Offwidth aficionado Pamela Shanti Pack made the first ascent of American Horror Story, a 4-pitch 5.13 offwidth in Indian Creek, Utah, on Monday, April 13. Her partner, Pat Kingsbury, a seasoned crack first-ascentionist, commented that “American Horror Story is the first traditional style offwidth to deserve the grade of 5.13, typically reserved for the inverted style offwidth.”
Pack herniated four disks in her back in June and was immobile for three months. After 10 months of PT she felt ready to take on something hard. Check out her thoughts on American Horror Story below.
American Horror Story is a spectacular, aesthetic and intimidating offwidth nightmare. Prepare to sell your soul.
Pitch 1: Miscarriage (5.11)—A pre-existing fingers to hands crack established and named by Alf Randall and Troutman.
Pitch 2: Asylum (5.11 R/X)—The route takes a turn to the dark side as it traverses from the finger/hand crack across a dicey face into a difficult to protect, loose block and silt-filled squeeze chimney to offwidth. It’s a strenuous pitch with loose blocks that could potentially take out both the leader and belayer. Heads up adventure climbing is the entry fee to the elegant and artful steep pitches above.
If you survive Pitch Two, congratulations, you’ve just punched your ticket to hell.
Pitch 3: Coven (5.12+)—A low angle four-inch crack transitions into an overhanging offwidth to finger crack beneath a sandy and flared offwidth roof with questionable gear. Cast a spell of protection before exiting the claustrophobic flare, which requires a delicate traverse and mantle on an exposed and loose face.
Pitch 4: The Freak Show (5.13)—A 100-foot overhanging dihedral system composed of multiple crux offwidth roofs varying in size from fists through squeeze chimney. The cruxes require calf-locks, butterflies, teacups, and side-winding, all at a 45- to 60-degree overhang. The pitch is exposed and has sections of questionable gear. Note that while the rock quality is fairly good on this pitch, key face holds have a tendency to explode.
I am hesitant to grade the fourth pitch as it’s in a category of its own, somewhere between invert and vertical, but I would describe it as a 5.13 offwidth experience. In the traditional sense of American offwidthing, this pitch is as hard as it gets in my experience. It requires a combination of circus-style invert offwidth technique as well as traditional vertical technique all the while maintaining focus through loose blocks and silt. The fourth pitch is a combination of technical offwidth wizardry and physical brutality.
Pamela Pack for Rock and Ice
Look for a feature profile of Pamela Pack in the next issue of Rock and Ice (227)
VIDEO: Offwidth Outlaw – Pamela Shanti Pack: