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DavidW

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Everything posted by DavidW

  1. Trip: Squire Creek Wall - Skeena26 III, 5.9, FA Date: 9/17/2012 Trip Report: SKEENA 26 III, 5.9 (12 pitches) Bill Enger, David Whitelaw, Yale Lewis A couple of months back, my buddy Bill and I completed our third line on Squire Creek Wall. It's located way around to the south, past the Illusion Wall, Chickenshit Gulley and all that. We picked the last big chunk on the left and turned up a real jewel at a fairly relaxed standard. Its not like these things are a mystery. The features are more or less in plain sight from the trail. A short, fairly flat three miles and its all obvious. A pair of binoculars and its almost indecent. Its been right there all along, soaking up the famous northwest sunshine. Every once in awhile, basking on our bivy ledges we'd get to talking, passing the bourbon eh? " Well ya know," somebody would begin. "There's that stuff around to the south. We talked about it for years but with no real sense of urgency. Finally one autumn the Rodeo had been completed and we had to stare at each other and blink. Two buttonheads without a cause. At odds with the rest of the world since day-one D-Town has rambled on with the barest minimum of love for just over forty years. Too far, too weird, too low angle, too obscure, too wet. Two-thousand feet tall?? Two ropes?? Two hours from Seattle? Fuck that! Sometime last century, in a sort of cedar-smeared socialist epiphany we peasants smashed our machines and marched into the forest naked save for the hand-drill, and a crown of devil's club. Now the hammer has taken us full circle and despite the cold sweat of watching the tool so arthritically pound out the dust it is indeed the wilderness we have come for. Like Heidi's grumpy grampa, sequestered. By degrees we have been forgetting our old ways; road trips, guidebooks, beta?, campgrounds, this climb or that. No trails, no rangers, no fees, no pools, no pets. You just pay up front and place your bets. The not knowing isnt mearly a part of it, it's the heart of it. So we went around the corner to the south. We had no idea how to even get there. It was after all, the remote side of Squire Creek Wall; fabled for being unreachable. One November we walked up the trail and took pics of the southern ramparts with a dusting of new snow on them. Later,in spring we skiied up the road and attempted to snowshoe up the big hillside beneath the Illusion Wall. We didnt get very far but we learned a few things. The hillside is steep, but the forest provides sufficient cover so that there is little underbrush. It's only as you approach higher elevations that the lowland giants give way to the famous hundred-acre tangles of matted, down-sloping cedars and broken logs. While the sane played at Vantage this last spring, Bill and I thrashed around in the forest and the flies and the melting snowbridges until we found a workable path. It was getting to be a bit over the top! We were many many weekends into it before we even got an unobstructed look at our mail-order bride. In June we cramponed up snow gullies and tiptoed around huge psuedo-seracs and tilted snowblocks until we found a camp fairly near the base of the wall. There was snow everywhere. Cornices along the summit periodically cut loose and sent thousand foot cascades of shaved ice down the rock. The sun came out, the snow blocks fell over, waterfalls spewed out of big corners hundreds of feet above us, and the whole place sparkled. In all fairness we didn't know what to think. At least I didn't. It was different. It wasn't what I had imagined. We gaped for hours and wondered if it would play. The cirque arched around us in the sun like a collosal necklace with waterfalls for jewels and we agreed that the prize was worth the walk. Now with a light load and some solid prior knowledge the approach can be sent in around three hours. There would be no high-ledge bivys this time. Just a shady base-camp with prayer flags and our ubiquitous water cubes. From camp, a ten-minute hike across boulders, grass and wildflowers brings one to the start of the route with only minimal aggravations. What a summer we had! While the rest of the nation struggled with heat waves and forest fires Darrington became our always-sunny summer camp in the Sierras. We baked in the sun and it never rained. As usual, occasional guests and girlfriends joined us in the dirt and the heat and in particular Yale Lewis' hard work packing gear, jugging lines and shooting video helped us immeasurably. The route steadily advanced by a pitch or two per weekend. To our good fortune, the gully below camp held snow until late August, which in turn provided water for cooking and slush for our margaritas. Nobody said this pioneering shit had to hurt ALL the time! Bill on Pitch 1 Pitch 1 Drilling on Pitch 5 Dave on Pitch 5 Bill on Pitch 7 Photos by David Whitelaw, Bill Enger Squire Creek Wall, South Face Skeena26 in blue photo by John Scurlock The south side of Squire Creek Wall isn't as steep as the Illusion Wall or even Slab Daddy it's just that the rock is so exceptional and the setting so perfect. The stone is brilliant white and peppered with textures, bumps and knobs. When it gets a little steeper, the knobs get a little bigger and there are good places for gear on many of the pitches. This is a friendly route of high quality and though the first pitch touches 5.9 at a couple of polished spots most of the rest of the route is 5.4- 5.6 with sporadic freak-outs of up to 5.8. We tried to make a route that a 5.8 leader would find reasonable. We just went with the flow, and followed the knobs for a dozen pitches. Gear Notes: Standard rack to 3 1/2"
  2. Looking for Climbing Partner Anacortes - Bellingham

