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Found 150 results

  1. Trip: American Border Peak & Canadian Border Peak - abp - east face, cbp - sw face Date: 5/10-13/2012 Trip Report: I took this photo from the summit of Pleiades in early February, at first glance, a ski line on the east face of ABP seems improbable, but the photo captivated my imagination and eventually provoked me to attempt ABP, Twice I made it to the summit of Winchester in April, getting shut down first by a nasty cold, then by stormy weather. approximate route I climbed and skied on ABP (photo from feb 12) On Thursday I went in heavy with extra food and gas. Bivying by the south face of Larrabee, the night was cold, and snow solid the next morning for the approach. The first sight of the east face of ABP was not inspiring. Conditions appeared to have deteriorated considerably since February - melted out and runnelled. I decided to keep circling 'round in hopes of more coverage on the NE aspect, there was. I climbed up moderate glaciated slopes for about a thousand feet, then went left onto the steep east face, following what appeared to be the least icy way. The way was complicated, a few times I thought I would dead end in a chute and have to back track, but it went, twisting and turning up chutes and ribs. Conditions were a little scary. There was lots of icy slide worn neve, and lots of crust, with powder here and there shallowly burying the slickened neve. There was just barely enough snow clinging to the summit nub to make it skiable. Exposure was intense, especially looking down the sheer ~1000' cliff of the west face. I clicked into my skis and cautiously made my way down. Lots of crust, ice, death balls, and edgy runnels made catching a tip and taking a slide for life a frightening possibility. Friendly snow conditions such as pow or corn would have made this a much different experience, instead I was on edge the whole time. I headed back to my bivy feeling good, and decided to ski the cool looking southwest face of Canadian Border Peak the next day. Approaching CBP was somewhat of a pain in the ass - probably just a few miles, but lots of up and down getting over cleavers of high basins. The SW face of CBP was fun to shred, much less serious than the east face of ABP, and conditions were ideal for fast turns. I skied the sw face from 50 feet below the summit where the snow ended. The next morning I skied lookers left on south face of Larrabee, nice & friendly low stress conditions. South West face CBP Views from the summit of ABP east face abp, no bueno conditions low on abp turns on moderate slopes down low on abp north face of larrabee abp from somewhere on cbp view of international border cool formations I already miss the soft hazy red sunsets over Tomyhoi.
  2. Trip: Isolation Traverse with alternative finish down to Thunder Creek to get back to our car. Date: 8/26/2013 Trip Report: Dates: July 10–15, 2013 Robert Crouse and I (Doug Walsh) took 6 days to complete the Isolation Traverse in North Cascades National Park, with an alternate finish so as to avoid a car shuttle. I dropped Robert off at Pyramid Creek Trailhead, and then drove the car to Thunder Creek Trailhead at Colonial Creek Campground. After hitching the 3.5 miles back to the Pyramid Lake Trailhead, we started up the trail around 1 pm, following the Isolation Traverse route for the next 3.5 days to get to a camp at the col between Dorado Needle and Tepeh Towers on the McAllister Glacier. From here, we hiked to Klawatti Col and then north around the Austera Towers and over Primus Peak down to Thunder Creek, which we followed back to our car at Thunder Creek Trailhead. We found the scenery on this route to be stunning, while the travel was 90% casual and pleasant. The remaining 10% of travel was not very pleasant or casual, but such is the price one pays for getting to see country such as this. Day 1: We hiked up the relatively pleasant Pyramid Lake Trail for 2.5 miles. Once at the lake, we followed a relatively well worn climbers path steeply up the ridge toward Pyramid Peak. After 3 hours of grunting up the steep and often overgrown “trail” beyond Pyramid Lake, we cleared treeline and found a nice spot on the ridge close to a snowmelt stream. Day 2: (8.5 hours) We broke camp around 8:30am and worked our way over to the glacial lake at the base of the Colonial Glacier. It was relatively easy going up the Colonial Glacier (no visible crevasses) to the col that separates this glacier from the Neve Glacier. From this col, the view of the Neve Glacier was surreal, as we witnessed a number of big crevasses visible during brief clearings in the mist. We took a nice break here, hoping for some clearing in the weather to facilitate easier routefinding on this crevassed glacier. Once we did get moving again, it was a relatively steep descent onto the Neve, where we roped up. Fortunately for us, the weather cleared as we proceeded, and routefinding was easy as we climbed southward towards the pass between The Horseman and Snowfield Peak. Robert on the Neve Glacier. Col separating Neva and Colonial Glacier visible above him. Once at this pass, we took another break and contemplated a side trip to summit Snowfield Peak. We were both feeling the weight of our still loaded packs, and decided to skip Snowfield. This was a good decision, as we promptly ran into some unexpected challenges after leaving the pass. Our goal was to gain the ridge running between Snowfield and Isolation Peak. We headed S–SE hoping to reach an obvious flat area on this ridge, but ran into a huge gash which was hidden from our view back at our break spot. This gash was deep and with near vertical walls, and thus stopped all forward progress. It appeared that our only option was to turn around and gain all the elevation we’d lost in an attempt to detour around this feature. Fortunately, as we were climbing back up, Robert spotted a gully leading SW onto gentle snow below that looked like it would go. We gave it a shot and found this path to work – only a short section of easy 3rd class scrambling at the bottom of the gully to gain the snowfields below. Solid line shows our path. Dashed line is standard route followed south of Horseman/Snowfield col. Once on the gentle section of ridge between Isolation and Snowfield, we headed down SE a few hundred feet to a nice bench with great views and running water for a camp. Camp at end of day 2 Day 3: (9 hours) This was a tough day. Not much distance traveled, but a lot of up and down, with much of it very steep. We started out on a gradual descending traverse to the beautiful tarn east of Isolation Peak. From this tarn, one can follow a snowfield (40–45 degree snow) up to a bench on SE shoulder of Isolation Peak. From this bench, we contoured west below cliffs until we reached the top of a steep grassy ramp that lead down SW into a drainage running SE off of Isolation Peak. We hugged cliffs to our right and above us as we descended down this ramp on very steep heather. I wouldn’t want to go down this way if this slope was wet. As it was, we slipped and landed on our butt every couple of minutes. Fortunately, this only lasted 45–60 minutes or so. This ramp led us into 100 yards of so of dense schwacking as we crossed the head of the drainage. Then we contoured (steep side¬-hilling) SW thru forest until we were able to gain the ridge running SW off of Isolation Peak. In retrospect, we thought it would have been better to avoid the steep ramp descent and simply climb Isolation from the bench on SE shoulder, and then descend directly to ridge (see dashed line below). After a short distance on this ridge, we contoured over to the snowfield south of Wilcox Lakes. From here, we climbed SE up to a col. From this col, we descended on very steep forested and then rocky terrain down to a large snowfield at the head of an arm of McAllister Creek. This was another VERY steep descent, from which we got great views east towards the double pour off of the McAllister Glacier. From the snowfield, take the obvious couloir that leads S–SE up to backbone ridge. We bypassed a section of very steep snow in this couloir about 2/3 of way up by climbing onto rocks on left side. We followed the rock to the top of the ridge on left side of couloir and ran this ridge to the top of the couloir where we camped. Day 4: (9 hours) The Devils and Mt. Baker from camp on morning of day 4 Routefinding on this day was easy. After leaving camp, we contoured SW over to a spur ridge running SW off of backbone ridge. As we turned this spur, the beauty of backbone ridge was laid out before us. We contoured SE across gentle slopes on SW side of Backbone Ridge into the head of the Marble Creek drainage, and then followed an easy snow gully (25-30 degrees max) up to the col between Dorado Needle and Tepah Towers for a camp (take the right most of two distinct notches at top of this snow-filled gully to get onto McAllister Glacier). This was a pretty mellow and pleasant day with easy routefinding and gentle terrain. We passed through a short section of beautiful old growth in the Marble Creek drainage as we turned NE up the snow gully towards our camp, and found the shade a welcome respite from all the snow and sun. Camp at edge of McAllister Glacier on day 4 The standard route for Isolation Traverse on Backbone Ridge goes up the Marble Glacier and climbs up 5th class loose rock to a rotten col from which you must do a long rappel onto 50–70 degree snow above gapping crevasses on the McAllister Glacier. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me. Unless one is on skies and looking forward to skiing the McAllister Glacier (or the marble Glacier if you do the Isolation Traverse in opposite direction as we did), I see no reason to take this route over what we did. Our route was elegant, scenic, zero stress and quite pleasant. Day 5: (5 hours) This day’s agenda was to cross the Eldorado Icecap and climb Austera Peak. I had done the Eldorado Icecap Traverse in 2010, and climbed Klawatti, Eldorado, Dorado Needle and Primus, but missed Austera due to bad weather. I’ve been wanting to get back and climb Austera ever since to see what I had missed, so I figured what better way to approach Austera than the Isolation Traverse? Why climb a mountain in only 2 days when you can do it in 6 and see some new gorgeous country in the process? We left camp at around 8am and wandered over to Klawatti Col (flat area west of Klawatti Peak). Eldorado Peak from Klawatti Col We crossed over onto the Klawatti Glacier via a col that required maybe 15–20 feet of steep downclimbing (low 5th) on East side. We slung a boulder with a runner and rapped this to be safe. From here, we headed NE and then N to highest point of Klawatti Glacier at base of Austera Peak. We then dropped our glacier gear and scrambled north towards the summit towers. Once at the base of the twin towers, we worked right on a ledge on right most tower, wrapping around to NE side of the tower. From the end of the ledge, climb up steep class 3–4 to top of this tower. Descend into notch between towers on steep 4th class rock. From this notch, we walked up some remnant snow (not visible in photo below) until we were able to get onto rock on left tower at a good spot. From here, 20–25 feet of rock (class 4+, maybe a couple of 5.0 moves) put us on the summit. Eldorado Icecap from Austera Peak After some time gawking at the amazing view of the Eldorado Icecap and the McAllister Glacier’s twin pour off, we rapped off the summit and scrambled back to the rest of our gear at top of Klawatti Glacier. From here, we descended the Klawatti Glacier, heading east along edge of Austera Towers, until we reached a nice snow free ledge overlooking Klawatti Lake at around 1pm. We decided to take a break here, and eventually decided to make this camp. There aren’t many opportunities to spend time enjoying a place like this, and we had two days of food left, so there was no need to push on to the glacial lake at base of Borealis Glacier as we had originally planned for the day. Day 6: (11.5 hours) After a bit of a lazy morning, we left camp at 9am and headed up the North Klawatti Glacier towards Primus Peak. A mere two hours after leaving camp, we were on the summit. Robert summiting Primus Peak Klawatti Lake from Primus Peak After some time taking in more crazy amazing views (especially loved the gaping maw of the Thunder Creek draninage some 7,000 vertical below us to the north), we headed down the east ridge of Primus (class 2 if you stay to the south of a prominent rocky outcrop on this ridge just below the summit) to Lucky Pass. From Lucky Pass, we traversed NW across the Borealis Glacier until we could find and easy way down into the glacial lake basin below the cliffs. We walked past this glacial tarn on the east side, crossed an outlet stream not shown on the topo, and then worked our way north on a prominent moraine to the top of the forested ridge that leads N–NE down to McAllister Camp on the Thunder Creek Trail. After a lunch break, we began the descent down this ridge around 2pm. The descent began gently, on a well-defined climber’s trail. Soon however, we entered forest with brushy undergrowth and the trail became much more difficult to follow. At one point, we got off the ridge crest and into dense brush on the west side of the ridge. Once we realized our error, we had to schwack up steep slopes to regain the ridge proper. From that point on, we were much more careful to stay right on the ridge crest, although this was not always well-defined enough to be obvious. As we reached point 4835, the ridge steepened considerably. At 4,200 ft, the ridge steepened even more, and we were both glad we were going down instead of up. There were a number of very steep sections to navigate, some of which required we turn around and face the slope using tree limbs and roots as handholds as we downclimbed slowly. At one point, I found myself going down a very steep climber’s trail full of gravel and dirt. I looked down below me and realized that if I slipped here (a very real possibility), I would likely slide/tumble down a couple of hundred feet and over a minor cliff band. A bit unnerved, I noticed what looked like a trail contouring off to the left. We took this “trail” as it contoured beneath a small cliff band, and thankfully it led to easier ground. After what seemed like an eternity to our feet and thighs, we finally reached the bottom of this ridge and the Thunder Creek Trail around 6:30 pm. As the bugs were biting fiercely, and our car was only 6 miles by trail away, we went on autopilot and cranked out the remaining trail to our car. Nothing like 6 days of off trail travel in the North Cascades to make one appreciate the ease of mechanized travel. ) But oh what a glorious trip this was! Gear Notes: – one 60 meter rope (30 meters would have been sufficient) – helmet – standard glacier travel gear – ice axe and crampons.
  3. Sobo posted a message today that made me realize that I had once joined him for an afternoon of ice climbing when he was up north about 10 years ago. I've climbed with a lot of random people over the years; most of whom I've forgotten and probably wouldn't recognize - however for some reason certain encounters stand out. Climbing with sobo was memorable for 2 reason... We climbed well into the dark and upon topping out on the second climb (Ripple - a classic mellow ice route that forms fat and sticky every year from October - March) I turned around and saw the comet Hale-bop glowing on the horizon above the canyon wall. It was a beautiful sight -- the stars glowing bright and this huge burning comet right in front of me. I think of the comet everytime I climb Ripple (which is at least a few times / season)... and only many occasions I've sat at the belay anchors and described the sight to various climbing partners. The second reason it was memorable was because sobo had a space blanket taped inside his helmet and when I asked him why he told me a long story about a forced bivy on some Cascade wall. I went home and taped my own space blanket inside my helmet and lo and behold a few years later found myself stuck on a route well after dark. It was cold as shit and after we dug a little ledge in the snow I pulled off my helmet and with pride showed my partner the space blanket that was still taped inside. Apart from sobo I've experienced a couple other memorable climbs with random people - including a rather frightening experience where some random guy whom I had never met till that morning (I called a random number posted on a bulletin board) decided to solo an ice route. Half way up his pick broke and he hung on one tool freaking out and screaming obscenities for 15 minutes until he got up the nerve to downclimb to a ledge where he could replace his pick and finish his solo. All the while I was standing at the base mentally preparing myself to watch a guy fall 100' to his death. Random climbing partners are kind of like one night stands... if the climbing or company was good then you'll have a clear recollection. Likewise if the climbing or company really sucked you'll remember the story for years! Any good stories out there about random people you've met and climbed with???
