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  • PNW Climbing/Skiing Event Calendar

Found 161 results

  1. 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 ]
  2. i know this topic sux....but so do the books i am attempting to read please share....
  3. The recent threads about access, secret spots, and of course the never-ending clash between different forms of climbing got me thinking. Of all pursuits, in my opinion the culture of climbing and the culture of surfing are perhaps the closest. Both activities predate recorded history. There’s something innately attractive about climbing to the tops of things. Likewise people are drawn to messing around in the waves that form the dynamic border between land and ocean. Not surprisingly, these two activities became central to different cultures. For the Polynesians, surfing became central to the culture: entire breaks were set aside for royalty and only kings were allowed to ride boards made out of Wiliwili wood. Commoners had to ride smaller, heavier boards made from Koa. Death was the penalty if common folk were caught surfing the prime royalty-only spots. Similarly, climbing was a part of many ancient cultures, and was important for safety, recreation and religious purposes. The Anasazi were crazy good sandstone climbers, ascending scary routes to cliffside caves that provided them security. The aborigines of Australia left petroglyphs high on inaccessible rocky faces, the South American Indians left monuments at the top of many of the highest peaks, and who doubts that the Hueco Tanks locals of a thousand years ago had friendly bouldering competitions? In more modern times, both surfing and climbing have rich written and oral histories replete with colorful characters, famous spots and fantastic tales. Climbing has Sir Edmund, Royal Robbins, and Beckey. Surfing has Duke Kahanamoku, Eddie Aikau and Greg Noll. Climbing has Yosemite, the Alps and Everest. Surfing has the Pipeline, Mavericks and Uluwatu. Climbing has Lynn Hill’s FFA of the Nose, Joe Simpson’s epics, and Twight’s smashing of alpine precedent. Surfing has Big Wednesday, The Eddie, and Ken Bradshaw’s riding of the biggest wave in history: Both cultures are global and diverse, and also riven with internal conflicts, ethical debates, and competition for increasingly scarce resources. Climbing includes everything from bouldering to climbing 8k meter peaks and everything in between. In fact when you measure the whole never-ending sport vs. trad debate against the whole scope of the climbing "community" it's really a feud between two minority factions. Surfing includes long-boarding, short-boarding, boogie boarding, body-surfing and tow-in surfing. Longboarders vs. Shortboarders is the surfing equivalent of the sporto/trad divide. Ask a shortboarder about a longboarder, and they’ll probably say they are a bunch of fat old grumpy guys and beginner kooks who sit outside and hog all the waves. An old school longboarder will probably say shortboarders are a bunch of young punks with no respect who are always getting caught in the impact zone. And of course both short and longboarders look down on the lowly boogie boarders (AKA boogers, sponges or speed bumps) and everyone unanimously hates kayaks in the surf zone. And yes, there's all kinds of other "ethical" debates that rage within surfing, all of which seem utterly trivial to any outside observers. But perhaps the hottest issue in the surfing world is over “localism.” Dating back to the Polynesian Kings, localism has always been a big part of surfing. While there’s lots of ocean, there’s not a lot of really good surf breaks, and most of the time, those breaks don’t have good waves. So where the time comes where conditions come together and the waves are good there is intense competition and jockeying for position in the water. As chaotic as it looks, there is a whole code of behavior and conduct when it comes to surfing. Violate any of these unwritten rules and the shit storm will descend upon you. “NEVER DROP IN!” is the golden rule, and yet it is broken all the time, which often results in a dangerous situation and often verbal or physical confrontations. If you surf, you’ll run into localism at some point, so ingrained is it in the culture of surfing. Virtually every spot has certain locals that believe that their proximity to a place gives them special priority, and frankly they don’t want you there. Maybe you’ll get the stink-eye, maybe you'll get heckled, or maybe you’ll get dropped in on. If you don’t know what you’re doing and try to surf the corner at Westport on a good day, Big Al WILL tell you to go on down the beach. If you accidently drop in on Decker, (AKA The Brick Shithouse) he may well paddle up to you, shove you underwater and breaks the fins off you board. These guys have been surfing these spots for decades and in their minds they own them. While there’s many cool surfers in Port Angeles, some jokers there claim all the spots on the Olympic Peninsula for themselves, including the ones out on the Rez near Neah Bay. Some have bestowed a name upon