Condors Over The Battleship
A mass of Victorian wiles and granite that resembles a battleship in the rain and a wedding cake in the sun."
Francis X. Clines
The Mighty Battleship-Summit Elevation 5850'
Larry da Mountain Man
I was camped at the Mather Campground on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I had invited the boys up for a little adventure on my day off. This was a mistake. The 10 day Wilderness First Responder Class that I was attending had drained all my energy. It was much more difficult than I had expected. The course included 80 hours of classroom, a couple of hours homework each night coupled with evening field work. Passing a practical and a written test was required for certification. Certification is required to work for the Grand Canyon Field Institute.
The day off would have been better served relaxing and studying, but plans had been made to climb the Battleship.
It was late Friday night and the boys had still not arrived. The campfire was almost out and I was ready for bed. At 11 Zo's headlights finally came into play.
They made camp and we stayed up for a couple of hours draining cervezas and being guys.
At dawn we started coffee and then drove to the rim and went down the Bright Angel Trail. Our bush whack approach to the Battleship was somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2 miles down the trail. I had been told by Pat, the head of Search and Rescue that there were 3 entry points and routes with varying degrees of difficulty.
Of course we chose the most difficult because (name withheld) was adamant on entering at the 1 1/2 mile point. From here we tried to follow a cairned route north along the Coconino-littered Supai talus. We lost the route several times. My arms and legs were the usual bloody mess from fighting through all the prickly, spiny, thorny, stabbing plant life. We finally arrived at the Battleship's southern shale pinnacles and continued traversing around the eastern side to gain access to a "class 3" east facing route. We were looking for a left facing squeeze chimney. We came to a slot and (name withheld) announced "this is it!"
The 40' climb looked to Zo and I like a 5.7 technical climb. This would mean an unprotected ascent since we did not bring rope and I only had 50' of webbing.
I did not like it at all. If this was a "class 3?" then what was the rest of the climb like?
Also, this day was Gerry and my 39th wedding anniversary. I sure as hell did not want to give my wife a climbing accident anniversary gift, particularly since I had a serious climbing accident almost two years prior that negatively impacted my family. When I mentioned this fact, it was met with ridicule. (name withheld) I mean "Real Men" don't worry about s@#t like that!
Wrong! Pissed me off!
(Name withheld) insisted that this was the correct chimney so Zo led, I reluctantly followed and we used the webbing to hoist packs. After we were clear, our "class 3" became visible just around the corner. Finding it was a relief as the real concern was the danger of having to go back down the way we came up.
Here, we traversed left, 60' across a ledge to bypass the steep upper shale face. A final short ramp brought us to the summit.
On top we enjoyed the panoramic views, dined, relaxed and watched the condors above. It was magnificent. Someone had built a battleship out of rock.
The descent was easy. We took the well marked "lower route" to the Bright Angel Trail, coming out at the 2 mile mark. The climb to the rim was arduous due to the intense heat.
We celebrated in the Bright Angel Lounge, and Lobo treated the boys (including name withheld) with Fosters and pepper jack cheese burgers. They were too good!
Lobo returned to the campgrounds to study and the boys headed for Phoenix.
Note: I did pass my tests (barely) and received certification. This was accomplished despite celebrating the Celtic total destruction of the Lakers in the Maswick Lodge the night before the tests.
It seems that I unecessarily do many things the hard way.
Men/Women Behaving Badly
(Name withheld) for being a Dick Head and allowing his need to be a "Macho Man" interfere with the golden rule of "Safety First"
Larry the Mountain Man for letting the rankest smelling fart ever, at our lunch break. On a previous adventure LTMM declared a "fart free" zone.
Dingo for demanding a fire and beers when he arrived at camp.
Dingo for waking up everyone at camp with his loud boisterous voice.
Dingo and Larry – For losing the “obviously” cairned trail to accommodate their love of bushwhacking.
Dingo – For insisting that a short 5.7 chimney climb was the class 3 scramble in the trail description. (Upon topping out of the climb, the group found the “obvious” easy scramble.
Larry, Dingo, Lobo – For deserting the poorly conditioned Zo on the trail so they could get to the beer at the bar as soon as possible.
Larry – For immediately taking off his shoes and socks at the bar, causing his smelly feet to clear out the table next to us.
Lobo and Larry – For being vehement Celtics fans and picking on Dingo, the vehement Laker fan.
Dingo – For teaming up with the Laker lovin waitress and asking her to spit on Larry’s and Lobo’s burgers.
Lobo – For missing his 39th wedding anniversary and father’s day to be at his wilderness first responder class.
Lobo for saying "Howaya" to everyone on the Bright Angel Trail.
Lobo for pumping his fist and pounding his chest and yelling Celtics at the Maswick Lodge Bar that was populated with 16 Aussies wearing Laker shirts.
Lobo for coming to class with a hangover each morning after the basketball game.
Other WFR classmates in camp that did not exactly "lean into the showers" because showers cost 2 bucks and they elected to spend their shower money on beer.
The same "gamey" classmates that stunk up the classroom.
Tracy, a very pretty nice young lady whom had finished through hiking the PCT(Pacific Crest Trail) last year, for letting out several loud belches during class. They were world class.
Free spirits (river rats etc) that partied hard and late at the campgrounds each night.