  4. Trip: Two White Boys on a Big White Hill - Cheam Peak - Random NW couloirs Date: 5/24/2008 Trip Report: So.... I was thinking of going and doing an alpine route last weekend but the weather was going to be super hot with frequent avalanches... I ended up going to a youth confrence in Chilliwack instead. I had e-mailed my friend Jared from mission to go climbing last weekend and when the trip was cancelled we postponed the trip to this Saturday ... our plan was to climb up to the NW bowl of CHeam peak and then hike low angled snowslopes to the toe of the West Ridge to gain the summit. He picked me up at 6:00 at my house and we drove over to the pulloff from the highway where we were to begin our ascent.. We hiked up the creek draining the NW bowl and then moved into the trees to avaid some huge cliffs in the gulley, It was a major slog but we eventually dropped bak into the gulley (now filled with snow) to gear up and hike into the NW bowl... we started up the gulley and just as we were about to get into the NW bowl we got a phonecall.. my other climbing friend Lorne said, "if you look up towards the toe of the west ridge what do you see", and I was like, "holy crap! Its you!" He and his Dad decided to run up to the west ridge earlier to ambush us for no apparent reason.. they didnt go to the peak but they left a cool pattern in the snow for us to look at. We talked and they took off down while we kept climbing up the NW bowl... it was getting hot in the sun and we skirted around the west side of the bowl so we wouldn't get killed by stuff falling on us, it got so hot on the snow that we had to stop and take off our pants and wear just our gore tex shell pants with boxers underneath. We eventually started getting bored of doing the easy snowslope route that Al and Lorne had done so I started looking for an alternative. There were some rock towers above the west side of the bowl and it looked like there was a cool gulley going in between them so we set off to climb this mysterious gulley. We ditched our packs at the base of the gulley and Jared set up a quick belay with my lucky tri-cam and his ice axe. The belays were not really nessecary in the first gulley but we had lots of time and used them anyways, all we had brought was an 8mm, 30m scrambling rope so I led up 30m to a tree sticking out of the snow and belayed Jared up and past me another 30m where he set up a makeshift belay with his ice ax. We stuck to the shady edges of the Couloir where the snow was firmer and less sketchy.. I led up again and set up a belay on a couple crappy bushes and then Me and Jared did some simul-soloing to the top of the first couloir. From the top of the first couloir the slope joined another steeper snowlope going up towards the ridge crest. We switched leads and diagonally ascended the slope for a few more short pitches. Jared's final lead to the crest was quite steep (60 degrees) From there we climbed a cool ridge and up a last short slope (with a vertical buldge of snow) to the toe of the weat ridge... It was getting late and we didnt want to slog all the way to the top so we glissaded and plunge stepped down easier angled slopes back to our packs and then hiked all the way down the trees and creek back to the car at the Highway. Overall the route was super fun with plenty of excitement but not at all scary... there was no gear on any pitches, we climbed from belay to belay. Approach Creek Old Snow Bridge Cliffs in gulley Almost in the NW bowl Our route starts in between those rock towers Slogging it out in the Bowl Crap bush belay Starting second snowslope, above the couloir Jared Leading on the second snowslope Heading up more steep snow, Yes Im wearing aviators Looking down the second snowfield Red Pyramid Me leading a super fun section Jared on a steep section Final Ridge Posing at the top of our climb Big Cheam Packing up Snow Pattern Descending Gear Notes: A few slings for tree belays, light rope, ice axe, crampons not nessecarry... aviator sunglasses and my lucky tri cam are a must! Approach Notes: Up drainage to big cliffs, up forest to bowl... up snow to couloir.
  5. Trip: Cheam Peak - North Face Date: 6/10/2009 Trip Report: After my grade 12 graduation this past weekend I wanted to kick off my summer by doing something big and committing and to do it solo. I look up at the North side of Cheam every day and I had noticed that the 1976 route on the North Face looked to be in nice condition, so I put that on my itenerary. Cheam Peak has some burly relief on the north side rising just about 7,000 ft from the highway to the summit, the first half of this gain in elevation is mostly steep, dense bush and the upper half is composed of a mixture of steep snowlopes cut by steep rock bands of crumbling choss.... perfect! I packed up my bag, bringing no rope, harness, or protection other than my ice tools. I threw in some food, 2 liters of water a sweater and some shell pants too. My parents forced me to carry crampons even though I knew I wouldn't need them.... I mean seriously, I'm graduated! I set me alarm for 5:15 AM and slept a few hours, then I had some breakfast got dressed and woke up my Dad to give me a ride over to the base of the mountain. He dropped me off on a powerline road branching off the Highway just East of Bridal Falls. I started hiking up at 6:00, hit the creek draining the face in a few minutes then reached the wooded ridge I would follow a few minutes later. I was hiking up a bear trail low on the approach when I ran into a big black bear. I the bear politely let me pass and I had no other encounters for the next two hours of thrashing up the ridge. At 8:00 I emerged from the forest onto the moraine and snowlopes below the North Face. I got my first real view of my objective then and was rather intimidated by the large steep face. I ate some food then hiked up the snow to the left of a large rocky outcrop then cut back right onto the knoll at the top of the outcrop. I started the technical climbing above the knoll at 9:00. I traversed some steep snow right of the knoll, then skirted around the bergshrund on some rocks to the left. I climbed up a short but terrifying rock step made up of crumbling, wet choss sprouting moss and grass. It was probably only about 5.4 but it was extremely dicey, especially the last 15 ft which was pretty near vertical. Above this I hit the long, right trending snow ramp leading to the NW ridge. This section was tiring and took a long time, I had to be careful not to slip and fall down the face but not linger too long and get hit by rocks falling from the summit. By the time I reached the upper NW ridge I was pretty tired of snow so I avoided the upper section of the ramp by climbing rocks to the right. The headwall was surprisingly easy but very exposed and the rock was awful. The last 200 ft to the summit was loose, exposed and steep, but 4th class gravel covered ramps led to the summit ridge and I topped out just west of the summit at 1:00. A few victory whoops later I was on the summit enoying some 'pop tarts' and cold water. I descended the west ridge then glissaded easy snow slopes into the bowl below the NW face and hiked a long ridge beside the drainage gully draining the NW face. The descent was quite fast and I reached the Highway at 4:00 PM, making this a 10 hour round trip... not bad. Overall the route was pretty loose and exposed but definitely worth doing once. For a grade like 5.4 and snow to 45 degrees it is quite serious. Definitely my biggest, most commiting solo yet. Pics: A long way to go... from the approach. Me and the North Face.. Objective Up the snow and rock bands, then around the corner onto the ridge. Looking down the NW ridge... I came up from behind the ridge. Looking west shortly before topping out. Self Timed shot of me on the Summit. Edited photo showing my route, I had much less snow, the rock crux isnt even exposed in this shot! Gear Notes: Ice ax... if you plan on using ropes and crap bring some LA pitons and runners and leave everything else at home. Approach Notes: Bushwack... lots of it.. unrelenting... look out for bears and wasps, I ran into both.
  6. Saturday's weather is supposed to be great. Wondering if anyone would be up for doing a one day ascent, leaving Paradise at either 9pm Friday or 9pm Saturday? Obviously any queries will have to result in a real one-on-one meeting as there's no way to know who's got the skills/experience over the internet.
  7. Trip: Mt Si Haystack - FA- Dull Pickels Date: 4/1/2010 Trip Report: 5.4/M 3-4. Hey check out my addition to SP. Probably a FA. http://www.summitpost.org/view_object.php?object_id=609840&confirm_post=12 Gear Notes: ice tools. Approach Notes: Take the interstate all the way to the top.
  8. 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 ]
  9. Trip: Cutthroat Wall - Easy Getaway (F.A. III 5.10-) Date: 8/29/2007 Trip Report: This TR is going to read like the boring blow-by-blow climb description that it is, but that's in hopes of providing adequate info for folks to go get on it and have some fun. Upon climbing one route on the Cutthroat Wall, I was eager to go back and investigate the clean looking roofs and corners to the left of what we'd done in early August. Last weekend, Dan Hilden and I headed up to check it out. Bryan Burdo was a late scratch on the roster for this climb as well, after he dropped his tennis shoes off a new route on SEWS and was left with just rock shoes and sandals. His Methow valley cragging guide should be out within a month, and his North Cascades Rock (WA Pass Area) guide by next spring... Anyhow, we braved the 45 minute approach from the car and began the climb ~40' to the left of The Perfect Crime on a perfectly flat granite patio. From the base, one can locate a series of clean L-Facing corners which serve as good landmarks for the route. A vertically striped dihedral (the Zebra corner) is especially obvious. The climb went very well, with fun moves, some nice challenges, and a few spots where the cliff seemed made for climbing. Pitch 1 (5.10-) Up left on a slab to a clean crack and obvious overlap/roof. This roof move can be protected from above with a blue alien. From here, climb up and left (easy slab), past another steepface, to beneath a large roof. Pitch 2 (5.9) Start up the R-Facing Corner with stemming and finger cracks. Past tree, move left (delicate undercling) into the clean orange corner. Move right out of the corner and belay. Pitch 3 (5.9) Face climb up and right, then follow clean cracks (layback, mantle) back up and left to a short splitter finger crack, ledge, and belay below short overhung RFC. pitch 4 (5.9) This pitch leads to the base of the striped corner visible from below. Power up the short overhung corner and face climb up and left into a crack. (Don't get tempted rightward into the blank corner) Follow this crack up to a tree at the base of the corner Pitch 5 (5.9) Again begin by fun moves up another overhung corner, then follow the beautiful/clean Zebra Corner crack upward. The top of the corner was seeping from the prior day's rain, so we "walked the plank" rightward across a solid/safe block and along the ledge to the right. If dry, consider following the corner to the top and doing an undercling out right for the directissima. Pitch 6 (5.10-) This pitch looks imporbable but works out great. Face climb up to the base of a L-facing corner below roofs. Jam the corner, climb left through the roofs, and continue jamming and laybacking up into the granite chimney. Follow the chimney to a large pine at the base of an obvious long corner. Pitch 7 (5.10-) Jam or layback the perfect hand crack up past a tree to some roofs. Undercling/jam through the roofs to the very top of the corner, step right, belay. (From here, one can downclimb rightward ~30 to get to the belay ledge before the last pitch of The Perfect Crime, whish is a *** pitch featuring splitter cracks on the far right edge of the buttress.) Pitch 8 (5.9) Head up the obvious chimney straight above. Good pro can be placed deep inside, and one can then move to the outside edge to climb though. I found this great fun. Dan, with a pack on, had a differing opinion. Follow the lower-angle stemming slot to a 5.5 hand crack on a slab, and belay above. From here, unrope or belay one more pitch (low 5th) to the flat summit. The rock quality on this climb is as good as Rebel Yell and better than anything else I have climbed on in the Washington Pass area, but the climb is only an hour from your car. All the cruxy bits are well protected and could be A0ed. I think it'd take a strange climber to not enjoy this route quite a bit. The only drawback is the pine needeles on ledges, but maybe with some traffic this would change. We also found an OLD rusty, and completely unmarked bent piton on p2, so maybe someone did the whole route back in the 60s and didn't tell anyone... who knows. I'd enjoy re-climbing it and leading the pitches Dan took as well, so if you are looking for a partner, send me and email. From the top, you can scramble up to the ridge and look down on the Hwy 20 hairpin, and of course see much of the North Cascades as well. Descent: walk across the flat summit terrace (cairn) to where the crest narrows before you'd need to scramble up again. Look for a pine tree on the right with a yellow runner. Make one 20m rappel down to the right, then contour at that elevation, skier's left around the head of a gulley and walk down/left on timbered rib to the base of the wall. Mini Topo - Big Version Linked Below http://www.cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/503/Complete_topo.JPG Green Writing goes with Green Topo, pitch-by-pitch Gear Notes: One set of nuts Cams from finger tips to #4 camalot (only needed if you avoid the chimney and do the last pitch of The Perfect Crime) Doubles in finger-hand sizes Approach Notes: From the Cutthroat Lake TH, walk up the old road bed for ~5 minutes, then head left up the hill into the brush. The brush is moderate at first, then the forest is pretty open and easy until moderate brush for the last couple hundred feet. The route begins at the far right (west) side of the wall. From the base of this route, the toe of the "Snout" is a ~10 minute level traverse across open ground, so one could combine a climb of those routes as well.
  10. best of cc.com Mounties Pics

    Can someone post the link to that thread with all the funny mountie pics from a couple months back? I couldn't find it when I searched, and I forgot who's pics they were.
