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Found 6 results

  1. Trip: Snow Cr Wall - N.Dih.Direct-Swing and a Prayer Date: 2/3/2007 Trip Report: Saturday Gary Yngve and I,Wayne Wallace, climbed the thin line left of White Slabs route on Snow Creek Wall. It went in 5 long pitches and was extremely difficult.The route got gradually harder as we went, which helped because we were both O-T-Couch. The intital 2 pitches went up fantastic thin ribbons up ramps and micro gulleys. Though thin,hard,and awkward they entertained us for the fist 120 meters emensly. At times the ice was 4 inches wide, half inch thick!They ended up in a wide curtain that felt very thick though an inch and a half deep.I ran this out 100 feet to reach the stance below the overhanging ice crux pillar. The ice pillar was short but extremely strenuous due to the overhanging angle. After that we entered a Scottish style ice gulley, more fun, though Gary had to relieve himself midway with a S3 bowel flush while following. Pitch 4 went up thin ice in the dihedral until the ice ran out then became very difficult dry tooling in a long sketchy lead. Many times I felt I would fall and die on the runout. Pitch 5 was easier though the deep snow and short hard sequences drained any energy we may have had available. Topping out after 8 hard hours we reveled in the glow of our first climb together. Hats off to Peter for dropping the hint of this climb,and Rat and Caps for exploring to make this an enticing prospect and wonderful testpiece. Thanks< Wayne and Gary Gary will follow with the pics, Cheers and hope to see you at the Mongo/Erden show this Thursday Gear Notes: Screws, pins and cams to 3"
  2. Trip: Chamonix, FR - Voie Pellissier Date: 1/31/2011 Trip Report: Tom promised to show me some mixed climbing that everyone's talking about. My fingers got really cold. It beats 10k of icy moguls though. Starting up the bottom pitch. Trying to figure out these sharp toolz. It turns out that it's quite fun. Some nice sticky ice (M5?) in the gully, finished with some 5.9 rock crux. Now it's getting more real. Beautiful alpine granite with excellent gear. Did I mention it was cold? It was. Pulling the crux on the 5th pitch. Gervasutti, looking dry. Jaeger (the line to the looker's right) had tracks on it from a certain mentally-ill swede. Freeride alpinism. Hauling-ass back to the train. We made it by about 2 minutes. Missing it would have meant certain death on the treacherous trail du bois.
  3. Trip: Bugaboos - WR Pigeon, NE Ridge Bugaboo Date: 8/15/2010 Trip Report: On this gray November day when most of you are dreaming of ice and powder, I thought I'd post a trip about good weather, long days, and warm granite. Looking at these pictures, I'm inspired to get to the climbing gym this week. Enjoy! I didn't climb much this summer, for a combination of reasons that I'm still trying to figure out. It was my 5th climbing season and the initial novelty has worn off. I married my climbing partner in December, and suddenly have more fear of mishaps in the mountains: there's more to lose when you're climbing with someone close to you. I was burned out from a crazy road cycling season that culminated with an all-out effort at nationals. I was also juggling 3 low-paying jobs over the summer. So, aside from some great Squamish cragging, I didn't get out much. But in August, the clouds of apathy lifted when I saw a good weather forecast for an area I'd dreamed of for several years: the Bugaboos. Day 1: I'd had this trip planned for several years, so all we had to do was throw our gear into the car and start driving. We took a full day to drive up to Golden, BC, which is just north of Bugaboo Provincial Park. We made the traditional stop at Deals Only to pick up cheap snacks and Christmas themed batteries. We ate dinner at a neat park in Revelstoke on the Columbia River, and ended up camping in the car alongside Highway 1, serenaded by passing trains, cars, and mosquitos. It was a horrible night's sleep, but was it better than paying $35 for a lousy campsite? Day 2: After a horrible night of 'sleep', we drove south on 95, carefully watching for the turn-off to the Bugaboos. We stopped at a convenience store to organize our packs, wash up, and cook breakfast (in retrospect, a good choice since the parking lot was dusty and buggy). The packs were really heavy for this trip, probably because of the fresh vegetables we brought, cans of tuna, 2 ropes, and full rack. I had only carried a full pack one other time this summer, so much for being in shape! Looking at the surrounding scenery, we couldn’t imagine where the granite spires could be hiding, but we drove up the dirt road, looking for obscure signs that read ‘BUGABOO’ and dodging potholes and cows. An hour later, we arrived at the parking lot and armored the Subie. Horse flies and mosquitoes chased us up the steep trail, which was short but