Colchuck Balanced Rock - Accendo LunaeDate:
9/5/2012Soapbox AlertClimbers are basically the only user group to visit the cirque at CBR. Any garbage is ours. Any tape, piles of wood, campfires, and human waste is ours. Any rangers that visit the area go to police us. Lets keep this place pristine and set a great leave-no-trace precedent. I'd love to go up there is 20 years and have it look like it did 20 years ago.--------------
Earlier this summer I was up at Colchuck Balanced Rock for the day to try and climb a route we hoped would incorporate the best and hardest climbing on Let it Burn
with some new pitches and the crux of the West Face.
Scott Bennett, Graham Zimmerman and I began via the 5.7 and clean 5.10 pitches on the West Face, then followed Let it Burn for 3 pitches (which are each really amazing, thanks again Max and Jens for the work on that route!)
Scott following Let it Burn's crux pitch
From here we started up our new pitch #1. From the belay between Let it Burn's two 5.11+ pitches, we moved right and into a thin splitter. My friend Scott began to free climb, but neon lichen and a bit of grainy rock shut him down. We tagged him up a spare tennis shoe to use for scraping, scrubbing, and cleaning up the pitch, and he aided up to a ledge. He worked out a few sequences on TR and then pulled his gear and pulled the rope. Scott came very close to sending on his first go, but slipped out of a thin hand jam near the top.
(Scott, lichen my tennis shoe)
The three of us were sharing a single liter of water on the route, which gets about 3x as much sun as anything else up there, yet Scott donated his water ration to me as I strapped on shoes for a lead go. Using the gear beta he'd worked out, but putting together my short-guy sequence on the go, I flashed the pitch, but it was a fight until the end. Even though this pitch wasn't long, it felt harder than the crux of Let it Burn and much harder than anything on the West Face, so I think 5.12- is about right, but it might clean up a bit and be easier.
Although I could have kept leading, I didn't have much of the gear I'd need to continue and the next stretch of stone had the leader moving right over a sharp, clean flake, not where I wanted my 8.4mm ropes running. I belayed up Scott and Graham and got the rest of the gear.
New pitch #2 began with some really creative and memorable flare climbing on immaculate white stone, with a good crack for wires and thin cams. After a rest in an alcove, I got some great gear above my head in the roof, and did the double-handjam pull-up to turn the lip. I'd been hoping that the crack continued above the roof, and was really happy to find good thin hands jams for quite a ways. The roof is a rope-eating feature, but a blue alien sized cam can be slotted into a horizontal once you've pulled the crux, to direct the rope out of the pinch. I mantled up after the corner, and then face climbed slightly right to the belay which folks normally reach climbing straight left from under the roof on the West Face. From here we joined the crux pitch of the West Face, and finished up the chimneys.
By the time we did the "5.8" chimneys, it was fully dark, but it actually got brighter as we simulclimbed to the summit, as the moon was nearly full and very welcome for our summit and descent. I joked about calling our variant "Let it Face West" but in honor of the moonlight and in homage to the route "Let it Burn" we decided to name it "Accendo Lunae" which is latin for burning
, or ascending
Naming a 2-pitch variation to two existing routes is perhaps a little silly, but at least it should make route discussion and differentiation a little easier.
With steep splitter climbing, excellent protection, good belay ledges, and sustained pitches at the 5.10+ to 5.12- grade, "Accendo
" is probably my new favorite rock climb in the area.Gear Notes:
Double set of cams to #2, with one #3 and one #4. Standard set of wires. 60m rope is fine.