Looking Glass – The Nose Trip Report

Quick, what’s the worst thing that can happen to your climbing partner?  A busted face?  A busted leg?  I contend that the worst thing that can happen to a climbing partner is catching a nasty case of girlfrienditis. Not only is he not climbing with you but you know he is physically able to and is choosing to forgo shared epics with you to spend time on terra firma with her.  I dodged that bullet when Ben, my climbing partner, was tamed by Tonia because she had been infected with the climbing bug and wanted to learn the mysteries of crusty trad climbing.  I mention this because I climbed The Nose at Looking Glass with Ben and Tonia or as they call each other in sickening lovey dovey-ness “hun” and “baby”.

The Nose at Looking Glass is possibly the most well known route in North Carolina.  Before I leave for Seattle I had to hit it for that reason and that reason alone.  Clocking in at 5.8 it is four pitches of eyebrows and friction.  There is a ton of accurate beta floating around the ‘net or in the guidebook (link).  It is trad but with bolted anchors on comfy ledges.

Being a classic route and all, it has been worn clean and route finding is pretty obvious if you have any sense what so ever.  It is the first route I’ve seen that actually has grooves in the rock from cams being repeatedly placed.  In a sea of eyebrows you can’t get lost.  Speaking of eyebrows, The Nose is the de facto standard for eyebrow climbing.  If you’ve never seen one, an eyebrow is a horizontal slit in the wall that has a sloper bottom but a bomber upside down rail top.  They are mini caves in the wall that just eat tricams and provide amazing underclings.

I have really been trying to step up my leading lately in anticipation of not having Ben as a rope gun.  I took a 5.7+ pitch on Groover at Laurel Knob and I decided to take the third pitch of The Nose (5.8) this weekend.  While that might not sound like much let me put it this way, I can’t consistently climb 5.9 and at 5.10 I have more misses than hits.  5.8 is climbing at my edge but you only get better by pushing the edge, right?

The crux is early on in the third pitch of the Nose and all I had in was a flaring, shallow orange TCU.  Not exactly confidence inspiring.  After a few minutes of going mentally sketchball and baby stepping my way nowhere I found a beautiful slot to drop a cam that protected the rest of the crux.  A couple of deep breaths and I committed to the friction steps of the crux.  Luckily with the first committed step I found my groove and 5 mini moves later I was cruising.  I have no idea why I mentally struggled so much because this 5.8 felt two grades easier than the first pitch of Groover but I guess every day is different. (Groover Trip Report)

All in all I don’t know what the fuss about The Nose is.  Personally I preferred Rat’s Ass and Second Coming to The Nose.  If you’re at Looking Glass The Nose is a must do but don’t expect something magical like The Maginot Line at Shortoff Mountain.  You’ll just be left disappointed.  I should also say that this is an easier 5.8 and pretty tame as far as multipitch goes.  If you’re a fledgling 5.8 leader then this is the route to do.

Postscript:

On the rappel down I met Andrew, a New Zealander in the States for a camp.  He was climbing Sundial Crack which is purportedly better than The Nose.  Definitely hit them both while you’re there.  If you move efficiently The Nose shouldn’t take more than a few hours and the same goes for Sundial Crack.  All the pictures of the guy with orange cordollete are on Sundial Crack.

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