strenuous with heavy packs. Emerging views of wild glaciers and spires, plus some delicious gummy bears, spurred us onward. Check out this weather forecast!!!! Arriving at beautiful Applebee Camp, we snagged the “primo” site from a couple that was just leaving. The camp ground is now $10 per PERSON per night, and we'd only brought money for $10 per site. Oops, guess we had fewer climbing days than originally planned. The park has installed a faucet with running water, a gray water disposal, food lockers, gear hangers, and 2 primo out houses with TP, hand sanitizer, and fine views. Definitely worth it. The other climbers were friendly and eager to share beta and trade food. We stared at the spires around us all evening. We cooked a delicious dinner and went to bed, excited about the next day. Day 3: We decided to acclimatize and familiarize ourselves with the landscape by climbing the West Ridge of Pigeon, a 5.4 climb that is really popular. We got a leisurely start and headed up the steep snow of the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col, the most dangerous and unpleasant part of our trip. Many climbers have had bad accidents here from falling rock, and we heard a number of stories from people about near misses with rock fall. Having seen several serious accidents on steep snow myself, I was dreading this part, and stayed focused and hiked up as quickly as possible. Once on top of Col things really opened up and we got our first tase of the heart of the Bugaboos. Views were a bit smoky due to forest fires. We quickly made our way to the base of the West Ridge and enjoyed a pit stop (oh, the amenities you find in the Bugaboos). The rest of the climb was just awesome. The exposure, the views, the solid rock, the easy simulclimbing in boots...it was just that good. We took our time and got lots of photos. We used our 8 mm 60 m rope folded in half and a minimal rack, a great choice for this climb. On the descent from Pigeon Spire we decided to go the long way down Bugaboo Glacier to see some more of the park and avoid descending the notorious BS Col. This was a great choice, and we were treated to incredible views of the South Face of Snowpatch Spire and the broken Bugaboo Glacier. This was very easy snow descent on mild slopes, then on a trail beside the icefall. However, it's a somewhat crevassed glacier and would be more problematic later in season. After cutting below Son of Snowpatch you can stay high and do some easy scrambling back to camp without losing elevation. I'm cautious on snow, and thought this was easy and fun. Surprisingly, we arrived back at camp at the same time as another party we'd met on Pigeon. They'd started descending at the same time as us, but had opted for the BS col, which was more direct but more time-consuming. Total, the whole trip took us a leisurely 8 hours to do. After getting back to camp and eating some delicious couscous and veggies, a long-haired Californian climber decided to barter bars for some dinner food. We delighted him with a giant organic zucchini we had gotten from my job at the food bank. He and his partner ecstatically chomped it down raw, grins splitting their faces. "Santa Claus is coming to your food locker," he announced as he dumped handfuls of energy bars into our locker. This was a highlight of the trip for us--and since we'd underpacked on energy bars, it was also crucial to our success on the next day's objective: the NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, the 50 classic climb everyone does in the Bugaboos. As the sun set, we drank hot chocolate and read the route description again, discussing possible timing and listening to some nearby climbers gripe about the "50 crowded classics" and how it ruins climbing areas. A valid point, but the route just looks so good.. As we lay in our sleeping bags, we heard climbers coming in and leaving at all hours of the night. The Beckey-Choinard saw lots of ascents that week. Day 4: We awoke at 4:40 and were moving 20 minutes later. At first, we had that "50 classics off to the races feeling" - the hurried hike to the base of the route, the hope to be 1st in line, worried watching for other headlamps, anxiety about getting stuck behind 10 other parties. As the sun rose, we realized that no other parties were approaching. In fact, we would have the entire spire to ourselves that day. After some scouting, we found the scramble to the Bugaboo-Crescent Col: slabby with loose rock; a few 5.4 moves and low 5th terrain. We decided to rope up for it, although the guidebook mentions that it is frequently soloed. Jon led it in his rock shoes while I kept my boots on and followed. Soon we were at the rope-up ledge, the start of the real climb. We used our 70 mm 9.2 rope and a larger alpine rack - worked well for us. Pitch 1 was a spectacular and sustained 5.8 finger and chimney pitch that moved up hollow flakes, a wake