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#708727 - 07/29/07 12:49 PM [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge
lunger Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 370
TRs: 12 Photos: 131
Loc: see atoll
Trip: Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge

Date: 7/27/2007

Trip Report:
A couple days ago, Kevin N. and I found this route in great shape. Seems a bit has been written here before; I'll echo the general sentiment that the Pillar features some of the finest rock climbing in the Cascades. 3 pitches of steep, sustained, and thought-provoking climbing in stupendous position--words and pictures fail. Go climb it.

Left Mountaineers Cr to climb the lower N Ridge (fun rock by itself), then gained the Ice Cliff Gl above the calving seracs. Surmounted minor firn/neve difficulties to make good time to the pillar (hit the base of the business mid-morning, and Stuart greeted us w/ an impressive clamor of snow shedding from the NE Face slabs). I drew the first pitch, which had negligible wetness, fun moves and a good wake-up call for the steepness above. Kevin sent the p.2 crux on-sight, and I followed cleanly--we were stoked. The third and last pillar-pitch rocks--high mountain woody time.

The Sherpa Glacier descent is probably past its prime, but we had the glacier gear along, and 'twas nice to get our dried husks out of the sun. Currently the descent--fairly technical with hard snow and loose rock--was probably more taxing for me than the ascent (fatigue?). Rapped once to clear a 'shrund, burning some of our booty. (We netted 8 stoppers and 2 'biners, one a bitchin'...neutrino! On the Girth Pillar! Imagine that.)

I'd be curious if anybody can corroborate AlpineDave's posting in another thread:

" I'm surprised no one has mentioned rapping one of the buttresses further East from the Sherpa glacier. I've read a report of people climbing close to the base of the West Ridge of Sherpa, and then rapping down to the basin below. Sounded pretty strait forward, with maybe 8-10 single rope rapps at existing stations. "

I've not done the NW Buttress descent, but am casting about for the best option this time of year. The Teanaway/Ingall's approach would've been WAY hot late last week, and didn't fit well w/ our plans.

We didn't see any humans on the N side. For several hours during the climb, a hummingbird accompanied us with its sound effects--cool. Hiked down in the cool of the early evening. Encountered a porcupine, and a beautiful, resident buck both on way up and down. On the wildlife topic, the friendly bugs also embraced us with open mandibles and proboscises, always spurring action.

Arrived in der hamlet w/ a flat tire to fix, just past kitchen closings. Contented w/ the Champagne of Beers and chips for the tired drive home. Kevin passed out in the passenger seat; I only passed out once (Chevy Chase style), luckily while stopped at a Monroe traffic light.

Some pics, a few more in the gallery:

leaving rock for the glacier:


step of vertical snow:


Pillar shots were challenging, with sunlit glaciers and shadowed climbers. You photog's out there please chime in w/ advice on how to get a good shot in these conditions, sans flash.

One attempt yielded an impressionistic result--the blur appropriately connoting K's speed (and steeze):


K following p1:


This pic's for the special edifier (caption = "not exit 38"):


sendbot:


a more chill portion of the descent:


go that way:


Gear Notes:
medium large rack was good to have.

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#708734 - 07/29/07 02:27 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: lunger]
Sol Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/24/03
Posts: 1640
TRs: 30 Photos: 401
Loc: leavenworth
Nice. Did you guys free it? If so, what did it go at?

I did NW Buttress descent about this time last summer. Not too bad, not too rad. Kinda grassy, kinda loose, really long. We downclimbed most of it unroped and did maybe 3 raps. You wander back and forth along each side of the ridge crest via the easiest route. Prolly better than the melted out sherpa glacier descent this time of year.

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#708735 - 07/29/07 02:45 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: Sol]
lunger Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 370
TRs: 12 Photos: 131
Loc: see atoll
Cool, thanks for the NW Butt descent beta--sounds like it might've been only marginally better right now.

Yes, we did free the crux (K led it), and on TR it felt like Index 11-. My impression would likely be different if I'd drawn that pitch. Pitches 1 and 3 are 5.10 and tons o' fun.

