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Found 20 results

  1. best of cc.com Fun when it's done

    Fun when it’s done Methow Valley News Dec. 7, 2005 Adventures don’t always have to be "fun" to be fun. For example: # A few years back, three friends and I decided to attempt "The Inferno," a rarely climbed route on South Early Winters Spire. Still suffering from the previous night’s debauchery, we trudged upward toward the spire, our brains baking under the July sun like slugs on blacktop. Soon, we discovered whoever was supposed to bring the water, didn’t. We were so thirsty we simply wrung out our sweat-soaked T-shirts to get a drink. At the base of the route, we discovered whoever was supposed to bring lunch, didn’t. All we had was a pound of beef jerky which, when you are dying of thirst, is as appealing as a sand sandwich after crossing the Kalahari Desert. The first part of the route was steep and loose enough to qualify as exciting. Imagine climbing a teetering stack of refrigerators as tall as the Space Needle. Then we arrived at the hard part: a "5.10c overhanging, flaring five-inch crack." Translated into regular language, that means, "Run screaming in the other direction." There, already 500 feet off the ground, we discovered whoever was supposed to bring the big gear necessary to climb this section, didn’t. Covering oneself in bacon grease and throwing slices of Spam at a starving grizzly bear seemed like a sane idea compared to continuing upward. Fortunately, we brought along a madman – I’ll call him Mr. Peru – who volunteered to lead the pitch. Grunting like a constipated wildebeest while screaming self-motivational profanities creative enough to make the saltiest of sailors blush, Mr. Peru climbed. Although more dehydrated than our beef jerky, we survived and now laugh about the time we got singed by The Inferno. # The first couple of backhoe operators I approached to dig a waterline up the extremely steep hill behind my place looked at the job, laughed, and told me it was impossible. Finally, I found someone willing to dig the trench. But, he cautioned me, it was much too steep to backfill – I’d have to do that by hand. No problem, I thought. "Help wanted backfilling the Infinite Ditch of Woe," said the signs I posted on bulletin boards around the Methow. I figured it was truth in advertising: 500 cubic yards – or 50 dump trucks worth of dirt – would need to be moved by hand. By the next morning I had assembled a crew of seven people eager to make some money. Upon seeing the Ditch of Woe, one person quit before even picking up a shovel. By lunch, the crew had shrunk to five. The next morning, only four people showed up for work. At noon on the second day, two more workers suddenly remembered a bunch of other pressing commitments they had to attend to, and left. Some four days later, when the last shovelful of dirt was thrown into the trench, only one woman and I remained. The Infinite Ditch of Woe broke some spirits, but also created a lasting friendship. # As the rains of last January pounded down, our dreams of snowboarding powder melted faster than an ice cube in a hot tub. But we were determined to make the best of our weeklong trip to British Columbia’s Kootenay Mountains. Sure, the area has a bunch of fancy commercial hot springs – but who wants to pay 10 bucks to soak amongst a crowd of blubbery Canadians and screaming kids? We decided to hike in to a backcountry hot spring, which was why we were now lost in a forest in a heavy downpour, wallowing through chest-deep snow. After wading two waist-deep creeks, we finally found the hot spring. We shed our soaking clothes and plunged our hypothermic bodies into the hot pool. The hot sensation lasted only three seconds. A torrent of icy melt water pouring into the hot spring made the pool about as warm as the Methow River in March. The soggy, snowy trek back to the car was a character building experience. "O-o-o-one, p-p-p-please," I said. Shivering uncontrollably, I handed my 10 dollars to the cashier back at the fancy commercial hot spring. "Pretty nice, eh?" said a well-fed Canadian as I eased into the steaming hot pool amongst a crowd of shrieking children. "H-h-h-heaven," I replied. # Looking back, it’s often the worst of times that make the best of memories.
  2. TWISPTED REALITY (A monthly opinion column) Snafflehoundus terriblus Methow Valley News / July 6, 2005 The shenanigans of snafflehounds can drive even the most pacifistic of people to a state of rodenticidal rage. Two climbers apparently coined the term snafflehound in 1938 while climbing in the Bugaboo Mountains in Canada. During the night, cat-sized rodents ate their rations, their ropes and their boots. They named these voracious animals “snafflehounds.” The same species of snafflehound that terrorizes climbers and campers is the most notorious rodent in the Methow. Technically, snafflehounds are bushy tailed wood rats, or Neotoma cinerea . Most in the Methow simply refer to them as pack rats. Because of their nocturnal noisiness and petty larceny, pack rats are undesirable housemates. However, they tend to move in uninvited. As anyone who has ever tangled with a snafflehound will attest, evicting these wily and tenacious critters is no easy matter. My first snafflehound experience started out subtly enough. Coins, silverware, carabiners and screwdrivers started disappearing. Lacking faith in my short-term memory, I figured I’d just misplaced the items. One night I looked out my window and witnessed a huge rodent with big ears and a furry tail dragging my cordless drill off the deck. It all started to make sense. Then the snafflehound moved in. I hardly slept the next week. Each night, all night, I lay in bed while the snafflehound inside the walls and ceiling scratched, chewed and made a racket louder than a dance troupe of drunken cloggers brawling on a tin roof. Intending to relocate the snafflehound, I bought a “Have-a-Heart” brand live trap. The rodent ignored it. Instead he chewed a hole through the mosquito screen on my window, pilfered my alarm clock and proffered a huge pile of pack rat scat on my pillow. Murder in my heart, I returned to the store and bought a supposedly lethal device called “The Better Rodent Trap.” I baited it with peanut butter and dog food. As evidenced by the yellow puddle next to the sprung (but empty) trap the next morning, all the trap did was scare the piss out of the snafflehound. As if to mock me, the snafflehound chewed apart my phone cord, stole an engraved compass with sentimental value, peed on my favorite chair, and ate the cover plus the first 47 pages of Mammals of the Northwest. Once again I returned to the store, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep. This time I bought an old-fashioned rat trap: nothing fancy, just time-tested, spring-loaded death. Or so I hoped. Each night I would bait it with tasty treats. Each morning I would discover the trap sprung, the bait gone. Out of respect for the snafflehound’s escape artistry, I named my elusive nemesis “Houdini.” Nearing wits end, I turned to Sun Tzu for advice. “Pretend to be weak, that your enemy may grow arrogant. Hold out baits to entice him. Feign disorder, and crush him,” wrote the ancient Chinese military philosopher in his book, The Art of War . As if conceding defeat, I abandoned my cabin to the snafflehound and slept outside on the porch. Inside, I scattered dog food on the floor to lure the pack rat and lull him into complacency. Sensing an ambush, Houdini kept a low profile for several days. I sweetened the bait, laying out a shiny galvanized joist hanger, a pair of dice, a socket set and some chopsticks. That night, I heard the snafflehound dragging something across my floor. I jumped out of my sleeping bag and through the open door into my cabin. Momentarily startled by the sight of a sleep-deprived madman naked as a plucked turkey and wielding a .357, the pack rat froze, eyes wide, nose twitching. Before I could shoot, Houdini darted behind the books in my bookcase. Intent on rodenticide, I slowly pulled book after book off the shelf. Finally, the rat was cornered somewhere between Desert Solitaire and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas . I split the difference and shot Mark Twain through the spine. Huckleberry Finn and the snafflehound exploded in a deafening blast of blood, fur, guts and literary greatness. I had finally succeeded in relocating the snafflehound - to another plane of existence. I slept well for a month. Then the next snafflehound arrived. But that’s a different story.
  3. A day after Highway 20 opened a friend and I went up to climb something at WaPass. "Slowshoes? Who needs them?" I said, starting up the shady, north facing heavily treed slope. .5 seconds later I postholed thigh deep with both feet and resorted to crawling. (Alpine Tip #1: there is nothing undignified about crawling when necessary.) Unfortunatly we'd left the slowshoes back in town and I forgot my roll of ducktape, which is helpful in constructing redneck gaiters. (Alpine Tip #2: simply tape the legs of your acid washed jeans to you boots and you are good to go.) We postholed for another half hour. Given as how we were still within pissing distance of the car, my partner started expressing doubts that we could make it back to Twisp in time for work that afternoon. Blood seeped from my shins and knees where the ice crust hit at each sinking step. I counted my blessings that great white sharks are rare in these parts. (Alpine Tip #3: beware of potentially voracious wildlife.) I promised my pardner that as soon as we reached the steep part, or the open part, or the sunny part or the rock part that everything would be better. However, my partner appeared to be suffering from some sort of posthole-inspired lunacy and began laughing hysterically until fully horizontally incapacitated in the snow and either unwilling and/or unable to get back up. I suggested a five-minute break. (Alpine Tip# 4: A PhD in psychology--or equivalent independent study thereof—can be helpful in sandbagging others and/or yourself. Ten minutes later, we lowered our already very modest expectations and proceeded back to the road. (Alpine Tip #5: Retreat can be a noble cause.) Two miles up valley of Silver Star creek, on the other side of the highway (the south facing slope) there is a clearing and a waterfall next to a small rock crag. Higher on the slope there is another cliff with a prominent right facing corner. It looked interesting. (Alpine Tip #6: When in doubt, lower expectations and proceed to lower elevations.) We hiked up to the waterfall in open, snow-free forest. Invisible from the road, there is a rock grotto off to the right of the waterfall. There is a beautiful looking arete, although the rock appears somewhat kittylitteresque. It would probably make a nice sport pitch or TR. (Alpine Tip #7: Theoreticals infuse even the most mundane with boundless possibility.) Instead, we harnessed up and I headed up the chimney/corner to the left of the arete and right of the waterfall. It starts off with a short boulder problem up a dead tree wedged in the corner, then moves into a very nice hand crack/stem box over some more dead trees and debris. Then come two different chimneys--also short, but quite fun, solid and exciting. (Alpine Tip #8: “Exciting” means treading thru the land of fight or flight where loss of bowel control is often associated with survival efficiency.) The crux is moving out of the second chimney onto the face--accomplished by pulling on an anemic little shrub of questionable vigor. It's an exciting move: the last gear is quite a ways below and the vegetative state of the tiny twiggy bush is not particularly inspiring. (Alpine Tip #9: When recollecting an experience, imagined reality and real reality merge and become one indistinguishable truth.) Once you commit to the shrub, there is another crack for gear, and a lieback/stem move to reach the dirt slopes above. We called this pitch Posthole Redemption, 5.7. Not destined for destination or classic status, but a nice surprise. (Alpine Tip #10: Good surprises are nice; bad surprises should not be all that surprising.) At the top of the pitch, we put our boots back on and continued uphill, traversing to the right and eventually coming to the other crag we'd seen from the road. This is a nice chunk of solid granite. The most obvious natural line is a huge right facing corner leading up to a big roof. In that corner is a nice hand and finger crack—filled with Bluebunch Wheatgrass. For a gardening aficionado such as an ice-axe-wielding Martha Stewart on meth, it would be probably be protectable all the way. Since time was a factor; we opted to toprope the pitch. (Alpine Tips #11: Time is a timeless excuse for moral and/or ethical failures.) The beginning of the right variation is an awkward mantle and traverse left to the crack--unfortunatly not significantly protectable. The left variation is easier and probably the way to go on lead as you could get some gear in. We called this pitch "Posthole in One." (Alpine Tip#12: The option of toproping a pitch means you are not alpine climbing and invalidates all previous eleven Alpine Tips.) Once in the corner, it’s easy stemming and likely good gear if gardened. Gear on the roof traverse would be possible and desirable to avoid a pendulum back into the corner. The final fingercrack/stem problem would be better on lead than toprope given the slabby corner splat factor. (Apline Tip #13: see Alpine tip #7) I ended up rapping off my dog’s leash, which still exists as fixed gear around the big pine 100 feet up this pitch. (Alpine Tip #14: Don’t believe anything you’ve heard until it’s a matter of necessity--and even then be skeptical.)
