South Chasm Wall, Burlgirl. In March Mike Shepherd and I had a vision of free climbing Bull Girl (5.11 A4). We thought we’d need a lot of time to clean and find a way to free the aid, so we spent two nights on the 2,000' climb. Three pitches up we face-climbed to the left for one pitch and gained a steep dihedral system, which gave us three variant pitches to the original A2+ section of Bull Girl. Mike led a steep, overhanging fist and offwidth corner to a ledge (5.11+). The next pitch was an arrow-straight corner with an RP seam that took just enough gear and provided just enough edges to go free at 5.12a. A steep face with incut crimps led us back onto Bull Girl. Following Bull Girl till the next A4, we found exciting steep corners, roofs, and face-climbing.
On our third day we were faced with finding a way past this hard A4 pitch. I traversed 50 feet out of the corner, hammered in two shady pins, climbed into a technical face section (5.11), and stopped at a stance where I could drill. Past this bolt I climbed more technical face, with 40' runouts on 5.11 and 5.10 climbing, finding just enough funky gear placements till I found a solid crack for a belay. Four more pitches, and we arrived at the summit. We had cleaned several sections of the climb but didn't complete the route all free.
In October Topher Donahue and I returned to the Black and completed the route, all free with no falls, in a day. Mike was unavailable but will return soon to try his own free ascent. Seven pitches are 5.11 and one 5.12, with several 5.10s and 5.9s. It’s a fun route, but you have to be ready for serious runouts. We added three bolts: on the first traverse pitch, on the crux traverse, and on the 5.1IX pitch. We climbed four new pitches and freed the pitches of Bull Girl we climbed to come up with Burlgirl (V 5.12-X).
Jared Ogden, AAC