  11. Trip: Snow Cr Wall - N.Dih.Direct-Swing and a Prayer Date: 2/3/2007 Trip Report: Saturday Gary Yngve and I,Wayne Wallace, climbed the thin line left of White Slabs route on Snow Creek Wall. It went in 5 long pitches and was extremely difficult.The route got gradually harder as we went, which helped because we were both O-T-Couch. The intital 2 pitches went up fantastic thin ribbons up ramps and micro gulleys. Though thin,hard,and awkward they entertained us for the fist 120 meters emensly. At times the ice was 4 inches wide, half inch thick!They ended up in a wide curtain that felt very thick though an inch and a half deep.I ran this out 100 feet to reach the stance below the overhanging ice crux pillar. The ice pillar was short but extremely strenuous due to the overhanging angle. After that we entered a Scottish style ice gulley, more fun, though Gary had to relieve himself midway with a S3 bowel flush while following. Pitch 4 went up thin ice in the dihedral until the ice ran out then became very difficult dry tooling in a long sketchy lead. Many times I felt I would fall and die on the runout. Pitch 5 was easier though the deep snow and short hard sequences drained any energy we may have had available. Topping out after 8 hard hours we reveled in the glow of our first climb together. Hats off to Peter for dropping the hint of this climb,and Rat and Caps for exploring to make this an enticing prospect and wonderful testpiece. Thanks< Wayne and Gary Gary will follow with the pics, Cheers and hope to see you at the Mongo/Erden show this Thursday Gear Notes: Screws, pins and cams to 3"
  12. Climb: White Chuck - East Face Couloir Date of Climb: 2/27/2005 Trip Report: Look at the pics then read Justins post "A Message from Necronomicon:" a little further down the page. It's far better than my slop In the beginning of February, when Dave Brannon and I were finishing up the Northeast Ridge, it became readily apparent that the east face of White Chuck was big, steep and split by a very deep coulior. With a little help from John Scurlock I managed to get an excellent photo of the east face. Ummmm....that looks good. Gene Pires, Justin Thibault and I climbed the route on our second attempt on February 27th. First climbed in September 1970 by Ron Miller and Ben Guydelkon, it had all the making of an un-classic. The CAG admonishes, "best climbed in late summer when dry", "scare protection" and "hard hat recommended". In a veil of ice and neve we figured it might be a very good climb. On the first attempt too much new snow and too little time turned us around before we even saw the face. Though the weather had become unseasonably warm we returned over the weekend to try again. On Saturday morning Justin managed to coax his truck up to 3100’ on FSR 2435. From there we slogged up logging roads and a scenic wooded ridge reaching the basin below the south side of the peak in the late afternoon. At around 5000’ temps in the shade hovered around forty degrees. But north-facing slopes still held fine powder snow giving me some sweet turns, and us hope for decent conditions in the shady couloir. Justin and I passed out in the sun while Gene summoned the energy to pack down part of the approach for the following morning. Just before sunset John Scurlock made a serious of terrifyingly fast and tight circles around the peak in his yellow rocket plane. Sunday we left camp at 4 AM and traversed up to a “chair-like” pinnacle on the southeast ridge of the peak. We dropped down a very steep ramp to the base of the face and began a long, miserable traverse through breakable crust. At first the route appeared to start with a blank rock wall. As we ascended the debris cone at its base a beautiful ice-choked chimney appeared, leading up to the left. Starting up the first pitch Ultimately the climb was far better than we could have imagined. With occasional simu-climbing we broke the climb into seven long pitches, the last ending forty feet from the summit. Two pitches in the middle consisted of steep neve. The other five were primarily beautiful runnels of water ice sometimes no more than 1’ wide. While a majority of the climbing was WI3 or easier the second pitch had a difficult crux of vertical and rotten snow covering thinly iced chockstones with hard-fought protection that felt pretty serious. All photos by Justin Thibault. Below the long, beautiful runnel of pitch 3 Leading off for the summit Descending the Northwest Ridge One of the boyz below P6 We topped out maybe eight hours after starting the climb and took a long rest before beginning the exposed and tedious descent back to camp. Justin, Gene and I all felt that this route was quite classic and deserving of repeats. During a normal snow year there would likely be more wallowing, less ice and a big cornice to surmount at the top. We thought a fair rating in current conditions was WI3 mixed 5.8 R. Gear Notes: Plenty of screws Pickets Pins - KB to Baby Angle small rack to 2.5”
  13. Trip: Les Cornes - Springbok Arete Date: 8/1/2007 Trip Report: Last week we climbed the celebrated Sprinbok Arete in the Anderson River Valley of BC. What a route! It was my second attempt after adventureboy and I failed to even find the river valley last year. We left bham in the early afternoon on wednesday figuring to have plenty of time to make the approach and bivy near the base. Unfortunatly it was like a waking re-occuring nightmare, and we spent many hours wandering around on the wrong logging roads, lost, trying to make sense of it all. Luckily it all came together, and we made it to the roadside, bug-infested bivy around sunset, intent on now climbing car to car. A 5 am start saw us alder-ing our way up to the base which wasn't nearly as bad as others have made it sound. A little schwacky but its short, there is a path to follow, and you gain very little elevation. The Arete from the base: I started us off on the first block. Four mediocre pitches and a bit of simul-climbing brought us to the base of the fierce fingercrack of pitch 7 (McLane), where we swapped blocks. Scenic: Tyree lead on up the hard 5.9 fingercrack and the off-width, but whoops, ended up on the wrong wide crack. We climbed a clean long off-width to the right of where we were supposed to be. After fucking around for a little bit we rapped off a nut back to the route. Ty smoked the orange head wall pitch hooting and hollering, having a good ol' time. Awesome and steep. Flakes, fists, and hands: The quality of the rock kept on improving as we continued on via a fun flake traverse. I took over for the 10c fingercrack, and the immaculate 5.9 layback and elegant slab above. Quality: Ty took us to the summit from there via never-ending finger locks. A quick pound and we moved on to the au cheval. "Gut-churning" Compared to Gato Negro the descent was casual. The worst rap was prolly the first one. And the running water was well appreciated. 4 raps and some downclimbing brought us back to the base. Overall we did the route in 10 pitches with some simulclimbing. Car to car in 15 hours. Its the best route i've climbed in BC and lies somewhere in my top 5 favorite alpine rock routes. The grades are nice and stout. Highly recommended. Because you can never get enough Steinbok: Gear Notes: Twin 60's. Rack of doubles to #2, singles through new #5. Couple RP's. Approach Notes: Dont ask me.
  14. Trip: The Xedni Skaep - The Xedni Esrevart Date: 8/22/2009 Trip Report: This trip report is (mostly)true, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty and the innocent. (for some reason Firefox won't view this many images, try IE) The Xedni Esrevart You've been wanting to do the crossing for years, ever since you bagged the North Spire in '99. One of the three legs of the blue collar triple, a Northwest test piece for a so called hard man. But being this far over the hill do you still have what it takes? Or is this just your conniving mind making a promise that your long past prime body can't hope to keep? The serious attempts began in '06 with a couple attempts every year, most ending with bad conditions, with failure, with defeat. Watching the weather every day the week before and writing it down on the calendar. Several dry days are needed beforehand so the rock will be dry on the climb. The metamorphosed gabbro is slippery like glass when wet, especially on the North face of the North Spire. You hike in the 3,000 ft to the base and it's wet, so you go back down. You hike in to the base and there's low cloud cover with 30ft visibility, so you go back down. You hike into the base with clouds, you climb up to the start of the first technical pitches and wait an hour for the clouds to dissipate, they don't so you go back down. You hike in to the base and it just doesn't feel right. Your watch tricks you by going into 2nd time zone mode and you think you've lost an hour, so you go back down. Are you ever never ever going to tag this elusive climb? Are you ever going to get the conditions and have a high energy day at the same time so you even get the chance to face your fears and prevail? For every climber knows, fear is the mind killer. You have to control your fear in this arena or it will bite you bigtime. And the stakes on this one are as big as the exposure, as big as it gets, unrelenting on all sides, a narrow rocky ribbon in the sky, a thin fragile line of life or... a thick hard line of death. The gear is all lined up, over and over, it's written on a list, it's dialed and re-dialed. You cut the contact mirror in half. You find the lightest harness, you buy the lightest stove with a smaller fuel bottle. You take the back off the cell phone, look at that, the battery holds without it. The re-used energy drink bottle is a 3rd of the weight of a purpose bought water bottle. The big savings is the 5mil tech cord, 60m weighs 3 lbs, rapping like a spider on a thread but it's all good. Look at the mini lighter, is it full of fuel? Empty it to less than half, how many times will it still flame? Enough. You weigh the pounds and shave the ounces. The toughest choice is shoes, free solo 5.7 you want the rock shoes, but many sections have steep trees with pine needles under them and sand and dirt not to mention the moss and heather. You need some tread also for all this slippery stuff, so settle for the Guide 10's and the rock shoes. Being so far over the hill, if you're going to have any level of success, you have to find and possess an edge or two or a dozen, like think smarter not harder. Rock Jedi mind tricks. They're exchanged straight up for the long lost exuberance and all out strength of youth. The largest concession will of course be time. Age will slow everyone but if you can control the logistics to allow more time the same end result can be reached. Also you must never no never underestimate the power of the unmitigated mind. The mind that conquers and controls the mind killing fear will also defeat the depth and breadth of the task of slipping undetected, unmolested past the usual limitations of an age compromised physical state. The decomposing decay and degradation of the unassailable march of time must be held at bay, must be pushed back and away, avoided, altered, and circumnavigated. Wipe off the rustling maggots, maybe there's still some good muscle underneath. You startle awake at 12:30 am in the am. Car camping at Stevens Pass the night before, 4,000ft of acclimation. That being one of the rock Jedi tricks. The occasionally present small voice, is it guardian angel or guardian demon dependent on current condition of existence? It softly whispers two words in it's barely discernible voice. Is it ever real or has it always been just a mind illusion? Yes. Whatever it is, it's two words "hard snow". Dammit dammit dammit, don't say that, no don't say that. Chop off an hour of precious deep sleep and wake at 3:30 am and drive the 70 miles one way back to the house to get the crampons. So the planned and intended trailhead start time of 5:00 am gets pushed out to 7:00 am. Leaving the car to bust up the trail, but the uncharacteristically bad August weather presses down trying to smother the dream. It's murky low clouds obscuring the objective. It's doubt, uncertainty, lack of vision harshly weighing in. But by this point in time, in life, it really doesn't matter anymore. It will be just one more defeat in a long line of them, stretching back for years. The mind grindingly shifts gears to the fall back position. Put it on ignore and get on with whatever happens, because "this is the path where no one goes" and that at least is some small consolation. To the lake by 8:30, save the data on the alti watch. Documentation for the forum TR just in case the impossible occurs and you actually make it up this thing. The lake and peaks are partly covered with wispy clouds, it still looks iffy but maybe that chance is hiding somewhere there. Traverse the lake, stash the ski sticks and approach shoes, climb the talus and scramble the approach slabs and trees and brush. To the base of the normal first roped pitch by the late hour of 10. Maybe the detour back to the house is just a mind trick to get you to let go of time. So what if there's a force bivy when the daylight ends? If you can't do it in two days, hang up your shoes and hang down your head. Being a practitioner of the Nelson method, you jamb the pieces of foam in the heels of the Guides. Jamming your toes tight for the necessary precision of technical ground. Vegetated mossy steps and a ramp gully, the rock is dry but all the vegetation wet. Every foot placement must be scrutinized for moisture. Repeatedly wiping the shoe bottoms on the other leg like a cricket, a rock Jedi cricket keeping his feet dry for the grip. Then the first point of real neck in da noose commitment on this narrow rock sky path high above the howling hounds of doom. The 2nd pitch turning the "sudden exposure" 5.6 corner. The start is a short unexposed slab above thick brush that would catch and hold a fall, up thin edges and stepping out, over and above the abyss. Do you look down or do you not look down? You must look down because it's a mind killer fear test and this is just the start. Taste it and if you like it and can stand it take a bigger bite, you need a healthy appetite for this dish of mind killer fear, for there is surely a feast of it ahead if you're ever going to prevail. And today it seems to taste okay, and surprise surprise, the clouds are thinning....there must be something wrong, this just can't be true? Or can it? Up into the bowl with the two chimney's. A larger one below and a smaller one above. Your route diverges from Becky's description at this point. Heck most of the climb has more than one option, when the description is so vague how do you even know if it's the regular route or a variation? Face climbing up from the left on 5.6, it's compact and smooth, looking up there's old pins and weathered tat. It starts getting thinner, look around for easier ground, but everything else is harder, steeper. Small voice "there is no gimme here". Suck it up or go down. A few thin moves up then a thin traverse in closer to the big chimney and up face near it's left side and around it to it's top. A circuitous path but good foot edges most of the way, then scramble the bowl above up to the base of the 2nd smaller chimney. It looks like it would go without the pack but if there's an easier way why grovel or engage in a tedious chimney haul? Sure enough straight right and up some 5.5 and you're back on easier ground. This "variation" puts you right at the start of the treed ledge traverse. Ahh the safety of some brushy Cascade goodness. A narrow treed ledge crossing between bouts of mind withering exposure. Walk softly, tread lightly, do no damage and leave no trace. Do nothing to disturb the Rock God's garden. His extra special hair trigger death blocks are teetering above the chasm. They patiently await to smash down on the heads of lowly humans who degrade his life's work. And an interminable life it is from your perspective. Think of it, the time it takes to plan and shape the path of the magma flow, to erode the softer surrounding rock. The time it takes to build and shape these spires with eons of weathering exposure. How could you expect him to take it lightly if you dared to disrespect and defile his pristine creation? One pitch across the anorexic crack addict body width ledge to the North face bowl, it goes, on tip toes. The narrow treed ledge goes straight over to the polished North face bowl and meets it about 1 pitch from the 1000 ft sheer unobstructed cliff at it's bottom. So again your looking down the chasm, and again it's nipping at your heels. It's even wetter on this side where the sun never hits. All vegetation and moss are sopping wet, but still the rock is dry. The shoes get wet it's unavoidable, so you're constantly drying them. Half a pitch up, one foot slips, but the other foot and both hands are secure, it happens while shifting weight. Downclimbing and try to traverse to the true North ridge because TR's have mentioned it is an alternate. A 15 to 20 minute detour and it's a no go, thicker brush, more rotten rock and it's all wet, traverse back. Besides the normal 3 to 4 point solo rule there's a clutching brush rule, where available 2 or 3 branches for each hand. Branches from different plants when possible. Back into the gully of the bowl, this time paying even more attention to keeping the shoes dry. Working the stem harder. The first pitch in the gully is mostly 5.5 stemming and has a small treed ledge one pitch up. Then up the right side of the gully for a pitch of exposed 5.6 face, some positive edges, some rounded. The angle eases then half a pitch of brushy scramble to the notch at the base of the upper North ridge. Huge exposure down the West side, the biggest yet, and it just keeps getting bigger. Break out the Aces in the hole and stash the Guides, always keeping the double death grip, with thoughts of House on North Twin. The story of a single boot leaving it's partner behind and dancing down on gravity into the abyss. The ridge looks and at first feels harder than it was years ago, more exposed if that's possible, but once started it flies by. The shining sun drying the brush, the clean solid rock, the sharp rough positive edges, past more tattered rap points up up up and onward. The mixed forest heather rock above also seems longer than before and the Guides go back on to grip the differing terrain. Looking back in case there's retreat, the top of the ridge is un-obvious, remember this tree, this slab, this rock. Lots of scrambling heather and trees and then a section of bare rock before the summit. There's really not that much looseness on the entire North face climb, the real loose teetering blocks are mostly at the summit, and they are all around. A different voice? "disturb nothing!!". Yes Master Rock God, yes Master. Delicately balanced death blocks hovering over the abyss, angled downward and resting on small points, do not touch them, do not even breathe on them. And do not even forget. You will have to climb below them. The first summit, the timer captures the single Index finger for posterity. Then as promised there is a gift for Eve, two pale rose colored diamond stud earrings carefully placed