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Found 256 results

  1. Trip: Strobach - Nosebleed Seats (FA) Date: 3/10/2012 Trip Report: Summary: First Ascent of Nosebleed Seats WI2 ~60 meters Daniel Harro and John Frieh March 10 2012 Details: Spotted a few lines I had never seen before on the approach. Daniel and I set our eyes on the best looking one and headed in that direction. Climbed the first and second pitches of First on the Left. From the top of the second pitch of First on the Left we traversed up and left (see below photo) to reach Nosebleed Seats Not as steep as we hoped but nonetheless crusier hero ice. In March. In Washington. In the sun. Can't complain about that. Location. Taken on the approach. Nosebleed Seats from below First on the Left from below Daniel on the first pitch of First on the Left First on the Left second pitch Nosebleed Seats Gear Notes: Nothing longer than 16 cm Approach Notes: GREAT conditions if you start early enough. Will likely want snowshoes on the way out as things soften up in the heat of the day. 2.5 for us in; 1.5 out.
  2. Trip: chair peak - north groove area Date: 1/13/2012 Trip Report: the right hand side of chair peak's north face doesn't seem to garner much attention. here is one option: 1. start up chimney just left of the toe of the buttress mentioned in "washington ice." a short ways above the chimney, take a right trending ramp to a left facing corner capped by a roof on the buttress crest. hook up corner with good pro, pull left around roof, belay around 40m in frozen blocks. (alternatively, instead of the ramp traverse, climb directly up chimney/squeeze and up snice slope to intersect our second pitch.) 2. pull left into narrow ice "groove" and climb it for 20-30' then trend up and right on poorly protected snice for full 60m to the lone tree on right side of buttress. 3. here one could make a rising traverse to the northwest ridge. we opted to climb straight up from the tree to the obvious offwidth/chimney located just right of the buttress. hooks, jams and snice/turf lead to the northwest ridge in 60m. 4. one easy pitch along ridge to summit. cruxes on pitches 1 and 3. in the conditions we found it, i thought it was harder than pineapple express, maybe m5/m6. lunger's first time out...the twisted soul seemed to enjoy it. a couple other nice looking systems lie immediately right of the buttress toe. all would logically lead to the area of our first belay. Gear Notes: rock gear to 3.5" including a couple kb's. a warthog, snarg or spectre could come in handy but screws were not useful.
  3. Over the summer Bruce Miller, Steve Su and Doug Chabot headed to Pakistan and made the first ascent of 6,400m Hispar Sar. We've got a write up and some pictures from Bruce on our blog if you want to check it out. Pretty sweet!
  4. Trip: Squire Creek Wall - Oso Rodeo Date: 9/5/2011 Trip Report: Climb: Oso Rodeo, V 5.10 FA Date of Climb: 9/3-5/2011 On Labor Day weekend Bill Enger, Jim Shokes and I completed a new line at the northern end of Squire Creek Wall. It took two seasons; back and forth, nobody there except us, the hummingbirds and the frogs. A couple years back we had thrashed our way over from the base of the Daddy and there it was, our new beginning. It starts in a kind of hollow grotto, a narrow swan's neck of granite, twisting its way down from way the hell up there, curving and white. Here we could start. The line is plenty obvious; a twenty-five hundred foot twisting, bucking grand tour. Wet winter daydreams convinced us we could pull it off in two seasons rather than four so as soon as the darkness dried out we were on it. A half mile of sweaty, Squire Creek stone. One day at a time. One move at a time. One bullet at a time. The first season got us half way. Ten pitches. Eighteen days of working it every way we could. No daze off for sport climbs. No crisp alpine wire-gate weekends. Hammer hammer, twist twist, tendons stretched and the girlfriend is pissed. September came and went. Then in October, late in the day, with all the leaves on fire we tagged the ledges that became the Pool Hall. A comfy bivy spot half-way up the route had been our fantasy, and this one had all of that and a pool of water; a shitload of water! Hundreds of glistening liquid gallons and my elbows were laughing in silly delight; no more jugging with heavy sloshing loads! Fast forward ten long months. In July this year a sloping ice field of accumulated avalanches survives massively deep across the bottom of the wall. We bring crampons and ice axes to get across. The upper half of the climb takes two and three day outings to be productive. The problem is getting way up there with enough time left to put something together. Usually we were stoked to finish a pitch per day but sometimes it all clicked more easily. It seemed easiest on the nerves to not fantasize about what might lay ahead. We'd just get ourselves up there and attempt to climb the best thing we thought we could actually pull off. Definitely keeping' it real! One fine day Bill, Jimbo and I climbed the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth pitches. The following day saw us up the eighteenth. We wuz onna roll! And it was time to get down. Contrary to local norms this season's labor day promised believable goodness and so we were back. Still in the sunshine, still two hundred feet to go. Two pitches. Two seasons. Too good to be true! The eighteenth had been a big choice; we'd gone straight up where we could see it and the rock was perfect. We picked the song we liked best and hoped we could dance the tune. There wouldn't be many more choices to make! The nineteenth turned into an elegant rising traverse across slippery, sloping ramps. Eventually it leads to a scary-looking flake system with underclings, fat cracks and laybacks. Another set of anchors placed and suddenly it's just one pitch to go. The last hoo-rah; a yellow brick escalator of bubbly textures and sweet little edges. A hundred feet of perfect stone and then the trees. Down-dangling arms of hanging cedars waited for us. The smell of rotting cedar duff groped for us from beneath the ridge-crest's dark mossy blocks. On the left, six feet below the mess a little ledge answered the question. We were there. Overview The cool restorative waters of Squire Creek Pitch Five: Bill trying out his brand new 9.8mm Edelweiss Curve Pitch Seven: Smoothness at the start of the Black Overhang pitch Pitch Ten: Whitelaw on the cool quartz sills above the Pool Hall Pitch Thirteen: There’s still a long way to go Pitch Fourteen: It’s not always sunny! Yale Lewis juggin’ loads. Pitch Sixteen: Easy slabs lead up to some cool cracks on this pitch Pitch Eighteen: Fine slab dancin’ way up there Pitch Twenty: Some gentle flakes to start the last great pitch Route topo and approach topo to follow. We’d like to extend our special thanks to Francis McGrody, Jimbo Shokes, Yale Lewis, and John Medosch for two years of hard labor humping loads, digging cracks and helping us get it done. photos by David Whitelaw and Bill Enger Gear Notes: Standard rack to gold Camalot. A cruxy spot on the first pitch protects well with a #5 Camalot, not needed higher up.
  5. Trip: X38 Far Side - Trad headpoint: Metaphysics (FA) Date: 11/1/2011 Trip Report: People usually think of X38 as the land of short, bolted routes under 5.11, and for the most part it is. But there is a growing set outside those boundaries. This is a tale of two new routes that hold both mental and physical challenges for trad leaders. At the Eastern edge of the Far Side of X38 lies a 300 foot, East-facing, diamond-shaped cliff that can be seen as you drive West on I-90. When we first walked under it, I was captivated by a striking crack/flake that leads to a roof half way up the wall. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that a stellar two-pitch route, protected by a mix of bolts and gear, could go straight up the middle of this face. In the photo below, the second pitch starts on a ledge up and left from where I am, goes up and over the obvious flake/roof just left of center, and ends out of sight just above the highest point of rock visible in the photo. I knew that in order to climb the route I'd have to bump up my meager abilities and become a different climber. This concept gave rise to the route's name: Metamorphosis. In May of 2008, Michael and I did the first ascent of this adventurous two-pitch line. A number of people have repeated Metamorphosis, but it deserves more traffic than it gets. Here's an old topo that lists the gear and sections (cam = camalot). Ever since those early days, I've been admiring a line right of Metamorphosis that follows cracks in a slanting roof feature below a blank-looking face. We continued the "meta" theme with Metaphysics: a branch of philosophy that explores the intersections between reality and fiction, determinism and free will, and poetry and quantum mechanics. This line was obviously well-beyond my abilities in 2008, so I filed it away for "someday". A few years passed, more FAs followed, and I gradually got a little stronger. I went up this fall to take a closer look at the line and scrub the lichen off the upper face. Two things became clear: 1 - The line would involve excellent movement on impeccable stone (there was no loose rock to remove), and 2 - The route could be adequately protected without any bolts, although it would have a couple of spicy runouts. I worked out the moves and gear placements, scrubbed off the lichen, and prepared to headpoint Metaphysics. For routes at or just beyond my limits, I draw detailed maps marking every feature, foothold, and handhold. These help me memorize and visualize every detail of the sequence, like a choreographer's map of a dance routine. I expected the weather would shut down and Metaphysics would have to wait until next year, but there was a convergence of weather, fitness, and partners on November 1st. So we went for it on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon. It was great to share the experience with two climbers who are avid explorers and route developers. Unlike most of my first ascents, this one was captured on film. Side note: don't be deterred by some moss you'll see in photos of the bottom of the line. You don't have to climb on or through it. The hand and foot holds are all clean. I'll do more cleaning when I can... Preparing to commit. Shaking out before making one last move to a protectable crack in the slanting roof. Five feet higher, I started doing the sewing machine while holding a gaston and trying to place the protection. A fall there would not be good. I forced myself to relax, stay in control, place the critical protection, and make the moves to a good hold below the crux roof. The crux requires a leap of faith. You're getting pumped and you think, "there's no way I'll be able to hold onto that", but then you do. Fortunately, you're protected by multiple pieces of bomber gear at this point. Thin face moves above the roof get your attention. The foot holds I'd planned to use worked fine on TR but felt too small on lead, so I improvised a new sequence through this thin and balancy section. At this point you're committed because the gear is below the lip of the roof. It was only after I saw the photos that I noticed the rope was running over a protruding foothold. I don't think it's sharp enough to cut the rope, but I'm glad I didn't have to find out! Gear under the upper roof is not obvious and must placed carefully so it won't rip out in the event of a fall. See topo. At this point there are a few more tenuous moves left. They shouldn't be too hard, but I was mentally and physically fried from the lower parts of the route. I set a solid heel hook and prepared for the final moves to the anchor, which is shared with Metamorphosis. And for a few seconds I got sketched out. If the upper gear holds, a fall here would be safe. If it rips out you'd be in trouble. Sometimes we have to rely on the force of will to carry us through when our minds and bodies are convinced we're going to fail. Mind over matter. Metaphysics. I think of a scene late in Finding Nemo, where Nemo's dad Marlin is scooped up and swallowed by a pelican. His amazing and improbable adventure is about to end in the belly of a lazy seabird. But something snaps in Marlin, who has been grumpy, skeptical, and negative up to this point. He stops himself in the middle of the pelican's throat and screams, "NO!!! I DID NOT COME THIS FAR TO END IT ALL HERE". Through force of will, he stops himself mid-esophagus, reverses, and escapes from the gull's gullet with Dory in tow. And that's what I had to do....without the aid of Pixar's brilliant graphics team. I willed myself through the key heel hook/mantle and stayed focused to the end, clipping the chains with a whoop of delight that was probably heard back in Bellevue. The most satisfying and memorable climbs for me are the ones where the outcome is in doubt. They require hard work and test the limits of both mind and body. The FA of Metaphysics is right up there for me, and that's part of why I'm telling the story here. The other reason is that I want other people to go out and experience their own adventures on it. ................... I'm not a purist. I've placed my share of bolts, generally believing that the quality of a route should drive decisions about how it is developed more than the ego of the first ascentionist. Another rationalization is that I don't want to create a route that kills or seriously injures someone. I'd expected to have to bolt Metaphysics to climb it, and even when I found some gear placements I thought that I might still bolt it, otherwise no one would ever climb it. But it felt right to leave the line in its natural state, to preserve the raw challenge presented by nature, even if it meant there is the potential for serious consequences if you make a mistake. That's ok. Part of climbing is overcoming fear, controlling your mind, and using every skill you have to safely ascend a line without falling or hanging. Life has consequences. Why should climbing be different? ..................... It's hard to be objective about a route's grade when you have it wired. Perhaps 5.10R to V2/V3 to 5.10R. So maybe 5.11R? I don't know. It is what it is. Climb it and let us know what you think. THE NEXT IMAGE CONTAINS DETAILED BETA THAT WILL RUIN YOUR ONSIGHT IF.... you can decipher my solution from the cryptic hieroglyphics below. Gear Notes: Trad gear as noted in the topos 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. There is a giant talus field East of this line of cliffs. Drop down to the talus and cross it to pass under the bottom of the large, scraggly buttress. Follow an indistinct path, pass a giant tree, and pop out onto a second, smaller talus field. Go straight up. Where the talus ends at the forest go right to the Meta amphitheater. Shangri-La is to the left. The Meta cliff pictured above is on your left as you enter the Meta amphitheater. It's best to belay very low at a divot in the vegetation. Start climbing in tennis shoes and change to rock shoes at the bottom of the two obvious cracks where the climbing starts. I'll try to develop a less dirty, less erosion-prone approach by springtime.
