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  1. Trip: Sloan SW Face - Fire on the Mountain (FA/FFA) Date: 8/30/2009 Trip Report: Short version: Fire on the Mountain: FA/FFA on the SW face of Sloan. 8 pitches, 5.10+, III+ (1100ft of technical climbing on steep, clean rock plus 500ft of scrambling to the summit). Blake Herrington and Rad Roberts. Long version (photos and video by Blake Herrington): Descending Sloan after a moderate jaunt up its West Face, AlexK and I gaped in awe at the sheer Southwest face of the mountain. Alex later commented, “Walking along the base of the SW face was like walking along the base of the Upper Town Wall at Index...line after line of really awesome steep granite rising directly from the steep slope vertically for many pitches!” Alex looking up at the SW Face of Sloan, 2006 (new route starts just off the frame to the right.) With a bit of hype and a few Scurlock photos, I was able to convince Blake to take a shot at this worthy objective. Morning mists enveloped us as we coaxed my old car up FS4690 to the Bedal Creek trailhead. We walked through old growth forest and followed the cascading creek to the base of the immense West face of Sloan. Although this impressive face surely holds more good lines, we continued on to the SW face. The mists burned off as we left the forest for heathery meadows and ripe blueberries, wasting precious minutes on the jaws of a giant. Upon cresting the final ridge, I was pleased to see that the SW face looked just as steep and clean as I’d remembered. Several lines looked good, though they would need some gardening on the first pitch. We chose a prominent left facing corner leading to a chimney (upper right in the photo below) and some thin cracks up a face. Blake getting dressed for work. We should all be so lucky I asked for and was granted the opportunity to lead the first pitch. I did a little gardening at the start, but the rock was quite solid and protectable. My calves started to burn as holds ran out and the corner turned into a chimney, but an exit onto a small stance provided a rest and revealed a series of spectacular, clean finger cracks soaring straight up the wall. Working up these, I felt the fire spread to my forearms. I rested when possible and carefully contemplated each tricky section, hoping to honor this fine line in good style. Blake was very patient. Fortunately, the rock and gear were solid so it was easy to go for it. I cranked through the crux and savored juggy moves over a final bulge to a belay atop a pillar, whooping with delight on completing the onsight. Blake joined me, casually shooting video just after the crux. [video:vimeo]6387846 This would prove to be the hardest pitch of the day, perhaps 5.10+ or 5.9++ or 5.11-. Ratings reflect only one aspect of the experience, and often they distract from the essence of a climb. For me, this pitch alone was worth the price of admission, with 45m of sustained, outstanding, well-protected (I placed about 13 pieces!) climbing on solid rock, with multiple 5.10 sections and a really fun crux. Blake then headed up the next pitch, linking clean vertical and horizontal cracks and a few face moves to a belay at a ledge. [video:vimeo]6387982 This section was reminiscent of the upper pitches of Loving Arms on the Upper Town Wall at Index and various routes on Lover’s Leap. I let Blake take the third pitch as the second pitch was rather short and I’d poached the best pitch from him on Tower a year ago. P3 started in a finger crack and then headed up a series of golden flakes, dikes, and buckets. I did a hand traverse left under a large roof to move the belay and then shot up a steep right-facing corner, brushing lichen off key footholds along the way. The angle eased a bit and I cruised up to the giant heather ledge that splits the face. Lots more steep, clean, featured rock loomed above us, and we were shocked to see it was already 4pm. Go time. Blake floated up a left-leaning crack system and a perfectly clean OW corner to a belay on a pillar. There we found two old pins. Someone had come this way before (see comments below). I danced up a steep face peppered with protruding dikes, managing to sling a giant knob and slot a cam in a small crack. The end of this pitch featured a steep finger crack in a corner with an old pin. I clipped this piece of history, but images of it failing motivated me to crank through without weighting it. Entering the crux of p6 (note slung knob in foreground) Sunshine, silence, and sweeping views of the Mountain Loop and Monte Cristo peaks enveloped us. We savored the pristine wilderness setting. Blake then lead a 60m rope-stretcher to a stance just below another large ledge. Dehydrated and fried from hours of exertion in the sun, I offered Blake what we hoped would be the final lead of the day. It didn’t disappoint, with a hand crack around a roof bulge and a rising traverse on positive flakes to a final corner. We unroped. It was 7pm. Our water was long gone, and