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[TR] Squire Creek Wall - Slab Daddy 9/6/2011

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Trip: Squire Creek Valley - Slab Daddy


Date: 9/6/2011


Trip Report:

Vernman23 and I climbed Slab Daddy Aug 28-29. It was a mostly enjoyable climb although the first day was oppressively hot. My appetite for slab climbing will be more than satiated for quite some time after completing this route.






As you arrive in Darrington on 530 (Arlington-Darrington Rd.) eastbound, take a right on Fullerton Ave (where 530 makes a slight bend to head due east). In 4 blocks, take another right on Darrington St. which turns into Squire Creek Rd. Follow the main road until it dead ends at the trailhead.




Not wanting to roast at the balcony bivy we left the car a little before 2pm. The old logging road trail was quick and easy and the start of the climbers trail was obvious. There is a 36in diameter tree across the stream about 200ft upstream of the old crossing. It is good sized so if it remains in place after the winter storms and spring melt, it’ll be a good alternative to wading. We arrived at the base of the route at 3pm.




Day 1

It had only rained once in the past 2 weeks so the first pitch was completely dry and there was no need to bypass it as other parties had done. We found some damaged (bent) hangers early on but nothing too bad. However, there is still a severely damaged bolt (very loose in the hole but does not pull all the way out) midway through pitch 8. Its ability to hold a fall is quite questionable but it made me feel better to clip it anyway.





Sweaty palms and hot shoes made friction in the heat of the day a little less than reliable. This, plus the added weight from overnight packs made the climbing slow going. I really don’t recommend climbing this route on a hot day. The temperature rose dramatically after leaving the valley floor and the rock has E.S.E. exposure which puts it directly in the sun for much of the day. The tops of our feet blistered in hot shoes.






We arrived at the balcony bivy at 7pm. I think I read somewhere that it would hold 3 people but that would probably be pretty cozy. The bivy was an awesome place to spend the night though. The sky was clear and stars were out. We saw several shooting stars and just before drifting to sleep there was bright flash high in the sky that we concluded was probably the space station. Also, in case anyone is interested, Vern found that there is spotty 3g service from the bivy although it was not strong enough to stream netflix.




Day 2

I awoke early to find the entire valley below the bivy was socked in. Our bivy bags were covered in dew but the sky was clear above. We had a meager breakfast and then I got a slap-in-the-face wake up leading slabby 5.10 (albeit well protected) on pitch 12 from the balcony. We had much less weight but the progressive difficulty of the climbing and strength-sapping heat from the day before kept our pace slow.






On pitch 15 the route dog legs on thin slabby moves between bolts 3 and 4 resulting in a run out of 20ft+. A fall here would result in a very nasty ~40ft pendulum. The absence of a bolt to protect the dog leg here seemed a little out of character compared to the rest of the route but perhaps the first acentionists were trying to eliminate extra rope drag. On pitch 19, Vern was able to eliminate most of the run-out on the undercling by placing his #3 C4 high in the corner then he moved out and placed the #4 far to the left in the undercling. He then stepped back to retrieve the #3 and used it again above. On pitch 21, I reached out across the blankish slab for the first move of the pitch and took a surprisingly long cheese-grating fall that left little bits of elbow and knuckle streaked across the rough granite slab. Upon reaching the 5.10 crux on the final pitch, both of us were so spent we couldn’t help but French free the last move. We arrived at the top at about 12:45pm tired and thirsty.




We spent about 15min on top, drank the last of our water and then started down. On the very first rap, the rope got hopelessly stuck and Vern mercifully volunteered to climb back up using an ascender and a tibloc. By the time the rope was freed and he rapped back down we had killed nearly an hour on the first rap. Luckily, the rest of the descent was pretty straight forward and we simul-rapped to the bivy, gulped down most of our near-boiling water stash, packed up our gear and triple bagged Vern's steamy bag-o-poo. We simul-rapped the remaining pitches arriving at the bottom about 5:30. Hats off to David Whitelaw and crew for aligning the rapels so well. It was nice to not have to mess with a complicated descent after a long day. Note: the very last rap can be bypassed with 50m ropes by angling to climber’s right. We packed up the gear and were back to the car a little after 6pm.


Additional Notes




Our plan was to fill our water bag at the sources shown on the topo at the top of pitch 9. The lower puddle was quite scummy but upper pool yielded about a gallon of mosquito larva flavored water. There was probably only about 2 gallons left in the puddle after we had filled up.


Rock fall:


On the lower pitches we heard what sounded like some very large rock fall above on the headwall but only one piece of golf ball sized shrapnel made it down to us. When we arrived at the balcony bivy we were a bit unnerved to find a dinner plate sized chunk of granite in the middle of the bivy area. However, overall the route had much less loose rock than other long routes such as Infinite Bliss.




-singles to #4 C4

-set of nuts

-5 quick draws

-5 alpine draws

-H20 filter

-bivy sacks

-small tarp

-50m single rope

-50m half rope for rap




While rapping the upper pitches we noticed a large, yellow item on a jumble of rocks high in gully to the SE (next slab down the valley from Slab Daddy). It appeared to be slightly lower in elevation than the balcony bivy. Did the wind claim someone’s tarp or bivy sack from the balcony perhaps?

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way to get up the Daddy! especially in that heat.

we watched y'all climb the last few pitches, and top out. i took a few pics of you guys on 15 or 16. i can try and get them to you if you want.




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Thanks for the excellent report, Sid. I'm glad you guys were having a good time on it. As Jimbo says, we saw you from nearby. Your story was told with humility, but it looked like you cruised the Exit Groove really fast!


The Balcony really is comfortable for three. David and I went up there with Zack, who used a lower level at first. But the odd slope and the separation got to him, so the journeyman mason laid in a fine terrace just above mine. Also, David and jmclimber and I had some good nights up there.


Congratulations on pulling through a long climb on some hot days! And thank you for the fine pics, too.



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In regards to the bright flash you saw, it could have been an Iridium Flare. The space station will look like the brightest star in the sky but will be moving very fast, maybe a minute or two horizon to horizon. There are some incredibly accurate phone apps that will tell you when satellites pass over. Its a pretty cool campfire trick to be able to point in a direction and let people know the space station will be coming over in a few seconds.


Now you know and knowing is half the battle.

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Saw that flash twice two weeks ago from further up the valley.

It was on the same trajectory both times, about an hour apart, and just dissapeared in a flash toward the NE.

I thought for sure it was the drones! Yikes!


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