  6. Trip: Sloan Peak, Southwest Face - Diamond in the Rough (FA) Date: 9/11/2011 Trip Report: Diamond in the Rough: a new route on the Southwest Face of Sloan Peak. 1100 feet, Nine pitches, 5.10, Grade III. Brandon Workman and Rad Roberts. The route had some greenery and loose rock in a few spots, but it’s much cleaner and safer now. Should be good to go. The image below is a Scurlock shot of Sloan in winter. The cliff was snow-free when we climbed it. Diamond in the Rough is blue. Fire on the Mountain is red. The unroped summit scramble is green. There are many dimensions in climbing to explore, but I’m pretty much a one trick pony: Rock climbing. Actually, I’m an aging, day-job-holding, 3-kid-parent, weak-sauce, weekend-warrior pony who should’ve been sent to the glue factory years ago. Blake and I had a perfect day in the mountains in 2009 on the first ascent of Fire on the Mountain, a stellar eight pitch 1100 foot 5.10+ route on the unclimbed Southwest Face of Sloan peak. The rock and movement were fabulous and the line flowed naturally. Sol and Rob repeated the route last year. In a world inundated by a deluge of digital information, it’s refreshing to know that our local mountains still hold amazing new adventures. Since that day, I’ve been itching to explore more new routes on Sloan. Time and weather conspired against in 2010, but the stars aligned this year on September 11th, the 10th anniversary of THE September 11th. It seemed fitting to spend that day trying to forge a new route up a pristine cliff in our wilderness. Brandon has pioneered a variety of new rock routes in Darrington and the foothills around Highway 20, but this would be his first time going ground-up on a first ascent. I’m still a new to the game, but I love the uncertainty and adventure of these outings. We decided to leave his hand drill at home. We met in Sedro Wooley at 4am and drove past Darrington toward the Bedal Creek trailhead, spinning tires and bumping my oil pan on the final gravel road. Two other climbers were crashed out in the parking lot, catching some ZZZs before their own adventure. We departed as quickly and quietly as we could, starting by headlamp. The first waves of daylight brought us to the meadows below the immense West Face of Sloan. We left the trail, gained a notch in the ridge, and soon found ourselves below the Southwest Face. The lupine bloomed like it was mid-July instead of mid-September, no doubt due to the giant snow pack last winter. Fire on the Mountain starts at the right edge of the photo. We scoped out a few possibilities and settled on the striking giant diamond feature seen on the left side of this photo from 2006. This cliff has amazing dike features reminiscent of Lover’s Leap in Tahoe. We considered soloing the 4th class section below the first pitch but roped up instead. It was a good decision. Brandon found himself leading loose, vegetated, unprotected, and steeper-than-expected terrain to gain the target hand crack (Side note: it may be possible to traverse in from the right and avoid this). Brandon climbed up the crack and set up a belay at a small ledge. Looking down at the first pitch. I followed, and then Brandon continued past a crux to a fun corner leading to the base of the diamond. The sun peered around the mountain as I cast off on the much-anticipated diamond pitch. At this moment, the climbers from the trailhead passed underneath us. From a few shouts, we learned they were headed up the South ledges scramble route to the top of Sloan. We bid each other good luck and got back to our separate adventures. But the diamond pitch would not easily give up her treasures. We could see a small section of finger crack above us that seemed to lead over a bulge and up into the target dihedral, but it was guarded by 20+ feet of vertical, unprotected, and difficult face climbing, with a loose flake just before the crack as a bonus. It didn’t look promising. I traversed across a small ledge to take a look. The face climbing started with an airy traverse out right to a bizarre tooth of rock the size and shape of an ancient book protruded vertically out of a shallow scoop in the cliff. I climbed over to check it out, half expecting it to levitate out of the rock, glow white, and unfold its unearthly pages. It seemed solid. I slung this bizarre feature, but it was smooth and had no constrictions. I was concerned the sling would slip off as I climbed past it, leaving me with a possible long fall and pendulum back toward Brandon. Nope. This pony wasn’t going to stick his neck out on this section. Maybe another day. So I returned to the belay and headed up a beautiful finger crack on a buttress that led to the left side of the diamond. Around the corner, the angle eased a bit and I considered my options. The left side of the diamond was low-angle for forty feet before a vertical section that didn’t look very protectable. Shoot. I traversed left to a vegetated crack and was able to get a better view of the steep diamond corner. It did have some cracks and features and might go after all. So I traversed back and started up the steep corner. The moves involved improbable combinations of high steps, stemming, palming, liebacking and other opposition moves between decent features. They were strenuous and devious. The gear was decent, but it didn’t come easily. In a few spots I had to scrape dirt out of the crack with my fingers while locked off on a lower hold with the other hand. I wished I'd had the nut tool to clean out the crack, but I’d left it with Brandon. Fingers would have to do. Sunblock plus dirt is not the best combo. The resulting gear placements didn’t always inspire confidence. One was a cam in a flaring, smooth, and dirty crack. I’ve never zippered out gear, where multiple pieces of protection pull out of the rock when the rope comes tight in a fall. The prospect of a zipper fall above a ledge several hundred feet up a cliff, miles from a remote trailhead, motivated me to spend precious energy placing extra gear and setting it well. I got a good green camalot and made tricky moves to a large flat edge. Unfortunately, I couldn’t rest there because it was still vertical and the footholds were crappy. The pump clock was ticking. Brandon at the same spot: Lactic acid demanded a quick decision. I reached down and grabbed the sling on the camalot below my waist, gingerly lowered my weight onto it, and clipped myself to it. And that was it. No more “onsight”. No more “all free”. No more instant classic route for the guidebooks. No more perfect story for the internet. What? Neil Young warns us against such folly: “Media image slaves live by random selection”. When experience fails to meet expectations do we toss in our cards and head for the bar? It can be tempting. I traded a few shouts with Brandon, asking if he wanted to rap down and climb Fire on the Mountain. Perhaps I was searching for an excuse to bail. Brandon reminded me that we’d come for the experience of climbing a new route ground up. He felt we should continue, even if the line wasn’t perfect. I’m really thankful he didn’t let me back off. Sometimes you just have to play the hand you’ve been dealt. Oddly, I felt relief when my dream of a ground-up, onsight free climb on flawless rock was dashed. I had been released from the weight of expectations. I was reminded of a Zen realization hammered home for me in the Pickets: let go of the past, let go of the future, and allow yourself to fully experience the present moment. I looked at the moves above me again. Could I climb them without falling? Maybe. Were they protectable? Probably. Should I go for it? Definitely. I placed another piece of protection, equalized it with the camalot, and started up again. But the difficulty didn’t ease. I made some more moves and placed a few pieces of gear, including a micro-cam in a tiny crack in a small lip above me. The climbing got harder, the gear got more tenuous, and my muscles started to burn with lactic acid again. I might be able to punch it and climb past the lip, but it looked like the difficulty would not ease up, there might not be any more places for protection, and it might not be possible to reverse the moves above me without falling. I hung on the tiny cam and looked at my options. A series of small edges led left. I followed them to a small ledge with a crack behind a block. It looked solid. Mostly. There was a small ramp leading back up to the diamond dihedral. I started up that and found a flaring cam placement. A hard move guarded the traverse to the dihedral, and there didn’t seem to be opportunities for protection above that. No crack at least. So I reversed the moves, cleaned the piece, and went back to the little ledge. It was not an optimal belay, so I traversed left to a shallow corner with a couple of cracks. Upon inspection, one “crack” was behind a large block that looked detached. The other was behind a flake that rang like the liberty bell. So once again, I headed back to the little ledge. I slung the top of the block, locked it in with a directional nut, and placed a couple of small cams. This anchor would have to do. I’d mentally assigned the probability that the key the block would fail as less than 10% and then put that thought out of my mind. No sense dwelling on it. OFF BELAY! I hauled up the remaining rope and put Brandon on belay. If it seemed like a long time to read about this one pitch, at least you didn’t have to hang in slings and belay me! Brandon did it with a smile. Brandon followed. Despite carrying the pack, he fought through the section where I’d rested on gear and followed the pitch without falling or hanging on the gear. He climbed the last 25 feet with a long sling dangling by his ankle because it was too strenuous to stop to remove it. Finally, he found a decent stem. I brought him over to the belay, gave him the gear, and sent him off up the next crack. It was the only game in town. Brandon floated up the corner. He paused to contemplate the giant roof, found a line around its right edge, and zipped up out of sight. I felt the rope come tight, waited for the telltale tugs, and started up the pitch. Sure enough, the large block at the start was detached. I checked to make sure there was no one below us and then did a leg press on its upper edge and launched it into the void. It fell clean for sixty feet and smashed into three pieces that hurtled several hundred feet to the slopes below. Boom! Boom! Boom! The rest of the pitch was quite nice. The crack took gear and the rock around it was covered in small dikes. The moves around the right end of the roof proved engaging and interesting, with good sidepulls and poor footholds. Tenuous opposition moves led to pumpy fingerlocks in a solid crack before the difficulty eased. Nice onsight Brandon! And then we were at the halfway ledge. We unroped, soaked in the sunshine, and scoped out possible lines up the next section of the wall. I chose a “changing corners” pitch that starts in a rock scar, goes over a roof, ascends a dihedral, changes corners, and goes over a second roof into a final dihedral. It was a stellar pitch with a really fun changing corners crux. I cruised past some crispy lichen at the second roof, and danced up the arête above that. Brandon scowled upon hearing the time and started off on the next pitch. He climbed up to and over the top of a pillar reminiscent of the Finger of Fate on Cannon’s famous Moby Grape. Twilight was fast approaching, and we still had a long way to go. I zipped up a short cliff to another ledge and looked at the next section of cliff. It didn’t look too hard, but this pitch would turn into another epic. Here’s the short version: tenuous moves to a mediocre cam placement to a steep face with few holds – deadend #1. Reverse. Traverse left to a corner with stacks of loose blocks – deadend #2. Reverse, downclimb to main ledge. Go left. Weave up, find gear, zag left to a crack below an unprotected face – deadend #3. Partial reverse, traverse right, find ok gear, traverse further, belay at a decent crack. It took 45 minutes to gain 50 feet of elevation! Brandon 50 feet below me with a rock band between us: The traverse end of the pitch: The sun was heading down into the