Hollow Flake and General Applications (O.W.)


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Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 15, 2011 - 05:08pm PT
I have no plans to climb this thing in the next few years, as I have a fledgling family but I live part of my previous life vicariously through this website.

I was looking at the Supertopo description and it says placing gear can be more scary than going with out it. Being weak and out of shape due to above mentioned reasons, my question is could you just place a #6 or valley giant and clip in with a daisy and use it as a "crutch"? (walking it along) I know elite climbers would scoff at this proposal but for "regular" folks who have had their time to crank but find themselves like me and happy with a "boggy" does this seem like a solution?

The application could be to many other situations.

Thanks for any input.



Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Apr 15, 2011 - 05:26pm PT
The style police won't turn you around if you take aid on the Hollow Flake, but if you take aid on one piece when you're far out and the piece fails, the consequences aren't so fun. (It has happened there, and I can think of a couple of other serious accidents as well.)

Topic Author's Reply - Apr 15, 2011 - 05:41pm PT
Hmmmm...Melissa...Damn, i was hoping for an enthusiastic "Yes, Brilliant!". I will look towards the other "applications" and hone my groveling skills for the future Salathe.



Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 15, 2011 - 06:01pm PT
6" is too small, and a Valley Giant would only protect you for a couple of moves [see Tom's comment below, though - I haven't actually used Valley Giants; he makes and uses them].
The upper part is something like 14", so your body fits it, and it is low angle there so you can rest if you want. Bring kneepads.
The crux couple of moves are ow size, but low angle and your leg fits in the crack so you are not going to fall out. You can actually just pinch the arete and do 2 pullups. No ow moves required.
It is only 5.8 and is done routinely.

[Edit 1:] One other thing: I left behind the entire rack and haul line - just took 2 biners for the anchor. Then I pulled up the haul line, pulley, etc, and let the lead line back down. Less rack weight makes chimneys much easier.

[Edit 2:] The lowest part is about 2 lieback moves where you are toproped (assuming you tension across left as high as possible), then about 40' of 4th class jug flakes and standing on chockstones. No reason to put any pro in there (it would just give you rope drag and not protect any hard moves).
Then you have a 10' semi-steep 6-7" section (i.e. flake does not lean left but main wall is low angle). I could throw my whole right leg in there, twist it slightly, and let go with both hands. That enabled me to pinch the edge of the flake with both hands and do a pullup, move my right leg up, move hands up and do a second pullup, move leg up, then reach a jug.
If you do not fit this or are doing conventional ow moves, this is probably the crux and could feel like 5.9.
Last is a long tight chimney section (14" or so) but the edge of the flake leans back, so if you were to let go, you would just slide down into the chimney instead of falling out of the flake (*IF* your hips are narrow enough, like mine are). Kneepads help here, otherwise you could get some painful bruises.

[Edit 3:]

Tom Evans' photo of me leading the upper part (behind 2 other parties)
Looks like I have 2 ropes?

[Edit 4:]
Hollow Flake crack, from xrez
Hollow Flake crack, from xrez
Credit: xrez / CC
(It has been 4 years, so some of the details may be off, like the exact position of the pendulum anchor, and the exact location of the crux.)

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Apr 15, 2011 - 07:06pm PT
I thought it was fully 5.9, and less secure than many b/c it flares and I never really did feel like I was safely inside of it. But I was pretty gripped and always think that stuff that other people think is easy is hard.

Apr 15, 2011 - 07:14pm PT
I remember when I did the Salathe with my wife and told her this Hollow Flake pitch is your lead.

It's piss easy I said.

Here take this rack and it's all you need. Heh heh

I gave her a few small cams.

Then she swings over there and was dumbfounded.

Hey!!!! Where do I place these things she asked as there's no place they fit.

I replied; "At the belay" ......