  4. best of cc.com cascade Mt. Poetry

    Let's hear your rhymes for a Cascade Mountain. Here's one to start it off. Luna Peak from Ruth Mt. Luna seems so far away It glides in the mist, It sleeps in East, It silently sits, In its realm it will stay. Within the sea of peaks and valleys, No other can compare. It’s spine a stairway, To the faraway air. Someday I will meet you, Someday I will hear, The rivers roar below From atop your perch from over there.
  5. Climb: Green Giant Buttress-Dreamah Date of Climb: 8/4/2004 Trip Report: Hurricane H and I went west from twisp in search of a place to see Fahrenheit 9-11. Closest theater showing moore's film was in Everwet. Good movie--it puts a couple pieces of Bush's "Bread and Circuses" presidency in context. The bread being W's massive deficit spending and monetary stimulus (AKA "Borrow and Spend") during a period of economic growth (albeit slow and unevenly distributed). Iraq is of course the circus, and while clowns are apparently running the show, its not really that funny or entertaining. I've always considered Bush's simpleton image merely that--a clever administration-encouraged perception to portray our silver spoon ivy league cowboy in chief as a straight-talking, brush-clearing "average joe." Behind the dullard image, I imagined W was a pretty cagey fellow. Increasingly, I worry the guy truly is a dangerously retarded boy emperor who should be wading around in the kiddie pool wearing his water wings and peeing in his shorts while eating twinkies instead of running this fine country into the ground with all the adeptness of Enos, who of course jumps his police car into the same pond every week on the Dukes of Hazard (starring Dick Cheney as Boss Hogg). Anyway, we brought our gear so after the show we decided to camp at Darrington and do Dreamer the next day. Climb was much fun. Overcast and semi-threatening skies all day, but not a drop of rain fell. Clouds and fog poured down over the gap to the south of Green Giant Buttress and flowed down the valley before dissapearing. Hurricane stormed up the climb. But I felt bit bad about leaving her with significant pendulum potential on the crux pitch (the face moves to roof/lieback/traverse above the blue crack). However, trial and (t)error has taught me rope drag is not my friend. She is absurdly strong, but that doesn't help much on the reachy slabby moves below the roof. After up and downclimbing a couple times while eyeing the possible swing, she cruised it. After many rappels involving some temporarily entertaining rope-eating flake fustercluckage, we returned to granite waterfalls below to retreive stashed beerverages, pay homage to the color green and watch the day go away. Demonstrating almost Daisy Duke-like driving abilities, Hurricane sucessfully dodged many glowing-eyed suicidal deer trying to merge with her vehicle at high speeds on the late night road back to Twisp. Sequence of Hurricane on the blue crack pitch: Some hard face moves to reach crack: Flaking it: Hurricane experimenting with the useful, but under-utilized "head jam.": Gear Notes: Shoes would have preferable to sandals.
  6. Climb: liberty bell-liberty crack Date of Climb: 7/28/2004 Trip Report: Started climbing as sun hit rock. First few pitches went somewhat slowly, as I haven't done much aid besides redneck aiding before. I led the Lithuanian Lip, which was a blast. After that, we cruised along, swinging leads. Possible to link several pitches, although rope drag is a drag in places. Favorite pitches were in top half of the route. Least favorite pitch was probably the rotten block pitch, which has some fun climbing but plentiful crappy rock that if dislodged would probably nuke your partner. Both of us were suffering from lack of water as we started a quart low and brought only a quart each for the day. Travel light, slow and dessicated is our motto. Thanks to the party who climbed the beckey route whom we met up with on the descent who shared a few swigs of their aqua and the yodelers who gave a couple of stinky delirious bums a ride back to the car. Returned well worked to Twisp in time to catch some jazz on the deck by the river. Today is a hammock day. Gear Notes: we took too much given the large amount of fixed gear. didn't need cam hooks or anything. no packs, single 60. small nuts and cams are very helpful. Approach Notes: little bit on snow at base is hard and icy, but kicking steps is fine, no ax necessary.
  7. Climb: Spontaniety Arete-Le Petit Cheval Date of Climb: 7/8/2004 Trip Report: Heard word of a new route up at WaPass, went up there yesterday to check it out. Stopped by Mazama and borrowed the only copy of the topo, which is posted on the NC mountain guides bulletin board outside the store. The route is Le Petit Cheval on Spontaniety Arete, (5.7, II+, FAs Scott Johnson and Larry Goldie). Overall, an enjoyable outing with a short approach. Around 7 pitches of 5th class to 5.7 and probably an equal amount of class 2-4 scrambling. The highlights are several very nice pitches of low angle clean hand cracks. The lowlights are the several pitches of bushwhacking in between the nice pitches and the somewhat tedious descent gully. (Bring your approach shoes!) The climb reminded me somewhat of the South Butt on Cutthroat. The route follows a wide, most low angle rock rib with tree belays the whole way. The lack of comittment makes it a good beginner climb, as it's possible in several places to scramble or rap into the gully and walk back to the base. The quickest descent option is to scramble down easy ground for a couple hundred feet from the top, then into the obvious (for reals!) descent gully. The FAs did a great job on the trail--once you find it, it's obvious all the way. (Thanks for all the work!) Takes a bit over an hour to the base of the rock. That afternoon we returned the wrinkled but usable topo to the bulletin board in Mazama. Gear Notes: small alpine rack, one rope. Approach Notes: Park at the W end the the pullout just W of mp 165 on the north cascades highway. (This is about halfway between the approach to the wine spires and the big hairpin turn below WaPass) trail goes down steep rocky bank into largest nearby trees. Follow well marked trail down across creek and then up through some sections of scrambling with fixed ropes to big snag at base of rock.
  8. Journey to the OP

    The OPC, yeah you know me. Who's down with the (O)lympic (P)eninsula ©rew? Got a late start and wasn't on the Edmonds-Kingston ferry till 11 o'clock. I've always enjoyed riding the ferries. Its a chauffeured trip where you can do whatever you want--get out in the fresh air and watch the organized chaos of the wake or sit inside and check out the people. If you make an effort, you can corner one of the couch style seats and let the vibration and humming of the engine lull you into a short nap. You get to turn over responsibility for your travel and become a willing captive for an hour or so. Unlike a bus or a plane, though, there is none of the stale air and claustrophobia. Generally on a ferry you can be as alone as you want or you can relate to people without being stuck in a situation where either is compelled. When we were young, our dad the captain told us the fire axes attached to the walls around the ferry were for fighting off huge sea serpents. Though rare, he said the sea serpents would occasionally wrap their coils around the whole ferry and try to drag it under. The axes were for chopping off the tentacles. For a long time, I believed this and repeated it as gospel to my friends, who also became believers in the serpents of Puget Sound. At some point I realized that there weren't such things as huge sea serpents and I was disappointed. Any less use for axes seemed mundane by comparison. One by one the mythical mysteries of childhood are revealed to us and magic leaves the world. True in one way, but at the same time there is no shortage of the mysterious, wondrous and awe-inspiring in the world here and now. Its just that we lose the sight to see it, our imaginations repressed by the scientific method, a culture of cool calculated contempt for that which falls outside the bounds of our understanding. We are resigned to not knowing and lack the child-like audacity to make it up. But what the fuck am I talking about the ferries for? The engine slowed and I returned from my reverie to the lower deck. The unloading began--always a good spectator sport. First, the bicyclists are freed and they sprint for safety like spooked deer. Having given the poor peddlers a sporting lead, the deckhands let loose the snarling pack of hawgs, ninjas, phantoms and other rice-burning crotch rockets, which blast up the ramp in hot pursuit of the terrified cyclists. Lastly, the four-wheeled superpredators of the pavement rumble off the ferry: the Ford Super Duties, Peterbilts, Komfort Kampers, etc. Each piloted by a twitching, traffic-twisted, caffeine-crazed commuter. And thus carnage commences! Blacktop Darwinism in action! I hurtle westward into the foggy forest and smell the smell of wet wood burning from the few unseen shacks tucked back in the dark caves beneath the trees. The further westward you go, the more you get a sort of creepy feeling unique to the Olympic peninsula. Remote, wild, shrouded in rain and fog, the Olympic Peninsula is haunted. Its more than just the edge of a continent--it’s the edge of reality, a border of sanity. I pass through a portal of dark towering trees and oppressive gray sky and I entered a world tweaked in some fundamental way. The sound of a forest: respiration. Rural poverty, the drip of water, angry loggers, alcoholism, guns, stumps, the ghosts of Indians dead, the smell of wood smoke, rot and rain. A while ago I met a girl in Forks who collected mushrooms and moss in the forests of the Olympic peninsula. She would spend days at a time wandering alone in remote areas of the peninsula forests. She says there were many times that she could feel somebody watching her. She said there were many people who lived way out in the woods, even whole families who would live for months at a time without contact with the outside. You occasionally spot the "tree people" as they were called walking along a deserted road. If you turned around, they are gone, vanished into the darkness of the trees. Don't believe in Sasquatches? Evidently you haven't been to the Hang Up Tavern in Forks, WA on a Saturday night. I witnessed a charming act of kindness at that particular establishment: After beating a uniformed military officer silly, a huge hairy cranked-out logger was kind enough to put the guys missing teeth into his front pocket of his bloodstained dress whites so that when consciousness found him, he would find his teeth. Thus the stage was set for our climb that weekend. A climb which turned out to be every bit of a vicious, knockdown, dragout street brawl like the one we witnessed in Forks. More coming later...