themselves: the "OPC" or Olympic Peninsula Crew. Like the KTK, it's mostly a joke, but still represents a common underlying want for tribal identification. In my 7 or 8 years of surfing, I've seen maybe a half-dozen physical confrontations in the water or on shore. That's more fights than I've seen in any other context. Here in Washington and Oregon, many cars have been vandalized, tires slashed and in one incident a car was torched on the Olympic Peninsula. More than a few people have gone to jail in surfing-related assaults. There are places in Hawaii where NO visitors would dare surf. All in the name of waves. In surfing, threats, intimidation, property destruction and physical confrontation are fairly common methods used to scare away beginners, deter visitors, protect surf spots and gain choice position in the water. Lesser known spots, or beta about what combinations of tide, wind and waves that make certain spots fire are jealously guarded secrets. Beyond being common, such practices are generally accepted as part of the localism tradition of surfing culture. If you're a local, then you can get away with dropping in on somebody or snaking somebody's position in the lineup. The flip side is when you travel to a new place, you often have to contend with a certain degree of hostility, and you have to expect to defer to the locals. If your competent and respectful, most of the time in most places most people are good folks and you'll likely have no problems. Even though its not a defensible position to act as though where you live gives you a greater right to use public land or water than anyone else, that's absolutely the way it is. Fortunately there’s not (yet) the same degree of competition for rock as there is for waves, and there's not such a negative culture of territorial local tribalism in climbing. Despite the internal divisions, there's a greater degree of common identification among climbers. The climbing culture is generally more open, friendly and accepting of newbies or visitors. People are generally willing to share information about new climbs and cool places with others. The kind of localism I see in climbing is generally less selfish and more benevolent. Whether in relation to a crag or a break, localism can be a positive force when locals are trying to keep a place clean, or preserve access, or trying to maintain the unique character of a place. I truly appreciate those who take the time to care about a place, and I think that’s a great element of the climbing culture. Thanks to those who help work on trails, pick up garbage, replace dangerous anchors, work with land managers, and those who chop all those damn sport climbs squeezed between classic natural lines… OK, OK, so I’m kidding about the bolt choppers. Well sort of. The good news is that localism in climbing is still mostly of the positive kind. Let’s keep it that way. [ 09-08-2002, 02:56 AM: Message edited by: Uncle Tricky ]
  4. Once again looking for a partner to hit something this week. Doesn't matter when or where. 5.8 - 5.10. Trad, sport, crag, multi, alpine, snow, glacier. Only thing i ask is for you to be generally honest about your abilities. A bit unnerving to get up on the Apron and find that your partner can't place a cam. R.
  5. best of cc.com 5/24-25 Fuhrer Finger TR

    Damn, it is hard to type with frost nip on 2 of my fingers! Part one: I left the parking lot at 3:15 Friday afternoon. A small linticular cloud had formed to the east of the summit but otherwise the weather was perfect. One Gu consumed, I dropped down on to the lower Nisqually. My thoughts were already turning toward my planned breakfast at Paradise Inn the next morning. An 18 hour trip time seemed well within sights. My mood was extatic. This was my type of climbing. I had gotten my solo permit and was smug that my pack was only 17 pounds, I moved fast across the glacier, un-roped and un-encumbered by partners. I reached the ridge at 5:30 passing 3 climbers with serious packs that had left the parking lot at 11:00 and were heading for the Kautz. I moved as quickly as was prudent back across the glacier, scanning for the surprise cravasse. The recent avalanche debris from the serac that had swept the Wilson Head wall a week ago was abundantly clear. I turned and headed straight up toward the finger just when Rainier decided to say hello and dropped a half a dozen 5 gallon bucket sized rocks from the east wall. They bracketed me but passed harmlessly. It was just before 8 pm when I reached the middle rock outcropping derectly below the chute. I melted 4 quarts of water, drank 1 1/2 and stuffed the rest into my pack. I put tights and crampons on, traded one pole for an axe, reset my altimiter, and ate a hand full of pine nuts...half of my solid food for the trip. As I rested, I watched the mostly full moon slowly rise and Hood, and Adams turn pinkish orange. At 9:15, tired of the in-activity I headed up. The snow was already firming nicely and there wasn't even a diabatic wind coming down the chute. By the time I reached the hourglass the last of the twilight had left but