Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About raylax

  • Birthday 11/30/1999


  • Location

raylax's Achievements


Gumby (1/14)



  1. Trip: Dragon Tail - Backbone to Fin Date: 8/2/2008 Trip Report: I am posting this trip report in honor and memory of Andy Basque... I had finished the write up a few short hours before I received the phone call from a good friend telling me that she had died climbing this exact route 5 days after we had done this trip... apparently she liked the route so much the first time, she had decided to do it again. For a while I struggled with whether or not it was appropriate to post this report but came to the conclusion that instead of burying and forgetting, we should celebrate, share and talk about Andy and the bright life she led. Andy, you will be sorely missed... ********************************************************** Dragon Tail.... sounds fun, let’s do it! And so another adventure began... The idea was for Bernie, Andy, Jeff and I to pack in to Colchuck Lake, camp, get up early, climb backbone into the fin direct, camp then hike out on the third day – great plan except we were missing one simple step, the permit! When I started reading up on the permit process, I figured we were hosed so we all came up with alternate plans if we couldn’t swing one of the raffled daily permits. After some discussions, the "favored" plan "B" seemed to be to pack light and do the whole thing in a day... all I can say is that I’m glad we didn’t have to opt for plan "B"! Andy packed and headed up to Leavenworth on Thursday so that she could get up early and try for one of the permits Friday morning. The rest of us were going to ride up Friday morning and meet her there and figure out the rest. The short story is Andy woke up early and was first in line (what a surprise) out of approximately 30 (as it turns out, being first in line doesn’t do you any good...). The doors to the ranger station opened and everyone milled in... first thing the ranger said was "who is going for Colchuck Lake"... Andy raised her hand and looked around... nobody else! Sweet, we are in! The next thing the ranger said was "OK, we will hold off on Colchuck and deal with the enchantment permits first....". OK – no problem... that is, no problem unless 2 more parties show up for Colchuck while they are processing the enchantments! That’s right, 2 more parties showed up and wouldn’t you know it, one of them won the single permit! Crap! On a side note, we had met these 2 folks the weekend before while we were climbing in Squamish – nice folks but that really didn’t make it any better. Anyhow, as Andy was leaving the ranger said one last thing, "well, we do have one remaining permit for Colchuck... the folks that have it have not called in and are not here... if they don’t show up in the next hour, we will raffle it". Damn, another chance! So @ 9:00, Andy and the other remaining party showed up for the last raffle of the day for the last permit to Colchuck... and the winner is – damn straight! Andy you are my hero! We met up in Leavenworth happy as clams, downed some burgers, fries and shakes, headed to the Stuart trailhead, tweaked our gear and headed in to find a camp site. All I’ll say here is that the trail is great, the views amazing and the company stellar. I’ve never been back in the alpine wilderness lakes/enchantments area and have to say it really is amazing, especially that massive rock we were going to climb called Dragon Tail! Anyhow, we set up camp (snagged an amazing spot), ate some dinner, packed for the next day and headed off to bed. The Crew: Jeff, Bernie, Andy and myself (Ray) Dinner time! Next day we were up @ 5 and on the trail by 5:45. Thinking this was going to be a quick day, I was entertaining ideas of talking everyone into hiking out that evening so that we could go do Outer Space or Orbit on Snow Creek Wall the next day... boy was that a foolish notion! The approximate route (taken)... Morning view of Colchuck Lake Around the lake and up the slope to the bottom of backbone was the first folly – on Jeff’s and my suggestion, we headed up the slope a bit too early and ended up going higher and farther right than we wanted to. That wouldn’t have been a problem except the snow slope we had to cross to get back to the base of the climb was damn hard (even icy in some areas) and everyone had decided to leave their crampons @ camp... let me also interject that I am not super strong on snow (yet, give me rock or ice and stand back but snow... not so much) and was getting uncomfortable with the risk/reward. Was I worried? Hell no, we had Bernie with us! After a pretty quick crossing using a boot/axe belay, we were back on route and @ the base of the climb... oh, I should mention that it was about 7:45 at this point. The next 500 feet is mostly scrambling and simul-climb type stuff. Earlier we decided that Bernie and Andy would be on one rope and Jeff and I on the other. On that, Bernie and Andy took off like a shot and Jeff and I made our way up trying to follow in their wake. We ended up setting a formal belay about 50 feet below the off width pitch which is pretty much what I consider the first real pitch. There was another party on the climb (two fast climbers) and they just beat Bernie and Andy to the off width so they had first go. By the time Jeff and I made it up to the ledge, Bernie was suiting up and getting ready to lead. The plan (at least the plan that was in my head!) was that he would lead the pitch, bring Andy up, pull up the packs, lower the #6 (yes, we lugged that up there and let me say, it was worth it!) then I would have a crack at it (pun intended)... unfortunately, it had taken too much time to get to this spot (it was now 10:15ish) so we decided that Andy would drag our rope up and we would proceed from there. All I can say is that I have absolutely no idea where the time went over the next 4 pitches but it was