my moxie had long since moseyed. Although I had descended Sloan before, I didn’t relish the idea of rappelling and down climbing in the dark with one headlamp between us. But Blake had never been to the summit, and we needed to complete the route, so we stashed our gear and scrambled to the airy summit. We signed the register, snapped a pic, and turned to head for the stable. Note moon in background. I staggered heavily (Blake scampered lightly) back down to our packs and we admired a stunning sunset as we started the rest of the descent. We rapped to the sloping ledge as twilight turned to night, but the moon cast its gentle glow on the descent slabs and the air was perfectly still, as if Sloan were gently ushering us back down to safety. Our ropes just barely reached the snow, but it was quite hard and our tennis shoes, one ax, and lack of crampons didn’t inspire confidence. Blake chopped a bollard and we rapped down to lower angle snow. The sound of running water drew us to a small waterfall of snowmelt where we drank deeply and split a Theo chocolate bar, smiling in the moonlight. We retrieved our packs, including my headlamp, and headed toward the trailhead. But there was still one more obstacle: BLUEBERRIES! Evening dew had started to collect on the blueberry bushes at the top of the open slopes of the Bedal creek basin, and our feet skidded out each time we tried to take a step. Glissading seemed possible, but test runs showed the acceleration rates would be more like hard ice than soft snow. The ground was very hard and there was no way to hang onto the wet plants. Self arrest would be impossible. Death would be swift and sure. I could see the headline already, “Climbers die on blueberry slope.” I pictured the deadly rabbit in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. We’d climbed a striking new route but been bested by some damp blueberry bushes. Actually, I’m OK with that. We decided to stick to the dense, prickly evergreen shrubbery on an adjacent ridge. We thrashed down that and rapped off a 4ft pine when we got cliffed-out above more evil blueberries. The remainder of the descent went smoothly. The Darrington payphone ate my quarters while trucks of teenagers cruised the minimart in the wee hours. We drove to Arlington through misty fields, wolfed down tasty food at Haggen, and headed back to Seattle, arriving after 3am. My body attended morning work meetings, but my spirit was still in the mountains. When the rains settle upon us and sun-kissed alpine rock is removed to daydreams, this is the trip I will replay again and again. Thanks for a great outing Blake, and for giving me the first pitch, the last swallow of water, the only ice ax on the hard snow, and good conversation to pass the hours on the trail. ……………… Fire on the Mountain, 5.10+, III+, 8 pitches, 1100ft of technical climbing and another 500ft or so of scrambling to the summit. All free, ground-up, onsight. The route starts in a prominent left-facing corner that turns into a chimney. This is about a hundred feet right of a prominent right-facing corner, and 200ft right of a vegetated crack leading up the diamond feature in the photo with Alex. Pitch 1: Tinderbox. Start in the obvious left-facing corner below a chimney. Stay right to avoid vegetated cracks at the top of the chimney, and step right to a small stance. Climb straight up finger and hand cracks to a belay at a decent ledge. 45m, 5.10+. Pitch 2: Lightning strike. Move right to a pair of hand cracks in a corner, ascend the right one and hand traverse right to a small stance. Link face features and small cracks to a good ledge and a belay. 33m, 5.10-. Pitch 3: Bucket brigade. Start up a thin crack and then move onto a face with golden buckets, flakes, and edges. Ascend a prominent corner under an OW roof crack and then hand traverse left under a giant roof to a belay stance out left. Future parties may choose to link p2 and p3. 34m 5.10-. Pitch 4: Controlled burn. Delicate moves up a right facing corner lead to friendly flakes and dikes and a giant heather ledge that bisects the SW face. 40m, 5.8. Pitch 5: Firebreak. Ascend a left-trending crack system near the top of p4. This leads to a clean ramp and a stellar golden dihedral with an OW crack (one #4 useful here). Finish on a pedestal near old pins and some cracks. 45m, 5.9. Pitch 6: Alpine ladder. Scale a steep face on amazing dikes, follow the ladder leftward up hero climbing, and finish up a steep corner with a pin. 40m, 5.10. Pitch 7: Smoldering embers. Shoot straight up the featured face to a giant heather ledge. 63m, 5.7. Pitch 8: Final flare-up. Ascend a hand crack that jogs left around a small roof. Continue up cracks, trend left on positive flakes, and finish up a corner to a ledge. 