    Hiya... I'm David in Seattle. I've been climbing for more than 40 years and can sometimes manage an 11, but 8's to 10's are more comfortable. I've spent a lot of time climbing in Darrington and love the big long slab routes there. Always looking for some new friends.... gimme a shout.
  3. Weekday early morning VW partners wanted

    Hiya, I'm David, a long-time Washington climber... I go the gym often enough on my own and sometimes find friends there, but mornings would be a great addition. I've climbed all over the world and have a pretty good idea of what I'm doing... I've done a bit of guiding and have written a few guidebooks.... gimme a shout! -David
  4. Trip: British Columbia - Coquihalla Honey, Clyde & Isabelle Trip Date: 09/30/2016 Trip Report: Two new routes on Yak Peak. Somehow the memory of an obscure Cascade Climbers trip report had eventually soaked into my brain and I realized that Yak Peak in British Columbia might be worth a visit. Google was telling me it was the same drive time as Washington Pass and the internet was telling me that there were oceans of slabs within sight of the road! Despite my general lack of enthusiasm for border crossings I convinced Bill Enger to join me for a look and we dug out our passports, vacuumed the car, and headed for the border. Once out of the Great Bear Snowshed the highway trends to the east and the huge bulk of the thing almost hovers above the little ribbon of road. From the rest area we gaped at it with binoculars and spent our Looney’s on espresso and egg wraps from the welcome food truck! Bill did the bloodhound thing back and forth along the shoulder for half an hour and ultimately sniffed out the start of the west-side access trail. An hour later we stumbled out of the forest squinting at the sparkling little snowfield and sweeping slabs. We sat and grinned in the sunshine like an internet date; trying to decide if the pictures matched the reality. There were no bumps or knobs, no cracks or corners just a sea of low angled granite that gently steepened for a long, long ways! In July of 2015 I returned with Natalie Merrill. I was convinced that there were good routes to be done if I could only adjust my thinking enough to see them. Still, it took three pitches with some wandering before I backed up, removed a few anchors and finally committed myself to the plumbline. For Natalie it must have been like waiting for a fish to speak latin. It wasn’t even hard climbing, it was just blank and looked intimidating. I had made up my mind that we were gonna bolt our way over the roof and hopefully find something I could climb on the uphill side. Surprise surprise but the “roof” turned out to be 12-feet high and more of a short wall than any kind of real roof. It looks like a roof from just about anywhere except right under it. There are four aid bolts and then it’s back to the slabs. Carl, Natalie, Bas, Nick and Zack came up with me in the next month and I managed to establish pitches seven through nine. The off season is long when it comes to Yak Peak. In 2016, I was starting my third season of dancing under a maple leaf. Clyde & Izzy remained one pitch from completion. I got Zack Krupp to help me get the jump on rappel bolting a new line to the right of Clyde’s. We were underway at last! At the end of the weekend we had three and half pitches in place. Nick Roy joined me a week later. This time we climbed Clyde & Izzy for eight pitches and then rapped sideways to find a place for the Honey. A full pitch above the roofs we started down the big black streak so obvious from below. Still later Carl Delica and I again rapped from the same height and I got a chance to take a second look at the pitches before we added the final bolts. I was almost there; two seasons of travel, gas, partners and money and by mid-august both routes stood one pitch from completion. Late in the season we got it done; Natalie led the existing pitches and I jugged along behind with a big bag of bolts, chains, drills and beverages. At 3:30 I was racked up and ready to lead the final pitch on Clyde’s. Ten days later we were back. I lead bolted the last pitch on the Honey and it was done! Thankfully, we got all our gear down before the snow hit. Natalie on Pitch 4, Clyde & Isabelle Clyde & Isabelle 5.8, A1, 10 pitches, all bolts, 2-ropes required Coquihalla Honey 5.9, A1, 8 pitches, all bolts w/optional 1” & 1.5”, 2-ropes required Gear Notes: All protection is fixed on both routes, 11 draws, 2x60m ropes. Approach Notes: west side approach trail
  5. This is Natalie leading the aid bit. Its just 4 bolts but vertical. If you know how to aid you could do it with some slings and draws. Ive had several people lead it that had never aided anything before and I set them up with real aiders and a fifi hook. They all thought it was fun! I made a little pair of 3-step aiders tied out of 1/2" webbing that will stuff in my pocket. If you Google "Great Bear Snowshed" the highway cam points right at Yak Peak. Gimme a shout when ya wanna go!
  6. Gym Partner Wanted