smoky haze of the horizon, and the guys who’d slept in the parking lot were heading back down to their car. They shouted up at us, but we were too far to hear anything. I waved once and gave them the thumbs up so they wouldn’t think we needed a rescue. Go time. It’s funny how it can take 45 minutes to climb 50 feet, and 20 minutes for the next 300 feet. Brandon cruised up 5.fun terrain. I cast off on what we hoped would be the final pitch. There was one 5.8 move and then the rest was a romp. Looking back. We unroped as the sun turned fiery red in the haze of smoke on the Olympic peninsula. The ancient orb was reflected in the waters of the distant Puget Sound. We ditched our gear on the corkscrew trail and soloed directly to the summit. You can see the full moon in our summit shot. I’d done the descent a twice before and wasn’t worried about doing it in the dark again. We zipped down to our packs and headed off down the corkscrew trail to the South descent. Melting snow blocks on the lower ramp provided some much needed drinking water. We made a fun moat leap onto the snow. Thankfully, it was quite soft. The air was still. The moon was high. It was late, very late, and we had lots of terrain left to cover, but we didn’t care. The Diamond in the Rough was in the bag. When we reached the car there was a note on my windshield from the guys we saw during the day. They expressed concern that we were still on the wall at sunset and asked us to call them when we got down, or they would “send help otherwise”. It was pretty cool that they were looking out for a few strangers they'd never met. At 2am we reached Sedro Wooley and made the call: Ring. Ring. You out? Yep. Get to the top? Yep. ………………. p1 5.9. Hand crack and face holds to a small ledge. This could easily be linked with p2. p2 5.9+ Vertical crack to a stemming groove to a belay on small ledges 25 feet below the point of the diamond. p3 5.10 Finger crack on a buttress, 5.easy, a strenuous and tricky corner, and a traverse left to a belay. It is possible to bypass the 5.10 corner by making a 50 foot, 5.easy, unprotected, left-ward traverse to the obvious crack followed on p4. p4 5.10- Follow a crack up and right past a large roof. End at the mid-way ledge. p5 5.10 Changing corners pitch to an arête above that. p6 5.7 Rambling face to the top of a small tower and then up to a large ledge. p7 5.7 Meandering madness. p8 5.6 Blink and you missed it. p9 5.8 One 5.8 move and then a romp to the end of the technicalities. I hung on gear on the third pitch, but I didn’t pull on protection to ascend. Lowering back down to the belay for a redpoint attempt didn’t make sense at the time. Brandon freed the pitch. What does it all mean? I don’t know. Maybe it's a two-hang, follower-freed, non-aid, two-dad ascent. We did what we did. Nothing more and nothing less. Gear Notes: Gear: We took one ice axe, a rack of double cams to #3 camalot, a single #4 camalot, and a set of stoppers. We took my 70m rope, but a 60m rope would have been better. Sadly, I left my helmet (dark gray) on the corkscrew trail above the SW Face. It’s probably still sitting there, covered in the first winter snows. Approach Notes: WTA Bedal Creek trailhead directions: Take exit 208 off I-5 and drive 4 miles east on SR 530 to Arlington. Continue on SR 530 for 28 miles more to Darrington. At a three way stop turn right (south) onto Mountain Loop Highway, and continue 17.2 miles (not sure how accurate this mileage is as we were not looking at the odometer) turning left on FR 4096 which is about a mile past Bedal campground. Continue on FR 4096 for 3 more miles to the trailhead! Maps (Google and my old Gazetteer) suggest you'd take fS4080 and then bear left on 4081 to get to the Bedal Creek trailhead. This is wrong. 4081 is blocked off and you can't drive there from 4080. 4096 is not on either of those maps. FS49 wraps around to the backside of Sloan. Basically take the road that heads East that is between 4080 and 49. There is one 'road-looking thing' that deadends at a redneck gun range in 50 yds. The other is 4096. From the end of the trail, head for the lowest notch marked in the photo below (traveling close to the West face of Sloan is rather loose and unpleasant). Traverse the spine of the ridge on an obvious climber’s trail and drop down into the basin below the SW face of Sloan. Traverse straight across to an obvious gully and ascend this directly to the SW face.
  7. Trip: Mix-up Peak - The Misunderstanding (FA) Date: 10/25/2011 Trip Report: Yesterday Forest McBrian, Dave Jordan, and I established a new line on Mixup Peak in North Cascades National Park. The route climbs the northeast face of the north summit and is partially visible from Cascade Pass. We had spotted the seasonal line last week while climbing on Sahale Peak and hoped that the weather would hold out long enough so we could sneak in an ascent. Fortunately the weather was with us and we had clear and cold temperatures immediately following a brief warm spell that included rain up high--this created perfect conditions on the climb. The line climbs the center of the North Face. Approaching the route (in upper right corner) The route begins in a narrow gully that sits about 60 meters east of the obvious couloir that splits the face ( 2004 TR for that line). The first pitch set the tone for the route with excellent sticks in perfect snice, but a dearth of protection opportunities. Each of the following eight pitches were all rope stretching pitches, totaling almost 1800’ of climbing on the face. This route was both longer and more difficult than we had anticipated and is unusually sustained for a Cascades line--only two pitches didn’t have 55 degree or steeper terrain and all of them went straight up without any side-to-side deviation (except pitch two which moves about 15 meters right at mid-height). The belays were all sheltered from icefall, but close enough for good photos! Pitch one Pitch three (one of the easy pitches) Pitch four We found the crux to be surmounting a roof draped with icicles on pitch five and agreed that the pitch was undoubtedly the best pitch any of us had ever climbed in the mountains. Forest led it in impeccable style. Above the crux was an incredible ice chimney that led to yet another ice pitch and, finally, a short snow slope to the crest. Pitch 5 crux Following pitch 5 (Cascade Pass trail in upper left) Following pitch 5's ice chimney Pitch 7 Following pitch 7 The technical climbing ended at a small notch in the summit ridge where we took in an incredible view of Johannesberg and Formidable in amazing evening alpenglow. It was a perfect day in the mountains. Gear Notes: Knifeblades (4-6) Cams (purple TCU to 3”), doubles to 1” 2-6 short screws 70m ropes, two ropes recommended in case of retreat. Approach Notes: Hike to Cascade Pass. Follow the trail onto Mixup Arm. The route starts about 60M east of the prominent couloir. It lies above a remnant snowfield that is obvious on the USGS map. An easy 2.5 hours to the base. Descent Notes: From the crest of the ridge at the notch, traverse on the west side of the ridge southwards towards the south/true summit for about two rope-lengths on shattered rock. Gain the first obvious notch and continue past it to the second notch. The rock quality in the second notch is noticeably better than along the crest. From here, we down-climbed the East Face to the Cache Glacier on steep snow to 55 degrees. Rappelling may be necessary in other conditions. From the Cache Glacier, traverse north and west around Mixup Arm and back to Cascade Pass. Here is a modified Scurlock photo ( original) showing the east face. We downclimbed just west/left of the ridge that lies just right of the center of the photo. Special Notes: We found that the route gets a tiny bit of sun until about eleven in the morning. Small amounts of spindrift and ice chunks came down during that time, but after the sun moved further south the debris stopped. Due to the exceedingly compact nature of the rock, anchoring options were extremely limited and much time was spent finding anchors that frequently (and unfortunately) verged on being inadequate. Although we managed with 60m ropes, we strongly recommend bringing 70m ropes to potentially give more options for finding belay anchors. Mix-up Peak, The Misunderstanding IV, AI4R, M4 2200’ of climbing Kurt Hicks, Dave Jordan, Forest McBrian October 25, 2011
  8. Trip: Valhalla Range, South Selkirks - FA:Étoile Filante IV 5.11c, 300m, S face of Asgard Date: 7/23/2011 Trip Report: A new route put up this summer by David Lussier and Cam Shute. full trip report here with photos . Étoile Filante IV 5.11c, 300m, South Face of Asgard Peak F.A. David Lussier and Cam Shute, July 2011 The story behind the line The South Face of Asgard has attracted climbers for almost 40 years. The first route up this sheer featured wall, the “Center Route IV 5.8”, was climbed by Valhalla pioneers Peter Koedt, Peter Rowat along with Greg Shannon in 1973. Peter Koedt returned to Asgard a few years later, in 1975, to climb the “Left-Center Route IV 5.8” with James Hamelin and Jara Popelkova. These two traditional routes follow the most dominant features on the face and continue to challenge climbers to this day. They offer varied climbing (cracks, flakes & chicken heads) with interesting route finding along with sustained difficulty. Up until now these where the only established routes on the south face. The vision of a new route on this face has been shared by many over the years. From various trips in Mulvey Basin over the years, I had always been interested by the complexity of the upper right side of the wall. It wasn’t until July 2010 that Cam Shute and I ventured into Mulvey with the intention of exploring that potential. Due to the disconnected nature of the crack systems, some blank looking section and the steepness of the wall, we decided to bring a hammer drill along with some bolts. This exploratory trip, culminating with a high point somewhere half way up the steep upper right wall, revealed the potential for a great line on featured but compact rock. We were already planing our return. Our vision evolved some more before we returned in July 2011. With a greater knowledge about the nature of the rock and the various line options we decided to bring the drill again. We were considering bolting an interesting looking blank arête to help straighten the lower part of the route and also using bolts for adequate protection on the upper compact wall. If the route turned out to be good quality, we also contemplated bolting the belays to facilitate rappelling. All of this would of course be done while climbing from the bottom. We were very excited about possibly finishing the route. The end result was greater than anticipated. The vision, our skills and luck combined with our commitment allowed us to complete a new modern mixed (bolts/trad) route up the beautiful right side of the South Face. A lot of the visioning and actual route location decisions beautifully came together over the 4 days Cam and I were working on the wall. The climbing on the direct arête lower down (pitch 2) was challenging and quality while providing a more direct line. The intricacies of the steep upper wall revealed themselves after a few days of committing route finding on the sharp end. In someways the route revealed itself and we basically connected the dots. Completing it was very satisfying but putting the puzzle together was the best part. We really hope that others get to enjoy this quality and modern alpine rock route, feel free to download the topo and route description just below. Access and Description topo Name background “Étoile Filante” is french for “Shooting Star”. The name choice comes as a tribute to Valhalla pioneer Peter Koedt who sadly passed away in the fall of 2010. The inspiration for the name comes from the song “Étoile Filante” by “Les Cowboy Fringant”. This beautiful song compares each human’s life existence, turmoils, successes and absurdity to the passage of a shooting star. We feel Peter was a visionary climber who put lots of skills and creativity amongst the Valhalla peaks. We will remember his passage and contribution as a brilliant shooting star.