  9. S(h)itting in the Dark

    Hey ya'll, thot some might get a laugh outta this piece I wrote for the local paper. Bring your headlamp if you want to take a dump in Twisp! ------------- Sitting in the dark Methow Valley News January 7, 2004 As a prolific pooper without a proper crapper, I greatly appreciate the public restrooms scattered about the Methow Valley. Wherever you need to go, there they are. Aside from the restrooms that have been hidden away at the Community Center, Winthrop started the trend of providing bathrooms for the people. In 2002, a set of primitive but stylish public restrooms sprang up in Mazama. Not wanting to be left out, Twisp added public facilities in The Merc Playhouse building last year. I remember my first visit to the Twisp restrooms. There I was, doing my business and appreciating the bright, sparkling new construction. Then the lights went out. My first thought was, "Shoot! Perhaps a tree fell on the Loup powerline, causing the Methow electrical grid to crap out." Then I realized the restroom lights were on a timer. You see, in order to save energy, Winthrop and Twisp installed the restroom lights on a motion-activated sensor. When you walk in the door, the sensor detects your movement and the lights click on auto-magically. But once you enter the stall, the sensor can no longer "see" you, and the clock starts ticking…. Sitting there in the darkness, I realized I had exceeded the allotted time to do a number two. Now I don’t linger, and I do eat my share of fiber, but subsequent visits to the Twisp public bathrooms almost always ended the same way: me sitting in a stall as black as the proverbial bowels of Hell. In an effort to achieve enlightenment, I’ve tried waving my arms over my head to get the attention of the motion detector. It doesn’t work. Standing up in the darkness with pants around ankles while waving one’s arms in the air is also futile and fraught with potentially messy peril. Trust me. Inevitably, just after the lights go out, someone else arrives to use the restroom. They open the door and step into the darkened bathroom, which causes the lights to turn back on. Whereupon they immediately notice two boots visible under the stall wall. I can practically hear their thoughts: "Why is someone sitting in the public bathroom in the dark?! How long have they been there? Are they even alive?" This recurring experience raised some profound questions, such as "Has the Town of Twisp imposed comically unrealistic time limitations on illuminated defecation? Or am I just a slow go-er?" Clearly some scientific research was necessary. I recruited a female assistant who owned a stopwatch. This allowed me to get precise time measurements for all Methow public bathrooms, while avoiding the difficult task of explaining to the police why I happened to be sitting in a women’s public restroom with a stopwatch…in the dark. Measuring the time for the Mazama bathrooms was easy. They have no light or heat, so just remember to dress warmly and bring your own flashlight. Winthrop is the land of equal pooping opportunity. The automatic timers in both the men’s and women’s rooms are set to allow visitors a generous 17 minutes of light. By contrast, the Town of Twisp gives women 11 minutes of light to do their business–less than Winthrop, but still plenty of time. However, if you’re a guy in Twisp, you get a mere 2 minutes and 31 seconds before the automatic lights go out. I’m not shi…uh…kidding you: 2 minutes and 31 seconds. My suspicions regarding the timed lights in the Twisp public bathrooms were confirmed, but this only raised more profound questions. Why do men and women receive the same amount of time in Winthrop, but wildly different amounts in Twisp? Is the town of Twisp simply more zealous about saving energy? Or are those who use the Winthrop bathrooms on average six times more constipated and thus need more time than those who use the Twisp restrooms? I don’t know, but these are questions to consider next time you use the public facilities in the Methow. Should the Town of Twisp reset the timer in the men’s room to allow for a more leisurely and gender-equal public bathroom experience? Definitely not! Every town needs unique and distinguishing features. Instead, Twisp should install a one-word sign in the men’s room stall: HURRY. First-time visitors would sit there pondering its meaning–for exactly 2 minutes and 31 seconds–at which time the lights would go out, and sitting there in the dark, they would see the light.
  10. Barber's Pole TR

    While Mr. Peru and I were scrambling up the eye-opening "Beckey 4th Class" approach to the Barber's Pole route, I reminded myself that leeches are realtively rare on the NE face of Liberty Bell. I was also hopeful that there would be no major bloodletting going on that day. See, I had this weird bit of historical trivia stuck in my head: Back in the Middle Ages, barbers not only cut hair, but performed minor surgeries and did bloodletting. Back when bloodletting was seen as the solution to all problems, the barber-surgeons had a tall pole alongside the barber's chair. Patients grasped the pole so the veins in their forearms would stand out clearly, thus allowing the barbers to easily cut into the veins and apply leeches. On top of the pole was a bowl used to hold the leeches and catch blood. After the bloodlettings, the bandages would be hung on the white pole, which was then displayed outside the shop where the bloody bandages would twirl in the wind and catch the eye of potential customers. Over time, painted poles with balls at both ends symbolizing the blood and leech basins replaced the actual bloody bandage-covered poles. Hence the origin of the modern spiral-striped barber pole: After some scary scrambling, the route begins with a long (maybe 350 feet?) traverse trending up and left along a narrowing ramp system that ends with an exciting blind lieback that leaves you on M&M ledge. At this point, the route joins Thin Red Line. From M&M ledge, the routes goes up a cool clean lieback ramp with hand and finger pockets, then up a corner crack to some face climbing and a really fun hand traverse and mantle out from under a huge flat block. A great pitch. The next pitch goes up corners, sweet solid hand cracks, and a short chimney to a slab underneath huge roofs. The crux pitch traverses right across the slab, around an arete, then up a short pillar to a flaring hand crack. I put gear in before going around the arete, which was a mistake that cost me some rope drag later on. But I didn't like the potential for a 30+ foot pendulum directly onto the belay, and I didn't know if there was good gear around the corner (there is). After the flaring hand crack, the angle eases off and there is several hundred feet of easy terrain to the top. While Burdo puts the Barber Pole route on his "Unrecommended List" as loose with poor protection, this is a fun adventure route. There is a lot of moderate climbing with huge exposure as you wrap around Liberty Bell onto the sheer East Face. While there is plenty of looseness, the harder pitches are quite solid and the position is great. There is a lot of traversing and some serious pendulum potential in places, and for that same reason it's a fairly committing climb for the grade because there is no easy way to retreat in the event of bad weather, injury, etc. If you pitch out all the 5th class, it's 8 pitches. If you simul most of the 5.6-7 you can do it in three leads plus 2 long simulclimbing pitches. Overall, I'd give it out of 5. And no, I'm happy to say we encountered no leeches and there was no bloodletting on the Barber Pole that day.