in the summit rocks. Well sorry of course, it's cubic zirconia, because that's all one step above dirtbag affords. And after all it's the thought that counts. She will like them, although she didn't answer this time when near the start her name was called. Perhaps angels are otherwise occupied at times, who really knows? Rest in peace babe, rest in peace. Speaking of time it's precious, for it's already one o'clock, the zenith of the day. So read and carefully ponder the route notes. What little info Becky provides is as clear as Skykomish river mud at flood stage. Downclimb (how far?) until it's possible or impossible to traverse if you can find it, or you can rap off the West side after you downclimb the South West then back right over up or you can go around left up down back right left and down over right back and rap from the lower tower on it's West side and down and traverse if you can find it and rap again, if you can find the rap point or the traverse... or not. Or whatever. The psyche until now has continually seesawed between 90 percent gripped and guarded confidence, alternating pretty evenly at varying intervals depending on a variety of circumstances. At this point it leans toward the gripped. Voice "it's been hard up to here, but it just gets harder". You're at another key point of commitment, furtively sneaking further out on the plank, the chance of return diminishing behind you with increasing difficulty. The TR's have said it's loose and it is, but it's not impossible. Climbing down knocks small rocks loose and they rattle off and down, chasing the beckoning call of gravity. Listen to them very carefully, for this is another mind killer fear test. And if you listen closer, can you hear the howling hounds of doom? Frustratingly the traverse without raps is never really found and you climb over and back up to the top of one of the gendarmes and crawl to the edge to try and see the way. It looks so steep and blank everywhere, impassable, a phenomenon that will present itself multiple times during the remainder of the traverse. Only an up close inspection reveals the way, and at times dead ends are followed out and back before that way is found. Back down the gendarme and down around it's East side on ever steepening slopes and back up and around to it's South West side. To a tattered rap point, one anchor is just a jammed knot on a sling faded to whitish gray. A rope stretcher 30 M rap puts you down on a sloping 5.5 ledge, and tech cord doesn't really stretch all that well. Voice "I hate ropes". Please, it's okay. However on pulling the rap you don't whip it properly and the cord then proceeds to Houdini itself into a trick knot that jams behind a flake. And it's not okay. Dammit...No amount of flicking and whipping will free it. Luckily it's only some 5.5 up to where it's stuck. Take another chunk of not unlimited time and climb up, unstick it, and climb back down. Exasperatingly still not finding the traverse to the North Middle notch, but traversing non the less ends up at another rap point above the notch. Now to face your biggest mind killer fear, you're largest doubt and most persistent uncertainty. Looking down and across at the opposite face, the ultimate crux of the route, and also the point of no return, where the nearest safe exit becomes up and over. The Becky described 5.7 reputed to be a sandbagged 5.8. It's dead vertical with a bulge. From this vantage point it looks thin if not blank with a crack system on the upper sections. The rap anchor is another mankfest but it's acceptable, so flake out the cord and another full 30 M rap to the notch. And a small and very exposed notch it is, not even flat enough for a single bivy. Barely a flat enough spot to set the pack and stash the cord. The notch is about a 50 degree sided edge that gets steeper about 10 ft down and is only about 3 feet long. Not big enough to land on from even 5 ft up the crux pitch. Do you climb with the 20 pound pack or do you trail the cord and haul it? The pitch looks like it might hang up a haul, so you decide to carry the weight of the pack on this, the crux pitch. You can just climb up and see how it goes, if it's too tough you can always down climb and haul. Take some deep breaths and try to gain some composure, you can do this. You break out the Aces again and the chalk for the first time. You're going to need every edge in the arsenal if this thing is going to go. The ultimate mind killer fear test of the climb. Will you pass the test? Go go go go go!!!. It's steep, it starts okay but gets thin, thinner, bulge... steeper... sandbagged crimps. You don't want to admit it but you start to sketch a little, moving too fast, not finding the easiest way. Maybe the constant exposure and the physical difficulty of the task is starting to make itself felt. But you can't back down now, not after getting this far. Besides it's safer to keep going up and over from this point. A few sketchy moves and then there it is, at full arms length, a thank Rock God big sharp and positive edge. "You did it the hard way". Oh well, at least you did it without falling. The climbing eases just a little, but it's a full pitch before the 2nd pitch of 5.6 takes you to the finish on the ridge. A very large weight, that you've been trying your best to ignore for pretty much the entire climb up to this point... is suddenly lifted. And a much older and larger burden of the years of failure, of turning around too many times in defeat, feels like it may be finally ending. From now on whatever happens happens, but if you do your best and keep on your toes, this baby should go. You suck down another Gu and start on the second quart of water. The Gu seems to be working just fine and there's been no solid food today so that makes it an even more effective mind trick. Every time you start to lag just zap another dose. The 2 quarts of water seem to be going just about right, not too thirsty yet. Hopefully you'll make it to the main summit tarns tonight. The stellar climbing scramble continues on the ridge. Sunny dry rock, not too loose and just enough positive cut holds. With the occasional detour around Rock God garden banzais and through heather, and of course the constant mind killer fear exposure on both sides, right along with the continually awesome views. Ridge climbing is just like they say, sort of like being on a summit the entire time. It all goes hand in hand, this mix of everything alpine, the 10 percent of pleasure and fun letting you know the 90 percent of work and suffering is all worth it. The climbing up to the middle false summit is straightforward route finding and you go left around it and an easy scramble continues to the middle summit. Pausing just long enough for the requisite poser pic, this time a two finger salute. The descent down to the last notch is just like the first one from North Peak. The route finding is tedious and problematic, without much of a mention from the guidebook of what to expect. At some point you just let go and follow your instincts or the voice inside your head. Or are you just conversing with yourself? Either way you manage to get down. Some slab, crack, face, a reddish chimney, some trees and brush, and somewhere along this descent there is another rap with another manky anchor. You are also getting a good view of the route up the Main peak. You see what looks like the "wedge gendarme" as Sir Becky describes but it's not really certain, and it sort of looks like there's two of them. This view also has the good or bad fortune to see the problematic and exposed exit gully, and it looks just as described, a real howling hounds of doom sketch fest. A veritable snot slippery rotten choss gully of uber doom and gristling death. Lurking skulking scheming to throw the near exhausted and unwitting wanabee climber from his tenuous grip. Desperately scratching scraping tumbling smashing, down down down into the cold, uncaring, and unforgiving abyss, off to get the chop. The chop chop chop of death. No no no no no. Above all else in this life you are a survivor. If it's at all possible to stay alive, you will stay alive. You will either control the situation or avoid the circumstances that lead to a premature demise. You will continuously and vigorously pursue that ultimate objective with every fiber of your being. You will live through this. The notch between Middle and Main is the same as the previous notch. A very small sharp edged feature flanked on each side with ever steepening gullies quickly going down to un-climbability. Looking at the start of the climb up the Main Peak from just above the notch it appears to be vertical and blank. Mossy vertical gullies and chimneys off to the left and blank sheer walls and gullies to the right. And again only when descending to the notch and getting right up close to the opposing wall does the way appear almost magically before you. It's a thin series of foot edges and holds going off to the right. It's six pm, only a couple hours till dark. You hit up another Gu and a gulp of the water that's almost gone. You follow the thin climbing to the right and it turns into a nice rock chimney gully with plenty of stemming opportunities to rest your weary arms. The gully turns into a steep heather slope, and since it's North facing it's pretty wet from the previous days of cloud cover. Even with the Guide's traction you are having trouble maintaining grip for the feet in this steep wet vegetation. Somewhere along this field of steep wet heather the maximum points of contact mantra that every solo climber must follow comes to the fore. While moving a foot higher up the other foot slips. Both feet slide down and the adrenaline shot hits like a bolt of lighting. The product of eons of evolution, with the exposure it's been trickling all day, but now a full dose of nature's organic instant speed is slammed home to the bloodstream with a vengence. The heather is thick and strong here and the grip of both hands instantly forces in further, holding that much harder until both feet regain purchase. "I thought you were going on a long fast ride down?" Not even, not now, not ever. You arrive at the base of the wedge gendarmes and find a way up around the left one. It's gets steeper on clean solid rock and you gain the crest. An old pin along the way lets you know at least someone else has been here. You climb along the crest until you achieve the notch between the two gendarmes. But it's going to be very difficult to climb the notch between them, and it looks pretty problematic to anchor a rap. After some hesitation and indecision you decide it will waste too much precious time so you look around for an alternate way. Back below the gendarmes it looks like a traverse may go. You backclimb the way you came and traverse under the towers. It's very winding and a bit technical, but it's doable and you find a way across to a narrow ridge that drops to the Northwest below the right gendarme. You look up and again you can see the heinous death gully, the exit. There's just a bit of technical ground to get up to the gully. At this point you unwittingly unknowingly slip your neck into an unbreakable tech cord noose. It's subtle softly quiet and your distracted by the temptation of the exit. Up to this point the rock has been almost entirely of a positive strata and not really ever close to impossible loose. You eye this climbing traverse to the start of the exit gully crossing and without thinking proceed to climb. It quickly turns into a frightening gripping sketch fest. Apparently the avoidance of the described route, climbing and descending the wedge gendarme is going to demand retribution. The rock becomes increasingly loose and the edges are all pointing the wrong way down. Every other hold is loose and the ones that bang solid are suspect, cracked and thin. You side pull and undercling on most everything that holds because there's nowhere to pull down. Feet are smearing and small edges. Breathing, concentration, your heart creeps up in your throat, you get past the point of an easy return and dare to keep on into the dangerous difficulty. Finally, thankfully after a half pitch of harrowing insecurity and gristling exposure it eases and you're up and on the side of the evil exit gully. Hit another Gu, a small replenishment for the wracked out body and gulp the last of the water. Something anything to hold you back from the desperate edge. Sit and rest and take a breath. Focus. This time on the final crux you resolve to not descend into a sketchfest like at the primary crux. The rock is looser here, a bit chossy, there's no margin for error so you must make no error. Careful observation reveals a couple of possible crossings. You traverse to the nearest one and get a look up close. It's friable rock with nothing for the hands, a long reach to only one foot hold in the center of the gully on which you will have to match feet and then reach again to the other side. The extra sense says it smells like the way everyone goes, but looking closely at the foot hold it's a small knob that's cracked at it's base. Roped it would go but it's not good enough for soloing. You back out of the gully and scramble a pitch up it's left side to another spot that looks good from below, but a close inspection reveals it's totally blank. You climb back down to the first location for further inspection and low and behold there's another possibility. Above the foot hold knob a small dihedral parallels the gully up. "Careful the rock is rotten" I know, it's chossy and friable but it's a really good stem. You climb up a half pitch and another possible traverse comes into view. It goes with good hand and foot holds and a long reach across to a solid juggy flake. It goes it goes it goes. And it goes safe and without the gripping sketch. Another pitch or so of 5.5 traverse and the difficulties ease. Is that it? Are you off and safe? Or was that not really the exit gully? You turn the corner and the mountain starts facing more to the west. There's some more heather but it's dryer on this aspect where the sun has been shining. You downclimb one last bit of steep rock in spite of an easier alternative. Your mind and body maybe not wanting to let go of the mad thrills of this beautiful climb. Up up up heather and rock slopes, it's still quiet a ways but every step up more sure that you will succeed this time after all the trials and tribulations that brought you to this point in alpine time and space. The final bare rock summit slope, thank the Rock God, thank the guardian angel, thank the mountain's spirits... Eve and the rest. You have arrived at the summit of Main Peak! You have done the traverse! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHH HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The sun is getting low and as you watch the mountain horizon starts to bite into it. For once some time is taken to soak in the view, the sight, the sounds. The small town and winding road below, the lonesome whistle of a faraway train reminding you of childhood, of a time long ago and far away. The glimmering sound and lakes out in the hazy distance, the mighty volcanoes and near and distant ranges, all on view before you during this short time as a humble visitor of one of the thrones of one of the mountain Gods. For this brief interlude the pawn views the world as would a king. The view and pictures are good and you sit long enough to need another layer, for as the sun goes so does the warmth depart. In the back of your mind of course you're still not safe for you know the descent gully is loose and you're not sure what condition it's in considering the differing weather patterns this year has brought. Of course the alpine mantra applies, that the summit is only half the way home. But maybe on a traverse like this the "summit" is somewhere far back around the ultimate crux, and surely the technicality is easier from this point onwards. There's also the confidence of having already done the descent. So the epics that have plagued so many competent climbers when vague descriptions fall short and the visibility goes away with the frequent cloud cover will surely be avoided. Climbing, traversing down Southwards to the tarns at the pass your tired mind doesn't remember it being this far and you wind around in the dark for a ways. The headlamp seeking, showing the way past the wind's banzai trees, the fairy's meadows, and the glacier's sculpted rocks. Past the exit gully and down to the snow and water of the tarns. The two quarts of water went about right to get you past the final crux but the thirst has relentlessly advanced since that point. So by the time you reach the clear cold and clean water of the tarn it's as appreciated as it should be. Much more so than normal everyday life. Alpine climbing condenses, distills life to it's base and primary facets. Life and death, the necessity of a flawless physical execution in moving up and down over dangerous exposed terrain. The demand to continuously place one foot and hand in front of the other without falter or fail. Water and food. Energy and rest. Clear sunny sky, and wind and cloud and rain, storm, snow, and ice. Darkness and light. Hunger and food. Thirst and water. Two quarts of water and back up past the descent gully which is inspected as far as possible by the headlamps thin beam. Looking down the mountain's gullet, looking for the way out, the safe passage past it's rocky teeth. A small cairn in case of low visibility in the morning then up to look for bivy spots. There's plenty of flat places around this summit but you need something out of the wind and away from the chilling snow. A nice spot is found a few feet from the precipitous drop down the East side, but nestled at the edge of big boulders so it feels somewhat safe. It's going to be a force bivy, you've sort of known it all along. A bare-bones forced shiver bivy. The climb is done in a day car to car but not by you at this point in your de-composure. As a compromise you've gone light for the steep technical climbing. No sleeping bag and just an ultralite bivy sack and a 1/4" foam pad. You'll sleep in the light puff jacket and the rain gear. Maybe you can't technically call it sleep. You'll lay down with eyes closed and shiver the night away scrunched up in the fetal position. Trying to find that one position where the knees and shoulders don't constantly ache. The weight compromise has included food, one piece of bread, one piece of cheese, two ounces of olive oil. That's it. The rest is Gu, which works fine when your on the move but wears thin at camp. You don't even feel that hungry for some reason, so you eat half the food and drink some water. You watch the stars, the stars always there but unseen in the city. The big dipper is crystal clear and it's tilted just right to hold it's fullest cup, sort of signifying the climb so far. Sleep does not come for it's too cold, after seeming hours the dipper's cup has hardly moved, so you decide to heat the water for warmth. You haven't even needed the stove and fuel that was brought, so put it to some good use now. The only problem is there's only two quarts so if used for heat you won't have any to drink. Oh well you can drink in the morning. Tediously heat the water, careful not to spill. It only lasts