the moon was so bright that a head light was silly. It was truly bucolic, my spirits were high and my focus was solid. If anything, I was wishing that the climbing was a bit more challenging. (Be careful what you wish for) The snow above the hourglass was softer but I put my head down and postholed another 1000 feet. By 11:00 my lunar friend was ducking in and out behind clouds. I used my light the first time to cross the little step just above where the thumb joined the route. A breeze picked up, clouds filled the sky and I said good by to the moon. I reached 12,500' by midnight, a bit ahead of schedule and feeling strong. At 12:15 I felt the first sting of driven snow on my face. Well, the weather report said to expect snow by morning; I guess it was morning. Part 2: By 1:30 it was a whole different ball game. The breeze had picked up significantly and the needle shaped snow was occluding any view beyond my head light. My movement had slowed considerably as I pushed on. I started veering right without really knowing where I was. I was above the last of the rocks but I could not tell when to start across the glacier and the thought of getting out the map in the wind was ridiculous. I pushed up along the left side of some small seracs hoping for a smooth opening but found none. I was worried about getting off track, so at 3:15 I jumped into a cravasse to get out of the weather and wait for first light. Breakfast was seeming less likely. Snowfall continued to increase and my little hole started feeling more like a tomb. I kept hopeing for a little break but it never came. At 5:00 I could take no more and decided to move rather than freeze. It was light but the visibility was even worse. I litterally could not see a delinitation between the snow and the sky. I tried to put on my googles but they occluded with snow so fast that they were useless. I am quite nearsighted but my glasses iced so badly that I was better off without them. The batteries froze in my GPS and died so fast that it would proved no help. It wouldn't aquire sattilites without holding it to the wind for a couple of minutes and by then the screen was to encrusted with ice to read and my ice encrusted gloves made a terrible wiper. I thought I was heading more or less directly up but as it turned out I must have traversed a fair amount left. I ended up at the top of the snow feild below an inverted U shaped band of looming seracs. ( Looking at photos later they must be the ones at the top of the Kautz, far west of where I thought I was) With out a horizon they seemed overhanging at first. I decided that up was the lesser of several evils. At the top the wind freshened further and visibility reduced. Any sort of real navigation was a joke so I just climbed on. I kept to a rising traverse, with the slope to my left. With the absolute lack of visibility I found that my balance was better with my eyes closed and would take ten steps or so before taking a look. On a rare occasion I would see a boulder in the distance, hoping that I could hide from my niemisis the wind, only to realize that it was just a rock in the snow. My addled mind refused to grasp distance. Simple functions became problimatic. Rime Ice built on my windward side. Fastic buckles on my pack were challanging to open and refused to close. I occasionally had to bang my left leg to break up the ice to lift my leg. At one point I tried to take off my pole and found 1/2 and inch of ice had welded the strap to my glove. Time slowed and the wind increased as I found a ridge with some rock. Strangly the slope up was to the left. Insanity started knocking on my forebrain. A hole in the snow appeared... one of those blessed steam vents. I climbed down into relative warmth and regrouped; ate double Gu's drank what water was liquid and put in a fresh plug of bourbon Copenhagen. My altimiter read 14,819 feet... Hmmm; must be close. I put fresh batteries into the GPS and taped a heat pack to the case. Heading back into it I was forced to walk crouching backwards, up hill, into the wind. I reached the summit minutes later at 7:45. I followed the GPS directly toward the top of the DC. The wind abated some, but visibility didn't improve until I reached 12'800. Until then, I had to watch the little arrow more than my footing or I would change direction without knowing it. From ingrahm flats it was easy walking and I shed layers. I got a kick out seeing trudging climbers with heavy packs heading up to muir. They kept asking if the weather was better farther up. At 2:15 I was drinking Makers and gingerale in the back of my truck. It is my understanding that a couple RMI guides made it to about 13,000 ft but turned back. So, my first time up Rainier I was the only person to summit. I have heard that you should expect serious crowds on Memorial day weekend. <img border="0" title="" alt="[big Grin]" src="images/icons/grin.gif" /> I got a bit of surface frostbite on my left cheek and two tinglely finger tips, but am not really any worse for wear. However, I look forward to climbing easier things in the near future. Cheers, Steve <small>[ 05-29-2002, 10:50 AM: Message edited by: Terminal Gravity ]</small>