after 2:30 by the time Jeff and I caught up to Andy and Bernie (thanks Andy for tying Bernie to that rock and making him wait for us!). Let me take a moment to say that when you are into a 15 or so pitch climb and it’s taken about 8 hours to get to the base of pitch 5, you should be concerned! The very short story is that we decided to mix up the teams and make sure everyone was focused on efficient climbing... Bernie and Jeff took the lead and Andy and I were right on their heels. Funny how a little motivation can get you moving! The next 5 pitches went by in about 2 hours and we found ourselves @ the base of the fin by about 5:00. Now we were cookin’ with Crisco! I probably need to interject here that I have been climbing with Bernie for about 7 years now and would climb with him anytime and (almost) anywhere – he’s a great friend, can deal with difficult situations and climbs like a monster. That said, trying to get him to slow down when he sees the brass ring sometimes requires a lasso, duct tape and a hammer! By the time I caught up to him, we were one pitch (or two depending on your perspective) from the top of the fin and he was racking up for a wild traverse to get to the far right dihedral... anyone that knows this climb is probably saying right now "he can’t be talking about that manky looking, huge off width dihedral on the right side of the fin could he" and let me respond by saying, yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about! Any how, I arrived at what can only be described as a questionable belay station (there was one bomber 1” crack for gear but everything else was piles of hollow stacked flakes). A quick assessment of the situation and it was decide that up was the best way.... from our vantage, we couldn’t see many features although a couple of possible cracks seemed likely so I loaded all my small pieces on Bernie’s rack and off he went. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we forged a new route on the fin but I will say that it was very obvious that no one had been on this section in a very (very) long time! Needless to say, Bernie did a great job in gunning the rope to the top. In fact, the route he slung up the fin probably couldn’t have been more fun and ended up putting us in the perfect belay spot to finish the final traverse to the top (completely bypassing the entire crap scramble on the other side of the fin). Not having lead the pitch, it’s hard for me to rate but if I account for the small (but somewhat significant) run out on the start, I would probably give it a 10a... that said, it was full on adventure climbing and I’m glad Bernie had the lead. Jeff @ the manky belay on the last "exploratory" pitch... Bernie on the last pitch Approximate route taken on the fin... So we all finally were at the top, happy that the sun was still shining (it must have been about 8:30) and ready for the descent. We took a few minutes to swap out gear (it was much cooler on the back side!) and started down the climbers trail to the notch to make our way back to Asgard Pass. Again, we had a snow slope to cross which caused us to go slow and chew up time but the angle wasn’t as steep as the one in the morning and the descent was uneventful. Asgard Pass is impressive from the top and takes a bit of concentration to go down (the trail is good but steep). I can’t imagine lugging a big pack up that trail! The rest of the hike back to camp was mostly uneventful (except for the few times we lost the cairns and had to backtrack to find the trail). Everyone was happy to see camp (at 11:15) and after a quick dinner (I got a taste of Halsey’s freeze dried chili – dude, you can cook for me anytime!) we were sacked out before midnight. The enchantments area/back side of Dragon Tail Asgard Pass (was the best I could do in the dark!) The next morning was another stellar day, relaxed and mellow. We packed up, hiked back to the cars then drove to the river for a quick swim. From there it was back to town for more burgers, fries and shakes, a quick hack(y sack) in the parking lot, farewells then on the road for a relaxed daylight (for a change!) ride home. All in all I have to say that this was one of the best and fun climbs I’ve been on, not necessarily due to the location or quality of the mountain but in particular to the people I climbed with. Thanks Bernie, Andy and Jeff for an amazing weekend experience! View from our camp site.... Andy giving me what for! MORE PICS Gear Notes: #6 cam was very handy... Approach Notes: move around to the top of Colchuck Lake before heading up to the route!
  2. > The reddish rock in the left side of your image shows where parts or all of those routes USE to be... well that explains a lot! > Piss poor protection except for that one bong... that bong is almost compleetely covered over by moss -- was really happy to find it though. The whole route was an exercise in "find the hidden piton"! Sitting here now, the climb was a blast -- now off to Squamish for 4 days of real rock! cheers -- //ray
  3. Trip: Mt Washington - Chimney of Space into West Ridge Date: 7/20/2008 Trip Report: I’ve been meaning to climb Mt Washington for some but there have always found reasons not to. Finding an open weekend on my hands, I called Bernie to see if he was up for “...a quick alpine rock climb... I read that there actually is some decent rock on Mt Washington if you just know where to look”, well that’s how they all start, right? Sunday July 20th I met Bernie @ his place around 6AM for the 3 hour drive down – after a quick coffee and some packing, we were off. The weather was looking perfect and I figured we would be up and back in time to toss something on the grill for dinner. We got to the Big Lake campground, parked, sorted gear, loaded up and started hiking 9:30. At this point I began to notice the mosquitoes but used some deet and was able to ignore them. We hiked about 20 minutes before we realized