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North America, Mexico, Gran Trono Blanco

Gran Trono Blanco. On March 29 and 30, Paul McLaughlin and I completed the second ascent and first clean ascent of the intimidating south wall (A.A.J., 1976, p. 477). We used the one and only fixed piton, a baby angle driven ¾ of an inch for the tension traverse on the tenth pitch, and request that it be left fixed with its two rusty carabiners: they make cleaning this pitch much easier. Also, two hooks were used on this pitch, a Logan Skyhook, and a flat Leeper. Many small wired nuts were used on the pitch above the big, sloping ledge, particularly #3 and #4 wired stoppers. Be advised that the F9 free climbing on the two pitches above the big ledge cannot be avoided with aid. A 165-foot rope is required. In December, 1976, Ed Connor and I made the first clean ascent of the Happy Hooker (A.A.J., 1975, p. 154) in two days. This will come as no surprise to the seven or eight previous parties, who used only a few pins on the aid pitch above the bivvy ledge. Shortly after our ascent, Dale McCauley and Dan Curley climbed the route clean in a day, realizing Tom Birtley’s original prediction. Now the bad news. The Happy Hooker is regarded by many San Diego climbers as the most enjoyable route on the Throne. It follows, unfortunately, that it gets the most abuse. In an epic that will surely become known as the Rape of the Happy Hooker, a party of four took four days to climb it, adding seven bolts to the original four. Their intention, apparently, was to free the route adding bolts where needed for protection. But they succeeded in freeing only thirty feet more than had been done on previous ascents. Two bolts were placed for a bivvy because they missed the ledge by three pitches the first day. Two more were placed for a belay on the seventh pitch for reasons that have not yet been made clear. At least one bolt was placed on a section which had already been climbed free without one several times. Plans have been made to remove all seven bolts and to patch the holes with epoxy and sand. This decision was made with the unanimous consent of everyone who could be contacted who had climbed the route. It is hoped that this action will discourage other parties from such blatant disregard for precedent.

John K. Vawter, W-town Hardmen