up call with heavy packs on. Jon led it in good style. Right then I knew why this climb was a fifty classic. Pitch 2 ascended a system of flakes up and left at 5.6. The next pitch, pitch 3, was one of the most amazing pitches I have ever done in the alpine. Wildly exposed face climbing with fun moves and decent pro traverses climbers right to the crest of the NE Ridge. On the 4th pitch I think we unintentionally started on a more difficult 5.8-5.10 variation of the NE Ridge. The tip off was the supposed '5.6 hand and fist corner crack' that had Jon grunting and got my fingers all bloody from shallow-flaring finger jams. But I've heard other people complain that this pitch is sand-bagged, so maybe it was right.. in any case, we went leftward on the harder variation after that. To avoid this variation, climb further to the right of the ridge! Above this pitch Jon kept moving up on increasingly difficult terrain, going a full 60 m and running it out. We were getting worried about our time since we still had a long way to go and a lot of descent. There were some really strong gusts of wind, and fluffy clouds building up nearby. I anxiously watched Jon as he escaped out right on committing and delicate moves to what we should have been climbing: easy low 5th chimneys. We quickly ran up the chimneys and reached the North Summit around 2:30. Next we had to traverse from the North to the South Summit, a long and extremely exposed climb. The traverse looked something like this: We started out with a very exposed 20' rappel: Easy class 3 scrambling led to this airy traverse (we stayed roped up for the entire traverse, which might have eaten up time): On one au cheval part of the traverse this was the view down the left: And down the right. This was fun for me since the climbing was easy! Soon we were at the South Summit, ready to descend: What followed was a long and complex descent that involved 6 rappels and endless downclimbing that we did blind. I recommend scoping out this descent by climbing the Kain Route on Bugaboo Spire first. The most important advice is to stay on the crest when downclimbing. There are many deceiving trails that go down the face, DO NOT GO DOWN THESE! The route on the crest is well-worn. Stick to it. Rapping off the Gendarme: Endless downclimbing that we did unroped in rock shoes: Pigeon Spire, what we climbed yesterday. And it is getting dark: After this we rapped down the BS Col via a new bolted route. This was the most horrible rappel I have ever done. Dirty, wet, dangerous, and rope-destroying steep dirty ice. Jon's right hand got pegged with a fist size rock on the way down, and we lived in fear of more rock the rest of the way. We were extremely careful. Rap stations were hard to find, especially in the fading light. Finally, we finished rappelling and down-climbed steep snow. By that point, I was mentally fried, afraid of the steep snow, and took a painfully long time do down climb it. Jon could have done it in 1/4 of the time. Sorry, Jon! We stumbled our way to camp, totally spent and exhausted. We didn't stop moving the entire day and as a result ate only 5 energy bars plus some gummy bears, always trying to beat the clock. In total the climb took about 16.5 hours and tested nearly every alpine skill we know. Satisfied and tired, we cooked dinner and collapsed into our tent. We were hungry for the next 3 days. Are we done yet? If we did this again, I'd like to be in better climbing shape, mentally. Though I was very fit from cycling and cragging, mentally I lacked some of the endurance and confidence I have when I'm climbing more. We think we could shave a few hours off our time by knowing the approach and descent route. I'd consider taking the Bugaboo glacier walk-around rather than descending the col. One thing we definitely lacked was the lightweight gear: aluminum crampons, lightweight ice axes, etc. A very early start is a must for this climb. Day 5: We rested in camp, ate as much as possible, watched people ascend the Bugaboo Spire, and watched some dark clouds roll in. Since the weather was turning, we had done 2 great climbs, and were out of money, we decided to pack up and head out. Reluctantly, we hiked away from the beautiful views, stopping at the hut to stay dry during a brief rain shower. In the hut, I found a guidebook and began perusing more routes that I'd like to do when I come back. Although a route like the NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire may be "only" 5.8/IV, it was harder than other routes of a similar or harder grades that I've done. Though Jon and I are both strong, experienced, and efficient, we found that the altitude, exposure, lengthy approach/descent, and heavy packs tested us. It reminded me why I both enjoy and respect the mountains, and makes me want to get out there again. Gear Notes: heavy packs Approach Notes: watch out for annoying RV's on the drive!