that we had parked in the wrong location (there were road closed signs but apparently that was for a different road). After hiking the extra mileage and taking time to figure out the trails, it was 10:30 before we hit the climbers trail cutting off of the PCT. Fine, no worries, so we are a little behind but we are on a good trail and ready for the climb... that is, until the trail disappeaeds under the snow. No worries, we know the general direction so off we go! Let me say that usually when you use the words “bushwhacking” and “Bernie” in the same sentence, you are probably already knee deep in an adventure – that said, we made decent progress hauling up what we figured out was the north ridge the hard way. After about an hour, we managed to meet back up with the trail as it came up on the west side of the north ridge... and our first real view of the mountain since the lake. It was a nice site but dang it seemed far away, especially for all the bushwhacking! No worries, we were back on the trail and our goal was now in sight! Oh, it was now about 12:00... hmmmmm... The ridge was nice, the weather beautiful and we made progress. Our goal was the NW face to climb either the “excellent” West Face route (5.6) or the “joy to climb” (5.8+) Central Pillar (descriptions from Oregon High). At 1:45 we were having lunch in front of the face and debating which route to actually climb. I was leaning towards the Central Pillar but since we left the #4 in the car (the one sentence I missed in the description down at the car), Bernie got his pick... King Rat (5.9+). I climbed the first scramble pitch to some sling anchors and got the first look @ all the climbs close up... “Hey Bernie... I dunno... King Rat looks waaaay harder than a 9+... and the one good flake you need looks like it’s going to pop just by looking at it...” as to which Bernie responds, “mmmmm, bring me up, it can’t be that hard!” Let me say that Bernie is a persistent climber and I’ve seen him do some amazing (and very crazy) things, but I can honestly say I have never seen him down climb as fast as he did as that flake did everything but drop when he committed to it! So on to the next line! Bernie getting a wake up call! More discussion about Central Pillar, which didn’t really look all that much of a “joy to climb” so we decided to do Chimney of Space (5.8) which tops out into the top pitches of West Ridge. At this point, all I can say is ratings definitely don’t account for loose manky rock! Bernie took the next pitch and got about 40 feet up before figuring out that we only had 9 slings (seemed like enough to me!) unfortunately this was right in the middle of the first off width section. Luckily, he was able to build a decent anchor out of a downward facing rusty old piton and 2 cams jammed between some questionable flakes (let me say, everything up there was questionable!) and brought me up... At this point, I’m going to gloss over some of the details to protect the innocent but suffice it to say that that belay station was scary! After much rope management, breath holding, praying and generally keeping myself out of mortal danger I was able to grab the rack and take off for my pitch (#3)... This was actually a fun off width pitch with some good holds spaced far enough to keep it exciting. The stemming was pretty solid and if you were careful not to pull on the loose stuff, somewhat protectable. I topped out on a small pillar (which moved and would probably crash down if yarded on), set another anchor and brought Bernie up. Bernie took the next pitch (#4 and the last on Chimney of Space) which took us out back into the sun and to the top 2 pitches of West Ridge which were 5.4ish but really fun to climb! If the bottom of the West Ridge is anything like the top (but harder) it might actually be worth the slog up and across the scree field. We topped out, rapped down the North Ridge and were back to our packs before 6. The rest of the trip was somewhat uneventful except for when I lost my balance on a snow slope (and consequently slid into a large rock with my tailbone), losing the trail, again (there is still a lot of snow up there... glad we had a compass) and dealing with mosquitoes that seemed to drink deet like it was tequila on a Saturday night! With the extended hike, we got back to the car @ 8:15, Aleve’ed up by 8:16, on the road by 8:30 and back to Portland by 11:30! All in all a fun trip – though I can’t wait to get on some real rock again! pics from trip... Cheers -- //ray Gear Notes: more deet... Approach Notes: park at the LAST parking lot!
  4. why wouldn't you want a bigbro? they are lighter and rack soooo much nicer. besides, I don't own a #6! question is, will a bigbor work in that crack?
  5. would big bro's work? is the crack flared or parallel? thanks -- //ray
  6. Thanks for the info and I agree that it's odd that the manufacturers have not really addressed the boot issue -- it's not like split boards are brand spankin' new! My new board is a voile mt. gun and it really is sweet. Was looking @ the newer mojo version (cap construction) but found this one in my size new @ 30% off (!), just couldn't pass it up. It rides really solid and carves well (even in this slush/corn/cement we have now), can hardly wait until the powder comes back! This weekend I’m going to pack my boots up (adams) but will figure out something by next season – really going to look @ the mtn plates a little closer.... cheers! //ray
  7. need to find a boot that I can hike/climb in AND board back down... I was using stiff day hikers w/strap on crampons which work fine for the up but then had to change out to my full on snowboarding boots each time I wanted to use the board (which means I had to carry the extra weight/bulk AND take the time to change over). cheers -- //ray
  8. Definitely a fun run... lovin' the split board, just need to find a solution for the boots! pics from trip //ray
  • Create New...