45m, 5.10. Scamper up to the obvious corkscrew route trail. Change into comfortable shoes, stash gear, and scramble unroped to the summit. Beckey lists a route on the SW face, but what he calls the SW face is more like a route that starts on the South face, crosses a ridge mid-height onto the SW face, and follows easy ground to a shoulder. This is very different from what we experienced. Based on the position of the few pitons we encountered, we believe someone climbed p5, p6, and p7 at some point, aiding through the steep finger crack crux on p6. We’d be interested to hear if anyone knows more about the nature of that route. The condition of p1, p2, p3, p4, and p8 suggests they had not been climbed prior to our ascent. I've attempted to draw our line on a classic Scurlock shot. Red is roped climbing on p1 to p8 and green is unroped scrambling to the summit. Gear Notes: Stoppers work particularly well, including a few micronuts. We brought double cams to #3 camalot and one #4 camalot and used it all. We took a few pins but never needed them. The OW on p5 might take a #5 or #6 but Blake did fine without them. A single 60m rope is sufficient. An ice ax might handy for the snow. Go get some! Approach Notes: Approach: Bedal Creek trail to the basin below the West Face. Ascend Blueberry Hill to a treed shoulder, traverse shoulder briefly, enter the basin below the SW face. The route starts in a prominent left-facing corner that turns into a chimney. This is about a hundred feet right of a prominent right-facing corner, and 200ft right of a vegetated crack leading up the diamond feature in the photo with Alex above. Perhaps 2 hrs from the car to the base of route. Descent: Follow the corkscrew trail around to the South face, and down climb or rappel an obvious gully to a giant ramp. Descend eastward down the ramp until able to do a single rope rappel to the snow. Traverse toward the South shoulder, cross over this, and descend back to the base of the route. Retrace the approach back to the Bedal Creek trailhead.
  2. Trip: Mazama, WA - Goats Beard. FFA (Known). WI5 Grade IV/V Date: 1/12/2013 Trip Report: Going into this weekend I was full of uncertainty. I was not sure where I wanted to go or what would be in. Craig Gyselinck and I had made plans to get on Goats Beard in Mazama. Then a get a FB message from Craig Pope about going in to Strobach....hmmm decisions, decisions. I knew that its been about 20 years since there was a second ascent (Known) of Goats Beard but I also know that going into Strobach with Craig would mean getting some FA’s. The fact that Strobach comes in just about every year and Goats Beard comes in maybe ever 20 years the choice was fairly obvious. According to Washington State Ice Goat’s Beard was first climbed in the early 90’s going at Grade V, WI 5/5+, 5.9, A2. As far as I know it has not seen a complete second ascent. Goat’s Beard has shut down some of the best climbers in the world. Things were not looking all that good for us. I met Craig G. at the Park and Ride at 4:15 and off we were to Mazama. As we drove the temps dropped more and more. I think in both of our minds was the thought that we were going to drive up there and for some reason we would be climbing some place else today. As we drove further and further up towards Mazama we watched the temperature gauge on the car drop from 16 down to zero. Craig ask me, “Does your temperature gauge go below zero?” “I don’t know. Don't think I have ever taken the car anywhere that cold.” A second later it drops to -1. We both laugh, but know it might be getting to the point of too cold to climb. As we progress we talk about other options. Both knowing there is really only one option at this point. By the time we park the car its -6. We throw on Rage Against Machines and try to get pumped. Im just tired and if not for Craig I would have fallen asleep in the car and waited for sun. That always seems to be the key to a good partnership, who can bring the stoke when the other person is tired or sketched. Craig got me out of the car, up the first pitch and then somewhere in the middle we switched roles. Everyone has their parts on a trip. On this particular trip they were fulfilled. In the early dawn we get a few ok looks at the route and start walking. Snowshoes were a must, we find soft untracked snow. My mind drifts back to the simpler times in life (before I found ice climbing) and thinking how much fun it would be to snowboard down this soft untracked snow we are snowshoeing up. Its cold and we push on. The sun comes out we get a good look at the climb. F^&k the second crux pillar is not in...dreams pretty much gone. We have a small rock rack. Craig claims that he will “aid it even if he has to do it with ice screws”. We continue. We get a good look at the route and I notice a small corner that appears to be holding ice. I dub it “Nelson’s Corner”, stoke is back on, we continue at a faster pace of excitement... We slow down so we don’t start sweating. We both know that wet clothing could quickly end the attempt in -6 degree air. We gear up and are climbing by 8am. Craig starts out on the first pitch. Stuff starts falling down. Im concerned. Alex said, “In the winter of 2000, climbers