Trad climber
Apr 15, 2011 - 07:53pm PT
There was a thread about five plus years ago, which I can't find right now. What the guy did is take two lead ropes, after the penji on rope one, he placed a piece and clipped in rope two. The last piece was a bigbro4, I think. Apparently, you still run it to the anchor but you have a few pieces in for the 5.9 and you have no rope drag. To be clear, I haven't done this- just read about it.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Apr 15, 2011 - 07:58pm PT
It seems like you'd still have hella rope drag b/c your 2nd rope would be a big V. But if you did it w/ one rope (running a big Z) you probably wouldn't be able to move.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Apr 15, 2011 - 08:04pm PT
Skywalker, you don't really want to be on this wall unless you are in pretty damn good shape. Hollow Flake is only one of many physical and mental challenges and the route is something like 36 pitches long as well--- lotsa chimneys, offwidths, and other goodies.

Topic Author's Reply - Apr 15, 2011 - 08:57pm PT
Peter you are so right. I don't belong on any wall right now but it was just 6 years ago I was climbing hard in the Black, desert, etc. Like I said raising a family I poke around at these things.

Couple more years...


Kovalum Kerala India
Apr 15, 2011 - 09:06pm PT
take the biggest cam you have and push it until it tips out. and then keep climbing... and climbing... and climbing. And for gods sake just don't fall out of the thing.

then go get yourself the hollow flake YCA shirt from simon's site and be proud wearing that thing.

When I think back on all the climbing I've done I can say that pitch might just be the most memorable. So exciting.

I recall being at the last move which isn't easy. I probably sat there for 10 minutes maybe 50 feet out from the tipped out big cam. A meditation practice comes in handy.

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Apr 15, 2011 - 09:36pm PT
The #9 Valley Giant fits the upper part of the Hollow Flake Crack, except for a few feet at the very top. A BD6 or WC6 is too small for most of the crack.

I've heard of people leading up and across the penji with one rope, and then using a second lead rope to clip their pro, i.e., the Euro twin rope system. A single rope would have too much rope drag if you clipped pieces down low. The broken area where the penji swings in can take the odd nut, cam, sling around a chockstone, clipping the rotten slings already there, etc.

Or, you could daisy into several pieces, and move them one at a time until you get up into the offwidth proper.

The VG cams have been specifically designed for pushing up as you go - the trigger wires are solid spring wire (not floppy cable) that keeps the head of the cam stable as it slides up the crack.

EDIT: Zander already called out the twin-rope strategy above.

I did the Hollow Flake as part of Bermuda Dunes, which does not entail a penji. Bermuda Dunes follows the entire crack beginning at the bottom, finger/hand/fist section.
Captain...or Skully

My ready room
Apr 15, 2011 - 11:21pm PT
Classic, Werner.

Topic Author's Reply - Apr 16, 2011 - 01:09am PT
Quote Here

"then go get yourself the hollow flake YCA shirt from simon's site and be proud wearing that thing"

Nature, that's hilarious! I'm not asking for specific beta. Not to keep a mediocre thread going...but I really find myself wanting to do what I did in my 20's going and I'm trying to find solutions to my previous strengths. "Keep the Dream Alive" if you will. I used hollow flake as an example but the reality is if I can use a little ingenuity perhaps "stopper" pitches can be overcome by intelligence not brawn. Anyway thanks for the input and I'll continue to move upwards in anyway I can...and down of course.

Cheers!!! It's Friday!


How the hell do you quote things here??? Rhetorical question...

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Apr 16, 2011 - 01:12am PT
Hollow Flake, nothing special needed: I agree with Werner, it's not very hard.

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Apr 16, 2011 - 05:31am PT
Here's what the Hollow Flake Crack looks like, below where the Salathe swings in to meet it.

Maybe Robbins, Frost and Pratt should've penjied in a bit lower?

If you ever get stuck in traffic at the Hollow Flake Ledge, lowering off to TR this beauty and the upper OW would not be the worst way to spend a bit of time.

Since this is a "what if?" topic, how about this:

What if you lowered from Lung Ledge, instead of climbing to the usual penji point, and swung over to meet this lower section of the Hollow Flake Crack? A pitch of 5.8 leads to a belay close to where the Salathe route swings over.

The benefits would be an extra pitch of stellar free climbing up high, and also the ability to lead the upper, fearsome offwidth in a straight line, with as much pro as you can find to stick, without rope drag.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 16, 2011 - 11:04am PT
You're such a card, Werner...