  11. Disco Inferno

    So I was partnerless, bumming around the Blue Lake parking lot, wondering about the wherebouts of Mr. Peru. As good luck would have it, bivied in the lot was another partnerless climber from Maine. He'd never climbed in the area, so I thot the NW Corner would be a good into. We put together a rack and headed up the trail. Maine was just heading up the first pitch when we heard what sounded like a crazed snafflehound whistling, hooting and hollering up through the basin below the spire. Sure nuff, Bobbyperu shows up a few minutes later. Instead of jumping on the NW corner, he opted to meet up with us later, instead entertaining himself on a solo the SW Rib of SEWS. Meanwhile on the NW Corner, I grabbed the lead for the zig-zag lieback flakes pitch--one of my favorites anywhere--which of course left Maine with the shoulder-eating offwidth. I've had the pleasure of leading it, and told Maine I'd feel guilty if he didn't have a chance to lead the OW, because I'd be cheating him out of the full NW Corner experience. He looked at me skeptically, searching for signs that I was sandbagging him, and then gamely thrashed up it. That evening the three of us met up at the newly re-opened Twisp River Pub where Mr. Peru was staffing the bar. Maine and I hung out and sipped a beverage or two while waiting for the arrival of Szyjakowski. He was making the trip up from L-town so we'd have two teams of two the next day. (Commercial side note: climbers, go patronize this place! Formerly the Methow Valley Brewing Co., which burnt down a couple years ago, they have employed a lot of talented local builders and artists in the rebuilding. They have fine brews, good chow, frequent music and a nice deck right above the river.) The next day the four of us parked at the hairpin below WaPass and headed up the gully towards the South Spire, each suffering somewhat from the late night before. While I would generally run screaming in the opposite direction of "5.10c overhanging flaring 5-inch offwidth," Bobbyperu had a wild hair to get on the Inferno Route, a rarely climbed line (I found no references to this route on cc.com?) on the SE face of SEWS. According to Beckey, the route was named for the scorching August day on which it was first climbed in 1966 at 5.9 A2, and was first freed back in the 80s by Yoder. Seeing as how the forecast was for a windless day of mid-90s, it seemed an appropriate day to get cooked on the Inferno, a corner which closely resembles a solar oven. The first pitch is vertical, juggy and loose--but at least there's uninspiring protection. BP led this while the rest of us hid in the cave at the base to avoid the rocks that came whistling down. The second pitch is the hardest 5.6 I've ever come across. It climbs a steep chimney filled with stacked loose blocks of all sizes then cuts out onto a slab, where you pass a steep bulge on shallow finger pockets. I moved carefully to avoid annihilating the three people below me with one of the car-door-sized blocks. Although I had some rope drag issues, the last few fingery moves before the belay are certainly thot-provoking "5.6." The third pitch is solid and clean and features a nice crack, followed by a spicy 9+ face traverse/step-across move to reach the base of the hanging offwidth. BP cruised it, and Maine and Szyjakowski led up on a separate rope right on our heels. The fourth pitch is the business. You see this intimidating feature coming for two pitches, and it just looms over you like "Come and get some of this you jokers, poseurs, hosers and wannabees!" As you get closer, it only looks steeper and wider and wilder. Below, a sharp dead tree we dubbed "Vlad the Impaler" juts like a spear right into the fall zone below the crux. The direct sun was baking our baked brains at this point. (This is you brain on drugs on the Inferno!) BP, maniacally enthusiastic as usual, launched up the hand crack that widens quickly to fists and then becomes wider still where it bulges out into a weird flaring overhang. He buried the 4.5 cam deep in the crumbly flare, and moved up and down a number of times, trying to figure out out to approach the section. There was no obvious gear above, and the nearest rest was a somewhat distant flake for a foothold on the otherwise featureless face next to the unrelenting wideness. After up and downclimbing several times trying to figure out the best way to tackle this monster, he took a short rest, then launched into a committing layback off the insecure edge of the crack. After reaching the flake and whooping it up, he realized that it wasn't over yet. There is another difficult move to get back into the 5 inch crack to top out, the nearest gear being the 4.5 left down below the 10c layback crux. Heady fer sure! Out of respect for the women and children that may read this site, I hesitate to detail the sweating, swearing and psycho-physical scarring that followed as the rest of us did battle with this beast. But we made it and finished the route off with a couple hundred feet of 5.6 tree wrestling and dirt climbing. By which time the water content of our sun-fried hides was approximatly that of the "Hey Dude" brand of beef jerky I'd brought and could not eat for lack of water and a dying-in-the-Sahara-Desert-case of drymouth. Let's just say we all got a little bit singed a bit by the Inferno.
  12. Trip Down Memory Lane Report

    First of all, thanks to the several cc.commers who hooked me up with Colorado partners (or tried). With no solid pre-trip plans other than visiting my relatives, I ended up climbing every day. Second of all, there ain't much climbing in this TR. So just move along, nothing to see here. No beta, no carotene, just a bunch of frayed ends of mental rope. Ironically, while I spent a good deal of my youth in Estes Park, I failed to appreciate the rock climbing possibilities until after I graduated from EPHS and left town. It was only after I moved to SE Washington, and learned how to climb out in a wasteland of chossy basalt that I realized I'd been living in something of a rock paradise. It's one of those "don't know what ya got til it's gone" things (cue big-hair-glam-rock band Cinderella). The one thing you can count on in Estes in the summertime are the afternoon thunderstorms. The mornings start out clear, and by 2 or 3 pm, big black thunder clouds accompanied by rain, wind and often hail sweep down the valley, peppering the granite formations of Lumpy Ridge with lightning. As soon as the storms come, they are gone, leaving the warm summer air thick with humidity and the smell of rain on hot granite. Since most of the routes there are multi-pitch trad lines with no fixed anchors, you either start early enough to top out, or you retreat and leave gear in the thick of an electrical storm. As a result, there is a thriving gear-collection business among resident climbers. Each afternoon after the thunderstorms have subsided, locals sweep the most popular lines, collecting a bounty of booty left by people fleeing the lightening. I talked to one guy in the Lumpy lot who'd collected over 200 pieces of perfectly good gear in the last year alone! Anyway, the first day I headed up to Lumpy Ridge with my uncle, who's hardly been climbing since the early 70s. After climbing a couple pitches we ended up on the Roosting Ramp, a long ledge system below the Twin Owls. We decided to climb the East Ridge. I started up, clipped an antique piton,(probably the same one my dad and uncles had clipped 35 years ago) and the rain came down. I downclimbed, unclipped the pin and we took shelter at the base of the owls. The rain eased up, but lightening and continuous thunder rolled across the valley, so we wandered along the protected ledge, eyeballing all the classic lines and my uncle told me about some climbing adventures they had in the area. My dad and his three younger brothers spend much of the late 60s climbing around Estes Park and the Front Range. (The youngest of which, incidentally, was struck and killed by lightning in the backcountry in 1992, his body subsequently eaten by coyotes. When they finally found his remains, they were easily able to determine the cause of death: everything metal he and his co-worker (who also died) were carrying had been melted and fused together by the immense electricity.) At the base of an infamous old school 5.8 named Wolf Tooth Crack (then rated 5.7, now some call it 5.9), my uncle started laughing as he remembered their effort. The climb begins with a fist crack on the side of a detached pillar, widens slowly to offwidth, then a chimney for 150' of strenuous dead vertical climbing. Quite similar in appearance to Damnation Crack on Castle Rock in Leavenworth, but twice as long. Back when my dad was a teenager, he took his his younger brothers to climb Wolf Tooth. Outfitted with hiking boots, a few hexes, stopper and pitons and pitons, he spent over an hour of thrutching and thrashing his way up the offwidth/chimney. Upon arriving at the top, crazed with fear and exhaustion,he prompty puked his guts out down the chimney and then lay dry heaving for 10 minutes on top of the Tooth. After seeing their older brother nearly die, his younger brothers decided against climbing the puke-covered chimney... Wolf Tooth Crack (not my pic) climb goes up crack/chimney on left side of pillar---> While waiting for the rain to stop, we gaped up at the aptly named Crack of Fear, a 300 foot 10D squeeze chimney that is famous for brutalizing even the most competent and masochistic of offwidth fanatics (A category that does NOT include me--gaping is as close as I'll ever get to that one--unless one of ya'll wants to lead it!). As we were sitting there, a couple of young punks came huffing up. One punk, clearly the know-it-all punk of the two, was admonishing his buddy to always maintain three points of contact on the class 3 sidewalk-like ledge. They approached us: "Hey man, we want to do some free-roping. What's an extreme way to get to the top of this thing?" "Well, there's an easy class 4 way around back that'll get you on top," I offered. "We don't want to do anything EASY! That sounds totally lame!" the one sneered at me. They had no rope and were clearly not climbers (what is "free-roping" anyway?) but they had plenty of attitude. "Well, I guess it depends on what you're comfortable with," I said. "we'll do anything extreme" said the annoying one. "I've climbed Long's Peak before." "Ah, that's a great fun hike," my kindly uncle said completely sincerely, trying to be nice to the kid. (He's hiked Longs over a dozen times via the various non-technical routes) "That's no hike!" the loud one said shaking his head disdainfully, "you could slip and fall like 2,000 feet!" he said, talking to my uncle like he was talking to a retard. My uncle just shrugged, somewhat taken aback by this kid's attitude. I'm no sandbagger, but this kid was an ass. I rubbed my chin, then pointed to the gaping manacing maw known with the reputation as the hardest 5.10 in the universe. "Well, I've heard the Crack of Fear over there is pretty fun. It's a little tricky at the start, but it gets a lot easier once you get up a hundred feet or so," I deadpanned in my most helpful, earnest voice. Now, I would never give somebody bad advise if I thought they would hurt themselves, but after watching this kid climb the class 3 ramp, I knew he'd never get 10 inches off the ground on the Crack of Fear, much less 100 feet. The punk and his buddy took a couple steps in the direction of the Crack of Fear, and then looked up...and up...and up... I gave my uncle a discreet wink and supressed a smile. "Hum...that's looks fun--maybe another time," said the annoying one. "So what were you saying about the back way up?" The next couple days were great. We did a beautiful 5 pitch 5.7 route on the Book called Osirus with deep chimneys, teradactyl fins, and groovy grooves of granite. I climbed with and got spanked by Mistress J, who climbs way harder than I can ever hope to in my life. I flailed around on the crystal-toothed granite boulders along the Gem Lake trail until my fingertips bled. Each afternoon was an exercise in dodging lightning. Not that it would be a bad way to go, but I'm not ready to follow in my late uncle's footsteps just yet.