a short time but you finally get a brief few hours of much needed sleep. You heat the bottles more than once, so hot they leave small burns on your chest, but it allows sleep so no matter. You've had your brief time of fun, now for the art of suffering which defines most of alpinism. The dawn finally breaks, it's overcast with the smallest touch of rain and darkish clouds surrounding the horizon. You crawl to the edge and take some pics of the stormy daybreak. You quickly throw everything in the pack, take the requisite summit pic with the triple fingers extended for the record. It's cold and your half beaten body protests at first even going down, but go down you must for while this is a nice place to visit you can't stay especially with no sleeping bag and no extra time alloted away from the grindstone. Down down down, the exit gully is mostly free of snow but wet. Careful of all the loose rock because your climbing in the gully below it for at least a thousand feet. Down to the 5.6 crux, you thought you might downclimb it but in a somewhat weary condition you break out the cord for one more rap. It goes without incident, a freehanging drop to above the last vestiges of gully snow. Down down down. To the talus field and traverse to the saddle of the ridge above the ancient sacred lake. A brief time to enjoy the view then find the thin winding trail in the sky, down the ridge, down down, hanging on roots and branches, downclimbing past the Mounties rap points. Getting worn, tired, now you hit the pass, down down more talus to the lake so very serene. There's still some snow but you find a path littered with debris for traction. Walking the edge of the lake, soaking in it's stillness and beauty. Watching looking you are now below the summit crossing you so recently made, back to looking up but now with the memory that you at least once looked down on all this. Retrieve the gear at the lake, pause to rest and eat before leaving it again, engage the tourons in idle gossip. "you climbed that?" Yes and shiver dozed like a decrepit fetus during the night, repeately burned by heated water bottles. "no kidding?" I wish I was, no not really, it was great, the time of my life. Down down down, the steep hiway trail takes it's final toll, you move more slowly and rest more often. Only by measured steps will you reach the end. Down down down, to the trailhead, to the car. The most dangerous part of the trip is still ahead, the drive home past the drunken drivers on the two lanes of death hiway. Past the cell phone talkers that should never ever have been given a license. You stop at the clandestine campgrounds to talk to your long time friend, the one that told you to "just do it". To tell him, yeah dawg, I just did it. "Damn that's awesome man". We converse for a while easy and relaxed, with a mutual admiration and respect. Brothers of the alpine discipline. You take a short rest and eat before the trip back. "you drive safe now hear me?" Yeah man. Back on the hiway, a quick look up at the peaks in all their splendid majesty looking down at the pawns, now including one of them that dared to at least briefly share that view. THIS MUST BE THE WAY THE OBJECTIVE OBSCURED BY OPPRESSIVE CLOUDS THE CLOUDED LAKE WITH THE DESCENT SADDLE ON THE RIDGE ABOVE LOOKING UP AT THE START ON THE SKYLINE LOOKING DOWN FROM NEAR THE START THE NORMAL START OF ROPED CLIMBING, RED SLING UNDER ROOF LOOKING DOWN THE FIRST PITCH LOOKING UP THE FIRST PITCH LOOKING DOWN THE 2ND PITCH LOOKING AHEAD ON THE TREED LEDGE, IT HUGS THE CLIFF LOOKING DOWN THE NORTH FACE BOWL, A 7 PITCH WALL IS DWARFED BELOW. LOOKING UP THE NORTH FACE BOWL THE SHORT SCRAMBLE PITCH AT THE TOP OF THE NORTH FACE BOWL EXPOSURE DOWN THE WEST SIDE THE START OF THE NORTH RIDGE CLIMBING TALUS AT THE NORTH SUMMIT AND HORNS SOUTH OF THE SUMMIT A HORN AND MIDDLE AND MAIN FROM NORTH THE RIDGE GOING TO MIDDLE FROM NORTH EXPOSURE DOWN THE EAST SIDE TO THE LAKE FALSE, MIDDLE, AND MAIN BEHIND, FROM THE TRAVERSE LOOKING BACK TO NORTH LOOKING BACK TO NORTH, YOU CAN SEE THE FIRST NOTCH EXPOSURE DOWN THE EAST SIDE TO THE LAKE LOOKING BACK AT MIDDLE NORTH AND MIDDLE FROM THE ASCENT OF MAIN THE SKULKING BRISTLING DEATH GULLY EXIT LOOKING BACK AFTER THE EXIT GULLY, MUCH OF TRAVERSE BETWEEN SUN/SHADE LOOKING AHEAD PAST THE EXIT RAINIER FROM NEAR THE SUMMIT SUNSET FROM THE SUMMIT OF MAIN TARN WATER BY HEADLAMP BAREBONES FORCED SHIVER BIVY SMALL TOWN AT NIGHT DAWN STORM SKY TARN AT THE PASS DOWN THE DESCENT GULLET DOWN THE LAST RAP UP THE LAST RAP LOOKING TOWARDS THE SADDLE AT THE TOP OF THE RIDGE ABOVE THE LAKE IT'S A MAGICAL MYSTICAL PLACE, JUST ASK THE SNAFFLES BACK AT THE LAKE BACK AT THE LAKE, GOD'S "JUST DO IT" SWOOSH (from a previous trip) LITTER DETAIL FROM THE WEST FROM THE EAST And please remember, walk soft, climb clean, and leave no trace. Gear Notes: A mini lighter with most of the fluid emptied out so it weighs less. Modded Go-Lite Breeze pack, 1 garbage bag, sunglasses w/scarf, 1/2 REI mirror, 1 extra contact, read glasses w/case, 5 band aids, altimeter watch, compass, hand written route description, becky photos, cell w/no back, camera w/ultralite case, chapstick, keys, cards, cash, TP, pen, duct tape, 3 mini no-climb beaners, 5ct 3/4 gear straps. Smallest swiss army knife. Light zip shorts, med polypro top/bottoms, 1 touk, 1 pr polypro socks, HH ureathane raincoat and full zip pants, thin gloves, columbia puff jacket, knee brace, 1/4"x 3/4 insolite pad, integral ultra-lite bivy sack. 2 qts water in re-used energy drink bottles, 26 lemon-lime GU's, 1 sm piece bread, 1 sm piece cheese, 2 oz olive oil, 1 TI stove pot(handles removed), 1 snowpeak stove, w/small fuel, 1 ultra-lite lighter, 10 vitamins including Ginkgo. 60M 5mm tech cord w/thin stuff sack, 2 4mm prusiks, Bugette rap device, ultra-lite harness, 3 spectra shoulder slings, 25ft 5mm cord, 3 lockers, 3 ultra-lite beaners, 2 TI pins, 2 short BD blades, BD Venom hammer, hybrid strap on alum cramps w/steel tips, HB carbon fiber helmet, chalk bag, Guide 10's, Aces. Total pack weight w/all food and water, 20 pounds. Approach Notes: Take the path where no one goes.
  15. best of cc.com Muir on Saturday

    Just wanted to say "you suck" to the guys smoking in the climbers hut on Saturday. I (this is my opinion, and mine only) think it was very inconsiderate to ruin everyone else's experience on such a day to fill the hut with pot smoke. I really enjoyed sitting outside in the cold while you got your groove on. Real smart folks. I bet it's great to be buzzed up at 10,000 feet. Watch out for the Paradise & Nisqually Glacier on your way down. I know I will probably get slammed on this topic since I am sure a large amount of users on this board are potheads, etc, (only an assumption since there are many threads of the sort) but I have never been so pissed of at 10,000 feet. Plus I know this post will get picked apart since you must defend your right to enjoy "da kine".
  16. This is a carry-over from another thread. Let's see them pics. Really big housecats, no Photoshop cheating, unless it's really funny.
  17. Trip: Mt. Deception + peak 7638' - east face, ne chute + east face Date: 3/31-4/2/2013 Trip Report: I left Sunday afternoon with plans to explore Royal Basin, stocked with several days worth of food an gas, a guitar, and plenty of stoke. I got there as the day was fading, and eyed a potential line on the East face of Mt. Deception. Got started around dawn and was happy to find good consolidated spring conditions low down, the snow got deeper with elevation. I was tempted to ski linked turns off the summit, but sluff management was necessary. The crux came in a gully low on the face. I first tried to ski the way I had climbed, but found it too awkward and icy so I climbed back up a little and went skiers left over a ice bulge, it was steeper but sun kissed unlike the way I had climbed. I skied down to the floor of the basin and was so stoked I decided to climb and ski the NE chute. Conditions were a little crusty in spots but not bad, it is a beautiful line and was very fun to ski. That night was cold and windy and I didn't get much sleep. In the morning I half dozed in my sun warmed sleeping bag for a while enjoying the sounds of the wind through the trees. My plan was to slog out that day. On the way out I saw an alluring east face and decided to go for it. It was awesome, a little shorter and steeper than the east face route I skied on Deception. On my drive in, I came across a stranded couple walking down the road, they had listened to their radio too long roadside camping and killed their battery. I didn't have jumper cables but I obliged to letting them swap out my truck battery for a few minutes. IMG_0010 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr Mt. Deception east face by danhelmstadter, on Flickr IMG_0031 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr IMG_0046 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr crux, icy neve in the shade. IMG_0049 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr IMG_0039 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr East face of Needles peak 7638' on left IMG_0081 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr needles by danhelmstadter, on Flickr View south to Deception IMG_0097 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr IMG_0104 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 7638' from lower down IMG_0114 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr
  18. Climb: FRA-Acid Baby III+ 5.10 approx 1000' climbing-Dan Cappellini, Rolf Larson, Mike Layton Date of Climb: 7/31/2005 Trip Report: "Now that we've climbed together, I think you're ready to meet Dan," Rolf stated at 6am in Leavenworth. The three of us had a blast doing a fantastic climb up on Asguard Pass across from the NE face of D-tail. All three of us knew of the line, although they tried to get me to do d-tail madness or the boving route instead. i made lies why we needed to do this route. We get to the base. Crap, this is gonna be quick. What looked like a 4-5 pitch climb now looked like 3 pitches max. At least it'll be over quickly...We got back to the car at 10:30pm. I posted a topo (too big for here) in my gallery. I'll add the link on my next post when i put up the photos. Anyway, our climb ACID BABY turned out to be unrelently steep, quality, and a clean line. I pegged out the contrive-o-meter when my pitch came up by trying to go directly up the roof in the center of the face. After an hour-long battle with gear and fear I backed off. I had a 1/2way in nut, a grey tcu that kept pulling out when i moved, an RP between two removeable stones, and a belayer-slayer i was standing on trying to make the impossibe (for me) reach up over and aroudn the roof. I fell and nearly shat myself in the process. The nut pulled, but came to a stop when the remain metal that was touching the rock somehow held. My RP and TCU blew out. I got real bloody! After a lot of "gosh mike, you're retarded" Rolf slung his balls over his shoulder and gave the roof a go. Much swearing and "careful" grumbling later, Rolf downclimbed my horror show, not as excited to be lowered off my nut as I was. "Well if Rolf couldn't do it," I though.... Anyway, I got the seat of SHAME while Rolf took the obvious and way better way to go up super exposed cracks, ridges, and traversing. Dan and I got stellar pitches, and more stellar pitches led to the top. Turned out to be about 1,000' of climbing all pitches very physical and almost every pitch in the 5.10 range, two being very sustained 5.10. Maybe my photos will do it more justice then my not so good TR (i'm tired and don't have time to post this later). We topped out on top of Enchantment peak after fully burying the CONTRIVE-O-METER on top by doing a sweet pitch of climbing on a large steep slab covered in cracks. We just couldn't stop climbing....well actually we all we bitching pussies by the summitt. If I think of anything else important to the actual route, i'll post it. Rolf and Dan are free to call bullshit, i don't care. feel free to downgrade it to I+ 5.6 55meters. anyone know the name of this tower? if it has one that is. Gear Notes: set and a half cams up to 4", nuts Approach Notes: can't see the tower till you're almost there
  19. Climb: The Mythical Bellingham Big Wall Date of Climb: 7/21/2005 Trip Report: For many climbers in Bellingham the Twin Sisters Range is the place were we first cut our teeth in the mountains, climbing the west ridge of the North Twin or more often than not failing on an attempt of the South Twin Sister. The rest of the range is somewhat of an enigma. During the month of July I made several forays into the east side of the range. While the west side of these mountains is a wasteland of clearcuts and decomposing logging roads, on the east side we discovered soothing old growth forest, wild rivers, impressive glaciers, lots of solitude and some great multipitch climbing on the unique and enjoyable olivine these peaks are composed of. Last February my wife and I decided to check out the Elbow Lake Trail. After we navigated the washed-out crossing of the Nooksack River the trail immediately began a gentle climb through impressive stands of huge trees in the drainage of Green Creek. Occasional openings in the forest afforded glimpses of steep walls near the creeks headwaters. Green Creek Arete II 5.6 On July 1st Allen Carbert and I returned to see if these walls measured up to the grandure of my memories. After a half hour on the trail we plunged straight into the forest and began traversing further into the Green Creek drainage. While the underbrush was thick and wet we made good time and after an hour of thrashing we broke out along the bank of the creek. This is a wild spot with great views of the Green Glacier to the west and Mount Baker and Lincoln Peak to the east. After crossing the creek we headed up the enormous talus slopes that define the upper regions of this drainage. One east facing wall stood out, steep, clean and bordered by an impressive gendarmed arete. Four hours after leaving the car we stood near its base. Intimidated and running short on time we decided the arete would be a perfect choice for the day. Like many routes in the Sisters the climbing was much easier than it looked. We scrambled up delightful 3rd and 4th class rock before slipping into rock shoes for a clean exposed slab on the crest of the arete. The horizontal section turned out to be exciting 3rd class scrambling right along the massive drop of the east face. We roped up for a 100' pitch of 5.6 cracks on more clean, solid rock before a final bit of scrambling led to...nowhere. The arete simply ended on a minor high point of the long ridgeline seperating the drainages of the Green and Sisters Glaciers. We built a small cairn and ate lunch while enjoying the unique views of the Sisters Glacier which looked to be no more than a 45 minute walk away. We had choosen to carry over and decided to descend by heading east along the ridgeline. After cresting a highpoint marked 5179' on maps we headed down through open meadows then more thick forest. At 3600' in elevation we hung a hard right, dropping back into the drainage of Green Creek. A steep descent led to an even steeper gorge where we once again crossed the creek before climbing back up to the trail. Eight and half hours after leaving we were back at the car, satisfied with a great day in the local hills. The Mythic Wall III 5.10 On July 21st Michael Layton and I climbed the wall. The huckleberries in the forest were now in prime season and we stopped every five minutes to gorge ourselves. Somehow we still managed to reach the face in a little over three hours. As we roped up an enormous black spider crawled across the start of our route. What in the hell is this thing? The climbing was excellent. Almost every pitch was steep, solid and sustained with adequate protection. Stemming up corners, linking face cracks, pulling over roofs on jugs, we had a great time. What loose rock there was we would pitch off into space watching it freefall for hundreds of feet before exploding into shrapnel. Michael led the crux pitch, a series of discontinuous cracks up the center of a steep, clean face. On the next pitch, intimidating roofs were passed on great holds. As Mike followed he easily pulled off the only belay-slayer on the climb, a 5' tall flake that exploded over the previous belay ledge. Four and half hours after starting we topped out in the still blazing sun. We had climbed the route in 6 pitches ( 5.8, 5.9+, 5.4, 5.10-, 5.9, 5.7) and decided to call it The Mythic Wall as it felt like we had just done that mythical alpine rock climb we've always wanted to find in the mountains near Bellingham. We downclimbed the Green Creek Arete (easy 4th class from topout) reaching our packs in about an hour. On the way out we cooled off in the creek before thrashing back out to the trail, the truck and, to celebrate, the North Fork Beer Shrine. Either of these routes are well worth doing, particularly if you live in the Bellingham area. While the approach certainly takes some effort it sure is nice having multi-pitch alpine rock climbs so close to home. Mythic Wall Route Description At the top of the scree gully below the wall the route begins on the left side of the large wet chimney (year round water?). P1 (5.8, 55m) Start directly below the only tree on the lower face. Pass a horizontal fault at 40', pull through steep black rock then follow ramps and corners to the tree. P2 (5.9+, 45m) Hard moves off the belay, then climb up and right until you can traverse right into discontinuous corners. Follow these to a large ledge splitting the face. P3 (5.4, 25m) Walk left then traverse up and left on a loose-looking but solid rock. Belay near another tree below face cracks on the smooth wall. P4 (5.10-, 40m) Link face cracks up and right (crux). When they end at a L-facing corner pull out right around the corner onto an easy face. P5 (5.9, 40m) Climb a nice L-facing corner, then pull a roof. Hand traverse left below the next roof into a fun dihedral. Below more roofs move out left to a belay. P6 (5.7, 20m) Steep flakes lead to the ridgeline. Gear: rack to 3.5", including a full set of TCUs or Aliens, micronuts and a double set of cams from 2" to 3.5". The wall can be seen in shadows on page 41 of Red Fred. It's above the "ek" in "Green Creek". Approach From Mosquito Lake Road follow the Middle Fork Nooksack River Road about 11 miles to the signed Elbow Lake trailhead (elevation 2200'). Ford the river on log jams and reminants of the old bridge then pick up the trail again 100' downstream. Follow the trail about a mile to a sharp switchback at 2700'. Leave the trail here dropping down into gentle forest and a crossing Hildebrand creek. Continue traversing up valley through thick huckleberrys and occasional dense firs trees. The best travel seems to be around 2750' in elevation. Once you reach Green Creek the wall and the long talus slopes to reach it should be obvious. 3-4 hrs. Descent Down climb the arete or hike east along the ridgeline passing a high point then descending into forest. At 3600' turn right and head straight down to Green Creek. We forded the creek around 2300' then climbed back up through devils club reaching the trail around 2500'.