The only problem with the OP's proposal is that it invokes schelping a big ol peice of specialized gear that you probably won't use elsewhere on the route. Style police be dammed, BTW. It's best not to leave pro in the hf because someone has to follow it, and that will cost time... Since it's after a pendulum,
you do basically have a top-rope, afterall.

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Apr 16, 2011 - 11:53am PT
Werner's wife is either a saint or a hard woman, probably both.

I led HF with only biners and slings for the belay too (primarily due to Jay's logic), and it was about 100 am. We had started the Salathe at about 700 pm the previous night and topped out after 23 hours of great climbing.
I liked the squeeze chimney on HF because the moon was lighting up all the other walls and it was very beautiful. But I also had time to think up there for a second that I had to finish this thing, that I was at one of those points on a climb where quitting was not an option. I don't know why that came to me there but it was an eery feeling for a second.

Captain...or Skully

My ready room
Apr 16, 2011 - 02:27pm PT
Well, I think she's great on both counts. Go Merry!!!

It's the Hollow Flake(OMG)...YER gonna DIE!

Trad climber
Station Wagon, USA
May 31, 2011 - 12:42pm PT
The Narrows? Check!
The Harding Slot? Check!
Hollow Flake? Check!

Now I just need a "I humped up the trifecta of valley squeeze chimneys and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. And two black knees."

Climbed the HF on Saturday before the "30% chance" hail, rain, snow, thunder storm. I would take an ice cream scooper to my brains right now if I knew I could gouge out the chunk that stubbornly declared to the party that this lead was non-negotiable.

There was a fixed rope which took all the fun out of the supposed pendulum.
But my disappointment was quickly superseded by unbridled AWE.

The Hollow Flake!
The Hollow Flake!
Credit: tahoe523

Like the comments here, everyone at Camp 4 said to ignore all the sensationalized hype.

"Just grab the edge of the flake, do a few pull ups, and bam, you're at the anchor."
"Solo it. You won't fall out."
"It's 5.8. No biggie. Just do it."

Pffffft. Okay. I won't sensationalize, but I thought the damn thing was pretty enduring. Compared to the monster offwidth? Okay, no. But still. I did "a few pull ups", thought, "sweet! this is cake!", turned my head up and saw to my horror that I had, in reality, made very little progress. I had another 40 plus feet to go.

Sure, the monotonous move is no harder that 5.8, but it just keeps going and going. I plugged the useless green #6 at the base.

The start of the HF
The start of the HF
Credit: tahoe523

The big bro #4 was just a hair too big, but I dumped it somewhere down low thinking, "All right, big bro, now you're stuck. Bomber. Don't fail me if I happen to fly past you. Okay?" *Stony silence* Am I the only one that talks to her pro? Actually, don't answer that.

If you're doing the Euro two rope system, also consider bringing a yellow and green alien sized cam. There is a small pocket in the rim that will fit a narrower headed cam at the "crux". I wish I had the gear because I firmly believe it would have been a good placement.

I thought the Harding Slot was a time sink. Boy, was I wrong. While I groveled, huffed and knee slammed up the flake, I think my partners went through an entire pack of cigarettes and had a decent nap or two.

Almost to the anchor!  Actually, not really.
Almost to the anchor! Actually, not really.
Credit: tahoe523

And what felt like hours later, I was finally at the anchor. When my partner came jugging up, I cried, "How was that Big Bro placement? Pretty bomber, eh?"

"It tipped out with my finger."

*Stony silence*

Finally a bit closer.  Close.  But still no cigar.
Finally a bit closer. Close. But still no cigar.
Credit: tahoe523

I really thought that Hollow Flake was enduring... but that was until I climbed the Ear. And then the HF didn't seem so bad. The Ear needs an appreciation thread because the hollow flake ain't got nothing on the ear. Now that pitch needs a trip report all on its own.

Happy post-Memorial Day Tuesday! Wearing my 'BITCHES GET STUFF DONE!' shirt. It is, however, incumbent upon me to report that 'STUFF' does not necessarily include putting on pants or getting out of bed.

The stormy, soggy, slumber party on the Salathe came at a price. We were forced to bail. At least we escaped the holiday traffic. Always a silver lining.

We will return when the sun decides to come out and play. I can't believe I have to climb these two pitches again. And just between you and me, I am totally psyched!


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