watched as over 300 feet of the route toppled to the ground. No doubt this is a dangerous but spectacular climb...” Craig seems to be ok with how things are and I focus on how to second most efficient...less time we can spend on this route the better. Craig climbs a rope stretching 60m pitch and I follow. I get the first crux pitch. A thin curtain that looks ok from below. I start up and instantly become less confident. I know I have the ability to climb it but I don’t know if this mountain is going to allow me to do so. The ice is thin, no good purchase. Any minute I feel as though both feet or both tools could rip through the ice. Screws are pretty much worthless. Any good sticks come with a hollow thud and the whole thing shakes...Breathe, breathe, shake the mind demons, climb. I finish the curtain, I'm gripped. I tell Craig that he better not climb it and tell me it was easy. My pitch leads up another full 60 meters. I set up my belay in a small gully, not the best location but where is on this route? I throw Craig on, he comes up. The whole time I am thinking about the stuff hanging above our heads. The sun is now out and I feel as though we are in a pretty risky situation. What do you do if your partner dies with the rope? At least he got to go quick...I get to freeze...up rope think about the next pitch. Craig takes P3 for another 60 meters to a rock belay. We talk for a second then decide we should move quick. There is lots of stuff hanging above us and we want to get by it. The plan is for me to lead up to “Nelson’s Corner” get a belay in and Craig gets that pitch. He keeps the rock gear. Up I go. The ice is not great, cauliflower, pro is useless in this ice, 60m takes me bellow the hangers...no good ice, no safe belay. Rope goes tight. “We have to SIMUL!!!” “WHAT?” “YOU HAVE TO CLIMB!!!” Slack in the rope. We begin to simul. I go up through “Nelson’s Corner”, one ok screw, ice is getting warm. I wish I had the rock gear. Long run outs, if Craig falls I'm dead...breathe, trust, breathe... 30m of no good pro simul climbing brings me to a belay cave that I quickly flop into. Blast screws bring up Craig. We are both tired. Water and gu in the cave. Craig’s lead. He gets the first good look at the final crux pillar. “Craig, how does it look!?” “Hard!!!” Thats all I get hard? For those of you who know Craig it is probably a lengthy response. 60m and he brings me up. I get my first look at the final pitch. It looks hard...WI5 shape and no telling from where we are how consistent it is. If its any thing like the first curtain we need a plan B. Craig is about ready to bail...its to hard we are not worthy. Time for me to bring the psych. I gear up and climb...Its hard...have to earn all my own sticks, no drafting here...tired...top out the crux stoked!!! Follow lower angled ice to the trees. Rope goes tight right as I get to the tree. Craig said he was worried that he was going to have to Simul the crux. Small celebration ensues but short lived. We still have to get down. We wander over and hope to find some bolts to rap off. No luck...back to the trees and back down into the danger zone. Things go smooth. Craig hits his V threads. We make a meandering rap down “Nelson’s Corner”. Blast in a thread. “Pulling orange correct?” “Yes.” “It is not pulling.” “Maybe it’s blue.” We know its not blue but we are in the most dangerous part of the route. We need a hope. Nothing. We both know what has to be done...neither of us want to do it... “I’ll climb up and see if I can change the angle and get it free.” “Clip into the strand so at least if you fall you’ll fall to me and not die.” Thanks Craig. Up I go to try and free the rope. No luck. Go up a bit more...no luck... “F(*K!” I know what is going to have to be done. Im going to have to essentially solo the corner again. I don’t know if I have it in me. But what other options do we have? I look closer I notice the ropes running under a small hanger. Blue rope is tight above it and loose below it. Grab blue, pull, orange moves, grab orange it pulls! “F*(K YES!!!” “Whats wrong?” “Nothing rope is free!!!” Ecstatic!!! “F(&KING ROPE IS FREE!!!” Down we go. Few more raps go well. We find bolts and take advantage of it. Right at dark we are down. Smiles ensue. We both feel like we stole something. With all the objective hazardous that this route presents that you can not eliminate we did steal something. Back to the car to find a note on the car that upped the stoke, “ CONGRATS! THAT’S PROBABLY ONLY THE 2ND COMPLETE ASCENT OF THE BEARD!” We drive back. We are happy 400+ Meters of constant ice. We rate it at WI5 Grade IV/V. Craig says he’s quitting ice, cant climb anything to top this. I have heard it before...I smile... First Crux pillar/curtain above Final Crux Pillar Craig tilts the photos the complete opposite of most people. Happy! Note left on car Gear Notes: Screws, small assortment of rock pro (pins, nuts and small cams). Approach Notes: Snowshoes a must. Trail is well established now.