  6. Well I'm totally wasted on tequilla from Casa Que Pasa from a despair/celebration of a succesful ascent of that E.Face Coulior on Cuthroat. I think it's called the Cauthorn Wilson or something. Since I'm totally fucking drunk, I'll give this TR from the perspective of my feces which I horded througout the day... ...I forced my master to awaken at 2am and hypnotically sugested that he quaff his regurgitated coffe vile that he brewed to coax me out of my early alpine start slumber. Cuthroat E.Face Coulior WI4 X, Alpine Slush 6, 4th. Car to car 10 hours (less if neve). This could be it for the season, cuz it was thin thin thin, and it got wicked hot. Each cruch of hard snow from the hard snow sent parastalisis waves of anger through me. I knew my time was near... ...Unforetunately as dawn broke below the route, my arch nemisis "Pinchy" kept me at bay as my master haphazardly climbed well above Necronomican, his so called "partner". Sending showeres of ice and snow onto his cursing belay bitch Pinchy held me from my destiny... ...Alas! My master hast forsaken me!! WI? XXX and thoughts of imentent death were all my master could think of as he manged to live through the crux pitch. Where was I during this insane fight with potential energy? Lurking in the bowels, biding my time... ...Master's so called "partner" Necronomican led a easy WI-4 pitch and belayed me and my carried from a shrub and sunken tool. I was begining to force my way into the concsciousness, but master's next lead all but destoyed my will... ...Master was looking at a 400' whipper as the sun's pulsing rays oscillated down upon the ever-softening snow pack. My master prayed to his god as he pinched Pinchy tighter and tighter as his death fall potential increased with ever hyper-Pan Dome step, slipping, gaining ground...60, 70, 80 degree slush and powder snow barely held his feet, nary his useless tools. Every inch was a mile, every step was a step toward the grave... ...At last, a cam, a pin! Such relaxation caused my power to become almost overwhelming as my noxios gas escaped from his churning bowels... The oppresive heat almost overcame, as master looked toward Colonial, and the sure death that would have taken us if we had huberusly decided to do that mountain today... "Fools!" my master thought as he saw climbers approaching the entrance gully. This late in the day would be foolish, even to a turd worming his way to freedom. He hoped they would turn around or perish. On the summit my master wondered about the 5.7 pitch, and where that was supposed to be since we were already on the summit. My will way strong. I will have my victory. Many horrid, stupid rappels led master to a 1,000' long down climb which he though he downclimbed just fine. His partner however, took about 45 minutes longer while cursing masters good name!!!! Master squatted and looked upon his downclimbing partner. The sun was blazing. The time was at HAND!!! I leaped from the little brown star from which my tribal leaders has told of in my rite of passages through the G.I. tract. I steams and coiled upon the snow, all the while Necronomicon downclimbed... I was buried this day upon the flanks of Cuthroat peak. I write through the drunkeness of the ages, and of the battles of man vs. mountain and my kin vs. Pinchy, gatekeeper of the underworld.
  7. There’s a sweet 5.9 granite handcrack in Renton. I saw some exposed rock near an elementary school and that tipped me off to the multi pitch crag beyond the fence. The best climb is a two pitch handcrack kind of like Classic Crack in Leavenworth. Someone had already established this and about three other similar climbs in the area. I’ve done it everyday that it’s been dry, since I live nearby, and I want to be the first to solo it. I can’t believe there’s such good granite on the Westside!
  8. A couple years back, a number of my friends gathered in Bend, Oregon. The occasion was the wedding of our good friend Eric, who was to be married the next day. He and his fiancée grew up a couple blocks from each other in Bend. They had been best friends since first grade, but it wasn't until a couple years after college that they finally acknowledged what was obvious to everyone else: they were a perfect match and deeply in love with each other. Anyway, the day before the Saturday wedding, we took Eric up to a cabin on Elk Lake, which is out near Mt. Bachelor, for the bachelor party. On the way there, my friend Dan and I noticed some cliffs along the road. Sure, they looked loose, shattered, and flaky, but hey, it was rock--or at least something that vaguely resembled rock. We drove on and arrived at the cabin at Elk Lake, where typical bachelor party festivities commenced: heavy drinking, smoking of strange aromatic substances, lighting each other on fire with lighter fluid, etc. After a couple hours of such fun, Dan and I got the brilliant idea of returning to the cliffs down the road to do some altered climbing. The two minute approach to the cliffs crossed a field of sharp, shattered