  20. Climb: Mt. Robson-North Face Date of Climb: 8/14/2004 Trip Report: I climbed the North Face of Robson on Saturday, after biking/hiking into the Robson-Helmet col on Friday. Descent was made by the Kain Route. I didn't have a watch and so I don't know times of specific parts of the trip, but I left the Robson-Helmet col at sunrise and got back to the trailhead at 8:15pm. The approach rock buttress is tedious, but there are lots of cairns, so routefinding is easy. The glacier from the top of the buttress to the col is very broken up, and some tricky navigation is required. The North Face is in good condition - icy enough for good sticks the whole way, but soft enough to rest one's calves often. On the upper Emperor Ridge I traversed on the north side for about 200 ft. The Kain route seemed fine as well, but had one large crevasse/bergsrund that will provide a bit of difficulty. Getting from the base of the Kain route back up to the Robson-Helmet col is straightforward, but puts you under a large cornice for the last 200 ft. Gear Notes: -30m rope -2 screws, 2 pins, runners, harness Approach Notes: -Take a mountain bike (one can bike the first 7km) -Hike in a pair of tennis shoes. Not only will they be more comfy, but you can ford the river in them (crossing barefoot was quite painful).
  21. Trip: Blade Runner FA + info on 18 new routes at Shangri La, X38 ONE PAGE PRINTABLE TOPO ADDED BELOW. Date: 10/12/2012 Trip Report: Blade Runner First Ascent (Shangri La new route info follows). We like to think that our best days are ahead of us. As climbers, we believe that if we train harder, learn new techniques, and buy the right gear we’ll break through to a new level. This works for a while, but the tides of time are against us. At some point we must pass our high water mark. Most of us won’t recognize this milestone until months or years later, but sometimes you know when it happens. Mine was 8am on October 12th, 2012. For 15 years I’d been on a 5.9 to 5.10 plateau. There were always excuses. Grad school, post-doc, start-up, kids, remodel. Years of weekend warrior climbing rolled past. The tide finally turned in 2006 when I took a job across the street from the UW climbing gym. I started bouldering regularly and met new partners. Two of them, Alex and Scott, opened up my eyes to the world of new route development. Together, we put up a handful of 5.9 and 5.10 lines in the Deception area of Exit 38. That summer I climbed my first 5.11 in 15 years. 5.11 is barely a warm-up for strong climbers, but for me this was a breakthrough. For almost two decades, 5.11 had been a psychological barrier, an impenetrable ceiling through which I thought I would never pass again. This made me wonder what my potential really was. At 38, I knew I didn’t have long to find out, so I set a goal to climb my first 5.12 before I turned 40. It was a long shot, but if I tried I might bump up to a new level and be able to climb routes that had long been out of reach. There were obstacles. I was working full time, managing our home remodel, and riding the night train of two small kids with a third on the way, but I did climb. First ascents on the Shangri La cliff at Exit 38 marked a slow but steady rise in my abilities. 2007 Guillotine, 5.10. A gear-protected corner with a sharp flake in the middle. History Book, 5.10. A gear-protected crack with an ancient piton. Small Arms Fire, 5.10. A sustained route with small holds on a steep slab. 2008 Metamorphosis, 5.10+. A two-pitch line on a 300 foot face with a mix of bolts and gear. Crouching Tiger, 5.10+. A route with sloping features and rock as rough as #100 sandpaper. Forty came and went without a 5.12 redpoint, but I did climb some great 5.11s around the Northwest. The following year, I found three spectacular lines at Shangri La at my limit. To climb them, I had to learn a new process: find solutions for each crux, rehearse the moves, draw a detailed map, visualize the sequences, work to link sections, and then go for the redpoint. This type of mind/body training is not new. Tony Yaniro was one of the first US climbers to build a training wall that simulated the specific movements he needed for his project. Top climbers of the day scoffed at his approach, calling it cheating, but our bodies are remarkable machines that adapt to the challenges we present to them. If you want to get good at pull-ups you train by doing pull-ups. If you want to get good at certain climbing moves you train by doing those moves. In 1979, Yaniro’s training paid off when he established The Grand Illusion, then the hardest route in North America. On the mental side, repetition of movements creates muscle memories that allow our bodies to perform complex motor functions. Once these muscle programs, or motor engrams, are mastered they can be played back with minimal conscious input. Watch a toddler try to eat with a spoon for the first time and you’ll appreciate how complex this task really is and how much focus is required to learn new tasks. What enables us to eat our cereal without spilling while walking down stairs and talking on the phone? We’ve mastered each of these tasks through repetition. Interestingly, we can also train for complex movements through visualization, or virtual rehearsal, where we imagine ourselves performing the task. Thus, training your mind actually trains your body, and vice versa. Achieving mastery of complex motor functions allows us to focus on higher levels of control, such as managing fear, optimizing arousal levels, relaxing unnecessary muscles, and staying focused in stressful situations. Even strength can be traced back to mental training, when we consider that strength training is driven by motivation, discipline, planning, and self-assessment. Free your mind and your body will follow. I started using these tools and was able to do three 5.11 first ascents: 2009 Free Radical, 5.11-. A striking line on an exposed arête. Hidden Dragon, 5.11. Four different cruxes spread over a hundred feet. Hypertension, 5.11+. A hard opening and then several more cruxes. But I still hadn’t climbed 5.12. The few I'd tried felt impossibly hard. It didn’t help that I was spreading my energies across different sub-disciplines: bouldering indoors, setting routes in the climbing gym, climbing routes outdoors, developing new bolted routes, and climbing in the mountains a few times per year. Time was flying past. If I was going to cross the 5.12 threshold I needed to focus on that goal. In early 2010, I found my first target: Rainy Day Women at Little Si. It suited my style, with three bouldery sections separated by good rests. I found solutions that worked for me, drew a detailed map, rehearsed, and tailored my training to the three cruxes. On March 14th everything came together. The final crux, which had felt desperate on previous attempts, went smoothly and I made the redpoint. I was elated, but RDW is known to be soft for the grade, so I looked for my next target. I’d heard Lay of the Land was good, so we gave it a try. As before, I made a plan, drew my map, visualized the sequence, and trained for the crux. I planned to skip a bolt near the end that was difficult to clip and created rope drag. The second trip out I made it to the anchor but missed a key foothold and fell trying to clip the chains. I added that foothold to my mental map and sent the route on our next trip. The satisfaction of climbing a route is usually immediate and fleeting, but this was deeper and grew over time. One route might be a fluke, but not two. I’d started across the elusive 5.12 threshold. Two months later, I bolted a spectacular line at Shangri La that I knew would be in the 5.12 range: Skullduggery. It was continuously overhanging, sustained, and technical. New routes are particularly enticing for me because they represent unsolved puzzles on unexplored terrain. Maybe a few will become classics that people will climb for decades to come. Skullduggery had all the right ingredients, but I couldn’t link the moves. Psychology shows that motivation is highest when the chance of success is around 40% to 60%. Above 80%, we assume we’ll succeed and don’t bother preparing. Below 20%, we probably don’t think it’s worth the time and effort to try hard. But it’s not that simple. Creativity, visualization, rehearsal, and route-specific training can dramatically increase the odds of success on a route. Finding a solution to the crux that matches your skills and strength might increase the overall odds of success from 2% to 20%. Rehearsing sequences makes you more efficient and gives you more energy for the final cruxes, perhaps increasing the overall success rate from 20% to 60%. But you have to choose the right objectives. Skullduggery was a perfect goal for me in 2010 because it represented a possible first ascent just beyond my limit. I drew a map that detailed 68 hand and foot movements, rehearsed the moves, and trained for specific movements. Being strong enough to do the moves doesn’t guarantee success. The proper mental state is also essential. I needed to be calm but psyched to give 100%, energized but relaxed, and, perhaps most importantly, focused on the process and not on the outcome. Zen. On a cool summer morning in July of 2010, after two weeks of rehearsing and training on a fixed line, I went up with Jens to go for the first ascent of Skullduggery. Fortunately, that morning I was in the zone, that rare space where mind and body perform seamlessly as one. It was almost as if I was a detached observer watching a carefully choreographed gymnastics routine. I sent the route first go. Oddly, it was both anti-climactic and deeply satisfying. Skullduggery was the hardest route I’d ever climbed and is definitely harder than the four other 5.12a routes I climbed in 2010. As far as I know it hasn’t been repeated. Fifty feet left of Skullduggery is a clean overhanging face whose crux involves improbable moves on a protruding blade of rock. This feature inspired the route’s name: Blade Runner. The day I climbed Skullduggery, Jens and I tried Blade Runner. We could do the opening moves but were completely shut down by the crux. There were features, but we couldn’t work out how to use them. My brain wrestled with this puzzle on and off over two years. I would envision a solution, get excited, and go try it. Each time, I was shut down and went home thinking I would never climb the route. But I kept turning the puzzle over and over in my mind. In the summer of 2012, I made a close inspection of all of the features on the route and started working in earnest to find a solution. Idea #1: Grab two sloping holds and do a huge dynamic leap to an undercling and sloper that must be caught simultaneously. Fail. The slopers aren’t as positive as they look, the footholds are crappy, and the catch holds are too far away. Idea #2: Lie back up the left side of the blade. Fail. This is very strenuous, and the blade ends well below the next set of holds. Idea #3: Knee bar up the cleft left of the blade. Fail. The wall where you place your feet slopes away so this is challenging, and the knee bars end where the blade ends, well below the next set of holds. I wasn’t making any progress. Truth be told, there were times I was tempted to chip a hold. A tiny foot chip on the blade, or an incut in the arch, might allow me to get past the crux. I have a chisel and hammer. No one would know. But I would. And I would be bringing the route down to my level instead of meeting the challenge presented by nature. So I refrained, as I always have, even if it meant I would never climb the route. Instead, I started to break the problem down into smaller puzzles. Idea #4 and Solution Part 1: I figured out I needed to lie back on a vertical sidepull above the blade to reach the next set of holds. Getting to the vertical sidepull became the new crux. I tried to get my left foot up onto a high hold to set up the lie back. Fail. I can’t get my foot that high without falling because the handholds aren’t in the right positions. Idea #5 and Solution Part 2: I figured out I could get a heel/toe cam on the flat wall of the blade and use this in opposition with the sloping rail to move up to the vertical sidepull in a compression sequence. The new crux became the transition between the compression sequence and the vertical sidepull. Fail. If you compress too hard you fly off when you try to bump your hand up to the vertical sidepull. But this can be fixed. Idea #6 and Solution Part 3: I needed to work out how to move into and through the compression moves, maintaining high body tension, without pushing myself off when I made the bump to the vertical sidepull over my head. Small adjustments to foot, hand, and body positions, as well as force angles and force magnitudes, were going to be critical. After many hours on the rock I found an optimal combination and could just barely make the compression to sidepull transition. I’d solved the hardest part of the crux but still needed to move over to the next holds out left. Idea #7 and Solution Part 4: Maintain tension and pinch the blade between my feet to push out left to a crimp. This feels strange, but it works. The opening moves needed to be more efficient so I would have enough energy for the crux and the hard moves beyond it. The section after the crux would provide unexpected challenges and an amazing sequence as well, and, of course, I would need to link it all together, but I was zeroing in on my solution. I wrote a map that detailed 75 precise hand and foot movements from start to finish. After each work session I updated this choreography. Now I needed to link the sequences together, figure out where and how to clip the bolts, and train my mind and body to perform the route. To prepare for Blade Runner’s crux, I trained to compress two sloping sidepulls while maintaining high core tension and balancing on my right tiptoe. From this position, I had to bump my right hand to the vertical sidepull over my head. What had once seemed impossible was beginning to loom on the horizon as something I might just pull off. But time was running out. It was October. We’d had the longest continuous run of good weather in a decade, but the winter rains were on the way. I trained for the specific movements I needed for the route, rehearsed and refined my solution for the crux, worked out the most efficient path for sequences before and after the crux, and started to put it all together. When mind and body are primed for peak performance there is a window of opportunity to break through to a new level. I had entered that window for Blade Runner, but it wouldn’t be open for long. On October 6th, I went out with Ed to try to climb the route. Unfortunately, I had a cold and was on pseudoephedrine. Attempt #1: I moved smoothly through the opening but fell at the crux due to lack of body tension. I rested, but the pseudofed wouldn’t allow my heart rate to return to baseline. Attempt #2: I got through the crux but fell on one of the last hard moves after burning too much energy clipping the last bolt. Attempt #3: I made it through the crux but fell below my previous high point. Attempt #4: I fell at the crux, too spent to maintain enough body tension to make the bump to the vertical sidepull. I needed a little more strength, a better foot sequence after the crux, and a better strategy for clipping or skipping the last bolt. We went home. I rested on Sunday, did movement-specific training on Monday, refined my foot sequence, and planned to skip the last bolt. I felt ready, but the Fates were about to intervene. The long-range forecast showed a wall of rain coming on Friday, October 12th that would shut us down for the season. Several partners said they could go out on Saturday the 13th, but that would probably be too late. My window was about to slam shut. I was 44 and had three growing kids, a growing list of minor injuries, and a job that was growing more fun and more demanding. There was no guarantee I’d be strong enough, healthy enough, or have enough time to climb Blade Runner in 2013, or perhaps ever. I made two back-up plans. The first was duct tape. Blade Runner is steep enough that only three of its holds get wet after a light rain. I dangled from the rope and fashioned duct tape tents and drain systems for these holds in case I had to make an attempt on Saturday in the drizzle. The second plan was to call Jens and ask if he would go on a Friday dawn patrol mission. Thankfully, he knew how much I wanted this and was willing to give it a shot despite a mediocre forecast that showed rain starting around 10am. We planned to leave my house at 6am. My wife would take the kids to school. Thursday evening I ate a hearty meal, got the kids to bed, packed the gear, took a hot bath to relax the body and mind, and went to bed early. Then my wife’s pager went off. A patient in Bellingham needed emergency surgery. If the patient came down Friday morning I’d need to take the kids to school and we wouldn’t get to the crag until at least 10. By then it would probably be raining. Kids and patients come before climbing, of course, but it felt like the Fates were taunting me. The patient came to Seattle at 11pm, and my wife did surgery until 1am, so I was free to go at 6am as planned, assuming there were no more emergency calls. There weren’t. I woke at 5:20am. It was pitch dark, but I saw water running down the window and heard rain gently pattering on the roof. Everything was wet. I looked at the forecast for North Bend. 70% chance of rain for 7am and 8am, 30% for the rest of the morning, then 60% for the rest of the day. The window had slammed shut. Should I text Jens and tell him to stay in bed? I’ve worked too hard to give up now, and he was probably already on the way over. Let’s just go take a look. Jens arrived at 6am and we drove East through the rain. There was no wind. The wall of rain was marching slowly and steadily East toward Blade Runner. Was the crag wet? Would the duct tape keep the holds dry? There was no way to know until we got there. Amazingly, we emerged from the leading edge of the advancing rain when we reached North Bend. I turned the windshield wipers off. The highway was dry. We got to the trailhead just before 7am. Everything was still dry. Either the sky was about to open up or the forecast I’d seen was wrong. We would soon find out. We hiked up to the Shangri-La cliff. Temps were cool. The rock was dry. All was calm. We didn’t know how much time we’d have before the wall of rain was upon us, but I needed a warm-up so we quickly climbed Crouching Tiger. Then it was time for Blade Runner. I knew I wouldn’t have enough strength for a lot of attempts, and the rain could start falling any minute, but I stayed calm. I was ready. I’d climbed the route many times in my head. It was time to climb it in real life. I tied into the rope, put my shoes on, climbed up to clip the first bolt, and then climbed back down again. I closed my eyes and breathed slowly in and out, in and out, to get my heart rate down. