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Uncle_Tricky

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  1. The last great problem?

    1) The "last great (summer mostly rock route) problem" in WA's North Cascades? AND/OR 2) A route that has seen only one ascent, that, if the FA was verified as a hoax, would have potential as the classic "last great problem"? (Note: The answers need not necessarily be the same.)
  2. 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 ]
  3. 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.
  4. 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...
  5. What do you say to your partners?

    In another thread JayB wrote: I'm gonna break that out tomorrow. It's just ambiguous enough to be truly terrifying to a newbie belayer four pitches up the first route they've climbed. I can hear their thots: "Oh shit, the one fucking person my life depends upon up in this hellish vertical wasteland has gone entirely The Shining on me!" So it got me thinking about the communication that goes on between leaders and belayers while one is up on a pitch. Obviously it depends a lot on the situation and the partner. Sometimes psychological counseling is required. Sometimes practical advice is called for. Sometimes silence, hunkering down and waiting for the bomb to drop is the best option. But there's a lot of classic dialogue that goes on in leader/belayer interactions. I'll admit I can't help but break out the "are you in a good place where I can take you off belay?" question when a green leader is freaking out in a psychologically intimidating but entirely safe spot. I'll also admit I have a bad habit of laughing uncontrollably at my partners when they are sketching on lead in safe situations. I just can't help it, perhaps because I've been there many times. I guess you could call it empathy--I see they are safe, so there is little sense of gravity, but I can relate to emotions and so I am indeed laughing with them. Most of the time anyway. Not long ago, I was climbing a fairly popular WA route. For the first few pitches my partner had been mentioning she needed to take a crap, but the belays were mostly hanging and there were no ledges on which to drop trou. As I belayed my partner up the fifth pitch, she said "I just shit my pants." A simple non emotional statement of fact. I suppose she knew I'd figure it out anyway when she joined me at the tiny stance above. I promised her there was a big ledge at the end off the next pitch. The next pitch was a long one, involving a mantle on a small (2 by 2) ledge halfway up. Following, she pulled the mantle then the dialogue went as follows: "Off belay!" she yelled up to me. "What?!? Are you in a safe place?" I yelled back. "There's a good ledge up here if you can hold it!" I yelled down. "I'm shitting now!" she yelled up, undoing her harness faster than Houdini. "OK, you're off belay--Shit on!" I yelled down. I tried to avert my eyes from her lovely squatting form 80 feet below, but was not entirely sucessful. Seeing a young wheaten haired lassie free solo shitting on a ledge no bigger then her shadow 500 feet off the ground is just not a sight you see everyday. "Oh my god!" she exclaimed in an almost orgasmic voice. The smell wafted up the cliff. "Oh my god," I thought, cringing. I strained against the creeping gods of hysteria. "I'm doubled back and ready to climb," she said a couple minutes later. "You on belay, poop on!" I yelled down, breaking into hysterical laughter, unable to contain myself anymore. She took it the right way and arrived at the belay visibly relieved--if somewhat aromatic--and saddled up and finished off the climb in good form. Sorry to those who follow and pull the mantle move only to discover a technical turd traverse. Case studies in experimental human psychology, eh? So what kind of weird/funny/terrifying belayer/partner communications have you experienced or witnessed?
  6. Source for LED 12 volt arrays?

    Hey Will, you're best bet is probably to visit a place that specializes in solar power applications, as they commonly sell LED/battery arrangements which are well-suited for solar or other low-draw applications. I'm not as familiar with the Portland area, but if you're ever up around Olympia, there's a cool place there that sells LED lights and related stuff. If that wasn't convenient, they're helpful and well-connected and could probably refer you to a place closer to Portland. Also, you might visit the library and check out Home Power magazine--there are advertisers in there that sell battery powered LED set ups. The webiste for the place in Olympia is:http://www.climatesolutions.org/center.html
  7. 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.
  8. 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 ]
  9. TR: E. Face Minuteman

    I tried climbing this as as party of 3 a couple years ago, but we bailed after we unwittingly and unsucessfully attempted to climb the rotten (offroute) left facing corner that leads up to a pine tree and a dead end under the big roof - about 50 feet left of the official .10 crux pitch. By the time we figured out where we needed to be, one of my partners was already late for work in Twisp, so we went down instead of up. A couple days ago a friend and I actually climbed the thing. I wonder why this route is not done more often? There is some loose rock and ambiguous, traversing, indifferently-protected climbing in the middle, but the first couple and last couple pitches are much fun. The descent is a bit tedious, with multiple loose scrambling/stacked unstable blocky downclimbing/small shrubbery rapping options-each of which is flawed in differently annoying ways. My partner had some intestinal issues on the climb. I apologize in advance for her unintentional (but ultimatly fertilizing) contributions to the landscape.
  10. 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.
  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. 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.
  13. I thot the crux pitch on Paisano, including the not very well protected face leading up to a left facing corner was fairly exciting. Climbing in do-not-fall territory on incut holds of somewhat questionable solidity kept my attention.
  14. best of cc.com Snafflehoundus Terriblus