talus that appeared fresh off the cliff. It seemed that the cliff was actively eroding at a very rapid rate. As we discussed whether or not we should hike around and set up a toprope, Dan amused himself by throwing rocks at the cliff face. Each rock he threw caused a small avalanche of rockfall, as plates of crumbly volcanic choss broke free from the face. By comparison, the rock at Frenchman's or Peshastin was bulletproof granite. We stopped at the base of the most obvious feature of the cliff: a wide dihedral 100+ feet high. The dihedral appeared slightly more solid than the flaky unprotectable faces nearby. It looked like there might be protection in the corner, but it was hard to tell, because there was a bulge at about 20 feet that prevented us from seeing what lay above. Since enough Obsidian Stout renders once absolutely 100%invincible, I decided to lead it. Dumb. I bouldered up easy ground to just below the bulge, where I found one uninspiring placement in fractured rock. Hoping there would be some real protection available above the bulge, I sketched up and over the slightly overhanging section. Bad idea. There were some positive holds, but I dared not touch them for they appeared to be attached by nothing more than cobwebs and chance. Once above the steep section, I found myself committed and in serious groundfall territory. The corner where I was hoping to find pro was nothing more than a shallow, flaring moss and grass filled groove. I smeared and stemmed in the slippery, insecure dihedral, my feet oozing down and out as I tried to excavate some pro. No luck. At this point, I started to feel a little less than invincible. Maybe I should have had another beer before beginning this venture. While I was only 25 or 30 feet up at this point, I was convinced that I couldn’t down climb the bulge—I didn’t trust the one piece of pro I had in below it any more than I trusted the absurdly loose rock I would have to downclimb. That option seemed like a guaranteed groundfall. Up seemed like the best and really the only option. Another 15 or 20 feet above it looked like there might be some gear. Like mirages in the desert, the apparent protection opportunities dissapeared as soon as I reached them. Down was not an option. Falling was not an option. Upward and onward! Climbing as conservatively and delicately as possible, ("light as a feather!") I was expecting the whole dihedral to spontaneously exfoliate at any moment, killing me and burying my belayer. At 70 feet, I finally got found a decent placement (the first and last one) that gave me confidence that I wouldn’t ground out. I doubled it up and continued. The last 35 feet was exciting. I moved out onto the right arête, which was like climbing a teetering stack of broken dishes. Nothing seemed to be attached to anything. The last move was a joy. Facing a 70 footer into a corner if I fell, I had to climb up and then through a dead, barely rooted pine tree. I flopped over the edge at the top, punctured and bleeding from the tree adventure. I was physically, emotionally, psychologically wrecked, and yet I was flying--perhaps even higher than when I started the climb! If the rock had been solid, the whole climb would have been easy—maybe 5.8 max. But given the incredible shittiness of the rock, I had climbed what felt like 5.10, because I was only willing to commit my existence to the few semi-solid holds hidden among a plethora of worthless ones. After a few minutes of recovering and rejoicing, I set up an anchor off a few trees and belayed Dan up. As he climbed it, pulling and kicking off rocks ever other move, all he could say was “holy shit” over and over. When he arrived at the top we just looked at each other, laughed and had the same thought—“let’s get back to the bachelor party and have a beer or eight!” As we walked down, we wondered if anyone else had ever been stupid enough to climb this line. I have no idea, but we took the liberty of naming the line anyway. In honor of Eric’s wedding the next day, we named it “To Death Do Us Part Dihedral” 5.8 R/X. Epilogue: The next day at the wedding we told Eric’s dad (a Bend local) of our adventure. He told us a story that made our name for the climb even more appropriate. Apparently a few years earlier, a guy killed his wife at this very same cliff. He told the police that he and his wife were climbing and had an accident which resulted in her death. But after the police brought in some climbers to help the police investigate the guy’s story, the police concluded that he’d murdered her, and tried to make it look like a climbing accident. I can only guess what the climbers helping the police investigate the incident might have said: “Nobody in their right mind would climb here—there’s no way to protect it, and the rock is so crappy it’d be suicidal!!!” I’d give the climb no stars, and recommend it to none but my mortal enemies, yet the experience was unforgettable! [ 02-18-2002: Message edited by: Uncle Tricky ]
  9. 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".
  10. 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.
