Daily we scanned the steep hills, squinting our eyes trying to distinguish gaps from shadows, wondering how easy approaches could be, and figuring length as well. Ultimately however, scrambling to the actual rock is the only way to determine whether a highline is possible there. The last day we had the Hawks Bill highlines up, Jordan and I did scramble to a spot, trying to find a tower one could see from the distance. I headed downward, to look up at a gap, and Jordan scrambled atop some rocks and we agreed the spot was worthy of a highline.
|Rigging in the wind.|
I belayed while Janek ascended, soon he was out of sight and then he called out and I began climbing. It was not difficult, only sketchy because of bad quality rock. Once atop, we turned to view Jordan on the other rock; however it was clear that where he had bolted was at least a meter above our tower.
It was disappointing, especially considering the beautiful exposure of the line. We argued for some time about ethics of establishing an unlevel line, but in the end with limited time we went for it. Jordan completed the bolting on one side, as we hucked over the rope, then Janek threw the rope to Jordan who tied it to the webbings, pulled them across with a backpack attached holding drill and gear.
|Faith getting the first send on-sight, full babe in swami.|
The next step was setting up the anchor, and then attaching the pulley system, line grip to the backup webbing, and tensioning. We repeated the process with the other webbing, using Type-18 as a backup and threaded tubular as the main line. Janek taped, and I rappelled down to the other side. It was then that we batted around the first ascent, and I was allowed the opportunity for the line I spotted.
|Jan sending on-sight full man in a swami|
Around this time Scott Turpin showed up, excited to see a new line in his home-highline area. We urged him to give it a try, and he scooted out and tried several times, walking solidly until near a boulder one could see out of their peripheral vision. After a few tries he took a break and Janek took his turn. His steps were slow and measured, his knees bent. Several times he stood so still I was speaking from below to “take a step!” yet; as usual Janek completed the line on-sight.
We had to leave the desert and continue to Texas, yet Mount Lemmon remains a worthy highline location to return to with endless possibilities for highlines, some probably involving long hikes but worthwhile.
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