The last time we aided was when we did Leaning Tower in a day in November so our aid skills needed some sharpening and Skull Queen seemed like an easy enough choice. We woke up at 4am in our classic bivy spot, smashed some breakfast, spilled some coffee, and raced down Highway 140 blasting the custom 21 Savage on our way to check off another send.
sweat, but we found ourselves at the base of the climb, along with three other teams and we were last in line.
We were really in it now. We grabbed our number and waited our turn to begin. After 20 minutes, the faster and lighter team bailed due to the amount of teams before them and Doug and I were one group closer to sending. Finally the first pitch was clear and I blasted up it, hauled up our little day bag and ran over to the second pitch to get ready to climb. There are two variations of the second pitch, a 5.10b C1 crack and a 5.11c C1 thin crack. The group ahead of us was aiding up the 5.10 crack so to get things going, I went up the 5.11 crack to the right. We got to the second belay and waited for the group ahead to clear the third pitch. I quickly ran up the 5.8/5.6 scramble and got to Dinner Ledge. At least now we have a comfortable spot to lounge about while we wait in line.
I threw Doug on belay and quickly followed him up pitch 5.
seem that way at all. We had 4 or 5 Metolious Offset cams that seemed as if no other cam would fit, those always found a way in. It almost felt like cheating with those. On this route, leap frogging offset cams made a C2+ pitch feel like a bolt ladder. With more leap frogging off sets, I set up the anchor at the belay and am soon met with the haul bag shortly followed by Doug. Pitch 9 proved to be even more cruiser than the first.
seemed to jump around a whole bunch. It seemed to also be one of the steeper sections of the climb. Doug aided through that no issue and was stoked to get to Pitch 11, the "awesome 10b splitter". I jugged up quickly and Doug was already racking up. We still had an hour or two of daylight and one free climbing pitch left. I was stoked to be rapping in day light.
Doug is a super strong free climber and cruised up the crack quickly. He made a gear anchor at the top and followed up just as quick. We topped out Skull Queen in a day despite the numerous parties ahead of us at the start, and even had a couple hours of daylight to spare. It is always a good feeling when you start the descent of a climb still in the day light. I was more excited to hit the market and grab a celebratory cobra.