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#708737 - 07/29/07 03:03 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: lunger]
Sol Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/24/03
Posts: 1640
TRs: 30 Photos: 401
Loc: leavenworth
Originally Posted By: lunger
Yes, we did free the crux (K led it), and on TR it felt like Index 11-. My impression would likely be different if I'd drawn that pitch. Pitches 1 and 3 are 5.10 and tons o' fun.


Rad!

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#708752 - 07/29/07 03:53 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: Sol]
spotly Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/27/05
Posts: 869
TRs: 34 Photos: 50
Loc: Mead, WA
Nice job! As far as getting the correct exposure when the subject is in shadows, I try to capture the exposure for the sky then drag the subjust out using Photoshop. The details aren't as sharp but if it's a choice of that or washing out the sky, I'd prefer the happy medium. I think there are special filters you can get if you're shooting with an SLR (doubtful on a 5.11 climb - LOL). Anyhoo, that's my method butI'm sure there are others that would be much better. Nice shots by the way.




Edited by spotly (07/29/07 03:54 PM)

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#708755 - 07/29/07 04:14 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: lunger]
bobbyperu Offline
old hand

Registered: 04/24/02
Posts: 819
TRs: 1 Photos: 66
Loc: big tuna,tx
Super cool!

We had a blast on this route, and doing the lower N.ridge only added to what we were looking for on this outing...alpine rock!

Getting onto the glacier from the n.ridge worked out excellent, and once past the big crack it was cruzer to the shrund at the base of the ICG couloir. we each rolled aproach sneaks, aluminum cramps, and light axes...just what we needed-nuttin we didn't.

We climbed directly off the glacier to the ramp system leading to the base of the pillar, and enjoyed some chill time at the base. pretty rad setting with the tight glacial cirque, the steep slabs of the NE face, and the jutting pillar towering above with its obvious splitters shooting up the clean granite.
not so sucky...

E took the reigns and got us going on 5.10 climbing right off the bat, steep, mostly clean, and challenging this pitch felt at least .10b to me on tr...it ends at a tiny little ledge below more straight up cracks.
The next pitch had me traversing out the tiny ledge and heading up in sweet fingers and hands, until the crack moves right and thins out,(crux) only to open back up above with a weird flared jam followed finally with more hand jams.
The system continues uninterrupted above as a killer hand crack, i belayed below a bulge, and got sprung looking at the soaring hand crack that would lead us to the top of the pillar.
E led up thru the bulge, and fought hard to the top out, i thought this last pitch was the most stenuous .10b/c

After a brief chill session atop the pillar, we headed on up to the false summit happy to be back in tennies. up, across, down and around, and we found the top of the sherpa glacier couloir. down we went carefully dealing with the typical junk found in mostly melted out couloirs later in the season. One rap, a shrund passing, a wicked steep glissade, a lil more snow and we were satisfying our thirst on pure glacial goodness.

Some slabs, some dirt, some talus, and then right back into camp, to rest up in the tent and wait for the trail to cool down, and we were out...bliss!

made it out with the headlamp coming out only at the very end to locate the hidden champagne of beers waiting in the creek...cheers to that!!

The lower north ridge to the girth pillar is o.k.
...if you like perfect ;\)

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#708757 - 07/29/07 04:24 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: bobbyperu]
bobbyperu Offline
old hand

Registered: 04/24/02
Posts: 819
TRs: 1 Photos: 66
Loc: big tuna,tx
oh yeah...i put some pics in the gallery, tried to put them in my post but didn't work out so good...beta?

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#708765 - 07/29/07 05:06 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: bobbyperu]
i_like_sun Offline
veteran

Registered: 07/09/06
Posts: 1586
TRs: 1 Photos: 52
Loc: Bellingham
YOU GUYS ARE MY HEROS.
_________________________
Ultra Violet Light Is Good For You

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#708825 - 07/29/07 10:55 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: bobbyperu]
Alpinfox Offline
Tebow Believer

Registered: 03/05/02
Posts: 5220
TRs: 22 Photos: 320
Originally Posted By: bobbyperu
oh yeah...i put some pics in the gallery, tried to put them in my post but didn't work out so good...beta?


Nice work guys. Jealous.