  3. 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
  4. Here is a link to a report on another forum for a good effort on the Mendenhall Towers. http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1553487&msg=1554874#msg1554874 Enjoy
  5. 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!!!
  6. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - The Tempest Wall (III 5.12d): team free ascent Date: 8/15/2010 Trip Report: Ben Gilkison and I made a team free ascent of this route this past Sunday. Rock/Paper/Scissors determined who got the roof pitch and it was Ben! We swapped leads the whole way and neither of us fell all day. My full report w/pictures can be found here at my blog. Unfortunately, my carefully crafted post failed the .html error check so it's a bit wonky looking (thanks Blogspot and my lack of .html coding knowledge!), but it's still readable and I hope it's enjoyable nonetheless. I should add that the YDS grade is an estimate based on my somewhat limited 20-foot-roof-crack-free-climbing experience (including Separate Reality in Yosemite and More Monkey Than Funky in Joshua Tree, which are both shorter and much easier than this one), so take it with a grain of salt if you're a seasoned veteran of this style of climbing. Gear Notes: We found the following rack to be adequate: -Single set of nuts to #9 Black Diamond -Cams with double .3, .4, and .5 BD equivalent, single .75 C4, double #1, triple #2 and a single #3 C4. -12 quickdraws, with at least 4 slings (ideally 6, including a couple 1.5 or double length). One could perhaps double up in a few of the medium stopper sizes and/or the green camalot range, and possible bring triples in the finger sizes for the long 5.11 pitch, but many gear options exist. You could leave behind the third #2 C4 but I think it's handy for the roof pitch. Approach Notes: Approach as for Colchuck Lake, then around the north side of the lake to Aasgard pass. Hopefully find a decent path through the slide alder to a gully. There seem to be a couple of good options for this, both of which exit the Aasgard trail somewhat early on and have cairns. Climb the gully through steep scree and some talus. The best way seems to be to move right before a section of bushes, hugging a cliff until a path can be found left across a creek, coming out above the bushes. Several short, exposed third class scrambles are present higher up. The final approach to the climb is through talus. It begins below the obvious roof on the second pitch with somewhat circuitous climbing on the first. Someone else might have better beta for the gully, so chime on in.