  9. Trip: Burkett Needle - East Arête "Repeat Offender" (FA) Date: 9/11/2011 Trip Report: Summary: First Ascent of the East Arête of Burkett Needle on September 11th 2011. Dave Burdick, John Frieh and Zac West. “Repeat Offender” IV 5.9 M5 AI3 Details: On September 9th, 2011 Dave Burdick, Zac West and I (John Frieh) flew to the Burkett Glacier in the heart of SE Alaska’s Stikine Icecap. A rare two-day weather window had appeared in between the record storms and rainfall that had been hammering the area all summer long. Our intentions on Mt. Burkett were soon abandoned after observing how active and broken the hanging glacier on the approach was in its fall state. Instead we turned our attentions to the unclimbed East Arête of Burkett Needle, a 2300’ alpine tower immediately West of Mt. Burkett. The following day our team ascended a rock rib to access the icefall below the Needle’s Southeast Face. The glacier was quite broken and required climbing into moats and up a short serac to reach the gully that leads to the base of the East Arête. Deteriorating weather caused us to bivouac at the col and attempt the climb the next day. On September 11th, we ascended steep snow and low 5th rock up the lower aspects of the East Arête to a prominent gendarme. A short wall lead up and over the gendarme to exposed rock and mixed climbing along and right of the ridge crest to the false summit. A short rappel brought us to the summit tower where our route joined the 1964 Kor-Davis North ridge. Three mixed snow and rock pitches lead to the summit. We rappelled and downclimbed the Northeast face to descend. The East Arête “Repeat Offender” (IV 5.9 M5 AI3) represents the 6th ascent of the peak. Many thanks to the Copp-Dash Inspire Award and the Mazama Expedition Committee for supporting our trip, Dieter Klose for support and allowing us to climb while the Icecap was “closed for the season” and to our pilot Wally from Temsco Air. Dave Burdick John Frieh Zac West 2009 First Ascent of the West Ridge of Burkett Needle "Smash and Grab" Trip Report Pictures: Yes we have many more photos and video to share but in accordance with the grant we will be putting it all together into a multimedia presentation to share at a later date (a slideshow perhaps?) so... stay tuned! Approach Notes: Temsco Air
  10. Trip: Dome Peak - S. Face - Indian Summer (III, 5.10) FA, South Gunsight Peak - West Face - Lily of the West - FA (III, 5,10) Date: 9/2/2011 Trip Report: Dome Peak - Indian Summer (III 5.10, 8p, 1000') Photo by Tim Halder South Gunsight Peak - West Face - Lily of the West (III 5.10, 5p, 600') Nate Farr and I ventured into the Dome Peak area last week and were able to climb new routes on the South face of Dome Peak and West face of South Gunsight Peak. We had spectacular weather and a scenic camp at the Dome/Chickamin Col. Dome, Sinister, and the Gunsight Peaks are situated in some of the most remote and inaccessible terrain in the state of Washington, if not the lower 48. Ever since tagging Dome on the tail-end of the Ptarmigan Traverse five years ago, I was interested in exploring the Gunsight Range and surrounding area. Nate and I had talked about doing this trip as far back as January, but we couldn’t line up our schedules for most of the summer, and figured this one would have to wait until next year. But we both were able to finagle the first week of September off and were ecstatic to see an extended forecast of stellar weather. So we loaded up the bikes and headed for the Suiattle River road. Photo by Nate Farr Several friends had mentioned the Westside approach in preference to the eastside Chelan option. Riding bikes for ten miles on the Suiattle River Road to Downey Creek trail was not difficult and went quickly. Downey Creek trail is in wonderful shape and is plush with many bog bridges and boardwalks. Soon we reached trail's end and headed up Bachelor Creek on an unmaintained climbers path. Our spirits and energy faded with the daylight as we continuously lost the trail in the thick creekside brush. Bachelor Creek workout. Photo by Nate Farr We searched for a flat place to bivy, but the brush didn’t relent. We finally entered the forest as twilight faded and found a flat campsite. After a leisurely morning, we began the final push to high camp. We suffered with our heavy packs and followed pink flagging through the woods and across the creek, where we picked up the trail. All signs indicated that we were in the heart of bear country. The path continued through mud and up along the avalanche path at the headwaters of Bachelor Creek to Cub Pass. Avalanche path at the head of Bachelor Creek Cub Lake We caught our first glimpses of Dome and rested at Cub Lake. With waning energy we traversed to the Dome Glacier and ascended to our high camp. We reached the Dome/Chickamin col in the evening and set up camp at what would be home for next three nights. There was plenty of snow for melting and great bivy sites. We were worked from the two-day approach and went to bed early in anticipation of Dome’s South face the next morning. Getting to the base of the face was rather easy. Mike and Wayne mistakenly referred to this face as the Southeast face of the Southwest peak, but it actually is the south face of the main peak, according to the map and the Beckey guide. The face actually ends at a peak marked “8786” on the USGS map, which is technically the SE Peak of Dome, although not named as such in the guidebooks. We rapped and downclimbed the east ridge and then cut across grassy ledges that split the face. Rappelling the east ridge Side profile of the face. Our line went up the far left side of the face and up the obvious chimney near the top of this photo. The bottom half of the south face is a system of grassy ledges and slabs that provides easy access to the base of the technical climbing. Ramps splitting the South Face of Dome We walked past the beginning of Gran Torino. It looked rad, but we continued on the ledge and scoped the wall for new route potential. We continued to the far side of the face and began climbing clean mid-fifth class terrain on solid rock. Photo by Nate Farr The angle steepened with the third pitch and Nate lead through some loose rock to an airy belay below a cruxy roof and leaning crack. Photo by Nate Farr The next three pitches delivered the goods: solid, steep climbing on great granite. Nate led through the crux chimney on the fifth pitch, which was consistently steep with great stemming. He exited the chimney onto a ridge crest. I took over the lead and was greeted with a nice flourish to the route. The sweet, jagged handcrack led to an arete and another nice hand crack on the other side. A short pitch led to the end of the technical climbing and we scrambled to the summit. The descent to camp took less than 5 minutes. We celebrated the climb with whiskey and marcona almonds as the sun set on another perfect day in the mountains. We awoke to another fair morning and decided to take advantage of the weather. To the best of our knowledge, the west face of Gunsight's South Peak had not yet been climbed. So we descended the Chickamin glacier and wended our way through crevasses en route to the fabled Gunsight Range. Sinister Peak from the Chickamin Glacier Sinister, the Gunsights, and Agnes, r to l. We dead-ended in an ice-fall and had to backtrack to descend the glacier near Sinister Peak. As we approached the face, what seemed like splitter cracks from afar appeared as shallow, thin cracks. So we settled on a chimney starting on the left side of the face. The climbing up this feature was fun with good stemming on solid rock. Photo by Nate Farr I belayed at a bush as Nate led out of sight, aiming for the grassy ledge that bisected the face and led to the dihedral that punctuated the upper portion of the face. But before Nate could reach the ledge, he encountered some bad rock. “Nate are you building an anchor,” I asked, after moments of silence. “No I’m just trying to survive,” was his reply, as he delicately tiptoed through loose terrain. Relieved, he reached the ledge. A short traversing pitch led to the base of the dihedral, which looked difficult. Nate led it with caution and grace past two cruxes. The first was a short lieback on a large block that didn’t seem to be attached from my vantage point. Nate trusting the questionable pillar The climbing was exhilarating and a little scary. The second crux involved delicate face climbing to surmount a roof. Nate contemplates the roof. I led a short pitch of easy, but horrendous rock to the summit. Photo by Nate Farr The euphoria of the previous day’s climb had given way to a bitter aftertaste and disappointment that the face had not delivered the incredible rock that the Gunsights were famous for. We rappelled down the gulley to the glacier and began the long climb back up the Chickamin Glacier to camp. As I trudged up the glacier, I wondered if anyone had ever climbed or even tried to climb the gigantic southeast ridge of Old Guard, which dominated our view to the south. Eldorado through the gunsights Side profile of Dome's South Face from Gunsight Peak Getting off of South Gunsight Peak We really were feeling the effects of four days of continuous motion, and decided that we would hike out the next day. We passed our last night at the col trying to finish the whiskey and any other heavy food items. We were blessed with another bluebird day on the hike out. It went quicker than expected, taking about 9 hours to get from the col to our car. The bike ride on the Suiattle river road was mostly downhill and a relief. The heat in the lowlands was shocking as we picked up the beer we had stashed in Downey creek. Glacier Peak from the Dome glacier Headwaters of Bachelor Creek Re-navigating the Bachelor Creek jungle. Photo by Nate Farr Bounty of Bachelor Creek Nate and I were grateful to have had the opportunity to explore this remote section of the North Cascades. We didn’t see a soul for five days and were fortunate to have perfect late season weather for the entire trip. Thanks to Tim Halder, Morgan Zentler, Blake, and Layton for beta and pics, and to the Mazamas for funding this adventure. And thanks to Nate for great companionship, suffering through the difficult approach, and leading some bold pitches on both routes. Gear Notes: bikes, twin 7.7mm/60m ropes. Single rack to 4", doubles from .4" to 2", whiskey, swedish fish, landjaeger Approach Notes: the Suiattle River Road is a pleasant bike and makes for a quick ride back to the car.
  11. Trip: tower mt. - northeast face: fra "tower of babble" (III, 5.10-) Date: 9/5/2011 Trip Report: a little bird told me that blake recently posted something on his blahg regarding tower mountain so i thought that i add to the babble. asslunger and i hiked up to snowy lakes via swamp creek on sunday afternoon and stashed some gear at the col northwest of tower mt. an early start with some cramponing and downclimbing brought us to the base of the lower northeast face. fra route description as follows: 1. start at buttress toe as kellie mcbee and i did in 2009 (5.7ish) or get on the rock from the right approximately 1 pitch up as asslunger and i did. 2. 5.7/5.8 face and cracks up the middle face/buttress for 60+m. 3. 4th class rubble for 60+m to just below the mid-face ledge. 4. 3rd/4th class up and right to the base of the rightmost buttress on the upper face distinguishable by some spectacular left facing corners. 5. climb left facing corner (use face to avoid the loosest blocks under a roof) to a squeeze chimney. climb chimney to good belay. 50m, 5.10-. 6. step left onto a ledge and start up double cracks. switch to right crack which becomes an offwidth/squeeze. ascend ow and surmount blocks above to spectacular belay with view through the pillar to golden horn. 50m, 5.9. 7. step left again then up some gravel to a series of nice flakes leading to a belay on the buttress crest. 50m, 5.9. 8. short bit of 5.6 face to crest of northwest ridge. 9. scramble nw ridge to single rope rap to the notch immediately above the rotten white wall of the west face gully. continue along ridge to summit. we belayed 6-7 pitches of those described above. the route lies right of what we thought was the doorish route. a series of extremely steep corners and roofs lies left of the doorish route and might provide some very bold on-site free climbing. lunger might post some photos when he gets time. fra of lower face: kellie mcbee and rolf larson, around 7/4/09. fra of full route: eric wehrly and rolf larson, 9/5/11. Gear Notes: pro to 4" and 1kb Approach Notes: kellie and i approached via pine creek. the swamp creek/northwest col approach is preferable if you plan to climb the whole route.