  11. best of cc.com Colonial Peak

    Here is a message (and trip report) my climbing partner Forrest wrote to Jim Nelson after we heeded his suggestion to make the second ascent of the N. Face of Colonial Peak. ------------------------------- Unfortunately for us, we did not heed your advice about hard snow conditions - the snow was hard in the trees and in the valley bottom, but as soon as we hit the snow slopes above the first rock band, we were postholing on every snowfield all the way up. Minimum of 4-5 kicks per step. We kept thinking it would get better, and it wasn't particularly slide prone, but it was very slow and tiring. Where there was ice, however, it was generally solid. Your description states 6-10 hours. I can only barely imagine anyone getting up the route in 10 hours from the road in perfect conditions, much 6. Twight and Bebie took 5 hours on hard snow from the upper basin (you could easily bivy as high as 5000-5500 feet) - and anyone who could get from the car to that point in less than 4 hours should be winning gold medals in the Olympics and not climbing mountains. Even in perfect conditions, its 3500 vertical feet and a circuitous route which includes bushwacking. I would say that 10 hours would be the absolute minimum, even if you soloed the lower ice. I think in good conditions, we could have done it a single continuous 14-15 hour push, and we're reasonably fast climbers. With a half-bivy and the crappy conditions we had, we took almost 31 hours from the car to the summit. If we were super fit we could have shaved some hours, and saved some more by not getting tired out by spending so much time ascending in tough conditions; but with the conditions last weekend, I don't think we could have cut that much off. Approach Parking: There is no plowed pullout, we excavated a ramp in the plow-wall at colonial creek campground and drove up off the highway. This took about 45 minutes with shovels and ice axes. If there is no new snow, there is a slow-vehicle lane just east of Colonial Creek where some skiers parked the same weekend, but I don't know what would have happened if they had had to plow. I guess a lot of years there is no snow here at all and you can park in the campground, which is officially open all year, though not plowed out. Approach: From about 50 feet south/east of the Bridge over Colonial Creek, head steeply up the slope, staying to the left of the sidehill that drops into the creek bed. After about 800 feet, after passing some small cliff bands, begin a gradual traverse parallel to the creek, breaking out of the trees at the base of the open slopes at around 2700 feet. Route: In between the valley bottom and the base of actual steep face is a long snowy basin and a band of cliffs at valley level. There are many ways through this cliff band. From the head of the valley, a gully that leads sharply left accesses the snow fields without ice; there are several gully systems that break the cliff bands in the middle, most of which look climbable. You could choose from WI 2 to WI 5, and if you wanted to, you could climb as many as 4 or 5 pitches, but you could also get up to low angled ground in 2 pitches or less in many spots. To us, the most appealing route up to the mid-valley snow slopes was an obvious narrow, rock lined gully snakes through the snowslopes to the upper basin. Unfortunately, it ended in a not-quite-touched-down ice pillar, so we did a short pitch up some rock and cornices on the right side, then traversed sideways into the gully. This was fun, 20 degree alpine ice and hard snow with occasional "cruxes" of 35 degs. This gully fades out into snow slopes after a few hundred feet. Three features form the primary landmarks on the face: an overhanging cascade of ice in the middle of the lower face, and two ice pillars, one directly above the other. These features were connected by a complex series of steep snowfields. We soloed snow up to 50 degrees to the base of the curtain. We bypassed this on the left, encountering snow of various depths, sometimes shallow, sometimes deep. We belayed one 20 foot section of mixed snow and rock, then made a long rightwards traverse back on snow up to 60 deg. to the base of the first pillar. The pillar is about 80 feet tall, consistently 80 degrees mixed alpine and water ice and quite sustained. We encountered relatively thin ice, especially at the bottom. Rock belay below and 15' left possible, but craftiness required. We placed one knifeblade here which we left fixed. Connect snowfields to the second pillar. 100' long, WI 3 or 3+, solid blue water ice. Traverse leftwards 400 feet to the base of a short (40') moderate-mixed chimney which leads up to another short snowfield. Many possibilities; we crossed leftwards over a fin into a gully, which led directly upwards for 300 feet of real-deal mixed climbing. I have no idea what to rate it, but it felt like climbing 5.10. Weave around the cornices at the top (some scary floundering inevitable) to reach the ridgeline. (We traversed right under one cornice until we could turn it by throwing a leg over and climbing it cowboy-style.) Follow the ridgeline another 30 feet of very tricky mixed climbing to pop out onto the exact summit. Descent: Rather than a "col" between Colonial and Pyramid, there is more of a high plateau formed by Pinnacle, Pyramid, Colonial and Paul Bunyon's Stump. This plateau is closed off from the lower basin by a terminal moraine. To reach the lower basin without rapelling, it is necessary to traverse the edge of this basin (or follow the top of the moraine)(or do a descending traverse along the slope facing the Colonial Creek basin) all the way around (northwest) to below Pyramid