Here are your pics Kevin:












_________________________
let's spank this pony and see where she goes

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#708847 - 07/30/07 01:03 AM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: lunger]
olyclimber Offline

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 24538
TRs: 31 Photos: 840
Loc: In Love with You
Very nice guys! Way to get'r done free style!
_________________________
SNACKS!!!!!

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#708854 - 07/30/07 01:43 AM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: olyclimber]
ken4ord Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 05/09/03
Posts: 3048
TRs: 14 Photos: 281
Loc: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Hell yeah guys, nice work. Kevin good see you still strong as ever.

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#708882 - 07/30/07 08:36 AM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: ken4ord]
John Frieh Offline
sprayer

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 6204
TRs: 52 Photos: 1185
Loc: PDX
Quote:
Seems a bit has been written here before; I'll echo the general sentiment that the Pillar features some of the finest rock climbing in the Cascades. 3 pitches of steep, sustained, and thought-provoking climbing in stupendous position--words and pictures fail. Go climb it.


Awesome work guys! I couldn't agree more! Amazing route!

Just a heads up on the rating for anyone thinking about heading up: the girth pillar currently has 2 independent routes...

Jim's route that existed before the early 90's rock fall which is still there/unaltered from the rockfall and very much 11c.

Reading your TR it sounds like the route you guys did was the line that was created as a result of the rockfall (expando) and is 11-/10+ depending on who you ask (A0 if you ask me ... one of these trips Ill free it all)

Also depending on which side of the pillar you top out will dictate how hard/long the remaining pitches you have to climb to the false summit are... the right side finish is much shorter/easier than the left side finish.

Again: great work! You guys are STRONG!

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#708890 - 07/30/07 08:59 AM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid *DELETED* [Re: John Frieh]
bobbyperu Offline
old hand

Registered: 04/24/02
Posts: 819
TRs: 1 Photos: 66
Loc: big tuna,tx
Thanks guys!

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#708898 - 07/30/07 09:11 AM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: bobbyperu]
goatboy Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/24/01
Posts: 1916
TRs: 33 Photos: 376
Loc: Waiting for high pressure
Nice photos and good work on the climb.

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#708989 - 07/30/07 01:46 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: John Frieh]
lunger Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 370
TRs: 12 Photos: 131
Loc: see atoll
thanks for the comments fellas.
Originally Posted By: John Frieh

Just a heads up on the rating for anyone thinking about heading up: the girth pillar currently has 2 independent routes...

Jim's route that existed before the early 90's rock fall which is still there/unaltered from the rockfall and very much 11c.

Reading your TR it sounds like the route you guys did was the line that was created as a result of the rockfall (expando) and is 11-/10+ depending on who you ask ... Also depending on which side of the pillar you top out will dictate how hard/long the remaining pitches you have to climb to the false summit are... the right side finish is much shorter/easier than the left side finish.


with a couple minor zags, we went straight up the center of the N facet of the Pillar. there're double cracks and a splitter that make a logical, nearly plum line up the center, w/ a little step left (w/in 40' of the top) to finish. we topped out on the knife edge of the pillar. then, we down-climbed left side of pillar c. 15 ft, and went up.

(sounds like it would've been easier to go right and up? we wondered.)

not sure how rockfall could've 'created' this line, unless there was rock that obscured, then revealed it. certainly wasn't any apparent scarring. there were scruffy seams off to our left at mid-height, but didn't seem a logical way to go...anyway, i plan to talk to the FA, just to slake curiosity. whatever the route, it was a great time and an engaging challenge. worthy of further investigation.

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#708992 - 07/30/07 01:54 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: lunger]
John Frieh Offline
sprayer

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 6204
TRs: 52 Photos: 1185
Loc: PDX
When the left side of the pillar fell off the right side expanded creating this crack system... I talked to Jim at great length about it... his memory is slightly clouded about where the line is for some reason...

Because of that I also talked/showed my pics to Joe Puryear and Forrest who both did the pillar prior to the rock fall (the GP was Forrest's first grade V climb ever! HELL YEAH! ) and we were able to determine the line I climbed my first time up the pillar (the famous neutrino trip \:p )/the way you went is a new addition to the pillar... I think I have a photo somewhere I can post taken from the N ridge that shows where both lines are.