  13. 6:00 AM Myself and a first (and last) time climbing partner I'll call "Elmer" met up at the parking lot in Squamish to climb Diedre, a classic 5.7 on the Apron. He is a cc.com lurker who said he is a "safe, all around 5.10 leader" who's been dying to climb this route forever. I've climbed the route before and led all the pitches, so I agreed to let him do the leading. 7:00 AM We arrived at the base of Diedre. The approach took somewhat longer than usual because Elmer insisted we rope up for the steep approach through the trees. There was a festival-like atmosphere at the base of the climb, with people of all ages from around the world. We found ourselves waiting for the party ahead of us, which was waiting for the party ahead of them, who was waiting for the party above them, who was waiting for the party above them--who was apparently superglued to the rock. Or perhaps they were just a pair of immobile manniquins that some jokers hung from the anchors of the fifth pitch to create a traffic clusterfuck. 8:00 AM After an hour, nothing had changed, and I suggested we climb a different line up the Apron. "Hell no!" said Elmer, "I've wanted to climb this route forever!" 9:00 AM The top party showed some signs of movement, thus proving they were, in fact, not manniquins. Elmer started taping up (?) and racking his gear, which included a double set of nuts, a double set of cams to 4 inches, 4 tri-cams and 7 hexes. 10:00 AM The sun cleared the top of the Chief and the day turned HOT. Elmer set off on the first pitch up to the little tree. 11:00 AM Elmer arrived at the tree and put me on belay. I walked up to the tree. 1:00 PM We reached the belay at the base of the corner. Elmer was--as advertised--a very safe leader. I returned the 11 pieces of gear I cleaned on the pitch leading up to the corner where the fifth class climbing starts. 1:30 PM The parties ahead of us had moved up sufficiently that we were clear to climb with no one slowing us down. Elmer started up the dihedral. Judging by the severity of the sewing machine leg he had going, he appeared to be a little nervous. But he protected the pitch very well. 3:00 PM Elmer arrived at the belay. Shortly thereafter I arrived and handed him back the 19 (!) pieces of gear he placed on the pitch. The insufferably slow parties ahead of us had by now left us far behind. We had clear sailing ahead all the way up to Broadway! However, now we appeared to be slowing down the pack of anxious climbers below us. 4:00 PM The scorching day got hotter. We drunk all our water. Elmer was showing signs of physical and mental strain after leading the first three pitches of 5.6 or 5.7. A noticable tick has developed in his left eye. I offer to take a lead or two, but he responds with surprising vigor: "No fucking way, I've wanted to climb this climb forever!" 5:00 PM Elmer is still within spitting distance of the belay, swearing and sweating as he tried to fiddle in an RP, his 6th placement on the pitch thus far. There were approximatly 8 frustrated parties jammed up beneath us now. I was starting to feel like the stubborn turd that's clogging the toilet. 6:00 PM Elmer arrived at the fourth belay. The climbing was taking its toll on him. Our water long since gone, I started to wonder how long it takes an average person to die of thirst. After resting for a half hour, his twitching had subsided somewhat and Elmer started up the next pitch. 7:30 PM Inexplicably, Elmer was building a gear belay 3/4 of the way up the pitch instead of continuing on another 40 feet to the bolted station. Gently, I queried him about his intentions. All I heard is a stream of angry profanity echoing across the valley and something about running out of gear. "I'm fucking leading this fucking climb...blah...gear...blah...fucking forever blah...blah..." I wondered to myself how it would be physically possible to place all the gear he was carrying (enough to stock several small retail shops) on one 5.7 pitch. And as the sun cooked me like a worm on pavement, I wondered idly if he was afflicted with Tourette's or perhaps some sort of degenerative brain disorder like Mad Cow disease. 8:00 PM Elmer finishes building his anchor and brings me up. The tick in his eye has deteriorated noticably and his pupils are dialated in a worrisome way. I can't help myself and comment on his anchor, which is clearly a work of art--if you're a Celtic knotsmith or some sort of mad engineer. The anchor consisted of 4 cams and 3 nuts each qualized with double clove hitches and backed up with a secondary anchor composed of two tricams, a hex, two RPs, a cordellete and four slings. Granted, I'm a fan of bombproof anchors, but this one could have survived a direct napalm airstrike followed by a nuclear holocaust and still held a factor 5 fall. He didn't appreciate my kind comment. "Are you questioning my fucking abilities you goddamn pissant?" Judged by his full-body spasms and the way he kept grinding his teeth, he was physiologically unstable and psychologically unbalanced. 8:30 PM After his outburst, Elmer calmed down a bit and started apologizing profusely, weeping and blubbering like a schizophrenic on a bad acid trip. I didn't want to say the wrong thing, so I just wrung out my sweaty shirt into our empty nalgene bottle, took a swig and offered him a drink, which he accepted gratefully. 9:00 PM We were still hanging awkwardly from his armageddon-proof anchor. Elmer had stopped crying and appeared to be in some sort of meditative state, perhaps visualizing the sequences or protection on the pitch above. An angry mob of climbers hoping to get off the Apron before nightfall had gathered below us, wondering what the delay was. (I'm sure they were also curious about all the yelling and wailing.) While we hung stationary at his gear belay, several parties simply climbed by us, including a grandmother in flip flops who was soloing with her grandchild in one of those kiddie backpacks, two hikers who apparently got lost on the Stawamus Chief trail, and a surprisingly speedy team of quadriplegics who were aiding the climb by placing gear with their mouths. 9:35 PM I was hesitant to disturb Elmer while he was concentrating on preparing mentally for the next pitch. However I was getting concerned about our pace--we were only about halfway up the 7 pitch climb, and I had to be back in Washington by tomorrow afternoon. I nudged him and once again I casually offered to lead a few pitches for the sake of efficiency. This threw the previously-peaceful Elmer into a blind fury: "No fucking way, I've wanted to fucking lead this goddamn climb for fucking forever! What the fuck do you think I am, some sort of fucking incompetent?! If you ever again try to take one of my fucking leads on this fucking climb I will take this fucking knife (brandishing his Swiss Army knife), saw your fucking ears off, then cut you loose to plummet to your death you fucking miserable condescending piece of shit!!!!!!" He emphasizes each word by puching the rock until his knuckes bled. One of his eyes rolled eerily back in his head. He was foaming at the mouth. 9:36 PM Hmmm. Fight or flight? That was the question. I figured pacifying this maniac was perhaps the best approach to the situation--or at least preferable to brutal hand-to-hand combat while tied in to a common belay 500 feet off the ground. 9:37 PM I put on my most sincere smile and said "Sorry, Elmer--you're the leader, you're on belay, climb when ready!" I said as cheerily and nicely as possible. Meanwhile I casually repositioned my nut tool on my harness for easy access in case I needed to kill this raving lunatic before he killed me. 10:00 PM It was getting quite dark. Elmer was finally ready and headed up the next pitch of Dierdre. I breathed a sigh of relief as the rope ran out (very slowly) and he put some distance between us. 11:00 PM Elmer finally reached the next set of bolts. Once I saw he was safely anchored, I yelled up "You're off belay!" 11:01:30 PM In the fading twilight, I untied from the rope, tossed the free end into space, waved up at a perplexed Elmer, turned and ran down the Apron (roughly along the line of Sparrow) as fast as I could. 11:15 PM I reached the parking lot, quickly disabled the alternator on Elmer's car, gunned my van towards the border and never looked back. Epilogue: "Elmer" apparently survived, because he is back in the Partners Section looking for another poor sucker to attempt one of Washington's classic routes. The moral of the story? You never know what kind of psychotic you might get hooked up with when browsing for a climbing partner on cc.com...
  14. MJ Dihedral

    After spending a couple nice sunny days up in squishtown with miss cakalakee, upon crossing the border, I gave Coondog a call to see if he wanted to climb Mary Jane Dihedral. While it was warm and sunny up on Snow Creek wall, the wind was really nuking today. Sand/dirt/leaves/moss were blowing out of the crack into our eyes during the three corner pitches. A lotta fun regardless. I got the first dihedral pitch, which is clean and solid, nice fingers and hands up to a kinda awkward hanging belay off a couple 1/4 inchers and some gear. Coondog got the loose dirt pitch climbing a ways off the belay, he spent several minutes fiddling with uninspiring cam placements among loose blocks in the corner. Then he noticed there was a bolt right in front of his face and his day became less stressful. I got the last corner pitch, which was my favorite of the day. It starts out with a slopey traverse, then up face holds and flakes back into the main corner, then up over a roof onto slabby cracks and chickenheads to rejoin Orbit. Super fun. All in all a great climb despite a little bit o' funk. Back at the base, the wind was howling through the dead fire-burnt trees. We joked about our odds of crushed by a falling tree. Best not be talking shit about the trees. As we were descending the outer space trail towards snow creek, a jumbo telephone pole-sized tree snapped off. With much cracking, smashing and many flying branches, the tree fell directly across the trail--right where we'd been no more than 30 seconds earlier! The rest of the descent to snow creek was a bit spooky. In addition to many smaller branches (which could still ruin your day), we heard another very large tree come down. Well, that's the end of this trip report, but if you've ever wondered about the "tree falling in the forest" question, please feel free to read on for some distantly related speculations. -------------- If a fir falls in the forest, and there's no one there to hear it, but there's a tape player recording the event, is there sound? What if the tape is never played? What if it's played backward? Is there such a thing as a satanic tree? What if the person or persons listening are too Mary Janed to pay attention? Does the mere presence of a climber at the time of compression and rarefaction denote sound, or do the audio images have to impinge themselves on a climber's consciousness? Scenario: A sound-activated tape recorder is placed in a burnt grove of trees along the snow creek trail where it has been determined there is a high probablility that one or more will fall. A tree then falls onto the tape recorder, exposing the tape to the sun, wind, rain and snow. A few weeks later, a snafflehound happens upon on the recorder. He notes that the tape is unsalvageable, but that the tape counter has advanced. Using his incisive powers of logic, the snafflehound determines that an aural event has occurred. But is there sound? Was there sound? When? Why or why not? What if the snafflehound brings the wrecked tape player back to his den where it languishes for a thousand years, at which time Fred Beckey (yes, he's still climbing in the year 3003) unearthes it, and gives it to one of his hot belay bunnies, who, using scientifically advanced recovery techniques, manages to recreate the magnetic impression on the tape? Is there sound then? What if, just as she is about to play the tape for him, he runs off to China to do a first ascent and doesn't listen to it? Tree falling girl interrupted? What if a tree falls in a forest and there's no one around the immediate vicinity--BUT the grove is being monitored from deep space by aliens who don't have ears but do have very sensative antannae that can feel the most minute of vibrations? Can they hear the tree? Suppose they can recreate sound patterns from the light waves. And yet the light waves won't arrive until four years later (assuming they live within our own galaxy) by which time the light waves may have been skewed by increasingly heavy gravity and/or the doppler effect? And what if, by that time the waves of light sound arrive at the aliens' pad in deep space, the forest has been clearcut to pay for Larry the Tool's new Cadillac Escalade so he can drive his fat ass around in air-conditioned leather-bucket-seated comfort while violently enforce the by then non-voluntary Kick Me In The Ass Forest Pass Program? Can you hear a tree that fell in the forest if the forest no longer is? Sometimes I might wonder about these things while stumbling down a hot dusty trail after some Mary Jane Dihedral.