  12. Trip: Index - Upper Town Wall - Swim + FFA of Free Swim Date: 8/10/2011 Trip Report: Another great Upper Wall route. I first tried Swim a couple weeks ago and got a little pushed around up there to say the least. But I wasn't all that surprised as this is usually the case on Upper Wall climbs. My second time on the route I choose the solo top rope mini trax mission. While dangling around up there doing some scrubbing and TR'ing I got the bright idea of trying to free a variation around the original 4th pitch A0 bolt ladder. On first inspection I didn't think it would be to bad. The free variation would start up the shallow corner of Steel Pole Bathbtub and then diagonal left across the bolt ladder onto an old aid pitch I put up 10+ years. Only problem was a fairly large (6ft tall) and loose toothpick shaped block that was barely attached. This thing had to go. And it went without much of a fight. To my dismay my original thought about the pitch looking easy was proved wrong. It was going to actually take some work to do and well to be honest I wasn't so keen on starting another involved project as my schedule was already pretty booked. But for some stupid reason I still got all excited about the project... and I'm bad at saying NO to good climbing. So after a couple more days of work up there which involved a bit of scrubbing and some bolting it was ready to go. My luck with the weather has been great lately. Lows 60's and a chance of rain in the forecast meant good sending temps. Thankfully for me I found a stoked partner, Rachel, that would be game to go have a little adventure up there with me. We met up at the parking lot a little before 3pm, which is a perfect time to start an Upper Wall route if you plan on climbing by headlamp... (Rachel following the 2nd pitch 11d) It felt nice to be grabbing freshly brushed holds and knowing where to go this time. The climbing was actually enjoyable. We quickly made it the big ledge at the base of the 4th pitch and the new free variation. I opted to pull through on draws for a quick refresher of the moves and one last brush of the holds. I came down, pulled the rope, put on a tighter pair of shoes and headed back up. I had worked the pitch just the right amount. I definitely wasn't sure i was going to send and had to improvise a few of the moves but I managed to make it through without incident. After the funky compact smeary corner crux the climbing eases off to cool, fun and casual 5.10 and eventually meets back up with the original route near the anchors. I can't really figured what to grade the pitch so I'm going to say Index,11d which in my opinion has ZERO correlation to Yosemite Decimal System. IF it were in Yosemite, it would probably be somewhere closer to 12/12+ (the upper 5.10 portion of the new variation) Rachel followed giving it a good effort but had to resort to a bit of Batman technique through the crux. The next 11b pitch went down with out much of fight though the sun had still managed to slip perilously close to the horizon. Rachel hurried up the pitch feeling the encroaching darkness. Only two more pitches to... (good light and a shitty iPhone camera) I crept up one more 11+ techy slab and nearly blew it on some dirty 5.10 that I mistakenly had not cleaned or climbed previously. I probably should of brought a head lamp as the climbing surely would of been easier if I could see. Thankfully Rachel was kind enough to let me borrow her headlamp for the last pitch so I could figure out where to go. At somewhere close to 9:45 I topped out. I sure am good at turning a 7 pitch route into an adventure. Gear Notes: Mostly clips and slings with a few wedges thrown in for good measure. Approach Notes: Snohomish --> Lyndseys Lattes in Sultan --> Index town store for a croissant sammy --> Trail --> Bolts --> Top
  13. Trip: Adams Gl Headwall, FA- "Ice Extension" - IV-AI4, expect some mixed Date: 7/4/2011 Trip Report: It is a testament to El-Nino and an open minded approach to ice climbing that an interesting new route was enjoyed on the 4th of July in 2011. It also was made possible by being at the high altitude of Mt Adams,- The shade of a northwest face, -and a tough young lady with an eye for ice. Anastasia/Mitochondria enticed me with the following email: Hey Wayne,I was wondering if you would be interested in trying a new variation on the Adams Headwall with me (at >11k) which I spotted last year from the Stormy Monday Couloir.In short, it includes 2 pitch of WI3-4(?) (and it was in through July last year) followed by 60-70 deg alpine ice/rock (more ice early in the season I bet) to get to the rim at about 11500 Here is a few pics from the last year (mid July!) and I can dig more out if needed:WI pitch -longer than it looks on the pic – and probably fatter earlier in the season, stays in shade pretty much all day – cuz it is buried in the buttress: [....mitos pic from last year here, picture on my blog....] Knowing that you are into exploring the new lines on old big volcanoes, I thought I would ask But I understand if you have other priorities/interests. Let me know.Anastasia Given my history of trying anything once, we did the long, snowy approach on Sunday the 3rd and the route on a brutal 22hr Monday, July 4.(counting the drive back). I always forget how big these Monster-Volcanos are. That tiny looking cliff is actually 2 pitches. The whole route is over 3000 feet tall, with several technical pitches along the top of it. After sharing the first half of the "Stormy Monday Couloir" we soloed the first steps. Then got after the middle pitches, the first was a 50m WI3+. Mito tackled the 30m 2nd pitch. After the middle pitches, it became a real struggle to find a way up the overhanging 60m rock band at the top. I began a traverse to the left hoping it would allow me get to the summit snow-slopes. It went on for quite a ways until I found the way through. It was an awesome pitch. Vertical ice and rock followed by a short overhang with”good” rime to pull up on. Such a great finish to a long ice season. The Line The Approach Camping out at 8k Camping out at 8k Camping out at 8k Mito soloing the first pitch WI2, mixed Mitochondria on The middle Pitches Mito Leading Middle Pitches Mito Before the Traverse Mito resting the calves mid Traverse The Traverse A wtf moment on the crux, Mito on the crux last pitch, AI4, mixed Topping out The exhausted team on the top. It was a fine route that extended our ice season into extra innings. A few memories that stand out for me are the extra 3 miles each way on the snowy road, both of my crampons almost falling off while soloing the first middle pitches, the amazing crux pitch, Mitos uncontrolled exuberance after doing her dream route. Special thanks to Jim at Pro Mt Sports for the last minute gear grab! More on my blog below.
  14. Trip: Harrison Bluffs - FA Wildcat (32m 5.8) and Surprise Fall Date: 6/16/2011 Trip Report: So I haven't really been doing any trips lately, I have an upcoming deadline to graduate and I've been spending the last 4 months working on that. But hell, it's spring, you can't think about school all the time. So I've been going over to Harrison Bluffs for the last month or so and cleaning a new route, a couple hours at a time. Not the hardest or even the best route at Harrison, this rig takes a slabby buttress rising out of the forest. A boulder problem start leads to a curving handcrack to a small ledge and then a featured slab to the top. Nothing too hard, one boulder move and then mostly 5.7 with a three move 5.8 crux on the upper slab. Hopefully a good warmup/moderate route as Harrison has to date been lacking in those (at least ones that stay clean - a couple of easier routes put up in the 90s are fully overgrown). So anyways I got this thing all clean last weekend and did a no-falls burn up it using my Ushba on the fixed line to check out the moves and figure out bolt locations and number. At the time it seemed totally cruisable and I thought about just soloing the FA and placing bolts later but it was the end of a 5 hr scrub session and I was out of water so I just went home instead. Hmm. Went back yesterday and Ushba'd up the fixed rope again placing four bolts and doing the moves one more time. Normally I bolt on rappel and it was interesting to try this bolting-while-pseudo-toproping approach, the drill weighs less than I thought it would but it's still more involved frigging around than it is on rap (mostly with respect to keeping the hot drillbit off the rope and/or the legs after the hole is made). So Shaun showed up and belayed me while I sent the rig, except that things did not go as planned. 25m up the route I stand on a good foot ledge right below the final bolt - a ledge I have stood on with full body weight several times now and which appears to be totally monolithically solid) and am about to clip in when my feet do a Wile Coyote spinning on air dance and I can't hold on and I'm airborne. Suddenly I'm taking a 10m slab fall. WTF? And Shaun mentions he had to dodge a big rock. So when I reclimb the route on the next redpoint (WTF, two redpoint attempts on a 5.8?) it does turn out the big foot ledge below the last bolt is suddenly 50% missing. A brand new scar. Somehow that super solid ledge broke off under full body weight. And this is granite that appeared 100% solid during my last month of scrubbing attempts... The rest of the route goes fine and we climb a couple other routes nearby before the rain starts but, I'm thinking back now, FUCK ME I'm glad I didn't decide to solo that thing last weekend! I'd be in the hospital for sure and possibly even dead. We ended up calling the route Wildcat btw due to a bobcat that was prowling around the base while Shaun was waiting and I was bolting. Gear Notes: 3 or so cams in the hand size range (0.75 to 2 Camalot) and four bolts. Approach Notes: Park by the golf course and walk in on powerline road 5 minutes to the crag trail. This line goes up the slabby right side of he arete forming the right end of the Wayback Layback wall.