Peak, then descend avalanche slopes to the valley floor. As far as we could tell, there is no more direct route that would not require several rappels. This is pretty easy to scope out from the basin on the way up, but would be very hard to see in bad weather and is not visible from above. From here down is the more descriptive account, read only if you're interested... Colonial Peak, North Face (Watusi Rodeo) 2/12-1/23, 2000 After getting out of town pretty late Friday night, and the usual stops for gas, groceries, etc, we pulled up to the Colonial Creek campground around 10:30. Since there is no plowed pullout for several miles, we spend 45 minutes with shovels digging a ramp into the hard-packed snow so we could drive the car up and off the highway. It was beautifully clear, windless and cold, so we slept out next to the car. Though I was already sleepy, I slept poorly, continually woken up by vaguely menacing dreams. We got up at 4:15, but weren't ready to move until 5:30. We hiked up the road to Colonial Creek and prepared to head into the woods when I remembered that we hadn't packed the rope. It was still in Dan's ropebag, buried under our sleeping stuff. Dan went back to get it, and we headed into the brush on the northwest side of the creek. 10 minutes later, Dan realized that he had left his second ice tool at the car. Back to the road. By the time we were ready the third time, it was 6:30 and just getting light. We figured that if we realized that we'd forgotten a third thing, it was a sign to go home early. It actually worked to our advantage, though, because on second thought, we really wanted to be on the other side of the creek. We headed up steeply for about 800 feet through mostly open woods. Snow covered most of the brush, and was firm enough to generally support your weight without breaking through, except when it wasn't and you would break through into the air gap beside a log or under a bush. After gaining most of the altitude on the slope perpendicular to the road, we struck a long, mostly level traverse into the open basin, breaking out into the trees about two hours out of the car. A more avalanche-ridden valley I have never seen, the valley bottom filled with piles of avalanche debris that had been torn and worn away by other avalanches starting further up the valley. But the snow in the valley bottom was firm - we thought that might mean good, hard snow up high. After all, the higher you go, the colder it is, right? A line of cliffs rings the valley on the Colonial side, broken by a number of gullies. Only the ones at the farthest ends of the valley lead through to the upper slopes without technical ground. Frozen floes guard other gullies, enough that the basin could be a reasonable ice-cragging location in waterfall-deprived Washington. We punted - the most appealing route up to the mid-valley snow slopes was a narrow, rock lined gully that unfortunately ended in a not-quite-touched-down ice pillar, so we did a short pitch up some rock and cornices, then traversed sideways into the gully. This was fun, 20 degree alpine ice with occasional "cruxes" of 35 degs. After a few hundred feet, we were forced out of the gully onto the snow slopes and the work really began. Despite our hopes, the snow was soft. It didn't seem particularly slide prone - in fact we never saw any avalanche activity - but the going was slow, requiring 4 or 5 kicks for every step. So we slowly worked our way up towards the steep part of the north face proper. The bushwack approach from the highway to the open basin gains about 1500 feet. The cliff bands eat up perhaps 400 feet. The headwall itself is no more than 2000 feet tall, depending on where you start counting. Since the summit is 7800 feet, That leaves another 2500 feet of moderate angled snow that separates the steep slopes above from the basin below. Those 2500 feet killed our time. It was both slow and tiring, and in fact, the experience was extended onto the face itself. Hours crept by as we crept up steepening gullies and snowfields. We finally put the rope on around 5800 feet. Three prominent features are mentioned in the AAJ account of the climb and form the primary landmarks of the face: an overhanging cascade of ice in the middle of the lower face, and two ice pillars. The second pillar glowed blue even from the valley bottom, but the first pillar glinted a dull brown, foreboding thin ice. These features were connected by a complex series of steep snowfields. Above the second pillar was the least clear portion of the route. In Becky's guide, it is described as a "short mixed chimney, or a spectacular but scary pitch directly below the summit." Bypassing the ice curtain on the left, as had Twight & Co, the snowfields changed from the gullies we had been soloing to rock slabs covered (sometimes deeply, sometimes shallowly) with snow. So we tied in to pass a sketchy section, then continued simulclimbing back right and upwards towards the first ice pillar. We arrived at the base just at dark, having taken just one rest long enough to sit down in 12 hours. But we were less than halfway up the face. We were climbing very slowly - the first ascent party sent the entire wall from the upper basin in five hours. We had hoped to summit in 14 or 15 hours from the car, but given the snow conditions, that was not a possibility. We needed a break, so we flattened out a small snow ledge under an overhang, put on all our clothes, and hunkered down. We made hot milk, hot couscous and tried to sleep, with a predictable lack of success. Around midnight, we had had about as much "rest" as we could handle and started to stir. We melted snow and stared out into the night. Frequent