Again: STRONG work for the onsight free! VERY impressive!

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#708996 - 07/30/07 02:21 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: John Frieh]
lunger Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 370
TRs: 12 Photos: 131
Loc: see atoll
Thanks for the clarification, happily don't have much experience w/ gigantic rockfall, seems feasible.

Would v. much like to see your pic. PM or post, please.

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#709012 - 07/30/07 02:51 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: John Frieh]
W Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 685
TRs: 6 Photos: 55
Loc: Talkeetna, AK
Hey John,

When Joe and I did it in 1998, the rockfall had already happened, probably within a few months prior to our ascent. The approach ramps were covered in tons of loose, shattered debris.

Lunger's description sounds a lot like what we did: I recall the opening corner with a rightward undercling flake leading to an endless, splitter hand crack. Near the top, this crack continued above and appeared to get wider and became a flake/pillar as it topped out. We weren't sure that finishing on this was the right way so we did a short traverse out left, which led around a corner into the massive rock scar, which had much lighter colored, pinkish rock. We belayed on an small, leaning, exposed, debris covered ledge. The final pitch was a 10 foot traverse left into a very steep crack which appears to be the same one which bobbyperu is climbing. That crack was about 40 feet and led to the pillar's top and easier ground, and was definitely the crux of the route.

So I'm confused, is this the original way or a variation to it? We sort of were under the impression the original last pitch had fallen off and the steep crack we climbed was something revealed by the rockfall. It does also sound like continuing up the main crack system offers another way out.
_________________________
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#709020 - 07/30/07 03:11 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: W]
John Frieh Offline
sprayer

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 6204
TRs: 52 Photos: 1185
Loc: PDX
Huh... I thought you guys did it before the rockfall.

I have some pics at home I can label and upload tonight.

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#709035 - 07/30/07 04:10 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: John Frieh]
powderhound Offline
veteran

Registered: 07/11/04
Posts: 1416
TRs: 20 Photos: 295
Loc: pdx
Sounds like a conspiracy if you ask me.

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#709697 - 08/01/07 11:53 AM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: lunger]
John Frieh Offline
sprayer

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 6204
TRs: 52 Photos: 1185
Loc: PDX
Disclaimer: The following post may contain more beta than one might be looking for... if you tend to prefer to figure things out on your own then stop reading here. Additionally keep in mind mileage will vary... one man's choss is another man's 5 star route... basically don't coming crying to me if the belay ledge was @ 40 m not 35 m or the routes wasn't clean enough for you.

Approach: No surprise here but as Mt Stuart is a big mountain a number of options exist for getting to the base of the pillar:

1) The FA party climbed the ice cliff glacier route to the upper cirque and from there climbed 3-4 pitches of rock to get to the base of the pillar. Using this approach makes for a "full meal deal" alpine experience (sustained technical ice, snow and rock difficulties in one route... a surprisingly rare combination in the cascades). Depending on one's timing and/or ice climbing ability this could potentially be the crux of the route.

2) The north ridge notch which can be reached either via the north ridge access couloir (west side of the north ridge off the stuart glacier) or via the lower north ridge. Regardless of how you get to the notch from the notch take a general skiers right descent down the east side of the north ridge aiming for the upper ice cliff glacier cirque. Be cognisant the upper slabs of the NE face route hold snow till late season and randomly release with little or no warning especially in the early morning sun. With some skill one should be able to reach the ice cliff glacier without a rap. In late season a healthy moat will form in the upper cirque resulting in a required rappel onto the snow.

Regardless of how one reaches the upper cirque it is here where one begins the rock on the lower rock pitches.

The lower rock pitches/prepillar pitches:

Again... Stuart is a big mountain and a lot of terrain exists in between the base of the pillar and the upper ice cliff cirque. Those who have taken a more direct line from the cirque to the pillar have reported hard wet 5.10 climbing. I can't comment as I have never used this approach...

The approach I have always used is look for a ramp system starting climbers left of the pillar near where the upper portion of the ice cliff glacier route begins. This ramp trends climbers left to right and terminates just below the girth pillar proper. This ramp (as far as I can tell) is described in the CAG as the NE face of the false summit (FA Beckey). Beckey calls it 5.6... it felt more like 5.8 to me... again mileage will vary. It is roughly 3-4 pitches from the cirque to the base of the pillar but this will vary depending on the time of season (as the season goes on more snow melts so one has to start further and further from the base of the pillar) and the length of one's rope.

