Author Topic: Moonlight Buttress - Looking for advice and guidance.  (Read 68 times)

johnny

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Moonlight Buttress - Looking for advice and guidance.
« on: September 29, 2019, 04:58:40 PM »
Hi, I'm looking to fulfill my dream of climbing Big Walls and I could use some advice and guidance on getting ready for the first wall.

First a bit about me and my situation...

I started climbing in the early 90's but I've had a long break (16 years?). I only got back into leading trad this year but I'm eager to get cracking again. Thankfully, it seems like it is a bit like riding a bike... ;) Since I grew up in Finland and did most of my climbing in northern Finland and Norway I am most familiar with ice, alpine, and trad rock... in that order. I am, however, working hard to hone my trad climbing and aid climbing skills. My favorite climbing partner is my 15 year old daughter Nina. Nina and I went for an awesome trad climbing road trip to the Black Hills, Vedauwoo, and Rocky Mountain National Park this summer. Out trip went very well and we are hoping to do our first big wall route, Moonlight Buttress, sometime in the near future. Looking for guidance to make sure we are well prepared in every way before we head out.

Specific things I would like help with...

Rack
Figuring out an adequate rack for the undertaking. Looking online as well as in various guidebooks I've seen enough variety in the "required rack" that I am not quite sure what we will need. I have a decent trad rack but I will definitely need to beef it up for big wall climbing. Considering my limited budget I am trying to make sure I invest my money as smartly as possible.

Readiness
It is easy to try to imagine what it will be like to climb a big wall. It is less easy to know how well one's imagination matches reality. In other words, does anyone have any good pointers for making sure one is prepared? Or for knowing one is not? We are following Chris MacNamara's "How to Big Wall Climb" skills progression. Still, since I am going with my daughter I want to make sure we set ourselves up for success.

Weather / Time of Year
Since Nina is in High School we can't just go whenever we want. If we are ready to roll by then I have been hoping we could give it a shot when she is on Spring Break, this means the first half of March. How likely is a good weather window to climb Moonlight Buttress at this time of year?

Thanks in advance for sharing your Big Wall wisdom. :)

MtnTradman

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Re: Moonlight Buttress - Looking for advice and guidance.
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2019, 08:10:19 PM »
Hi Johnny and Welcome to the new Big Wall Fourm

So get right down to the nitty gritty First Weather at that time of year ( March ) can be still cool with some snow if a cold front moves thru.
Or it can be sunny and nice but COLD in the shade and at night for sure.
Its a bit of a crap shoot.
As for prep I would suggest as I am sure you have read many times, to practice on shorter routes.
Any good free trad climb with say long thin cracks and some bolts pitches for anchors should get you dialed in.
Your daughter as your partner is awesome and she will no doubt learn fast and not have the fear us old guys let creep in sometimes.
Get your haul system memorized and practice it's setup so that there are no questions like "which way does this go again ?' etc when on the wall. Swinging leads on Aid is a little more involved than just swapping the rack or the second just blazing

Moonlight is a great route but is also one of Zion's popular main trade routes and now goes Free so those climbers may be on it . if weather is good in ZNP you will not be alone at most of the good routes -its spring break at that time of year too. I've seen parties get there after sun up and turn away because of the long cue at the base.
That said there are quite a few good 'easy' wall routes in Zion... Touchstone is very good Spaceshot is not bad but has soem blown out old placements now  but tha tmakes for innovative gear placing !
Gotta go my laptop is running outta juice ..Questions ? just post a reply I'll try to get back on later tonite
BITD Big Wall Ascencionist making yet another comeback.....again  !

johnny

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Re: Moonlight Buttress - Looking for advice and guidance.
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2019, 08:46:21 AM »
Thanks for your response MtnTradman... Sorry for the slow reply. While the weather has been favorable I have put my climbing skills to use with some tree pruning work and have mostly dropped off the online world.

I see your point about not making Moonlight Buttress an "all or nothing" proposition. We should definitely at least have some other options. Since this is our first big wall the dad in me isn't very excited about routes that are hard to bail from should the need arise. Although I have heard that Spaceshot is an amazing route I have also heard that it is difficult to bail from. Touchstone seems like a good option though... how about "Prodigal Sun"? Do you feel that Prodigal Sun would make a good starter route?