  15. First Ascent of the White Chick “White Chick” (Pk 5884 southeast of White Chuck Mountain) May 21, 2011 Personnel: Paul Klenke, Stefan Feller, Martin Shetter, and Fay Pullen (the token white chick). Stefan says he likes my trip reports because I always put in so much detail. Well for this report, I’m not gonna. Why? Becuase I’m a busy family man. Plus, I’m 40 now, so I’m old(er), and stupid(er), and out-of-shape®. Here are some views of White Chick, the rocky bump to the right of White Chuck: [img:center]http://c0278592.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/original/79240.jpg[/img] [img:center]http://c0278592.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/original/96702.jpg[/img] [img:center]http://c0278592.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/original/186265.jpg[/img] We met in Seattle at 4:45am, which is usually REM time for me, not RPM time. So motoring to the Park ‘n Ride was a catatonic affair. But there they were, the OTHERS, waiting for me, already there, already laughing about something. Anyway, Stefan drove to the “trailhead.” Well first he drove to the Darrington gas station (I know it well, as do you) so I could purchase an energy drink. What? Two for one? I’m all over that like crappy snow on a Cascades ski resort. Here is White Chick from the bridge over the river: [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/599x401xWChi01_fr_river_bridge_I_sm.JPG.pagespeed.ic.AsoHnu-gmb.jpg[/img] We started at 6:45 on the overgrown logging road at the head of Dan Creek (elevation 1970 ft). The first obstacle was Black Oak Creek where the bridge had either slumped and disappeared or had been removed. All that remains is a large rusted girder and very steep banks. The Black Oak Creek washout (the banks are steeper than they look): [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi03_Black_Oak_Cr_washout_I_sm.JPG[/img] After this creek that reminds me of a Soundgarden song, we walked the remaining three miles of mossy road eastward and upward. The annoying windfall decreased, but the annoying snow cover increased (plod plod plod). At 3400 feet we came to the end of the roadway at a spur ending in a regrowing clearcut. We avoided this wetness and arced around it through nice old growth (some big trees here). The old road: [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi04_old_logging_road_sm.JPG[/img] Stefan and I descended steep duff a couple of hundred vertical into the big gully beyond the last clearcut. But Martin and Fay pullened it and took the ridge upward paralleling the west side of the gully. They essentially got cliffed out while Stefan and I easily ascended the avalanche debris escalator to approximately 4000 ft. We only lost about 20 minutes waiting for them. A view of the big gully (my wife said the snow fooled her into thinking it was a white-water torrent): [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi05_the_big_gully_I_sm.JPG[/img] The cliffy west side of the gully at 4000 ft (Stefan's in this photo; he pulled his pants up just in time…): [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi09_north_side_of_gully_sm.JPG[/img] That mountain whose name I forget as seen from the big gully: [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi08_Forgotten_fr_gully34_sm.JPG[/img] I took off to break trail up and right from the gully, traversing more rightward than upward to avoid the likely cliffs obliquely abutting the gully. Since I’m old(er) and fat(ter), Stefan eventually caught up to me and finished the remainder of the slog up to the base of the rocks, which finally opened up to us at 5300 ft. [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi10_Stefan_at_5300_ft_sm.JPG[/img] A view of the northwest side of the summit rocks (this is about as good as the views got on this day): [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi11_at_5400_ft_sm.JPG[/img] I took a brief second shot at kicking steps before motorfoot stomped past me. We took a snowy gully rightward from the left side of the rocky corner until the gully headed at short cliffs. A steep 55-degree snow chute got us up over a minor spur to the next gully over. We took this adjacent gully up a tad then left up a straight “Triple Couloirs-esque” gully to very nearly its col looking over the East Face. The cornice at the col notch was too much to approach comfortably, so Stefan exited right to continue up through short trees and minor rocks. Looking down the straight gully from the notch: [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi22_final_gully_near_top_sm.JPG[/img] He got up to a rocky knoll a hundred or so yards from the summit and waited for me to catch up. He thought that belaying the final corniced ridge was the wise thing to do and I concurred. The climbing wouldn’t be technical but no one likes to do cornice tobogganing. The rocks abutting the cornice were wet and sloped and not conducive to walking over. Stefan took the lead up and I followed, dragging Martin and Fay’s second rope. [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi21_final_ridge_IV_sm.JPG[/img] I made it up and immediately planked the summit (there was photographic evidence but Stefan erroneously deleted it because of its poor quality—the photograph, not the plank move). Stefan struggling to belay the token white chick. She’s sooo heavy! [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi15_Stefan_at_top_III_sm.JPG[/img] Fay at the summit (in nice weather White Chuck Mountain would have been looming behind the white chick in this photo): [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi16_Fay_at_top_sm.JPG[/img] Martin: [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/599x401xWChi17_Martin_at_top_sm.JPG.pagespeed.ic.1rbJxq2NUE.jpg[/img] I placed a Fay Pullen Special at the summit and built a cairn. This cairn kept falling over. I must suck at building cairns. Paul (no we weren’t all sharing the same jacket): [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/600x450xWChi18_Paul_at_top_sm.JPG.pagespeed.ic.NJFZ1gBfzX.jpg[/img] It had taken 5.5 hours to get up. Approximately 4.5 miles and 4000 ft of gain. We had taken not a single break and I only took my pack off once to put a jacket on. That’s not bad. Maybe I’m not as out-of-shape-and-fat-and-older as I thought. The token white chick in her element (w/o skis on!): [img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi23_Fay_at_4200_ft_sm.JPG[/img] We returned the way we came, glissading the big gully (that went quick!). The road walk back seemed longer on the way out (but isn’t that always how it seems?). 9.5 hours round trip. Our route: [img:center] http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi01_fr_river_bridge_I_anno.JPG[/img] [img:center] http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/WChi02_fr_river_bridge_II_anno.JPG[/img] Our GPS Track courtesy of Fay: [img:center] http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/White_Chick_Route_Fay_Pullen.JPG[/img] A comment on the weather, though it wasn’t bad (we were only blemished by light rain), remember that we had superb weather only the day before. And so it goes in Washington. Due to the weather, the conditions were cloudy and a white out most of the day. White Chuck Mountain made a brief appearance from the belay knoll and I took too long to photograph it. Drat! It would have shown the mountain from a previously unseen angle…if this truly was a first ascent. We think it was. Prove it if it wasn't. Epilogue So we’re at the car and Stefan breaks out a wrinkled dress shirt and suit and puts them on. Then he puts on a tie. Now, I’ve never seen him wear a tie before—and especially at a trailhead. This is most peculiar. He had said he had a memorial service to attend to in Ballard. Oooo-kay. Stefan in a “birthday” suit... In reality… He was just trying to throw me off (and he did). In reality there was a surprise 40th Birthday Party waiting for me back at the house. I opened the garage door with the opener as I’m backing my car in and the first things I see are a whole bunch of legs and then I realize for sure the thing I suspected might happen really is happening. I had a great time that night, so great in fact, that I did not go to bed until 4:00am—fully 24 hours after I got up. But I was only 39 years, 363 days old then. I’m 40 now and probably couldn’t handle that now. I am older, stupider, out-of-shaper, and weaker now. Gear Notes: Ice axe, safety rope for cornice adventures, suit and tie. Approach Notes: I don't know that this climb would be easier without snow. Steep duffy ground in the trees and then perhaps mossy rocks or steep heather higher up.
  16. Trip: University Peak Saint Elias Range - South West Spur Date: 4/29/2011 Trip Report: Here's the FA of the 8,500 foot South West Spur. Kevin Ditzler and I spent a week climbing University from the south west. We spent four days climbing the south west face to where it meets the ridge. Only four of the pitches had any rock. Everything else was AI3/4 for about 7,000 feet. For some wierd reason we thought we could cruise the ridge. After about a half mile of roped pitches and two days we finally found the top. It took the rest of that day and half of the next to decend the North Ridge. We waited in Beaver Basin, the bottom of the North Ridge, for five days with minimal food and fuel for a pick up. Late on the fifth day Paul Claus, Ultima Thule Outfitters, made it in the marginal weather and flew us back to the lodge in time for dinner.
  17. Trip: New routes in Leavenworth - Colchuck NE Face, Snow Creek, Tumwater Canyon Date: 3/31/2011 Trip Report: It’s hard to beat winter in Leavenworth. We were climbing ice the day before thanksgiving, climbed roadside ice and skied deep powder through December, and had three weeks of good alpine climbing conditions in January and February before the arrival of a long pow storm cycle. Sometimes the possibilities seem endless. In late January Jens Holsten and I headed up to Colchuck Lake with heavy packs and a couple of days to kill. Our main objective was the NEB of Colchuck. This outing was similar to the other times that we have headed up to check it out in that we didn’t climb the route. At least this time we got to climb a couple of (hard) mixed pitches before we were stopped by unconsolidated snow and iced cracks. On the way down we stopped to scope out a flow of ice running down the NE face to the right of the NE couloir. The next morning a well timed start had us as the base of this flow by sunrise. Two pitches of perfect AI3 ice had us at a snowfield. From here one could go up and right on easy snow and maybe wrap around and connect with the NBC, but we simul climbed up and left for a few pitches. The path of least resistance took us over a pitch and a half of mixed climbing and snow covered rock before a snow bowl. The snow on these pitches was very unconsolidated and we pretty much had to keep digging down to rock for pro and ground solid enough to support our weight. In better conditions you would be able to cruise over these pitches, but in worse conditions they could shut you down. Above the snow bowl I set up the belay below a nice looking ice filled dihedral, but it turned out the white stuff wouldn’t support any weight. This would be a fun and more direct option if it forms up. Jens traversed about 20 feet to the next weakness, a steep chimney that we climbed in two pitches. Overhanging and technical, but with enough moss and pro to make it work, this was the crux of the climb. Jens gets ready. The route from the base. Dragontail lookin good. More steep snow and mixed climbing took us to a low point in the north ridge. Pulling onto the ridge was one of my more wild moments in recent memory. All that was left of the sun was a pink glow on the horizon, and a stout wind tried to push us off our perch. After dark I am able to climb and stay relaxed knowing that at least it won’t get any darker, but there is something unsettling about dusk when you are on a route without bivy gear. The summit felt a long ways off and a 15 foot tall 4-5 inch wide crack stood in our way. No big deal if we were down in the icicle, but here, now, with crampons on our feet and no number 4 cam it was a disheartening sight. Jens made due with a couple of pins (one is now fixed) and after a short fall and some tense moments he ran the rope out along the ridge. A traverse brought us to the NW couloir which took us to the rime covered summit and the easy descent. After some of the best ramen I have ever eaten and a quick nap we packed up our camp and walked back to the road on shaky legs. By the time I got home it was time to go back to the mountains to go to work. That night I stood in the driving rain next to my chairlift at Stevens Pass and tried not to smile as my co workers groused about the bad skiing conditions on our weekend. We are calling the route the Holsten-Hilden 1,600’ WI3 M6, steep snow. One thing that most people don’t know about Jens is that he is an extreme snowshoe enthusiast. It doesn’t matter what weather or conditions are like, he just goes out and walks hundreds of miles in those things every winter. Sometimes on his walks he sees lines on crags and mountains, and stores these memories away for later use. Promises of white granite, blue ice, and unclimbed mixed lines led me to strap on the snowshoes to head up the Snow Creek Valley a couple of times this winter. At the end of February’s high pressure we headed up to try a route on Temple Ridge, and while we did climb some nice ice in the sun, the switch in my head was flipped from up to down when the sun caused an apparently windloaded bowl above us to slide on our route, a bit too close for comfort. A couple of weeks later the death of an acquaintance in an avalanche on Mount Cashmere shook the community and my confidence. He was doing what he loved in an area that he knew better than almost anyone, a short snowmobile ride from his home. It was a beautiful day and he was with good friends, skiing steep, deep powder. The kind of day that we live for. A day that people around the world dream of, full of the moments which make magazines and ski movies, but for him it was just another day in the life of a guy who chose to live his dream. Today would be Danny Z's 29th birthday. When someone dies climbing or skiing it’s hard to avoid dwelling on the risks I’ve taken and will take, sometimes knowingly, sometimes unexpected and unaccounted for. Without risk however, climbing wouldn’t mean much. Summits and nice views are great, but deep down I climb to learn about myself and see where my limits are. This mindset is inherently dangerous, and sometimes it all seems pretty pointless. I want to be an old man someday, but at the same time I want to be able to inspire my kids and grand kids to live their dreams. In the words of Henry David Thoreau “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Last week Jens and I headed up to another potentially new line in the Snow Creek Valley and with the first swings of my tools all of the doubt and fear of the last few weeks was gone. The question of why does not exist in the mountains. Our route followed an ice runnel and a snow ramp to an obvious 200 foot ice filled corner, and up steep snow and rock bands to the summit of a small middle of nowhere tower. To get there start heading uphill just before the millennium wall, aiming for the tower with the obvious dihedral. The route is directly across from the Snow Creek Wall, and is about the same height. Jens is calling the tower Millennium Tower, and at the time he suggested calling the route 1,000 Swings to Nowhere, which I think is pretty fitting. M5, steep snow. The route goes up the slanted corner splitting the face left of photo center. Earlier in the winter Kurt Hicks, Aaron Scott, and myself also climbed an undocumented ice line in the Tumwater. Mr. Gecko has a picture of it from the road in this thread (to the right of Comic Book Hero): http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/997719/5 Walk across the red bridge, head west on a hopefully packed down old road grade for 20 minutes to where a rock slide blocks the path, and start climbing. Two pitches of WI2, and at the top we climbed an amazing pitch of WI 4 in a chimney. One of the cooler ice routes that I have done in L-town for sure. No one told me it was a FA until we were down, which was neat. An alternative to the last pitch that we climbed is to climb the obvious, less steep flow left of the chimney. I returned the next night to climb that after dark (because snow and rain was about to ruin everything), but downclimbed about halfway up because it seemed a bit wet and insecure. We never really talked about a name. Aaron liked Milf School 6, after a DVD he found on the highway that morning. I kind of like the name Another Roadside Distraction because I looked at the thing so many times driving up to the pass before we climbed it, but it doesn’t even exist anymore anyway, so maybe it doesn’t matter. Kurt has better pictures of this one here. A very PNW topout. Gear Notes: Colchuck NE Face: Double set of cams to 2" singles of 3 and 4. Nuts, pins, and 4 or 5 screws. Millennium Tower: Cams (singles), nuts, screws. Tumwater route: Screws (Stubbies too!) and you might be able to place a small cam or two in the chimney. Approach Notes: Walk like you mean it.