  4. Trip: Yosemite - Toulumne - High Sierras - Various Date: 10/18/2010 Trip Report: I escaped my parental/spouse/career responsibilities to join my buddy Cha on his 3 month celebratory tour after quitting his job. We had brilliant and unseasably warm temps for the whole week and managed to get up 6 reasonably big objectives in 9 days. We started off big on Serenity Crack/Sons of Yesterday. Awesome crack climbing with only 1 party ahead and 1 party behind. Cha running it out on the pin scarred 1st pitch. Me preparing to levitate to the right crack on pitch 2. Cha enjoying perfect hands near the top of pitch 2. Me working the flaring jams on pitch 1 of Sons of Yesterday. Cha working his way across the 10a hand traverse on the last pitch of Sons of Yesterday. Moving on, we headed up to cilmb the Incredible Hulk in the Sierras. It was perfect granite in a pristine alpine setting. A little windy and cold to start with, but worth the minor suffering. We did the Red Dihedral, which went at around 10b. It follows the obvious diheral towards the right side of the face. If you go there, be sure to search the rocks for the "perfect cave bivy." Me suffering up the classic diheral pitch with frozen hands. Cha finishing the 10a finger crack after finally finding the Sun. Cha on the ridge before traversing to the exit pitches. To get through the infamous keyhole exit on the last pitch, I had to remove all gear from my harness as well as my helmet and still barely made it through. Next, we headed back to the Meadows and did Lucky Streaks on Fariview Dome. In our enthusiasm and lateness, we both managed to leave our cameras at the base. This is the only picture we have. It was an incredible route. The next day, we went back and did the regualr route on Fairview Dome. The first 2 pitches are great and the rest are so so. At 5.9, it was the only "easy" route we did all week though and it was nice to relax for a change. The route from the base. Cha finishing pitch 1. Cha about 2/3 of the way up the route. View from summit across to Daff Dome. Can you see the lizard's head? Next we headed back to the Valley and decided to challenge ourselves again. We ended up 2nd in the que to get up Free Blast on El Cap. Wow, wuite a route indeed! Cha heading across the 5.11 traverse on pitch 3. Me following pitch 3 (forgive the slight camera tilt.) Me heading up the 10c 4th pitch. Cha on the 10d 5th pitch before some mixed 5.11 and A0 slab. Me on more hard slab. Me negotiating the man-eating chimney/corner...10b, yeah right. Finally some cruiser 5.7 to the top. Rapping down some really crappy fixed lines from Heart Ledge. Note core shots in the rope from jugging abrasion and rock fall that were "fixed" by knotting the rope. Passing the knots was a rich experience. The crown jewel of the trip was a journey up the Third pillar of Dana. This is one of the cleanest and most aesthetically pleasing lines I have ever seen or climbed. Totally amazing. Me on the optional but recommended first pitch. Cha using some "a cheval" technique on pitch 2. Cha poised above a scary looking flake at the top of pitch 4. Me commiting to the psychological crux of the climb, making some dicey 10b moves above old pins and tiny gear on the only face section of the climb. Cha finishing the route in fine form on the 6th pitch, AKA the best pitch in the Sierras. We concur. Amazing trip with an amazing partner. Gear Notes: standard Yosemite rack Approach Notes: straight forward trails pick the right gulley to descend on the 3rd pillar of dana or you will be sorry
  5. Trip: Bugaboos - Many Date: 8/15/2010 Trip Report: Bugaboos trip Aug 15th - Aug 22nd Dave and I awoke dizzy and blurry eyed on the Sunshine Coast after a friends wedding. The night before we vowed to be on the 0815 ferry back to Vancouver. We ended up on the 1300 ferry and feeling severely hung over. Not the alpine start we wanted for our Bugaboo trip… After shopping, eating, and driving to the gravel access road, we finally set up the tent and passed out at 0130. An early rise had us hiking by 0700. Two hours and 15 minutes later we were dropping gear in Applebee and heading up the Snowpatch/Bugaboo col. It was only about 1pm by the time were walking behind Snowpatch spire. Our original plan was to go solo the west ridge of Pigeon, then bivy the night and do the Beckey-Chouinard the next day. Instead we did Wildflowers, 5.9, on the back of Snowpatch. By the time we were setting out bivy gear beside Pigeon it was later than expected and we were really feeling the lack of sleep of the previous days. Our prospects did not look good for the B-C… Wildflowers [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4261.jpg[/img] After a cold and windy bivy the alarm finally went off at 0330. The conversation went, How do you feel? Not good... Me neither... We should probably just suck it up and go anyway. Shit… After the decision was made it became much easier. 