    A cat? A skunk? A corn snake? I can hear the snafflehounds snickering from here. They are more wily than coyote, funkier than a skunk and use corn snakes to floss their teeth after a night out carousing. Trying to scare a snafflehound with one of these creatures is a more laughable proposition than making sweet love to a rabid badger.
  15. North Cascades Climbing Accident

    Why/how were three people rappelling at once with a fourth anchored to the rap station? Granted this is a newspaper story, and seeing as how I write newspaper articles, I distrust anything I read in a newspaper. But this one detail made me curious.
  16. Close Calls

    Never play Russian Roulette with a semi-automatic.
  17. Rockfall Question

    We've all been in the wrong place at the right time.
  18. Snowpatch Spire FA info?

    I am trying to fact check some info for an article. I understand that Raffi Bedayn and Fritz Weissner were the first to climb snowpatch spire in the bugaboos? Is that correct? What date was the FA? thanks.
  19. In the last 3-5 years? Personal experience/rumor/links/thirdhand k-nowledge? PM works good. Thanks.
  20. Silver Star

    Went up the peak yesterday with a couple folks. The crux was hitching a ride back to the car. We approached by way of Burgundy col. No snow until the basin, but the gully had just enough kick-step friendly snow to cover up most of the loose stuff. Nearing the top of Silver Star Glacier. Snow was walking friendly: Snagtooth Ridge from Silver Star Peak: Although we left the car at the approach to the wine spires, instead of descending our approach, we decided it would be fun to loop down to the highway via Silver Star Glacier and Silver Star Creek and hitch back to the car. Here we are descending Silver Star Glacier. You can see our tracks traversing in from the right below east faces of the Wine Spires. The vertical tracks are where we slid down the glacier on our butts. Looking back up at our descent route. Right of the big rock hump in the left center of the picture, you can see a 6-8 foot avalanche crown. It slid down to the glacier polished slabs beneath. We looked down at that and instead decided to go descend the broad snow gully at the far left center of the picture. On the top right are the Wine Spires, Burgundy being the farthest right, the Chianti, Pernod and Chablis. Looking back up at the East side of Vasiliki Ridge. Some comical postholing (up to chest deep) once we got down into the snow covered flats below the glacier, but only for an hour or so. Then there was some steep mixed postholing/bushwhacking for a while. High quality. I'm sure there's a better way to go down than we did, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Back at the road, we figured it was best for only one of us to try and get a ride. We took turns trying to thumb a ride back to the car. Meanwhile the other two of us lounged and dozed in the sun in the woods next to the creek. Finally - after more than an hour and probably 60 cars - I got a ride 5 miles up to where we'd left the car. Yeah, I had an ice ax. Maybe some poeple don't want to pick up a hitchhiker with and ax. But sheeeiit, can't a brother get a ride these days? Anyway, it was a nice day to be out tromping around out in the mountains.
  21. Nice climb and TR, Mark. I even learned a new vocabulary word that you used in the sentance "...on anastomozing crack systems in solid granite." However, the definition is almost as perplexing as the word itself. Anastomozing: A classic divaricated and again joined crack system noted for its discoid uniseriate pseudodichotomously divided margins which can be straight or slightly wavy possibly colorless and usually distinctly delimited or diffluent and rounded rarely to a slightly distinct divarcated distant pale granite grey with fine unlayered granular content often in apical arrangement divided transversely to their longer structureless axis in vertical view.
  22. Climbers and skiers in the area should come on down to the Methow Bonfire for the Arts (AKA Bernie Man). When: Saturday, April 2, from 5 pm til 2 am. Where: 191 Twisp East County Road (about two miles north of Twisp on the backroad to Winthrop.) This is Bernie Man's place--easily identified by the huge metal sculptures in his pasture. What: A big party featuring the largest bonfire even seen in the Methow (it's being build with a crane), live music by Jazzukha of Seattle and Whut Tha Phunk of the Methow, DJ Dov, drumming and the surreal backbeat of Bernie Man's 250-foot long high tension Astral Alien Electric Harp. You've got to see and hear this thing to believe it. Also possibly featuring Bernie Man's Twisp-famous flamethrowing monster truck that can weld shit too. Beer garden will feature kegs of foamy beerverages provided by the Twisp River Pub. Food will be available from an English-style red double decker bus. Rumor has it that there is a $2 all-you-can-eat boiled cabbage special. According to event planners who commented on the condition of anonymity, Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi--the 113 pound Japanese world eating champion who consumed 50 1/2 wieners and buns in 12 minutes in 2002--is flying in from Tokyo to attend. The event is sponsored by the Confluence Gallery and proceeds go to support various Methow Valley artistic endeavors. Price: $10 in advance, $12 at pasture gate. For more information call 509-997-ARTS.
  23. 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.)
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