  18. Trip: First Ascent of Mt. Mausolus - "The Mausoleum" - West Face Direct Date: 3/16/2011 Trip Report: After years of obsessing, I was finally able to make the first ascent of 9,170' Mt. Mausolus in the southwestern Alaska range with Scotty Vincik. Conditions on the mountain were ideal in mid-March. We were extremely lucky! The route contained the finest alpine climbing I have ever done, with pitch after pitch after pitch of perfect ice. Enjoy. -Clint Helander [img:center]http://lh5.ggpht.com/_2jAtcezr53I/RaxmiR4DYuI/AAAAAAAAEX0/f353r_re0Yo/s512/85-Mt%20McKinley%20%28L%29%20beyond%20Mt%20Mausolus%20%28R%29.JPG[/img] An aerial photo of the west face of Mt. Mausolus. Photo by Cliff Cochran. Our route takes the obvious direct line leading up to the summit from the major snow cone. [img:center]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF3QuY27-I/AAAAAAAADYc/6cGZNf3yBtE/s512/IMG_1601.JPG[/img] The 4,500' west face of Mt. Mausolus [img:center]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF3hoPns8I/AAAAAAAADYs/ovSFMwFF-3Q/s912/IMG_1610.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZFxjQFq35I/AAAAAAAADUg/O70fzNstC2I/s640/IMG_1395.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZFyAynQs-I/AAAAAAAADU0/mscTZ7MYKQo/s912/IMG_1408.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZFx2mojFuI/AAAAAAAADUo/XPpCVPTMwTk/s640/IMG_1404%20-%20Copy.JPG[/img] The upper 2,500' were continuous perfect, steep, unadulterated water ice. [img:center]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZFyKwV4q-I/AAAAAAAADU4/LXL0exFdLms/s512/IMG_1420.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZFy_-8YTaI/AAAAAAAADVU/x2ZldNlKt1E/s512/IMG_1436.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZFznEgxDyI/AAAAAAAADVo/PP14SoQty3E/s512/IMG_1445.JPG[/img] We started getting some good rockfall here so we searched for a bivy. There wasn't much. We found one shitty snow mushroom and a small rock to sit on. The ropes and sleeping pads made for quasi-hammocks and a moderately reasonable bivy. [video:vimeo]21629404 [img:center]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZFziJ7I4NI/AAAAAAAADaY/nP9XTV1HFJY/s640/IMG_1459.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZFzzEu0LkI/AAAAAAAADV0/yg1bobW5o9M/s640/IMG_1463.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZFzZCbIZRI/AAAAAAAADVg/gpEWYmR5Tug/s640/IMG_1441.JPG[/img] Looking up at the crux pitches above [img:center]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF0GScP3rI/AAAAAAAADWA/D6JEH4bdcLI/s512/IMG_1469.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF0TNa915I/AAAAAAAADWQ/lGyN0Uy2DTo/s512/IMG_1477.JPG[/img] I like this image a lot. If you look at Scotty's frontpoints you can see that they are barely in. This is a good indicator of just how dense and hard the ice was. [img:center]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF0aNhodfI/AAAAAAAADWU/vWHmi-By0ZY/s512/IMG_1478.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF02NV5jpI/AAAAAAAADWk/tnC60_RviGY/s512/IMG_1485.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF1O42M_CI/AAAAAAAADW8/KNwaS40-3os/s512/IMG_1497.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF1byEPDrI/AAAAAAAADXA/CkkPPcdLcxk/s640/IMG_1499.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF10qS1WOI/AAAAAAAADXU/7BTCorfjQ10/s640/IMG_1506.JPG[/img] [img:center]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF2Fd13FGI/AAAAAAAADXk/YaA_f_BV-1U/s640/IMG_1510.JPG[/img] We topped out at dusk to a beautiful view. After a quick brew up just below the summit, we rappelled for almost nine hours before diving into a cave to sleep for the day. [img:center]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_-ROEgASjzLM/TZF38VjISII/AAAAAAAADa4/WnTtkryQVi0/s640/IMG_1636.JPG[/img] Over the next two days we skied 35 miles out to a remote lodge where we were picked up by our pilot. Gear Notes: Double rack of cams, nuts, pins, eight screws. Should have brought more screws, less rock rack. Approach Notes: A very expensive flight. Skied out to a lodge.
  19. Trip: Patagonia - FA. The Washington Route - Fitzroy Date: 2/8/2011 Trip Report: This last season down in Patagonia was my 5th season of toiling and suffering down there. Finally after all of those years I feel like I've actually gotten to climb some stuff. But it wasn't until the last week of my trip this year that I made it up the Fitz. Its was a long time coming.... During the first week of February the weather forecast started to show a possible 4 day weather window. The only problem for us was we were suppose to catch a plane back the states right in the middle of the goods. As the predicted weather approach it became apparent that we’d have to change our tickets for an attempt at the Fitz. A few frustrating hours on the phone and 1k and spent we were good to go. I kept telling myself it better be worth it…. I've been burnt before changing tickets down there. On Monday the 7th we packed our bags and made our way through Piedre Fraile and onto the bivi at Piedra Negra. As luck would have it, the weather Monday night wasn’t so great. Just past midnight it started to sprinkle. To save weight on the approach we opted for no tent, so we sat there in a light rain deciding what to do. After much contemplation we decided we should just get up and start. It was 12:45am. To our dismay the glacier hadn’t yet frozen as we made our way from Paso Guillaumet to the base of La Brecha. We had figured the it would only take us 3 hours from camp to the base but it ended up taking nearly 5. Which wasn’t that much of a problem but it meant we would then be climbing the Brecha in the full effect of the sun. Not fun nor that safe. Onwards and upward we went climbing right threw the waterfall that was starting run down the Brecha. Due to the running water we were forced to stop on top of the Brecha in the sun for a couple hours to dry our clothes. At this point we were starting to run way behind. Little did we know were about to fall way behind schedule as we traversed to base of the south face. A few years ago we had covered this same terrain and has cruised right across it. This time we found boiler plate hard blue ice. Our old worn out aluminum crampons were drastically inadequate as well as our single light weight ice tool. Late in the evening it became glaringly apparent that we were going to need to bivi before we even got on the “route.” We were both a little frustrated and morale was going down. With out any obvious bivi sites available we had to keep traversing farther to the base of the California route, even though this was taking us out of the way. Thankfully we reached the base of a large ice slope where we could excavate a decent platform for the two of us. We had a great view of our proposed new route up the south face which did give us hope as it didn’t look to intimidating. On Wednesday the 9th we started up the real business of the route, which first involved making a short traversing pitch across the ice slope and then a 60m rappel down to the base of the system (a place where we had nearly been before but had to continue past to find the bivi.) I had lead a good majority of the climbing the day before as it was more of the alpine variety which I’m slightly more efficient at then Kate, so now it was Kate’s turn to take the lead and get the rope up. The first couple pitches were on good rock but unfortunately they were choked full of ice. She slowly chopped the ice out of the cracks resorting to a mix of aid and free. The rope moved up at a steady pace though. It wasn’t until a couple pitches up that the ice had disappeared allowing Kate to move and an even more rapid pace. I followed behind doing whatever it took to get up the pitch, this often involved “poor man’s jumaring,” which is just yarding up the rope in between pieces and then Kate would take the rope as tight as she could. ( I can’t even remember how many times in my guiding days did I tell clients to never do that….) Kate lead on through a variety of cracks but most were in the hands to fist to off-width size. After getting set slowed down by poor conditions yesterday it felt nice to be moving efficiently on good rock in good conditions. Pitch after pitch fell below as we continued up sustained cracks. After 12 pitches or so we veered right at our first opportunity, hoping for easier terrain. Kate turned over the lead to me at the first ledge we came to as she had been leading for over 8 hours and was properly cooked. The steepness eased up and after a few more pitches we reached a point where we started simul-climbing up the 4th class terrain that lead to the final snow slope. Both of us had really hoped to top out in the light but that just wasn’t in the cards for us. We stumbled up the last easy 100m and reached the summit just before 11pm to tired and hungry to be that excited. A short discussion ensued about rappelling through the night but we choose the much more conservative and colder option of spending the night on the summit. For some unknown reason Kate and I had opted to NOT bring a sleeping bag up Fitz. This was undeniably a very very poor choice. Our teeth literally chattered all night long. No amount of spooning was going to keep us warm. We put chemical warmers into our boots and hot water bottles in our jackets, this barely helped. But each and every chatter of the teeth were quickly forgotten as the sun rose and illuminated our location on top of Fitzroy. The excitement finally hit. Somehow we had managed to climb a new route on Fitz. This one won’t soon be forgotten.
  20. Trip: Leavenworth Midnight Rock - Running Start (New Route) Date: 8/25/2010 Trip Report: Melanie Estrella wanted to go to Midnight Rock in Tumwater Canyon for a loooong time and I too was taken with the idea. It perches another steep 30-minute hike above Castle Rock. Following the approach, we wander around Midnight Rock for a good half hour looking for the start of the famous ROTC. We didn't know about or find the ledge at Midnight Rock's mid-height that wraps around from the climber's left to almost the base of ROTC. So we decided to climb from the base of the crag 200 feet to ROTC. HOW HARD CAN IT BE? Note the forshortening in the pic. We aimed for the left of the side-by-side roofs. They look like the closed eyes of a giant wearing heavy mascara. [img:center]http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs661.snc4/60144_1499923013859_1107670161_31397475_2474442_n.jpg[/img] Mel gets the party started and takes a cool line up a diagonal crack system working up along a short fist to offwidth crack, onto an incredible layback flake, to another crack system to some face climbing and finally to a final layback flake to a small grassy alcove below 2 large roofs. Prolly goes at mid-5.10 with pretty good gear from micro to 4 inches. Here she is at the alcove about to balay me to God knows where. Beautiful smile. [img:center]http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs658.snc4/61816_1499921293816_1107670161_31397465_1922473_n.jpg[/img] Above the alcove, seems an impasse. The wall is blank on all sides except under the roof up and right. There is a 25-foot no-feet fingertip traverse on small gear rightward, under this roof (crux). Near the end, find a no-hands rest on a vicious knee lock and shake out. With a toe hook one is then able to flip up and over the roof's right side, to reach across a blank wall to a sweeeeeet hand crack (5.9 ish) with good gear to a much easier second roof and onto a spacious ledge above. *whew!* Here Melanie tops out modeling a sexy hula skirt of bling. [img:center]http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs718.snc4/63822_1499921973833_1107670161_31397467_7880547_n.jpg[/img] [img:center]http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs718.snc4/63822_1499922013834_1107670161_31397468_6514975_n.jpg[/img] Here, my appreciative 6th chakra is leaving my body, whatever a chakra is. Sorry, no other pics of the route. Having too much fun. Overall, first pitch 120 ft, mid 5.10 second pitch 80 ft, mid 5.11. Descent: Walk off the ledge system at top of pitch 2. Enjoy! Gear Notes: Pretty good gear. Doubles cams from micro to 3 inches. One #4 or #5 friend helpful for start. One set of stoppers. Approach Notes: Go to Castle Rock, cross Loggers Ledge and continue on a rising rightward faint trail to the base of Midnight Rock.