4th class scrambling at the start of the Beckey-Chouinard [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4321.jpg[/img] Scott following low crux on Beckey-Choinard [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4339.jpg[/img] The B-C lived up to all the hype. Pretty much 1000 meters of 5.8-5.9 hand cracks. We were on the summit by 1320. Raps took about 1.5 hours with double ropes. If you have the energy, I would highly recommend the 5.10 finger/hand crack variation around the squeeze chimney. It was probably the best pitch of climbing on the whole route and that chimney looks ugly. Dave following 5.10 variation on Beckey-Chouinard. Squeeze chimney visible on left of pic. [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/P8170024.jpg[/img] Our only difficulty came on pitch 15 (Chris Atkinson and Marc Piche guide book), the tension traverse or 5.10 + variation. The problem was we somehow missed this pitch… The confusion started as Dave lead pitch 13. The book reads, “Climb the gully over chockstones to where it steepens into a capped corner. Climb the second crack on the left wall to belay at the base of a long, shallow, right facing corner (5.9 60m) 14: Follow the corner to a two-pin belay at a small notch (5.8 30m).” This is then supposed to be the tension point, then a 5.6 gully to the top. Dave takes off and I notice that he is at about 55m, I shout this information at him, but probably due to wind he doesn’t hear it. I interpret this as he is ignoring me. The rope goes tight and I start simul-climbing. Once I can see what’s happening I can see the capped corner referred to in the book and the cracks up the left wall. Dave is way up on the left arête of the gully having climbed what appears to be the second crack on the left. I followed up the left wall, which was 5.9-5.9+ train track hand cracks, awesome. He builds a belay at the base of a long shallow right facing corner. Seems like we have followed the book perfectly but appear to now be in a 5.6 gully that goes to the horizon and we have not seen a pin or small notch anywhere. I jump on lead and take us to the top, which was in fact the correct summit with a 20m rap and then 4th class to the true summit. In hind sight you are supposed to go all the way to the capped corner than climb the crack 2nd to the left FROM THE CORNER. So really we turned two pitches of a chockstone filled gully, a weird 5.8, and tension traverse, into an 80 m pitch of solid continuous 5.9 hand crack. We thought we should pass this information on to the original assentionist. The letter is as follows. [font:Times New Roman]Dear Mr. Fred Beckey and Mr. Yvon Chouinard: My friend Dave and I recently climbed your world famous route up the SW Buttress on South-Howser tower. I can see why it is such a sought after climb, wow, what a route! Amazingly sustained at its grade and the line is stunning. We noticed that between pitch 13 and 15 the quality is slightly less than average, and many people require a tacky tension traverse. We would like to let you know that we have now fixed your route to follow the ethics with which it was originally intended by trading aid for crack climbing. We have posted the necessary changes in a popular climbing forum. Scott and Dave [/font] All kidding aside, it really was a simple mistake that I am sure many have made before us… Oops. I hope all our route finding problems end up this well. The next day we woke up late and did Surfs Up, 5.9. Dave got off route and in all fairness I think most parties that climb that route go astray somewhere (this must have something to do with the guide book describing “follow the corner” when about 10 corners exist in close proximity). This time we weren’t lucky as on the B-C. I lead through a 5.10 + roof with bottoming fingers, then we had to rap over to the proper dihedral. Dave finished the route up following amazing hand cracks with awesome exposure. Scott following up high on Surfs Up [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4481.jpg[/img] [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4491.jpg[/img] The following day we did the Cooper-Kor on Pigeon spire 5.9, A0. This route was really amazing mostly because of it’s positioning on the wall. Dave and I also really like the alpine feel of the tension traverses way up on the exposed wall. We haven’t done too much of that stuff so it was neat to run across that wall. The