  15. TR: SEWS East Butt & SW Rib

    A.D.D. version: Climbed the Direct East Buttress and the SW Rib of South Early Winter Spire with bobbyperu on Tuesday. It was fun. The "I'm under house arrest and have nothing better to do than read tediously long TRs on CC.com" version: I rolled into the parking lot of Hank's Harvest Foods in Twisp around midnight Monday. Since I currently have a phone number, but no phone, I've taken to lurking around pay phones with pockets full of change. I put a buck of nickles into the phone, called my no-phone number, and found a message from bobbyperu: "Hey, come find me if you wanna climb something at Washington Pass tomorrow morning. I'll be bivying somewhere right along the road between the hairpin and the Blue Lake trailhead. Got a little blue car. Should be hard to miss." Indeed, I barely missed him. The next morning found me speeding up the road to Washington Pass, where I braked hard and swerved into the oncoming lane to avoid running over what appeared to be a log lying in the highway. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be bobbyperu, comatose in his bivy sack. I guess sometime in the night he'd rolled off the shoulder, across the white line, and into the center of the westbound lane of Hwy 20. Lucky for him WA Pass traffic is light at 6:30 am on a Tuesday. We decided on the East Buttress of South Early and threw together a rack. We parked at the hairpin turn and started up the approach gully at 7:00 am. The soft snow and cool morning temperatures made for relatively easy hiking. Upon arriving at the toe of the buttress, we discovered that we'd forgot a critical piece of gear. We had two thirds of the Rasta Bivy Kit, but had neglected to bring the crucial element of FIRE. Momentarily dispirited, we conferred and decided to proceed up the route despite this spirit-crushing adversity. BP had to be in Winthrop that afternoon, so we needed to make decent time. I'd never climbed the route before, and BP had climbed it several (OK, like 10) times, so I was happy to follow his leads for the sake of speed and efficiency. Because honestly, I usually climb pretty slow. OK--real slow. When I'm hauling ass, I move approximatly as fast as a Three-Toed Sloth who's been popping valiums and binging on red wine. When the climbing gets tough, my leads slow to a pace on par with continental drift. My upward progress becomes imperceptible to the human eye without the aid of time-lapse photography: now it's morning...now it's evening...now it's night... Climbing at a relaxed pace does have it's advantages though. One "Tricky Trick" I use is to find a comfortable stance below the crux of a climb. There I wait for weathering action and the passage of geologic time erode the crux to an easier state before I continue up the climb. The downside is that this strategy can enrage belayers who had planned on returning home sometime prior to the next ice age. ANYWAY, we simuled the first two pitches up to a tree belay below the big corner. At that point, BP took a variation pitch he called the "flakes pitch," (apparently the 1965 variation in the Beckey Book?) which heads right out of the corner onto the face. Wow. Huge instant exposure and super fun climbing on steep cracks and flakes lead to a wide corner crack (the bolts mentioned in Beckey's book have no nuts or hangers). This full rope length pitch rejoins the Direct East Buttress route at the top of it's 4th belay just below the start of the first bolt ladder. BP flew up the next pitch, freeing the 5.11 face climbing, clipping every second or third bolt and once again running the 60 meter rope all the way til he had none left. The pitch was great, starting with delicate face and friction climbing, then traversing right out onto the crest of the buttress, where more face climbing leads to cool crack with long reaches between pods for fingers and hands. Beautiful climbing in a dramatic position! Much to my surprise I followed the pitch in less than a day without falling or pulling on gear. The next pitch starts with another 5.11 bolt ladder over a bulge that leads up into a steep corner crack with weird moves and a hard mantel. Once again BP cruised up, freeing it all easily. The steep face climbing at the beginning played perfectly to my weaknesses, and I flailed and fell. Maybe I could have worked it out, but I'm weak and we were moving fast, so I pulled on two draws. From the ledge/tree belay above we simuled the last few easy pitches to the top. It was a perfect, clear, calm, sunny day. We downclimbed the South Arete, chilled a bit and had some food. I sat laughing at BP, who was working hard to produce fire by rubbing two sticks together like a man posessed. No luck. Alas, our smokables would have to wait until we returned to the car to be combusted. But it was only 10:30 am, so we figured we'd climb something else. We headed down to the Southwest Rib of SEWS, which is a fun 6-7 pitch 5.8 climb we'd both done before. BP took one of the many possible variation pitchs with one move of 5.9 up to the base of the flake/Crack. I led the flake/crack, he took the "nervous 5.6" pitch, I took the wide crack bearhug and then continued around and up the crest of the buttress and we simuled the last couple pitches to the top. Once again we downclimbed the South Arete. We traversed the ridge, then slid and glissaded down the gully to the hairpin. What a blast. The snow was perfect--you could go fast, but stay in control enough to avoid a granite enema from one of the stray rocks that had fallen down and melted into the surface. We arrived back at the car at 1:00 pm and finally found FIRE.
  16. Dreamer (sort of) TR

    Coondog and myself headed up to climb Dreamer yesterday. We got a fairly leisurely start. In an attempt to make up time, I tried to goad Coondog into driving ALL the way to the base of Green Giant Buttress, but he declined. I guess he’s still babying his new “previously owned” 4WD truck. So we walked to the base of the climb. The sun was high in the sky by the time we got on the rock. I’d meant to bring MattP’s excellent topo, but forgot it, which resulted in some Adventures in Routefinding. After consulting the Matt’s website today, it appears we climbed a couple pitches of Dreamer, two pitches of Urban Bypass, one pitch of Safe Sex, then one scary hard pitch that doesn’t appear on his topo linking the Safe Sex Belay under the great roof to the top of the Blue Crack (more on this later) then the last four pitches of Dreamer to the top. I started off and made it to the belay below Urban Bypass in one long leftward angling pitch (some simulclimbing required). Coondog led the Urban Bypass 5.10 friction pitch, then I led us up and right where we apparently connected with Safe Sex. Coondog led a short pitch up through the bushes and trees past a rusty hangerless bolt to a big belay ledge in the huge corner below the Great Roof. It’s this next pitch I’m curious about. I’m pretty sure we were off of any route, but perhaps others have gone this way accidentally or intentionally. On MattP’s topo (attached below) I highlighted our route in red and this one particular pitch in orange. I started at the 4th Safe Sex belay in the huge corner about 50 feet under the Great roof, and ended up at the top of the Blue Crack. From the Safe Sex belay, I downclimbed a few feet, and traversed left across the beautiful handcrack (which ends 15-20 feet above). I went left out around the corner, where I found myself out on a face with some crumbly grooves, hard moves and uninspiring protection. I climbed up and left, slung a shrub, and then began a long leftward traverse under a roof. I traversed for 50 or 60 feet horizontally leftwards. It was pretty freaky and I felt less and less confident I was on route. Basically it involved underclinging or jamming this inch-thick hollow flake hanging several feet vertically out from under the roof. Spooky. I jammed it as much as possible to avoid pulling out on the flake. Protection was OK in places, but in other spots it seemed pointless because of the fragility of the flake. I was having visions of taking a long whipper with a large thin sharp flake in my lap. After a long leftward traverse, I arrived at the base of a really cool looking clean flake/crack above me (which turns out was the Blue Crack). I think this is where I rejoined Dreamer? In order to get into the crack, I had to continue traversing left another 10 feet, to where you can go up and make a couple face moves back right reach the crack. The Blue Crack itself is a beautiful feature. You can lieback or jam it, but I felt more comfortable jamming it, as the lip of the crack is quite thin and friable in spots. With horrendous rope drag, no slings, and little rope left I reached the hanging belay above the blue crack. So has anyone else tried this variation? I can’t say I’d recommend it, but it certainly was mentally and physically challenging—the highlight of the day for me. One of those “fun after its done” kind of pitches. The rest of the climb was straightforward and enjoyable. It appears a piano-sized chunk of rock recently departed from the last short easy pitch. There are some loose blocks around the scar, but they are easily avoidable. There was no wetness anywhere on the climb, and no snow anywhere on the approach or at the base. The creek is low enough you can easily cross without getting your feet wet. By the time we got back to the base of the climb, it was getting dark. By the time we got down into the woods, it was very dark. By the time we got back to Seattle, it was today already.