    Hey I'm an experienced, senior-age climber (62) looking for a gym partner for the coming dark months. I'd like to visit Vertical World (seattle) a couple times a week at anything other than peak hours. Top-rope, lead certified or both. New climbing friends for this season are always welcome too! Gimme a shout or text me. I'm David at 206-664-1427
  7. next harness

    I have two harnesses as my general go-to gear... If weight matters at all I use my BD Aspect and think its great. (its still not a superlight) when I'm really gonna wear the harness from dawn till dusk I take my Camp Quartz cause its a little cushier around the waist. Mostly I'm doing multi-pitch trad climbing with a fair amount of gear. The Camp Flint harness is also an awesome all-around harness thats a tad lighter than the two I just mentioned and about $20 cheaper too.
  8. Magnetron Carabiner

    I've had the Rocklock Magnetron on my harness for the last two months after using the Rocklock Twistlock for many years... Does it do anything special? No... does it NOT do anything special? No... I found it works just fine... did not take any getting used to and is probably not worth the extra money unless you just like new toys. I also remember back in 1980 that my friends all dissed me when I came back from the Valley with some of those "Friend" things.... damn good thing THOSE didnt catch on!! I will say that if you let the biner live on the front of your harness and hold a compass in front of you it will always point to north as being about where yer belly button is... learn your astronomy I guess...
  9. Rope Wash

    Sterling makes a product called Wicked Good Rope Wash... comes in individual packets for like.. $2.88. Marmot has them all the time.
  10. Clear Creek 2060

    ewwwww! Forest road 2060 is so... last century!
  11. Favorite pitches at Darrington?

    I can't believe this thread! Everyone knows Darrington sucks.. it's totally dirty and rainy and nobody cool climbs there.... sheesh! It's happening at Vantage these days gentlemen!
  12. Quickdraws - BD Oz Wiregates - any opinions?