These pitches are the loosest/dirtiest of the all the pitches on the route. Additionally they will likely be wet in places.

Approach pitches:


Looking down the pillar approach pitches. Note some rock debris on the ledges:


The girth pillar proper:

The girth pillar is ~400' tall. In the 90s the left half fell off/detached. The current consensus is for the most this did not effect the original route. However it appears it did add additional cracks (expando) creating a variation to the original route.

Forrest Murphy on the pillar before the left side fell off:


Original (zoom in):


Red (original FA) Black (variation):


The blue X on the topo marks where these photos were taken of this belay ledge (belay ledge circled on topo):

Mark Westman (in shorts over polypro!?!?) Photo by Joe Puryear


Craig Gyselinck




The girth pillar proper continued:

Both routes begin at the same point. The first pitch on the pillar is 40 m (mileage will vary) to a small belay ledge.

Belay Ledge (top of pitch 1):


For pitch 2 and 3 on the pillar:

With a 70 meter rope one can reach the top of the right hand side of the pillar following the black line route or the belay ledge (red line route) pictured above.

With a 60 meter rope one can reach a semi hanging belay (black line route) below the final bulge or the belay ledge (red line route) pictured above.

Top of the pillar to the false summit:

Depending on which line you follow (red or black) will determine what route you take to the false summit.

The black line will deposit you on the right hand side of the pillar. Traverse right (a small 10' offwidth will make require you to belay) until an easy looking weakness is found that heads more or less straight up to the false summit. Approx 4 pitches to the false summit of 5.6 or less.

The red line will deposit you on the left side of the pillar. Same story... head up in the general direction of the false summit. This finish felt a little harder to me than the black line finish however this side didn't have an offwidth.

Happily Ever After???
Hope this helps... if I missed something or you have any questions, etc etc shoot me a pm or post here. And go climb this route... one of the best in the cascades. Cheers to Mr Jim Nelson for giving us all just an amazing route!

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#709858 - 08/01/07 05:40 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: John Frieh]
lunger Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 370
TRs: 12 Photos: 131
Loc: see atoll
Nice expose`, John, and good collection of pics.

RE: this bit: "Depending on which line you follow (red or black) will determine what route you take to the false summit." We actually had the option to take either finish to false summit from the top of the pillar, and chose the left.

I'm still not convinced that red line = FA route; recent discussion w/ the FA leads me to believe that they finished further right near the top. But, 20+ years is a long time to recall these kind of details. In the end, it's a big fat whatever--as you said, by whichever route, it's a stellar place for rockclimbing...

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#709936 - 08/01/07 11:23 PM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: lunger]
olyclimber Offline

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 24538
TRs: 31 Photos: 840
Loc: In Love with You
true ballerz for real, keepen it realz.
_________________________
SNACKS!!!!!

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#709970 - 08/02/07 07:35 AM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Rid [Re: olyclimber]
Bug Offline
sprayer

Registered: 02/22/02
Posts: 6654
TRs: 5 Photos: 127
Loc: Redmond WA
Looking at the left side that fell off reminds me of the guys who were on Triple Couloirs during the last earthquake. They had just clipped into rock anchors above the second gulley when it hit. The ice they had just stepped off of peeled and fell. Anyway,......
Nice post John.
_________________________
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#710038 - 08/02/07 10:24 AM Re: [TR] Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge [Re: lunger]
John Frieh Offline
sprayer

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 6204
TRs: 52 Photos: 1185
Loc: PDX
Originally Posted By: lunger
I'm still not convinced that red line = FA route; recent discussion w/ the FA leads me to believe that they finished further right near the top. But, 20+ years is a long time to recall these kind of details. In the end, it's a big fat whatever--as you said, by whichever route, it's a stellar place for rockclimbing...


Good chance but every time I have done the black line I didn't see anything to the right... who knows... maybe I need to go back up there and take a look \:\)

Anyone who likes hand cracks should climb this route!

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