  17. Day 1 - Leithal the Lovely Lurker (LLL) and myself left the Greater Lake Wenatchee Metropolitan area at dark, and awoke the next morning along some red dirt road among the surreal spires near the Owyhee River Canyon in Eastern Oregon. The idea was to break up the drive to the City of Rocks with a detour to climb in the Leslie Gulch area. A morning spent lost on various dirt backroads left us with a flat tire. I read recently that guys need to listen better and be more emotionally supportive. So, as LLL changed the tire, crawling around in the dust and cow dung under the van, grunting and swearing like a sailor, I sat in the warm sun, listened intently and offered emotional support. One tire down, two others bulging, no spares to go, 60 mostly dirt miles from the nearest town, we abandoned the Leslie Gulch plan and headed to Caldwell for some new treads. Meanwhile my hound dog had developed a case of explosive diarrhea, perhaps related to his unofficial breakfast of coyote crap and deer entrails. Day 2 - After a night of rain, morning at the city was clear and cold. We climbed a couple climbs, including Rye Crisp, which is a really fun climb up fragile stacked flakes. LLL decided to lead a somewhat runout 5.9 (5 bolts in 110 feet) friction/face climb nearby. The sky grew dark. Halfway up, the rain came down, soaking the rock, the rope and her. Shivering and sketching high above her last bolt but below the wet crux, I was concerned that LLL might be exhibiting signs of hyothermia or Tourette's syndrome, given her incoherent mumbling and frequent outbursts of profanity. But then again, it's sometimes hard to tell with her! She eventually downclimbed some tough wet friction and lowered off. There was a short break in the rain, and we climbed and cleaned the route before retreating to the van to discuss options. It didn't look good. The rain had turned to hail with a little snow/slush mixed in. We decided to head South to Utah. However, it's hard to be southbound when your ride won't start. We managed to flag down the last person leaving the deserted City, who gave Leithal the Lovely Lurker a ride to Almo to call Triple A. The hound with explosive diarrhea and I sat in the cold van listening to country music on AM radio as the snow came down. Day 3 - After a late night powerdrive, we woke in Kane Springs Canyon, just outside of Moab. It had rained all night, but once again the morning was clear. A couple miles up the Red walled canyon is an area called the Ice Cream Parlour, which is a tall cliff of Neopolitan-like sandstone scooped hollow. Slabs down low led to vertical cliffs which lead to huge roofs high above. We climbed several fun slabby finger cracks, and then feeling masochistic, I decided to lead "The Coffin." At 5.9, this is wolf in sheep's clothing. I've climbed quite a few wide cracks, offwidths and chimneys of the same or higher grade, but nothing like this. In summary: I got worked, it was ugly and took forever. If you want the gory details, read on. The climbs starts off with a hand crack in the back of a chimney, then fist jamming and face holds over a steep roof. Having hardly climbed on sandstone outside Peshastin, at first I was spooked at relying on gear that I wouldn't question at all if if was placed in granite. As a result, I overprotected, tired myself out by climbing up halfway over the roof and back down numerous times, and eventually resorted to pulling on a piece to make it over the roof. So much for style. Above, a 30+ foot widening crack that became a lieback/OW flake led up to a dark squeeze chimney. I motored halfway up the flake, and got couple pieces in then placed the 5-inch yellow tri-cam just before the flake got too wide to protect, and then ran it up to the relative security of the chimney. "Secure" is an understatement. The Coffin was a deep squeeze chimney maybe 50 feet high, 15-20 feet deep, vertical, with parallel walls so narrow I could only fit in certain places. I was in a vice of smooth sandstone, tight enough I was unable to turn my helmeted head from side to side in most places. At 6-3, 195ish, I could barely fit, much less move once crammed into the Coffin. Had I eaten a big breakfast that morning, I would have been nothing more than bomber passive permanent pro. To make any progress in the chimney, I had to find slight wide spots that I could fit through. It was like a Chinese puzzle: If I wanted to go up, I first had to go down, then sideways, then diagonal, then sideways, then up. 15 feet of thrutching might yield me a few feet of vertical progress. It was too tight to generate any opposing force, so all I could do was breath deep to wedge my chest between the walls, inchworm up a little, then exhale. The widest spots were perhaps an inch deeper than my depth of my body back-to-chest. Progress was brutally slow. Several times I slid 5 or 6 feet down towards the bowels of the chimney until my body passively wedged in a narrow spot. This was dissapointing, because in addition to sanding off swaths of skin, I quickly lost hard-won ground that had taken me many minutes to gain. I've never been claustrophobic, not even when I was locked in a car trunk for 3 hours on my 21st birthday after consuming 10 beerverages when my friends lost the keys to the car. But in the Coffin, I was seriously freaked in spots--not because I was afraid of falling, (though my last gear was that tipped-out tri-cam 30 feet below below. As long as I was in the squeeze, all I could do was slowly grind down to a wedged stop, which I'd already experienced. What I feared was becoming literally stuck in this cold stone coffin. My body was wedged so tight between these two parallel walls that I had a hard time taking full breaths, which when compounded with the exertion of the climb, made me feel like I was suffocating. Several times I had to stop and focus on breathing and quell the panic of claustrophobia that I'd never felt before. I considered the question "how are they going to get me out of here? Explosive diarrhea?" Two thirds of the way up the squeeze, I finally got a few good pieces of gear in a thin crack in the back of the chimney. Now with gear, I felt OK about venturing out towards exposed, unprotectable and insecure edge of the Coffin. I traversed out towards the window of now-threatening sky some 20 feet to the right and up, and climbed up along the loose edge of the chimney. Difficult climbing up loose rock with viscious rope drag finally brought me to the top of the detached piller, where I sighed a sigh of relief. I sighed too soon. My hands could reach the top of the climb, but whereas previously the rope drag was merely like towing a spastic donkey through quicksand, now the rope had become completely stuck, totally immobilizing me. Runout above my last gear, stuck in a tenuous stance on flexible sandstone flakes and frictiony feet just below the top, I could peer over the top of the pillar at the chains 5 or 6 feet away, but I didn't have the rope to top out. Physically and emotionally exhausted, I considered my options. The sky looked like Something Evil This Way Comes, and I could smell the rain and electricity in the air. Far below, the hound with explosive diarrhea whined in sympathy with my situation. From my delicate stance, I reached back with one hand, unclipped and unknotted my cordellete from my harness. It took me a couple tries, but I was able to use the cordelette like a lasoo, throwing a loop blindly over the detached piller. I couldn't see exactly how it wrapped around the back side, but it seemed secure for a downward pull. I clipped into the cordelette, and still gripping the loose flakes, slowly weighted it. It shifted once with a frightening pop that sent some loose rock down the chimney, but held. Trusting my entire weight to the cordelette, I yarded on the rope like the anchor man in a tug or war contest where the loser would be executed. Finally I was able to pull enough slack up that I could pull a beached whale move up and over the edge. By the time I was on the ground, the storm hit. Pea-sized hail was accompanied by flashes of lightening that were followed almost immediately by crashes of thunder. Once again we took shelter in a cave. I'd left my cordelette and a few lockers up at the anchor, hoping that I would have a chance to watch LLL experience the Coffin. After all, at least half of the fun of climbing some desperate thrutchfest is getting to watch your partner suffer through it! There was a bit of a break, so LLL headed up. As she was tacking the roof low on the route, a good sized chunk of sandstone pulled off, hitting her in the cheek. That left a mark. The rain had started again. Sandstone and rain do not mix. I lowered her off and we left the anchor booty for somebody else. Well, those were the first three of our eleven days on the road. We had a great time climbing around Moab: Indian Creek (which force-fed us several more slices of humble pie), Potash Road, and the River Road. Self-flagellating offwidths, chimneys and tight corners seemed to be a theme. We went through a whole tube of Neosporin to heal our chapped, scraped and sanded hides. I took the Bloody Award, with several dozen open or oozing wounds on my knees, ankles, shoulders, back, elbows, hands and forearms, while LLL easily took the Combined Bruise Title--the coolest one being a clear imprint of a #4 Camalot. We hiked down wild canyons and never saw another person all day. We soaked our tired bones in beautiful wilderness hotsprings. We partied with the jack Mormon sinners in Moab. We returned to the City of Rocks, only to find it blizzarding there. We almost got stuck thirty miles from nowhere on a rough dirt road when we woke one morning to find it had snowed over half a foot. The hound's explosive diarrhea gave way to projectile vomiting which gave Leithal the Lovely Lurker's stuff a nice musky smell. Ahh, but climbing into - and back out of - the Coffin was the highlight of the trip for me! [ 11-03-2002, 09:11 PM: Message edited by: Uncle Tricky ]
  18. The recent threads about access, secret spots, and of course the never-ending clash between different forms of climbing got me thinking. Of all pursuits, in my opinion the culture of climbing and the culture of surfing are perhaps the closest. Both activities predate recorded history. There’s something innately attractive about climbing to the tops of things. Likewise people are drawn to messing around in the waves that form the dynamic border between land and ocean. Not surprisingly, these two activities became central to different cultures. For the Polynesians, surfing became central to the culture: entire breaks were set aside for royalty and only kings were allowed to ride boards made out of Wiliwili wood. Commoners had to ride smaller, heavier boards made from Koa. Death was the penalty if common folk were caught surfing the prime royalty-only spots. Similarly, climbing was a part of many ancient cultures, and was important for safety, recreation and religious purposes. The Anasazi were crazy good sandstone climbers, ascending scary routes to cliffside caves that provided them security. The aborigines of Australia left petroglyphs high on inaccessible rocky faces, the South American Indians left monuments at the top of many of the highest peaks, and who doubts that the Hueco Tanks locals of a thousand years ago had friendly bouldering competitions? In more modern times, both surfing and climbing have rich written and oral histories replete with colorful characters, famous spots and fantastic tales. Climbing has Sir Edmund, Royal Robbins, and Beckey. Surfing has Duke Kahanamoku, Eddie Aikau and Greg Noll. Climbing has Yosemite, the Alps and Everest. Surfing has the Pipeline, Mavericks and Uluwatu. Climbing has Lynn Hill’s FFA of the Nose, Joe Simpson’s epics, and Twight’s smashing of alpine precedent. Surfing has Big Wednesday, The Eddie, and Ken Bradshaw’s riding of the biggest wave in history: Both cultures are global and diverse, and also riven with internal