  21. Trip: Strobach - FA: The Responsible Ladies Man WI5 Date: 12/5/2010 Trip Report: Left PDX at 9pm and headed to strobach friday night with skander, found FS rd 1202 beat down by plenty of hunters and other wander's, so I risked it and drove the jetta wagon up the road. Parked at the 2nd meadow and slept for a couple hours. used slow shoes to approach, but didnt sink too much, only about 14in's of snow. came to the motherlode to find things thin but still forming. dropline through tower of power the routes lookers left of dropline until separation gully were in but thin...so I guess in is subjective to some. I had never been over to primus suckus so I walked that way. first on the left looked the most in of any of the routes. unholy baptism's first pitch was a cool looking thin sheet of ice. we climbed this: which is am pretty sure is a FA. now maybe known as "the responsible ladies man" P1: Ascend body length pillar starting in lower left corner of picture to smear in corner to the ledge WI3+ M4 30M, stubbies, BD #3 pecker, #3 & #.75 BD camalot for pro. could place more in crack left of smear. Walk on ledge sixty feet to second pitch. Good yellow alien and #1 pecker for anchor just right of 2nd pitch ice. Pitch 2: 46M WI5 I recommend not toping out. Having Fun:) back in portland by 10pm for a date Gear Notes: slow shoes, compass, whiskey, herb like fruit, next time bring more than nine screws. Approach Notes: Look in the guide
  22. Trip: Washington Pass - New Route - Wright/Pond (5.11, 4 pitches) Date: 10/4/2010 Trip Report: I'm not sure how much climbing weather we'll have left this year, but we did a new route up on a feature near the pass and if anyone wants to go climb it and let us know what you think, we'd be stoked. It's all set up with bolted belays and a handful of lead bolts, and the route is pretty clean and super fun! It takes about an hour to get to, each of the first three pitches are rope-stretchers and are awesome and I'd say it was worth a day if you're looking for something new. Now!Climbing There's a complete write-up and more photos here if anyone's interested. P1 5.11a/b, 55m – Begin by climbing the obvious left-facing arch depicted in the photo below. At its terminus, head directly up gaining a shallow, right-facing corner. Climb this past one bolt to a strenuous pinch at an overlap. Gain the pinch and move left to a stance (crux) below a handsome, right-facing corner to the right of a large roof. Climb left around a flake to gain the corner and climb the corner crack to a bolted belay at a ledge with a small tree. A bold lead. P2 5.10c/d, 50m – Leave the belay to the left and head up a large flake towards a bolt on a small overlap. Clip the bolt and step right into a clean open book. Stemming and thin fingers lead through the open book and past another bolt to gain a stance. Step right and follow the line of six bolts up the face (crux) on small edges and pockets. Step left past the last bolt to a clean, shallow, right-facing corner. Follow the corner to another bolted belay. P3 5.10a, 50m – Head up the obvious right-facing corner (mostly fingers) until it closes out. Work the corner and face past one bolt until a small roof. Pull left past the roof into left-facing corner crack. Climb the crack up and left before another crack trends slightly rightward. Jam fingers and hands to its finish and climb a short, easy slab up and right to a treed ledge and another bolted belay at the base of a left facing corner/chimney. P4 5.8, 45m – Climb the blocky corner/chimney up past a tree until you gain a low-angled slab. Head left across the slab to a wide hand and fist crack hidden in a left-facing corner. Exit the corner up and right on blocky but easy ground to low-angled ledges. A tree with rappel slings is on the left. Descent: Rap the route in four double-rope rappels. Gear Notes: Double rack to #3;, emphasis on smaller cams and wires. RPs useful. Approach Notes: Turn off Hwy 20 app. 4.5 miles east of Washington Pass following signs for the Cutthroat Creek Trail. Drive about a mile down the road to a trailhead parking with a bathroom on the left side of the road. Walk up through the woods (no trail) towards the wall, gaining elevation quickly before traversing leftwards in open forest and on slabby benches. You should reach a shoulder near the base of the wall’s right-hand side within an hour to an hour and a half.
  23. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Crag - Milk n' Honey 5.11 Date: 8/24/2010 Trip Report: Over the last three months Craig Rankin, Abe Traven and myself made three quick trips to CBR to explore the rock on the right side of the West Face. During the first trip back in June, after warming up on the Scoop(awsome!) we esablished Leche la Vaca on the far right side of the massif. Leche was climbed ground up with minimal cleaning and required and no fixed gear. All the belays were from comfortable ledges with excellent protection. The climbing was amazingly fun, and varied from perfect cracks to knobby corners, huge solid flakes and a tricky little roof at the top. With four pitches ranging from 5.8-5.10 it seemed the perfect compliment to the more difficult free routes already established on CBR at that point. We were stoked and immediately began planning another trip to go back for more! The next two trips yielded two more full length routes up the steep West Face(Rikki Tikki Tavi .11 and Milk'n Honey .11) and a growing handful of variations and stand alone pitches scattered along the way. Everything was climbed free, ground up without the need of pre-cleaning. The few loose blocks that we encountered were able to be tossed off safely by the second. Since June we have free climbed at least 18 new pitches on the face. At this point there are seven full length free routes and over 30 pitches of outstanding trad climbing. Including the Tempest and the Scoop from last summer, and the recent addition of Scarface up the far left side of the wall, CBR is without a doubt the premier alpine crag of Washington. The climbing is on near perfect Index quality granite but much more sustained and Yosemite like in character. There are number of long splitter cracks that rival the enduro classics of the valley. Perhaps the most interesting development does not so much involve the climbing as it does the new approach. Paranoid Edit By literally burrowing through the mountainside via a hidden, long forgotten fissure we were able to reach the col in a causal sub three hour hike from the parking lot. This new approach has already drawn more climbers to the area. Please be respectful and conscientious. [soapbox Alert] Pack it out! Camp on the rocks out of the meadow. Don't shit near the water. DON'T burry your shit. Use the desert method. Shit on a flat sunny rock and spread it out with a stick. Pack out your papers. The sun and air will take care of the rest. Don't believe me? Look it up. http://humanurehandbook.com/ Gear Notes: double rack'o widgets Approach Notes: Milk N' Honey .11 It starts to the right of the start of The Scoop and left of Rikki Tikki Tavi. Climbs an easy corner up to blocky roofs then pulls through a strenuous flare(.10 akward) belays above in a good corner. P2 5.9- fingers layback then easy up to bushy ledge right of Scoop pitch. P3 climb large L facing corner up to cracks in slab. P4 is the real money. Climb up slabs from belay into corner with two cracks. Climb up cracks arching left until a thin crack that cuts out right through an overlap(.11). Pull through that onto face above and more easy climbing to ledge just left of the cobra head. Awsome.
  24. Trip: Index, Upper Town Wall - Rise and Fall, 5.12a Date: 8/23/2010 Trip Report: The Upper Wall "sport" routes have intrigued me since my first foray up to Sisu over 13 years ago. I had walked away from Sisu with my tail between my legs wondering how people even manage to climb 5.11 up there, let alone 5.12. As time went by and I gained more experience and knowledge of the area the Upper routes became even more elusive. In the last 10 years the only full length old school "sport" route that I know has been repeated is Swim which was this year (or maybe last). I've heard rumors of ascents but never full redpoints. WHY? What is wrong with these routes? While doing Green Drag-on and Town Crier earlier this summer I often found myself staring at Rise and Fall which is in spitting distance of GD. It looked amazing! I knew if I had time this summer I'd have to try it. Kate following the 5.10 third pitch My first attempt was at the end of July with Colin Haley. We were both feeling ansi and started up the first pitch in the sun, though it wasn't to hot, climbing in the sun made the 5.12a pitch feel real hard. I battled my way up it. Standing in slings, grabbing bolt hangers in desperation, and doing whatever it took to get the rope up. My fist inclination told me this pitch was impossible! Surely the fist ascent had used smoke and mirrors to send it…. I continued upwards demoralized but still motivated to see what laid ahead. It must get easier? Thankfully I was able to onsight the 5.10 third pitch, though I can't say I made it look easy. And then their is the 5.11+ 4th pitch. Really how hard can 5.11 be? Well at Index it can be just as hard as 5.13 in some other areas. This pitch was another quintessential Index sandbag. After much cursing, floundering and flailing, I A0'd my way to the anchors, completely mystified. Another pitch that might as well be rated 5.IMPOSSIBLE I lowered back down and looked at every possible hand and foot hold. Real slowly the sequences started to appear. High step mantle, to high step mantle lead to a final hold-less deadpoint that would without a doubt be the MOVE while redpointing. I managed to link very little of this pitch on toprope. One more 11b pitch followed. The theme of the day continued with me grabbing draws and getting totally shut down on the crux, but luckily after a bunch of brushing and chalking of holds it came together. 3 star pitch! By the end of the pitch I had the rock climbing version of the screaming barffies in my toes and was having a hard time touching my tips to anything. We were both royally annihilated! Time to go down. Kate in desperation on the 5.12 second pitch Good weather and alpine climbing plans took me away to Alaska for a quick trip but all I could think of was getting back to Index in time to give Rise and Fall another go. This time I enrolled my girlfriend Kate to go up their with me, which usually makes me climb better. I also had another trick up my sleeve this time, Alpine Anorexia. I had lost 6 lbs of the 125 I usually carry around in just three days while up in AK. I was feeling light! I almost sent the 12a pitch first go but lacked any cohesive beta to make it happen. I knew it would go down next try though. We cruised up to the 5.11+ only to get completely shut down again. I threw a great wabler up there and almost went down. I was letting falling on 5.11 get to my ego. NOT GOOD! I man'nd up, swallowed my pride and aided to the top to setup the toprope. After more inspection it came together and I was able to link the whole pitch on TR. I also knew it would go down next go. Me on the start of the 5.11+ roof to slab pitch (Town Crier's triple roofs in the background) Yesterday, along with Kevin Newell, I used my own smoke and mirrors on Rise and Fall. I eked out a redpoint of the 12a pitch first go which was going to be the mental crux for me. As always I'd hope to make a no falls redpoint but to my dismay one momentary lapse of friction spit me off the final move on the 11+ pitch. Next go found me much more relaxed and holds feeling that much bigger. I haven't been so thrilled to send 5.11 in a very long time! Now the self imposed pressure became thick as all I had left was the 5.11b pitch. Thankfully chalked edges and pockets appeared whenever they were critical and I found myself at the anchors in fading dusk light. Kevin raced up the pitch and made quick work of the final 50ft to the top of the wall. Just like the rest of my climbs on the Upper Wall this summer, I followed in near darkness by brail. My grin couldn't get much bigger once I hit the top!!!!! Leading up to the roof on the 5.11+ pitch This route is a testament to the skill and ability of Greg Child and Andy DeKlerk as well as the unbelievable sandbagging that was going on when those guys were putting up routes. For me this was nearly as difficult to redpoint as Green Drag-on and Town Crier, which are rated one full number grade harder or so. If you are looking for a route to fluff your 8a.nu card this may not be the one. STOKER!!!
  25. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - Scarface (III, 5.10+) Date: 8/15/2010 Trip Report: On Sunday, Nate F. and I climbed up the highly visible rock scar on CBR. We believe that we climbed a new route several hundred feet to the right of the old NW Buttress line. However, we might have connected with that terrain higher up for the last couple moderate pitches. If the NW Buttress did indeed go straight through the rock scar , we probably still climbed new terrain as what rock was there is now hanging out in the meadow 1000 ft below. The 2nd pitch was the highlight of the route for me with a sustained steep handcrack and awesome exposure. The rock scar was mostly clean with some loose blocks on the ledges still from the rock fall. Nate on the 3rd pitch. Slab on the 4th pitch. Topo of the route. Stewart's Photo with the route added. Gear Notes: RPs, 2x #2 TCU - #3 BD, 1x #00 TCU & #4 BD Approach Notes: 'schwhack.