    Sad news, but all the Heliums sold in the US since July have been recalled. There is a batch number on the spine that can be used to determine if your 'biner is among those being recalled. Check with Wild Country or Excalibur distribution in Sandy, Utah. The hook on the carabiner body doesn't engage with the wire gate well enough and the strength is way compromised. The Oz carabiners have a slightly more narrow profile in the area where the rope will run. This means the rope will make a sharper kink right there when you fall on it... does it matter? I dunno.. I'm a big guy... all my sport draws are Petzl Spirits but there are tons of solid choices.
  13. For some years there was a hubcap at the Three-O trailhead. That was where we got the idea in the first place. For a few years we hung hubcaps at all the trail starts as kind of Darrington tradition. Apparently this offended the forest Taliban and our hubcaps vanished. I'm not convinced that cemented in posts with a reader board and wilderness warnings is an ecological advancement over hubcaps but some people do so love to march in step and wear spiffy uniforms.
  14. Nice job getting up there before the rains got you! I've never met anyone other than the Gunstones who have done that route. Back when we were up there often the two approach paths were pretty obvious, alas its probably been almost 10 years since then and the jungle never sleeps. Way to hang in there... thanks for the trip report!
  15. Wow! I knew that line was gonna get grabbed someday. Nice job!
  16. [TR] Squire Creek - Oso Rodeo 9/8/2012

    Nice going! It's great to see somebody give it a go! We thought the little gear crack on the first pitch looked good too... then one day following with a big pack I grabbed the piece and watched the flake expand and spit out the little cam... after that I felt better using the bigger pro. I recognize after 20 pitches you'd like to get somewhere. We talked alot about where it ended. I think you could wander around and get another pitch. I felt that one can wander and thrash in the bushes just about anywhere in washington and very top edge of the wall is a bit shattered. There are blocks hanging in the bushes sometimes and I'd come for the slabs. That's the reason... good or bad.
  17. Cleaning a pack

    I've just taken mine to the Brown Bear car wash and blasted the crud out of it along with my floor mats... worked great!
  18. Well, it's been a good long time but I've finally updated Rattle & Slime, the Darrington area rockclimbing guidebook. It now includes new routes like Oso Rodeo and The Page. Running a mail-order business turned out to be just too much work so once again I have delivered the entire inventory of guides to Marmot Mountain Works in Bellevue. Marmot will sell them directly or via mailorder. Come get 'em while the supply lasts!
  19. Darrington Guide Now Available

    The Darrington Guide is the same guide I've sold all along. There have been files added from time to time but it has never changed. I've sold almost 500 of these with no complaint. If you have a problem why not give me a call?
  20. Vantage accident 3/18/12

    In the 40 years I've been climbing I've watched quickdraws unclip themselves numerous times. Once a friend of mine just brushed the second clip with his hip on overhanging 5.11b... the draw popped off and suddenly he was 20-feet off the ground with no pro.. he fell trying to downclimb and his head stopped 6-inches from a big rock... ropes don't break? maybe not... still, I have attended two funerals from ropes cut over an edge. Cut or break it added up to the same for my good friends. NOTHING is impossible! if you think it can't possibly happen to you.. think again... I always take one quickdraw with lockers on both ends... don't always use it but if I believe a single piece is all that's between me and the dirt I consider it.
  21. Darrington rock climbing season

    75 degrees is warm but not overly so... Slab Daddy goes into shade about 4:30pm and the rest of the afternoon may even become cool... it can be nice to have at least a pile top for the belayer during the late afternoons.
  22. Best AT skis

    I really like the Dynafit Baltoro better than the Manaslu but everyone has different tastes and ski styles. A number of us here at Marmot found the Baltoro to be a bit stiffer, and a bit damper than the Manaslu. I am 5-11/190# and skiied on the 176 Baltoro. I really like the La Sportiva Hi-5 for powder days too! It was my top pic last year for a fat ski. Don't forget you can demo some of these models and apply the cost to purchase.
  23. quickdraw orientation