conflicts, ethical debates, and competition for increasingly scarce resources. Climbing includes everything from bouldering to climbing 8k meter peaks and everything in between. In fact when you measure the whole never-ending sport vs. trad debate against the whole scope of the climbing "community" it's really a feud between two minority factions. Surfing includes long-boarding, short-boarding, boogie boarding, body-surfing and tow-in surfing. Longboarders vs. Shortboarders is the surfing equivalent of the sporto/trad divide. Ask a shortboarder about a longboarder, and they’ll probably say they are a bunch of fat old grumpy guys and beginner kooks who sit outside and hog all the waves. An old school longboarder will probably say shortboarders are a bunch of young punks with no respect who are always getting caught in the impact zone. And of course both short and longboarders look down on the lowly boogie boarders (AKA boogers, sponges or speed bumps) and everyone unanimously hates kayaks in the surf zone. And yes, there's all kinds of other "ethical" debates that rage within surfing, all of which seem utterly trivial to any outside observers. But perhaps the hottest issue in the surfing world is over “localism.” Dating back to the Polynesian Kings, localism has always been a big part of surfing. While there’s lots of ocean, there’s not a lot of really good surf breaks, and most of the time, those breaks don’t have good waves. So where the time comes where conditions come together and the waves are good there is intense competition and jockeying for position in the water. As chaotic as it looks, there is a whole code of behavior and conduct when it comes to surfing. Violate any of these unwritten rules and the shit storm will descend upon you. “NEVER DROP IN!” is the golden rule, and yet it is broken all the time, which often results in a dangerous situation and often verbal or physical confrontations. If you surf, you’ll run into localism at some point, so ingrained is it in the culture of surfing. Virtually every spot has certain locals that believe that their proximity to a place gives them special priority, and frankly they don’t want you there. Maybe you’ll get the stink-eye, maybe you'll get heckled, or maybe you’ll get dropped in on. If you don’t know what you’re doing and try to surf the corner at Westport on a good day, Big Al WILL tell you to go on down the beach. If you accidently drop in on Decker, (AKA The Brick Shithouse) he may well paddle up to you, shove you underwater and breaks the fins off you board. These guys have been surfing these spots for decades and in their minds they own them. While there’s many cool surfers in Port Angeles, some jokers there claim all the spots on the Olympic Peninsula for themselves, including the ones out on the Rez near Neah Bay. Some have bestowed a name upon themselves: the "OPC" or Olympic Peninsula Crew. Like the KTK, it's mostly a joke, but still represents a common underlying want for tribal identification. In my 7 or 8 years of surfing, I've seen maybe a half-dozen physical confrontations in the water or on shore. That's more fights than I've seen in any other context. Here in Washington and Oregon, many cars have been vandalized, tires slashed and in one incident a car was torched on the Olympic Peninsula. More than a few people have gone to jail in surfing-related assaults. There are places in Hawaii where NO visitors would dare surf. All in the name of waves. In surfing, threats, intimidation, property destruction and physical confrontation are fairly common methods used to scare away beginners, deter visitors, protect surf spots and gain choice position in the water. Lesser known spots, or beta about what combinations of tide, wind and waves that make certain spots fire are jealously guarded secrets. Beyond being common, such practices are generally accepted as part of the localism tradition of surfing culture. If you're a local, then you can get away with dropping in on somebody or snaking somebody's position in the lineup. The flip side is when you travel to a new place, you often have to contend with a certain degree of hostility, and you have to expect to defer to the locals. If your competent and respectful, most of the time in most places most people are good folks and you'll likely have no problems. Even though its not a defensible position to act as though where you live gives you a greater right to use public land or water than anyone else, that's absolutely the way it is. Fortunately there’s not (yet) the same degree of competition for rock as there is for waves, and there's not such a negative culture of territorial local tribalism in climbing. Despite the internal divisions, there's a greater degree of common identification among climbers. The climbing culture is generally more open, friendly and accepting of newbies or visitors. People are generally willing to share information about new climbs and cool places with others. The kind of localism I see in climbing is generally less selfish and more benevolent. Whether in relation to a crag or a break, localism can be a positive force when locals are trying to keep a place clean, or preserve access, or trying to maintain the unique character of a place. I truly appreciate those who take the time to care about a place, and I think that’s a great element of the climbing culture. Thanks to those who help work on trails, pick up garbage, replace dangerous anchors, work with land managers, and those who chop all those damn sport climbs squeezed between classic natural lines… OK, OK, so I’m kidding about the bolt choppers. Well sort of. The good news is that localism in climbing is still mostly of the positive kind. Let’s keep it that way. [ 09-08-2002, 02:56 AM: Message edited by: Uncle Tricky ]
  19. A couple years back, a number of my friends gathered in Bend, Oregon. The occasion was the wedding of our good friend Eric, who was to be married the next day. He and his fiancée grew up a couple blocks from each other in Bend. They had been best friends since first grade, but it wasn't until a couple years after college that they finally acknowledged what was obvious to everyone else: they were a perfect match and deeply in love with each other. Anyway, the day before the Saturday wedding, we took Eric up to a cabin on Elk Lake, which is out near Mt. Bachelor, for the bachelor party. On the way there, my friend Dan and I noticed some cliffs along the road. Sure, they looked loose, shattered, and flaky, but hey, it was rock--or at least something that vaguely resembled rock. We drove on and arrived at the cabin at Elk Lake, where typical bachelor party festivities commenced: heavy drinking, smoking of strange aromatic substances, lighting each other on fire with lighter fluid, etc. After a couple hours of such fun, Dan and I got the brilliant idea of returning to the cliffs down the road to do some altered climbing. The two minute approach to the cliffs crossed a field of sharp, shattered talus that appeared fresh off the cliff. It seemed that the cliff was actively eroding at a very rapid rate. As we discussed whether or not we should hike around and set up a toprope, Dan amused himself by throwing rocks at the cliff face. Each rock he threw caused a small avalanche of rockfall, as plates of crumbly volcanic choss broke free from the face. By comparison, the rock at Frenchman's or Peshastin was bulletproof granite. We stopped at the base of the most obvious feature of the cliff: a wide dihedral 100+ feet high. The dihedral appeared slightly more solid than the flaky unprotectable faces nearby. It looked like there might be protection in the corner, but it was hard to tell, because there was a bulge at about 20 feet that prevented us from seeing what lay above. Since enough Obsidian Stout renders once absolutely 100%invincible, I decided to lead it. Dumb. I bouldered up easy ground to just below the bulge, where I found one uninspiring placement in fractured rock. Hoping there would be some real protection available above the bulge, I sketched up and over the slightly overhanging section. Bad idea. There were some positive holds, but I dared not touch them for they appeared to be attached by nothing more than cobwebs and chance. Once above the steep section, I found myself committed and in serious groundfall territory. The corner where I was hoping to find pro was nothing more than a shallow, flaring moss and grass filled groove. I smeared and stemmed in the slippery, insecure dihedral, my feet oozing down and out as I tried to excavate some pro. No luck. At this point, I started to feel a little less than invincible. Maybe I should have had another beer before beginning this venture. While I was only 25 or 30 feet up at this point, I was convinced that I couldn’t down climb the bulge—I didn’t trust the one piece of pro I had in below it any more than I trusted the absurdly loose rock I would have to downclimb. That option seemed like a guaranteed groundfall. Up seemed like the best and really the only option. Another 15 or 20 feet above it looked like there might be some gear. Like mirages in the desert, the apparent protection opportunities dissapeared as soon as I reached them. Down was not an option. Falling was not an option. Upward and onward! Climbing as conservatively and delicately as possible, ("light as a feather!") I was expecting the whole dihedral to spontaneously exfoliate at any moment, killing me and burying my belayer. At 70 feet, I finally got found a decent placement (the first and last one) that gave me confidence that I wouldn’t ground out. I doubled it up and continued. The last 35 feet was exciting. I moved out onto the right arête, which was like climbing a teetering stack of broken dishes. Nothing seemed to be attached to anything. The last move was a joy. Facing a 70 footer into a corner if I fell, I had to climb up and then through a dead, barely rooted pine tree. I flopped over the edge at the top, punctured and bleeding from the tree adventure. I was physically, emotionally, psychologically wrecked, and yet I was flying--perhaps even higher than when I started the climb! If the rock had been solid, the whole climb would have been easy—maybe 5.8 max. But given the incredible shittiness of the rock, I had climbed what felt like 5.10, because I was only willing to commit my existence to the few semi-solid holds hidden among a plethora of worthless ones. After a few minutes of recovering and rejoicing, I set up an anchor off a few trees and belayed Dan up. As he climbed it, pulling and kicking off rocks ever other move, all he could say was “holy shit” over and over. When he arrived at the top we just looked at each other, laughed and had the same thought—“let’s get back to the bachelor party and have a beer or eight!” As we walked down, we wondered if anyone else had ever been stupid enough to climb this line. I have no idea, but we took the liberty of naming the line anyway. In honor of Eric’s wedding the next day, we named it “To Death Do Us Part Dihedral” 5.8 R/X. Epilogue: The next day at the wedding we told Eric’s dad (a Bend local) of our adventure. He told us a story that made our name for the climb even more appropriate. Apparently a few years earlier, a guy killed his wife at this very same cliff. He told the police that he and his wife were climbing and had an accident which resulted in her death. But after the police brought in some climbers to help the police investigate the guy’s story, the police concluded that he’d murdered her, and tried to make it look like a climbing accident. I can only guess what the climbers helping the police investigate the incident might have said: “Nobody in their right mind would climb here—there’s no way to protect it, and the rock is so crappy it’d be suicidal!!!” I’d give the climb no stars, and recommend it to none but my mortal enemies, yet the experience was unforgettable! [ 02-18-2002: Message edited by: Uncle Tricky ]
  20. uncle tricky Smelliest Car

    I think I own it!