimately let pass us. The time finally came, and this was the time!
Weeks prior, we negotiated a strategy that involved me getting(1 fall) the Enduro-corner p3; in exchange for me ALSO HAVING to lead the notorious Harding Slot. Further karma exchange would demand that Jeremy lead the nails-hard “Changing Corner” pitch, which led to me closing with the last difficulty pitch, the scary 10d R (capital R), in the dark.
The climb went well, save losing time in letting a party pass us. That, and the Harding Slot took hour after hour of unprecedented effort to get through. I felt it was just awful. Somehow I thought my decades of experience would get me up any such obstacles. This one was different, and so I paid a dear price mentally and of course physically. I got the pitch done”clean” but left a bunch of elbow and knee skin, and felt like I was gasping for life along the way. Jenn had dinner and wine when we got down at 10pm!
Jeremy’s great quote after was: ” We have to get up the rest of this route now, because I never want to do that(HS) ever again!” My quote later was: “at least the rest of this is regular climbing!”
Now thinking back after a few days of rest, the initial ptsd is gone, a few other highlights come to mind: The route is so very aesthetic, yet has some loose rock, and a very specific bird guano section. It seems sustained, and at times tricky, but it helped to remember that people free-solo it regularly now, so most moves are doable enough. The “easier pitches” will eat gear, so beware, and bring plenty. Hauling a small pack is great for the whole route, and gives you a rappel option too. Haul your helmets through the HS, tape up knees, elbows loosely, use a long knot, as I just barely fit through it. Try not to panic, just get up a half inch at at time.
The history of the Astroman climb is also fantastic! I won’t go into it here but much is written into the ongoing story. I must admit that this one feels pretty good. Thanks friends, family and everyone that puts up with my brand of shenanigans!