slabs and one 5.9 finger crack were quite wet, making it a bit tricky. Dave following the slab pitch [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/P8190096.jpg[/img] The weather started to move in that evening. So the next day we went to Crescent Spire and climbed Paddle Flake Direct 5.10. Again, more amazing crack climbing that was surprisingly steep. We then climbed the 5.10+ roof McTech after as a single pitch. Good way to finish a short day. Scott leading roof McTech [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4613.jpg[/img] The weather was really not looking so good for the next day so we went off to climb Sunshine Crack 5.11- on Snowpatch. It is a good one to climb in unsettled weather because it has bolted rap stations down the entire route. The low 5.10 off width is a bit of a bar fight, but very doable, just a lot of grunting… This route continues with amazing jamming pretty much the entire way, passing through 4 roofs. The 5.11- roof is only about 1 move and is softer than the grade implies. Two pitches from the top it started to snow while Dave was leading. Shit. By the time I was brought up to his belay stance it was a full on blizzard. Encouraged by the sound of another party’s cheers after pulling through a roof below us, I tied into the sharp end and took the rack. Half way up this long pitch, and fairly run out, Dave yells up “Scott! Check it out, there is significant snow accumulating on the ropes.” Thanks Dave, that’s very helpful at this point… Arriving safely at the top and bring Dave up, we snapped a couple pics and rapped out. The raps went better than expected considering the ropes were being blow horizontally below the rappeller. Scott leading 5.10 offwidth on Sunshine [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4622.jpg[/img] Gearing for final 5.10 pitch on sunshine (in the snow) [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4644.jpg[/img] We rolled into camp, grabbed out gear and ran out to the car. We were back in Vancouver by 0245 in the AM. Gear notes for Sunshine: Take doubles to and including #4 camalot, and one #5 camalot. You can push the # 5 up once or twice and then the angle of the crack backs off. You can leave the #5 clipped to the anchor at the top of pitch 2 (the off width) because it isn’t needed after that. The double #3’s and #4’s are nice for the top pitch. Sunshine was by far the best climbing of the whole trip. That route is amazing. Gear notes for the Beckey-Choiunard: We took doubles up to and including #3 camalots, and one #4 camalot, and a 3rd # 2 camalot. You could definitely do it without the triple #2’s, but we simul-climbed a lot of it and it was nice to have extra of this very common size on the route. You can also make an argument to leave the #4. It was placed but we did not climb the chimney so it wasn’t “necessary,” depending on your comfort level. Crazy awesome trip!
  6. Trip: Cascades - Colchuck Balanced Rock/Girth Pillar/Thin Red Line Date: 7/12/2008 Trip Report: Photos http://isc.astro.cornell.edu/~don/pictures/v/friends/joe/joe_climbing/ (copy and paste if the link does not work) Here is a 3-in-1 trip report of a few stellar Cascade climbs. While staying with my friend Kyle in Bozeman on an ice climbing trip to Hyalite in January, the plan was hatched: a week of Cascade granite. My job was to develop the tick list. That was the easy part—the list has been accruing dust on a post-it note over my computer at work for a year: West Face of Colchuck Balanced Rock, Girth Pillar, and Thin Red Line. And we couldn’t have asked for better weather. The Nelson guide and cc.com have some great info so I’ll keep it short—and of course, the full details are in the photos. Day 1: West Face – Colchuck Balanced Rock This route lives up to its reputation. Needless to say, I’ll go back and do this route anytime—just ask and I’ll drop everything. Its one of the best lines in all the Cascades. We left the car at 5am and returned at 9:30pm. The main bottleneck was that we were the FOURTH team on the route. We took an hour nap at the base of the first pitch, a short 10+, and another hour break waiting for the groups to clear the 5.11 corner crack and aid pitches above. As everyone says, the corner crack is really sustained fingers and small hands so I took a couple hangs. Unfortunately, the traverse pitch under the roof was really wet so Kyle had to aid a bit. Pitch 7 had a beautiful 5.9 crack leading into the 5.12- roof, which he onsighted free! I went for it, missed the awkward hand jam at the lip and took a hang over space, but I’ll definitely try it free next time! The 5.9+ chimney was a hoot (East Face of Lexington and