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and cast off: crossover from the undercling into the first lieback, twist my left leg as I move into the second undercling (the opening flowed smoothly) clip the bolt at the crux, set my heel-toe cam on the blade, move smoothly into the compression sequence, tense the core, bump to the vertical sidepull (my mind was empty but focused) pinch my feet on the blade, press to reach the small crimp out left (I was now through the crux but had fallen past here before) keep weight on small footholds, skip the last bolt, deadpoint to a good hold (just a few more hard moves) reach left to the pinch, pop to the undercling (almost done now - breathe) cross through with the feet, balance on two slopers, lock a heel hook down, and move to the final sloping sidepull...Clip. Clip. It was done. The impossible dream had been realized. It was 8am on October 12th, 2012. I’d reached my high water mark. Jens tried the route, and then we removed the quick draws and pulled the rope. By the time we reached the car the rain had started. It wouldn’t stop for over a month, and the whole cliff would be soaked until spring. Blade Runner was one of the most rewarding experiences in my 22 years of climbing not because it was the hardest route I’ve ever climbed, but because it required a huge mental and physical investment that pushed me beyond my perceived limits. I’ll probably never climb a harder route. I’m OK with that. But twenty feet right of Blade Runner is an even steeper, more intimidating line that looks amazing. I’m sure it’s way too hard for me, but maybe I’ll just go take a look... ……………………. Shangri La Details on 18 new routes in the Shangri La area of X38 -Please pack out all trash. Obvious pathways away from the crag are on the lower approach so please don't soil them with human waste. Please leave carabiners on anchors for lowering a la Nason ridge. Enjoy! ………………………… Most of these routes get good sun exposure and dry fast. The start of History Book and one section of Guillotine are prone to seepage after a lot of rain, but most other routes dry quickly. Blade Runner and Skullduggery face South and are best climbed in the early morning or on a cloudy day. Metamorphosis faces East and can be hot on a summer morning. Route distribution*: 5.8 3 5.9 1 5.10 7 5.11 5 5.12 2 * - Ratings are subjective. Proposed ratings are suggestions based on how the routes might compare to similar routes at the Lower Town wall at Index. I will enter these on Mountain Project. Feel free to suggest your own ratings so we can arrive at a consensus. …………………………………….. Printable topo Approach notes: Orientation: The Far Side area of X38 has several East-facing crags in a line: Interstate Park, Eastern Block, Squishy Bell, and Headlight Point crags. Ellie's Sweet Kiss is a very popular route in the middle of Interstate Park. Shangri-La is on the Eastern and Southern faces of the large rock formation across the giant talus field East of these crags. A few Far Side maps: Driving map Roads and topo for X38 Far Side Crags map Far Side trails The trails map is not to scale. Winter Block is almost directly above Shangri La. Hiking directions: Go to the Far Side parking lot. Start up the trail that starts just N of the bridge over the SnoQ river. When the trail forks go left, then an immediate right/straight, cross a wet area on a tiny boardwalk, then go left. Gritscone is in front of you at this point. Follow the wide trail, avoiding turnoffs to the right. When the trail steepens turn left into the forest at a small saddle. Follow the trail up steeply to the where it flattens out. Turn right on one of the side trails and make your way to the line of cliffs that includes Interstate Park, Eastern Block, Squishy Bell, and Headlight Point. Shangri La is East of the obvious talus field East of these cliffs. There are two ways to approach Shangri-La from the talus field: 1 - Aim for an obvious dead snag on the buttress that is about the same level as Ellie's Sweet Kiss. To get there, follow a series of easy but exposed ledges that start below some brush on the E edge of the talus. Pass below a large pine and head to the dead snag. From the snag, scramble down about 25ft of 4th class to the East. This brings you to the base of the wall. The first obvious feature is History Book, a left-leaning dihedral. You may notice some chains at the top of the face near the dead snag. This is the anchor on Small Arms Fire, which is a rap in and climb out route. 2 - Follow the talus down to the bottom of the buttress, cross under the bottom of the buttress on a faint trail that passes a giant tree with a cable on it. When you get to a smaller talus field, go straight up hill. When the talus ends at the forest go straight up to the base of the Shangri-La crag with History Book and Guillotine and Skullduggery. You'll know you're in the right place when you see a giant corner with a huge flake about 40 feet up (Guillotine), and several bolted lines. To get to Metamorphosis and Magic Carpet Ride, go right at the top of the little talus field mentioned above. View of the talus and upper and lower approaches from the top of Ellie's Sweet Kiss. Looking back past Shangri-La with Ellie's Sweet Kiss in the background. Looking up at the 4th class scramble. It's easier than it looks. ……………………………………… The following routes are on a wall on the left side of the guillotine corner. From left to right: Science Friction = 5.10d bolted face with two friction cruxes. Left of History Book. 5 bolts. 15 meters. FA Roberts, August, 2012. History Book = 5.10a trad crack in a left-leaning dihedral. Follow the crack to chains at the top of the cliff. DO NOT trust the ancient rusty aid piton! A standard rack will suffice. 20 meters. FA (ground-up onsight) Roberts, August, 2007. Crouching Tiger = 5.10c bolted roof and face climbing. Start 10 feet left of History Book, head up and right to the first bolt, and then go straight up over a series of small roofs. 8 bolts. 20 meters. FA Roberts, October, 2008. Hidden Dragon = 5.11c (11+ if shorter than 5’9”) bolted face and roofs. Start 8 feet right of History Book. This route has four different cruxes, multiple roofs, and a clean upper dihedral. 12 bolts. 29 meters. FA Roberts, July, 2009. Hypertension = 5.11+/12- bolted face and roofs. A stick clip might be wise as the bouldery crux is off the ground. Requiring power, balance, and body tension, this route will test your versatility. 13 bolts. 28 meters. FA Roberts, September, 2009. Guillotine = 5.10b trad crack and flake in a giant corner. Enter the corner near the first bolt of Free Radical (a solid cam can be placed at the lip if you’re a purist). Climb up to and past the namesake flake on the right wall and follow the corner to its end. Then clip a fixed nut and make some airy moves up and right to the chains. A standard rack is fine. 22 meters. FA Roberts, August, 2007. Free Radical = 5.11a bolted route on the arête right of Guillotine. Outstanding moves in a great position. Shares an anchor with Guillotine. 9 bolts. 22 meters. FA Roberts, August, 2009. Hangman = 5.10a bolted face and roof with fun friction moves at the top. This starts at the Guillotine/Free Radical anchor and goes a full 30m to chains. You can link Free Radical and Hangman for a 52 meter pitch. You'll need about 23 quickdraws to get up and a 60m rope to get down. 13 bolts. 30 meters. FA Roberts, June, 2007. The following routes are on the overhanging face right of Guillotine: Bladerunner = 5.12c? (5.11 to V6 to 5.11) overhanging bolted face on pristine rock. Unrepeated. This route takes a striking line up the super-clean, overhanging face right of Free Radical. It has a devious crux that requires core strength and creativity. Easy to top rope after climbing Guillotine or Free Radical, but be sure to use the Bladerunner anchor as there is a sharp roof above that could damage the rope if you TR from the Guillotine/Free Radical anchor. Overhanging, South-facing exposure keeps this route dry most of the year. 4 bolts. 10 meters. FA Roberts, October, 2012. Skullduggery= 5.12b? Unrepeated. A bit of skullduggery (an act of trickery or deception) may be needed to get up this steep, technical, and sustained line Overhangs 17 feet in its 40 foot length. Starts fifty feet right of Free Radical. A worthy test piece. Use the hand line to ascend the slab. Belay/start at the bolt and fixed cam that anchor the hand line. 5 bolts. 13 meters. FA Roberts, July, 2010. Open Project = 5.12+ or harder route on an overhanging face right of Skullduggery. Bolted. The following routes are on walls around to the right from Shangri-La. To get there, descend a trail about 100 feet and then veer left into the next amphitheater. Three routes are ready for climbers: Meta Cliff: Metamorphosis = 5.10d adventurous two pitch line up the center of a 300ft face. If you stand at the giant tree, look up and left at a big face. Metamorphosis p1 (10+) climbs up the center of this. The first pitch starts at a small roof at the ground, gear goes in a small crack, two bolts lead past a bulge, gear protects moves up higher, and there is one final bolt before the belay just below a large ledge (5.10+). The second pitch starts up a flake and vertical crack, moves up and left and then back right past bolts and gear, follows three bolts up thin and exposed face climbing, passes a short crack before a ledge, and ends with a bouldery finish past a bolt (5.10+). You could continue up 4th class terrain to a bolted anchor at an airy perch atop the Shangri-La cliff. Rap with one or two 60m ropes. Ropedrag might be bad if you try to link the two pitches. Note: it is best to belay for the first pitch very low at a divot in the vegetation. Start climbing in tennis shoes and change to rock shoes at the small roof. Needs an approach trail. Gear from small cams to #2 camalot. 50 meters total. FA Roberts, May, 2008. Metaphysics = 5.11R? (5.10R to a well-protected V3 crux at the roof to a 5.10 upper section). Unrepeated. This trad line follows the start of Metamorphosis to the flake below the first bolt. Place cams in a diagonal crack on the face 6ft below this flake and then traverse straight right 6 feet. Follow holds straight up and over the obvious roof. There is good protection in cracks on the slanting roof section. Climb up to the second roof, place gear, and zag up and left to the anchor at the top of the first pitch of Metamorphosis. Microcams to a single #4 camalot for the last placement. FA Roberts, November, 2011. Magic Carpet Ride = 5.8ish trad crack up a series of corners. This is on the large slabby face about a hundred feet right of Metamorphosis. Head up to a large tree. Pass this and continue up to the higher of two left-traversing cracks. Follow a series of corner cracks/dihedrals to the top of the buttress. You’ll see the scrub line. Turn the last roof on the right and follow a mossy ramp to anchors up and left. This route is about 40 meters and will get better with more traffic. You can rappel with two ropes, just barely get down with a single 70 meter rope, or rap to the tree with a single 60 and rap again or down climb. Standard rack. 40 meters. FA Roberts, April, 2008. Unnamed = 5.9ish bolted line. This starts about fifty feet right of Magic Carpet Ride. Follow a scrub line up and right toward a small roof and a bolt. Follow a line of bolts up nice but slightly dirty climbing. Bolts are in a line but some zigzagging is needed to climb past the roof. It’s about 35m to the anchors so bring two ropes. Nice moves all the way to the end. 10 bolts? FA Krawarik, 2009. The following climb is on a face above the giant tree below the buttress with the dead snag. This can be approached by rapping in from chains at the top of the buttress next to the dead snag. Direct approach from the bottom may be developed. The following climb starts at the base of a large pine just uphill from the dead snag. Drive By = 5.8 bolted arête and face in a great position with excellent views. Clip one chain, skip the next chains. Put a long runner on a bolt 15 or so feet higher, and then aim for the slab/arête feature above you. There are several bolts on the slab leading to a final mantle. Rap the route. Be careful not to drop things on parties below. 25 meters. 8 bolts. FA Roberts, Krawarik, Anderson, May, 2007. Unnamed = 5.8 trad corner above Drive By that needs some gardening but is still fun. 27 meters? Standard rack. FA Krawarik, Locke, June, 2007. The following climb is on a face above the giant tree below the buttress with the dead snag. This can be approached by rapping in from chains at the top of the buttress next to the dead snag. Small Arms Fire = 5.10c bolted face with thin, balancy moves in a great position. Rap down to the starting anchor from chains near the dead snag. Lead out or do a top belay. 6 bolts. 20 meters. FA Roberts, August, 2007. The following route is quite close to Headlight Point, on the way to the lower approach to Shangri-La. Approach: Headlight Point is the first cliff you get to when coming from the Gunshow area. It is the Southern-most crag of easy (5.6ish) climbs on the trail. Right behind those climbs, is a tree and a dirt ramp that leads a few meters down into the forest. Follow the ramp a few feet. Skirt a bush, drop a few feet along a tiny talus field, and head across to the obvious cliff. A large flat rock at the base of a tree marks the start of Third Stone from the Sun. To continue to Shangri La, follow the small cliff to its end at the giant talus field. Cross that and head for the approach that goes below the bottom of the large buttress as described above. Third Stone from the Sun = 5.11c bolted overhanging face. Lots of action in a small package. 5 bolts. 11 meters. FA Roberts, June, 2011. Photos: History Book Crouching Tiger low Crouching Tiger middle Crouching Tiger high - McClellan Butte in the background. Hidden Dragon Red line is Hidden Dragon. Green is Hypertension. Both continue out of sight above. Guillotine Free Radical is the arete right of Guillotine, which Ian is climbing here. The Guillotine flake is visible on the left. Free Radical is the arete left center. Blade Runner is right center and ends at the visible chains. Duct tape engineering on Blade Runner Skullduggery Skullduggery Yellow is Metamorphosis. Red is Metaphysics. Metamorphosis is the yellow line. I'm approaching the top of Metaphysics. Both routes share a belay. Metaphysics Metaphysics Small Arms Fire Gopro shot from the top of Small Arms Fire. The dead snag is 10 feet behind me. Third Stone from the Sun Don't forget to hit the swimming hole! stay tuned for more... THANKS TO MANY GREAT PARTNERS AND HELPERS OVER THE YEARS: Alex, Scott, Jens, Matt, David, Ed, Michael, Mike, Blake, Leland, Frank, Scott, Ryland, and others. Gear Notes: See route descriptions above. Approach Notes: X38 Far Side trails. See details and links above.