spindrift avalanches poured over our overhang. It was snowing lightly and verging on whiteout conditions. I belayed Dan over to the base of the pillar, and we spent some time getting in a bomber anchor, a continual problem in the crappy rock of the north face. I have to say, psyching up to lead that pitch was the hardest part of the climb for me. My headlamp wasn't strong enough to see the top, so I wasn't sure how long it would be, but you could clearly see rock just below the surface in many spots. It wasn't vertical, perhaps 80 degrees, but it was constant - no low-angle bulges to place gear from. Add to that that it was 2 in the morning, snowing and in the middle of an alpine face, 80 feet of WI4 was not exactly what I was in the mood for. I placed a screw standing at the base that hit rock less than halfway in. It's a sickening feeling, because not only is it not all the way in, but unless you're lucky, you have to back it out half a turn to get the eye pointing downwards. I've read that if you can get all the threads in the ice, it's better to clip the eye than to tie it off short because the strength of the threads resisting pulling out is more important than the absolute shear strength of the screw itself. Whatever, either way its scary. Ten feet up I tried again, solid rock after 2 inches. Already too high up to easily climb down, so up again. Finally a solid screw at 25 feet. Whew. Climbing by headlamp is odd, because with a helmet and pack you can't direct the beam of your headlamp more than 10 feet above you. The climbing was good, plastic water ice, and by meandering from left to right on the 15 foot wide flow, you could generally avoid vertical ice. That is until the top, where a short vertical section was the only feasible option in between hollow pockets on one side and black rock visible just below the surface on the other. In the end, I placed six screws, the most ever on a pitch - but only two of them were worth anything I accidentally put in a final one just below the top because I couldn't see that I was just below the top. I was glad to have it, though, pulling off the face. The sketchiest move on the pitch was as the angle eased, from one tool placement it went from solid water ice to bottomless sugar snow. Well enough, as the angle was only 55 degrees, but trying to get my solidly-placed lower tool out, with front points in below on ice and the other tool wallowing in loose crystals was a little terrifying. I ran the rest of the rope out up snow to where some rocks emerged from the sidewall. After Dan came up, we continued on, simulclimbing up more gullies. Somehow, I managed to make my memory of the face match the terrain, and we navigated by the shortest possible route to the base of the second pillar. Again, the soft snow slowed us way down and it was fully light by the time we reached the second pillar. It looked a lot more mellow, steep sections broken by large bulges and lower angled sections. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as it appeared. True, there were lower angle sections, but since the first was larger than it appeared, the average angle was actually greater than it appeared from below, and the steep portions were steeper. But in its favor, it was solid, thick, fat ice and none of the steep sections was more than 20 feet before there was a lower angle bulge. Dan led it, his hardest ever ice lead at WI 3 or 3+, not too shabby at 7400 feet on an only-climbed-once north face. From the top, a long sideways traverse leftwards on very steep (60 degrees?) snow put us directly below the summit, which we reached in one long simulclimbing pitch. This was the coolest climbing on the face, continually hard, occasionally desperate, no-holds barred, mixed climbing. The most treacherous part was the constantly changing snow - sometimes it would be hard enough to sink a tool into and hang completely, other times it was loose and too unconsolidated to support any body weight at all. Rock moves, drytooling, it wal all legal on that pitch. At one point, you had to traverse under a small cornice on a subsidiary ridgelet. The problem was, there was only about three feet of snow below it, above the abyss. So you had to duck-traverse sideways and down, bumping the underside of the cornice with your helmet and pack, hoping it wasn't going to drop onto your head. The last few feet to the ridgeline were some of the hardest, gymnastic mixed moves on rock and completely untrustworthy cornices of bottomless sugar snow. Just like in the movies, literally as we stepped onto the summit, the clouds dissolved, revealing amazing views of seldom seen peaks like Snowfield and Paul Bunyon's Stump and the hidden Neve Glacier. It was 1:00. The descent was straightforward. Skis would have been nice as we slogged down beautiful slopes of shin-to-thigh deep powder. Everything suddenly seemed different. We were off the face, it was sunny and beautiful. We were warm, tired but no longer scared. Above 5000 feet, it had snowed more than 6 inches while we were on the route. Fortunately, it was snowing onto relatively low-avalanche-danger snowpack. Even so, we set off a few soft windslabs, although they were only the top 6 inches and so soft that they would stop running after about 30 feet. The descent takes you all the way around the basin under Pyramid peak (to avoid those cliff bands), then forces you to pick your way down 1000 feet of hard frozen avalanche debris. We slogged down the woods, tired and sore, arriving at the car at around 5. Dan performed a heroic feat of driving home without falling asleep; I tried to stay awake to keep up conversation, but I couldn't. The joy of sacking out in a warm bed? Indescribable.