Hyperspace were perfect “warm-ups” earlier this season) and it was an easy simul climb to the summit from there. Gear: Double rack to 3”, 1 #4 cam (5.12-, C1, 8 pitches, Grade 3) The line up below pitch 5 5th pitch: the 11- corner The 7th pitch: below the 12- roof Day 2-4: Girth Pillar – Mt Stuart This route offers the full meal deal: technical ice, exposed steep climbing on a big mountain, and lets not forget, a technical glacier decent (especially when done in the dark). We bivied in the scree between the Sherpa and Ice Cliff Glacier, woke at 3:30am and headed up the Ice Cliff. Kyle climbed in his approach shoes and aluminum crampons with an axe while I carried a light tool with my leathers and steel crampons to lead the ice step on climbers left of the ice fall. We didn’t carry screws, but I recommend a couple screws depending on your comfort level, and when I come to think about it, for v-threads if you have to bail. I led the step with both the axe and tool, then dropped both down to Kyle and built a rock anchor on the adjacent rock wall. A dirty gulley of snow led to the approach pitches. On the Ice Cliff, Climbers left below the step The short step I took the first block, 3 approach pitches of 5.6-5.8 steps and the first pitch on Girth Pillar. The bottom of the crack was a bit wet so I climbed up the corner 15’ before making a wide step left into a sweet 5.10 crack to a small ledge. I set up the haul line for the pack but this was a major slow down—I don’t recommend hauling on an 8.1mm rope with a tibloc—I shredded my sheath quite a bit to retire my third rope. Kyle led from here, including a cruxy finger traverse at 10+. For the third pitch, Kyle took the obvious line up the center of the pillar, which offered over 100’ of solid hand jams. At a white sling, you have an option to cut left into the original 11c, but this is where the left half of the pillar collapsed in the 90s. After a short OW, easier simul climbing led to the false summit. Pitch 1 of Girth Pillar Pitch 2 The short OW above the pillar Here is where we messed up: the descent. If we got it right the first time, we would have saved 4+ hours and likely gotten back to the car on day 2. However, we misread the beta and traversed on the south side all the way to the base of Sherpa Peak before regaining valuable feet lost to descend the gulley at the far (climbers) right. After 1,500’ of downclimbing 40 degree snow, we found a rap station over the schrund at dark. I’ll spare you the details, but we zigzagged left and right in a moonless night before finding our way down to our bivy by 3am. Like the guidebook says, stay to the climbers right and downclimb slabs and snow to a short rap. Avoid the gulley and climbers left. We hiked out the next morning and drove to Mazama. Gear: 1 axe/tool each, double rack to 2”, 1 #3, 8.1mm haul line and a 60m single. (5.11, 9 pitches, Grade 5) Day 5: Rest, EAT, pack Day 6-7: Thin Red Line – Liberty Bell We were both excited to aid climb—Kyle especially. For some reason, 7 pitches of aid and an A3 crux lured us over Liberty Crack which offers more free climbing than aid. Plus, this would be our first big wall, complete with hauling and an overnight bivy—a perfect warm-up for Yosemite. We slept in a bit and started the route at 7am. After an unobvious first pitch of 5.9, we had 7 pitches to aid and haul. With a pulley and ascenders, the hauling was quick and easy for each pitch. Kyle led the A3 corner hammerless, me the A2 roof, Kyle the A2 arch and wild 5th pitch which entailed a pendulum, hook move, and A2+ double roofs. I continued on 2 long pitches of aid and free climbing to reach a small roof below the M&M ledge at dusk. Kyle finished it up and set up our anchor on the M&M ledge. We stayed anchored in all night on a small sloping ledge. We finished up 4 more pitches of 5.7/5.8 to the top the next morning, downclimbed and rapped over the Overexposure route to the Concord-Liberty Bell col. We reached the Blue Lake Trailhead at 2pm, and after 32 hours, we could finally take off our harnesses. Pitch 2 Pitch 4 Pitch 5 Following Pitch 5 Our bivy on the M&M ledge Gear: Double rack to 3.5”, 2 sets of stoppers, metolious brass aid nuts, HB brass set (highly recommended), small cam hooks, a talon, large hook, 3 sets of aiders, 2 sets of ascenders (1 for hauling, 1 for jugging), pulley. 1 small pack, 1 large pack with haul line, food (no stove), 7 liters of water. We also carried a hammer, 4 copperheads, chisel, 5-6 various knifeblades and lost arrows that we never had to place—it goes clean so you can leave the hammer at home. (5.9 C3, 12 pitches, Grade 5)
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