  22. Trip: Dragontail - Boving-Christensen Date: 7/14/2014 Trip Report: Faced with 100-degree temps yesterday, a trio of heat-stroked locals went up to Dragontail to try the Boving-Christensen. We had heard all kinds of horror stories, and I asked Matt if he felt that a bolt or two was worth placing at the belays. He said the belays were fine, so the hammer, pins, and 1/4"ers stayed home. The route is really fun and feels like something out of Darrington. We were all impressed that Paul and Matt (ages 20? and 17) put up the route in 1977 with only a set of hexes and stoppers, freeclimbing most of the line! We forgot the iPhone with the topo down at the lake, so it was mostly just following whatever looked good. This actually may have worked out to our advantage. Jens was leading P1 and couldn't figure out what to do after about 30m of fun, well-protected low angle crack climbing. There were a couple foot holds out left leading toward a spot where we had noted a piton and some tat. But the holds seemed bad. He mentioned repeatedly that the feet were slippery and there were no hands. Eventually he went back and forth, up and down, and just decided to go up the same crack. He had to garden a bit of moss on the fly, but made it happen and found a good red alien where there had only been sod. He belayed up and left, and was talking all day about the slippery feet and no hand holds. We assumed we were on route, and that the piton out left was not the correct way. The following 4 pitches flowed well, with generally good protection and a few delicate but slabbby face traverses. All three of us felt that 5.10c was (and is) the correct grade for the roof on P3. The funniest part of the day came as we were having dinner back in town and pulled up Matt Christensen's notes on the climb where he writes: The move we avoided was described using nearly identical language by Jens (who didn't try it after all) and by the FA team. I don't know about the idea of dynamic moves being categorically ungradeable, but our hats are off to Paul Boving who did the dynamic handless slab dyno launch in 1977! If this route were done a couple times a season, the moss/grass on P1 would clean up nicely and there would be more pro and holds, but it's totally fine as-is, and there's now a direct slab-jump-avoidance option. Atop the clean wall, there is a broken chossy sidewalk which you can walk/scramble rightwards on, leading WAY right, around onto 4th class ledges, which lead back up and past 1-2 pitches of 5.4-5.7 moves to the summit crest. This topout was fast and easy. There is a hummingbird nest tucked into a wide spot in the crack high on P1 - take care. Following P1 Gear Notes: Bring a good nut tool for the leader Doubles of cams from tiny to #1, single #2, #3, and bring a #4 if 5.10 is at your limit. We used some offset aliens and offset wires at a few belays. Approach Notes: Soft snow
  23. 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...
  24. Climb: Mongo Ridge-W.Fury F.A.- VI-5.10- Date of Climb: 8/28/2006 Trip Report: Quicky tr to tell about an amazing new route done on West Fury . The SW buttress of Fury proved to be very challenging, but was done in a 5 day solo effeort . The Trip Report is developing as I have time to write it, It is now located half - way down this page, Enjoy and Thanks, Wayne Gear Notes: lots(no porters)
  25. Trip: North Hozomeen Mtn - Zorro Face, IV 5.9 Date: 8/31/2013 Trip Report: “squamish?” Written at the end of a planning email for Hozomeen which addressed some nagging details, this would become our refrain throughout the trip. Labor Day offered a nice climbing window, and our list of objectives included just plain ol’ good times at Squamish, which typically promises immediate rock, clean rock, solid rock, protectable rock—all conspicuously (or suspected) absent at our objective. Most likely, many of you are aware of the opening passage in Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels: “Hozomeen, Hozomeen, most beautiful mountain I ever seen, like a tiger sometimes with stripes, sunwashed rills and shadow crags wriggling lines in the Bright Daylight, vertical furrows and bumps and Boo! crevasses, boom, sheer magnificent Prudential mountain, nobody’s even heard of it, and it’s only 8,000 feet high, but what a horror when I first saw that void the first night of my staying on Desolation Peak waking up from deep fogs of 20 hours to a starlit night suddenly loomed by Hozomeen with his two sharp points, right in my window black – the Void, every time I’d think of the Void I’d see Hozomeen and understand – Over 70 days I had to stare at it.” Later in the novel: “The void is not disturbed by any kind of ups or downs, my God look at Hozomeen, is he worried or tearful?... Why should I choose to be bitter or sweet, he does neither? – Why cant I be like Hozomeen and O Platitude O hoary old platitude of the bourgeois mind ‘take life as it comes’…” “take life as it comes” indeed. This is a useful mantra when approaching the west face. We had suspected an approach from the N down a gully would grant us access—Colin Haley’s blog post seemed to confirm this suspicion. However, this approach is nontrivial; the initial gully third-class down-climb, while loose, and dangerous, pales next to the shenanigans required to cross several precipitous ribs to our targeted launch point. A slip at any point spells an unpleasant end in the valley a couple thousand below. The approach took us a tedious and painstaking 4.5 hours (this after a first day of humping heavy loads 11+ miles to a camp just N of the peak.) Camp in that basin; S and N Hozomeen left to right, with the west (Zorro) face mostly out of view; some of its northern margin on the right skyline. Our approach continues down (out of view) from the furthest notch on right. Views during approach included the Picket range. Approach soloing; downclimbing skills or funeral bills. squamish? “take life as it comes”, also a useful mantra when trying to piece together leads up loose, sometimes friable and/or vegetated and/or wet, mostly welded shut (read: sparsely protected) metamorphosed basalt. The stuff is also called Hozomeen chert and was valued by the Salish for making knives and arrowheads. Hozomeen apparently is native Salish for "sharp, like a sharp knife." Looking up at much of our (foreshortened) route, which tends left to the central summit in this pic. Finally at the base, we decided to take it one pitch at a time, figuring we would try to retain the option to bail. squamish? Rock, paper, scissors, Rolf wins first lead this time. End of rope. I follow and gain an appreciation for the climbing challenges this Hozomeen chert will proffer; sparse pro and selective handholds will be the order of the day. I lead up a second long pitch to the only evidence of human visitation: a ¼ inch bolt and a bail ‘biner. Someone came, saw, and turned around; foreboding. (We did not see any other indication of passage higher than this.) After a couple pitches of metamorphosed basalt, we were talking about turning around too. But we could see trees on ledges above, and figured we could still bail in a relatively safe and reasonable manner. squamish? The land of milk and honey beckoned us. The third pitch required an exposed step-around with muddied feet; expletives drifted down to my belay. No pics. My pitch 4 went steeply up to a ledge, and traversed left; we were somehow making our way, and could still bail. Rolf’s face at the pitch 4 transition betrays some of our uncertainty. During his pitch 5 lead, some curses and words in the wind, “I wanna go home”. It was probably just the wind; he would’ve said simply, “squamish?” I’d like to forget pitch 6. I was forced up a steep 5.9 corner/arête with a paucity of gear. And what few pieces there were went into mungy and rotten fissures. Loose rock abounded, and without gear, there was no way to constrain the ropes from sending it down. Rolf didn’t get hit, but reported that he dutifully tied knots below his brake hand in case he was knocked out—so sensitive to my needs. I grunted up to a fat ledge, and Rolf managed to follow without getting shelled. Then Rolf drew one of the plum pitches, the seventh. 5.9+, climbs a nice corner (but with a section of unavoidable decking potential), then a tricky traverse to another corner, up and then traverse again to the only belay opportunity. Again, only so much gear and rope management was possible; missiles flew by my safe belay spot, but a few also threatened while climbing—somehow, no carnage. This wouldn’t happen in … Rolf up the p7 corner. Hand jams!?! Pitch 8 had a couple steep sections. Here Rolf discerns which holds to clean and/or trust. Pitches 9 and 10 stretched the ropes, continuing up the “corner” system we had identified as a weakness. More 5.9 (mostly easier) runouts. At the belay at top of pitch 10 I placed the only iron we used, a crappy pin to back up a solid piece and a marginal piece. For pitch 11, Rolf raced the sunset to a ledge. Uncharacteristically, this pitch didn’t stretch the rope; he thought we should take the bivouac bird in hand. I thought we were close to the summit and could possibly manage to climb to the top in the twilight-soon-to-be-night. He pointed out that idea was risky, and his logic prevailed. In retrospect it was definitely the right move. “take life as it comes”, also useful for shivering through the beautiful folly of an exposed bivy on a sloping ledge one nasty pitch from the summit. We’d brought some warm clothes but could have been warmer. All in all, the bivy wasn’t so bad, and definitely not as miserable as our unplanned bivy on Lemolo Mox across the way. Hozomeen wasn’t done with us. In the morning, I put together a long and winding pitch on some of the worst rock and pro conditions on the face—one strong cup of coffee, scary to the last drop. But it got us to the summit ridge! Unfortunately, the only spot to belay again made rope-disturbing rubble unavoidable. On the finishing moves, Rolf got clocked right in the helmet with a softball-sized rock, but was ok. Shudder. Top of our climb, just North of the summit, shortly after getting rocked. Glad to have done it. Another Scurlock masterpiece. Our route makes its way up to the left-facing corners directly below the summit. Our bivy occurred on the relatively large snow patch right below the summit. In the background is the Southwest Buttress, climbed many years ago by some hardcores. Kerouac again: “And I will die, and you will die, and we all will die, and even the stars will fade out one after another in time.” But we won’t die on Hozomeen. Hopefully not in Squamish either. But I will climb again at the latter. Both Rolf and I have mildly obsessed over this face for years, and were gratified (gruntled, even) to execute our vision. I expected technical demands exceeding 5.9, but given the challenges of Hozomeen chert, was glad for the limit. Probably half the pitches had some 5.9 moves, depending on what you trust for holds. We stretched the rope for most of the 12 pitches of pure adventure. I am fortunate to have a teammate like the curmudgeon: rich in experience (old), strong (for his weight), solid (old), and somehow able to check my relentlessly positive delusions. Thanks hardcore. A couple summit shots: And more pics. BTW, we descended the North Face route, rested, ate and drank, packed up and marched to car. The mosquitoes for the last couple miles were some other $#!+. Gear Notes: Single set of nuts. Tricams up to hand size v useful. We took lots of small cams, but the doubles would actually be better in the mid-range. Approach Notes: Nontrivial. Day 1, due to tons of rain the day before, we elected to take the scenic Skyline trail instead of the steep bushwhack. Day 2, follow your nose and low sense of self-worth.
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