  7. Trip: Index - The Waterway F.F.A. 5.11D Date: 8/5/2010 Trip Report: Earlier this week I hiked up to the Upper wall to go check out Good Girls Like Bad Boys but upon reaching the base with my friend Sean we got distracted by the possibility of freeing The Waterway. We weren't prepared to go ground up so we hiked back the the car grabbed some static ropes and then hiked back to the top of the Upper wall and rapped it. We fixed 3 60m ropes to the ground and then top roped our way back to the top. The climbing was cleaner, better and easier than expected. The only pitch we had problems on was the first but we figured it would go fairly easily. After borrowing some cleaning supplies we headed up the next day to give the thing a scrub and prep it for the lead. Unfortunately thunderstorms and rain chased us off without being able to clean that much of it. We figured it was clean enough though and we decided to head on up there for the redpoint yesterday. Sean started up the first pitch around 6pm but got shut down on his first try due to some dirty footholds and hard to place pro. He scrubbed it a little and figured out the key piece of protection and then fired it next try. I followed in a less than secure manner, barely sticking the crux move. We figure around 5.11D. Feeling pumped and dazed from the lower pitch I let Sean lead the next pitch as well. The second pitch starts off face climbing on good holds and then clips a bolt and moves down and left to good holds and a 5.10 mantle. This is followed by easy liebacking to a small roof that its passed on it left side via good side pulls. Kinda pumpy here. Opposing sidepulls and small feet make up the crux sequence which then leads to easier secure climbing and a nice belay spot. Sean dispatched of this pitch no problem. Great pitch. I finally felt recovered and took the 3rd pitch which follows an easy hollow flake to small fingers/stemming/liebacking in a corner. Double of small cams (purple tcu) is nice here. It takes good pro but it felt hard to place. Underneath some thin hanging flakes I stepped left using a cool undercling pocket to another undercling flake. I found the move left to be reachy. 50ft of easy (5.8) climbing up amazing rock leads to a couple moderate 5.10 lieback moves. I had already used the crucial stopper that protects the last 5.10 which forced a 10ft run-out or so. I think you need a #5 or #6 BD stopper for the last move. The belay is on a sloping ramp. Sean took over here and lead off to the right traversing on easy terrain (5.8) with poor gear. He moved quickly up the chimney choosing to run it out for close to 80ft. I think there was available pro but it was almost dark and I wasn't looking for it. After the chimney Sean moved left to a bolted arete to avoid the mungy 4th class gully. Currently the bolted arete is part of a route in progress, it felt around 5.10+ or so. It was to dark to see my feet so maybe it is easier. We left our fixed lines in place so we/I could put another day of scrubbing in to clean it up for future ascents. Overall we found the climbing to be quite amazing. The route follows natural features and perfect rock. We thought it was classic and hopefully will see some traffic in the future. Not sure if it can be rapped with one rope but it would be easy to walk to the top and rap Town Crier or Green Drag-on with a single 60m. Sean following pitch 3 Link to full size topo Gear Notes: single grey TCU Doubles of Purple TCU to #1 camalot single #2 camalot Nuts.
  8. Trip: Dragontail Pk. - Dragons of Eden IV+ 5.12a FFA Date: 7/22/2009 Trip Report: Obsession can be defined as a compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea. After climbing Dragons of Eden last summer Jens Holsten and I were so impressed with the climbing and the terrain we became completely obsessed with freeing the route. A September attempt later that summer saw us diverting to Der Sportsmen on the less stormy and warmer south face of Prusik, so we hunkered down for 10 months of daydreaming, training, and preoccupation. We both agreed that there was rarely a day that went by without us thinking about DOE. Finally, a year later, we were wrestling ridiculous loads up to the Lake to put in work and give it a shot (notice no less than 18 beers ready to stash in the creek!): It was a hell of a hump up to the route, and felt a bit awkward as we had ended up on the opposite specturm of our preferred fast and light style. Nonetheless, it felt really good to be embarking on the adventure and we rounded the lake full of optimism and stoke. The first day we hiked in, climbed the first half of the route via any means possible (lots of aid), hauled to the Pteradactyl Bivy Ledge and I scrubbed the Buttterballs to the Gripper 5.11 second pitch, while Jens cleaned up the crux 4th Pitch. Jens getting the junkshow as high as possible up the jingus approach ledges: Aiding the crux 4th Pitch: It felt good to be putting in some work on the route. I transformed the second pitch by trundling two really scary flakes. It's crazy that we had climbed through the flakes twice already yet I was able to trundle each within a matter of seconds. Not only did it make the pitch safer, it revealed some locker jams and good stances, dropping the grade from 11c to 11b. Notice the two flakes in the fingercrack above Jens head in a pic from last year. The wee flake right below the big boy, they are now thankfully gone: We were glad to have the Firstlight for the bivy as the bugs were horrendous! We caught a great sunset and settled in for a night of good rest. I had worked a 14 hour double shift the previous day and was pretty worked. The next morning we slept in