Seamstress is a traditional style climb with mixed protection. The face climbing is protected by bolts placed on lead from hooks, and the upper section protects with small to medium stoppers. There is a fixed anchor at the top (we didn't use chains back then, so bring some new webbing.)
From the trailhead parking across the dam walk to voyager rock. Seamstress is found at the far left end of the rock.
Start on the flake leaning against the cliff. Hard sharp thin face moves will get you to the seam proper, where the climbing turns to desperate thin liebacks and face moves becoming steadily more difficult as one ascends. Finally, after a very hard step-up, one reaches the corner where difficulties ease.
All you will need is a rope, some draws, and a few small to medium stoppers. Also bring your very strongest fingers, best edging shoes, a positive attitude and a world class belayer.
I could not believe my eyes, when as I was exploring Voyager Rock in the summer of 1988, I came around the end of the cliff and spied this perfect seam which was obviously unclimbed. With the help of Julie Lazar, I began work on the route immediately, placing the first two bolts. The next day I placed two more, came down and rested. At the end of the day when it was cooler I led the climb with four bolts placed. The final hard move, a step-up, was seriously run out. I was very excited.
A couple of years later I was back at Voyager with Herb and Eve Laeger and some other friends. We tried Seamstress but the potential for groundfall from one of the routes crux moves, way above the fourth bolt shut us down. After much consternation and discussion I agreed to add two more bolts to the very bold upper section, after which we were able to repeat the climb.
Even with the two added bolts, this route is a serious lead with real fall potential.
I originally called the route 5.11d, but several well qualified climbers have done it since then and the route is now a concensus 5.12.
Well I remember being quite surprised and pleased when you suggested that name. It is a perfect name for the climb, as it describes both the feature and the experience while being a pun at the same time.
Mr. Keesee also tells me I was calling it a 12, at least by the time I got back to Stoney Point to brag about it!
Finding and climbing that route was a turning point for me.
Posted Dec 22, 2011 1:54 pm
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"Ah, this is obviously some strange usage of the word 'safe' that I wasn't previously aware of."