Another question I would like to pose is what constitutes a good Zion big wall rack. I'm pretty well kitted out for regular trad routes but I don't have much in the way of small cams yet. My budget is somewhat limited so I want to make sure I invest my money wisely. What kind of a cam selection do you actually need? Are offset cams necessary/useful in Zion? Also, as an old school climber who still places hexes and tricams on lead I guess I wonder if it makes any sense to shore up one's rack with passive gear while I'm building up my big wall rack or of I will need a full complement of cams (doubles in regular cams + doubles in microcams?) right away?

Thanks for your help!

david allfrey

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Re: Moonlight Buttress - Looking for advice and guidance.
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2019, 09:21:55 AM »
Johnny - You are on a great path.  I would recommend any route other than the MB, I would pick an actual aid line.  I think the MB is going to be not so fun, plus its the same 4 cams for the whole 1500 feet.

Id recommend Space Shot over Moonlight, Touchstone wall, Cosmic somethingorother Left of Spaceshot, Lunar X.  Basically anything but moonlight.  It sees almost entirely free traffic, and lots of it.

I really think it will make for a more enjoyable time for you.

MtnTradman

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Re: Moonlight Buttress - Looking for advice and guidance.
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2019, 12:23:11 AM »
Johnny Per rack you need doubles of everything to start out then ck the route topo for any notes per 'special' or xtra gear required.
at least a Double set of Offset nuts ,
2 to 3s of small to medium cams, Doubles of medium to large size  cams.
Xtra Large cams can be an asset in Zion  and are nice to have anyways in the arsenal, cause there are some off hands & nice offwidths to be had
But I know you said budget is not unlimited though so if you can borrow xtra gear thats a better option for you
Bring it all then rack for each route at the car.
Some topos have the rack recommendation listed
Buy a guidebook !
2 60m ropes work well i.e One Lead @ 10 or 10.5mm DYNAMIC and one haul @ 8 or 8.5mm dia STATIC
You should also have a 60m length of 6 -7mm cord as a tag line - to haul up addt'l gear to you as your on a pitch, esp. if using the big cams Who wants those things clanging around gettin tangled up with everything else while you are dialing in moves on thin placements.
This same cord will also be useful for any lowering out of the haul bag that you might get into.
Though your choice of route will determine if needed or not .
Again read up on techniques and practice the systems on the ground.

I dont want to get into too much technique and methods here  per the above or anything else.
But Again i will suggest to practice with your daughter on some 3-5 pitch routes where you can dial everything in and then you'll both gel better when on an actual long route.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2019, 12:24:45 AM by MtnTradman »
BITD Big Wall Ascencionist making yet another comeback.....again  !

NegativeK

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Re: Moonlight Buttress - Looking for advice and guidance.
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2019, 10:04:11 AM »
Bit of thread drift.

I've offered to support a friend's attempt to free MButt around the same timeline. They'll be working the route a little ahead of time, but if anyone has advice to help me help their lives suck less, I'm all ears. Especially since they'll have a chunk of time to get it done, but traveling back to the States isn't trivial.

MtnTradman

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Re: Moonlight Buttress - Looking for advice and guidance.
« Reply #6 on: Today at 10:12:23 AM »
Bit of thread drift.

I've offered to support a friend's attempt to free MButt around the same timeline. They'll be working the route a little ahead of time, but if anyone has advice to help me help their lives suck less, I'm all ears. Especially since they'll have a chunk of time to get it done, but traveling back to the States isn't trivial.

NegativeK
As mentioned the weather thru March can be a big factor: Snow Rain Sleet The Rock taking a a day or more to dry out due to cloudy cool temps, snowmelt.  I wouldnt depend on it especially when coming from a long distance with a big goal. It could you shut you down for days
At the route:  be mindful of othe parties who may be there or show up and are capable of blasting thru it (Free)
It sucks to be delayed or even having to scuttle a long planned climb due to someone taking a long time 'working' the route,, even more so on a nice weekend. Of course its first come- first served. but it is a super popular route on everyone's list

As for actual Free beta  that is better suited elsewehere in a  Free climbing Zion forum or group
Hard to say from your info, but if your friend is not climbing at the level of its grade or right near it, It may be prudent to climb/train more to get up to that difficulty and make better use of the time here  ready to send in a timely manner
This is good logic  to make the most of your time while here in Zion and  I understand timeframes -time off from work, family  constrictions etc etc can dictate things.
Just wanting you to keep the above in mind because doing it right will make the time and energy to get here all the more worthwhile
« Last Edit: Today at 10:16:07 AM by MtnTradman »
BITD Big Wall Ascencionist making yet another comeback.....again  !