    As a buyer for a chain of climbing shops I listen to people argue about this almost daily. Customers have all kinds of reasons for the orientation they choose, some reasonable sounding, some not. I think it's interesting to notice which way the various manufacturers orient them at the factory... There is no consistent philosophy across the industry as far as I can tell. Metolius: same side Mammut: same side Wild Country: same side BD: same side DMM: opposite side CampUSA: opposite side Omega: opposite side so go figure, pay yer money/take yer chances... personally i prefer mine on opposite sides, but I do everything backwards
  24. Trip: Squire Creek Wall - Oso Rodeo Date: 9/5/2011 Trip Report: Climb: Oso Rodeo, V 5.10 FA Date of Climb: 9/3-5/2011 On Labor Day weekend Bill Enger, Jim Shokes and I completed a new line at the northern end of Squire Creek Wall. It took two seasons; back and forth, nobody there except us, the hummingbirds and the frogs. A couple years back we had thrashed our way over from the base of the Daddy and there it was, our new beginning. It starts in a kind of hollow grotto, a narrow swan's neck of granite, twisting its way down from way the hell up there, curving and white. Here we could start. The line is plenty obvious; a twenty-five hundred foot twisting, bucking grand tour. Wet winter daydreams convinced us we could pull it off in two seasons rather than four so as soon as the darkness dried out we were on it. A half mile of sweaty, Squire Creek stone. One day at a time. One move at a time. One bullet at a time. The first season got us half way. Ten pitches. Eighteen days of working it every way we could. No daze off for sport climbs. No crisp alpine wire-gate weekends. Hammer hammer, twist twist, tendons stretched and the girlfriend is pissed. September came and went. Then in October, late in the day, with all the leaves on fire we tagged the ledges that became the Pool Hall. A comfy bivy spot half-way up the route had been our fantasy, and this one had all of that and a pool of water; a shitload of water! Hundreds of glistening liquid gallons and my elbows were laughing in silly delight; no more jugging with heavy sloshing loads! Fast forward ten long months. In July this year a sloping ice field of accumulated avalanches survives massively deep across the bottom of the wall. We bring crampons and ice axes to get across. The upper half of the climb takes two and three day outings to be productive. The problem is getting way up there with enough time left to put something together. Usually we were stoked to finish a pitch per day but sometimes it all clicked more easily. It seemed easiest on the nerves to not fantasize about what might lay ahead. We'd just get ourselves up there and attempt to climb the best thing we thought we could actually pull off. Definitely keeping' it real! One fine day Bill, Jimbo and I climbed the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth pitches. The following day saw us up the eighteenth. We wuz onna roll! And it was time to get down. Contrary to local norms this season's labor day promised believable goodness and so we were back. Still in the sunshine, still two hundred feet to go. Two pitches. Two seasons. Too good to be true! The eighteenth had been a big choice; we'd gone straight up where we could see it and the rock was perfect. We picked the song we liked best and hoped we could dance the tune. There wouldn't be many more choices to make! The nineteenth turned into an elegant rising traverse across slippery, sloping ramps. Eventually it leads to a scary-looking flake system with underclings, fat cracks and laybacks. Another set of anchors placed and suddenly it's just one pitch to go. The last hoo-rah; a yellow brick escalator of bubbly textures and sweet little edges. A hundred feet of perfect stone and then the trees. Down-dangling arms of hanging cedars waited for us. The smell of rotting cedar duff groped for us from beneath the ridge-crest's dark mossy blocks. On the left, six feet below the mess a little ledge answered the question. We were there. Overview The cool restorative waters of Squire Creek Pitch Five: Bill trying out his brand new 9.8mm Edelweiss Curve Pitch Seven: Smoothness at the start of the Black Overhang pitch Pitch Ten: Whitelaw on the cool quartz sills above the Pool Hall Pitch Thirteen: There’s still a long way to go Pitch Fourteen: It’s not always sunny! Yale Lewis juggin’ loads. Pitch Sixteen: Easy slabs lead up to some cool cracks on this pitch Pitch Eighteen: Fine slab dancin’ way up there Pitch Twenty: Some gentle flakes to start the last great pitch Route topo and approach topo to follow. We’d like to extend our special thanks to Francis McGrody, Jimbo Shokes, Yale Lewis, and John Medosch for two years of hard labor humping loads, digging cracks and helping us get it done. photos by David Whitelaw and Bill Enger Gear Notes: Standard rack to gold Camalot. A cruxy spot on the first pitch protects well with a #5 Camalot, not needed higher up.
  25. Route Topo and approach topo
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