and layed around for a while before getting back to work. The Great White Headwall was the dirtiest section of the whole route. I led and cleaned the first 5.10 pitch and Jens linked the next two and scrubbed them. The key to this day was to not get too worn out, yet get enough scrubbing and prep done to be able to free the route the next day. Jens aiding up the second pitch of the Great White Headwall (P6), 5.11a roofs: Jugging the Great White Headwall: On the rap down to the base we took some burns on the crux pitch which is both super pumpy and technical. We both made some progress and tried not to get too worked. The plan was to meet my wife Ginnie Jo, and our friends Keri Carlton, Max Hasson, and Ryan Paulsness at the lake that night. Of the entire experience, this was definetly the best part for me. Chilling with my lady and some great friends on Colchuck Lake, work done, resting up, getting psyched to send. Ginnie and Keri had spent the day preparing an Indian Cuisine Feast! We continued our trend of sleeping in and mid-morning began the hike up to the base of the route. We had stashed all the gear we needed and I became a bit concerned when I was struggling up the pass with merely a windshirt clipped to my belt loop. I was obviously worked and prepared myself to dig deep. Ryan and Max took off up the NE Buttress intent on gaining the top of the Headwall where Max would rappel in and photograph the ascent. When we felt the time was right, we began climbing. The fist pitch takes a hand crack up and left, we did no scrubbing on this pitch, it's a bit dirty and a bit chossy, but warms you up nicely. This deposited you at a belay under a roof where we prepared for the first pitch of business, the amazing splitter finger to handcrack of pitch 2. The pitch begins with a 5.10 traversing face sequence to gain the finger crack, from there sharp and steep finger jams brought me into the meat of the pitch. As I pushed through the crux I became pumped and things began to feel a bit desperate. I was able to stem out left to the arete and cop just enough rest to push on through the finger crux into the slightly less strenuous thin hand section. From here, i twisted and torqued my extra large mitts in the deviously sized crack until finally I reached a good stem rest hollered out in excitement knowing the pitch was in the bag. My hoot gained a quick reply from the ladies who were watching our progress from the pass. A short pitch of 5.8 took us up to the base of the crux pitch where we sat down to recharge and wait for Max to reach us. Shortly thereafter he tossed his rope down the headwall. Jens moved quickly throgh the moderate start to the pitch and gained the top of the pillar where he placed a green brassie and prepared himself to send. He climbed strong and purposefully through the initial boulder problem, solid calculated movements. He got into the crack and was able to place a good green alien and protect himself from cratering into the pillar. As he moved through the next couple of stenuous finger locks he broke a foothold and screamed as he swung away from the crack. Somehow, he held on. He yelled, I yelled, and Jens one-arm campused off a fingerlock back into the crack. I thought for sure he was going to fall, but he held on. Once back in the crack, he pushed on. More screaming, cursing, and cranking continued and soon enough Jens had gained the belay. Seconding, I felt strong moving through the boulder problem, but my strength quickly sapped and i fell from the first few fingerlocks. I lowered off and rested for a second go. I got higher my second try, but screamed in frustration as I again slipped out of the crack. I lowered again and this time took a longer rest. My third try saw me reach even higher but I was spanked, i fell, screamed in frustration, and shortly accepted that I was not going to get this one clean. I had hoped for a clean ascent, but I just didn't have it in me. Jens moving into the business, P4 5.12a: We moved on up to the Pteradactly ledge at the base of the Headwall and rested again. I was worked, and tried to get out of leading the second pitch of the headwall but Jens called me out, saying he thought I could do it and that I should give it a burn. Thanks Jens! He lead the recently transformed first 5.10 pitch up the headwall to a ok stance beneath the series of large roofs that makes up pitch 7 5.11a. We hadn't scrubbed much from this pitch, but it was clean enough to send and I did. Really wild climbing takes you out the roof of the headwall with solid hand cracks, it's hyper-exposed and very out of place in the alpine. Jens followed and we prepared for the final pitch, steep face and crack climbing leads to the top of the Headwall 5.11d. Nearing the big roof on P7, 5.11a: This had been the dirtiest pitch of the route and though Jens had scrubbed what he needed to, it was still quite filthy, compounding the condition of the pitch, was the fact that we hadn't ever really given it a free burn, even on TR. Jens left the belay with his work cut out for him. A non-stop barrage of kitty litter rained down on me as Jens moved up the pitch. The first crux involves sequential deadpoints to positive flakes which Jens got through without too much fuss. He fired in some gear under the crux bulge, and rested up. After a few false-starts he was off, you could tell the climbing was hard, and Jens was going for it. He pushed through the bulge with footholds breaking and flakes flexing, at one point his last piece was a couple bodylengths below him and he was desperatly stabbing to continue. It was quite a show. He pushed on to the top mantled the headwall and DOE was free. We continued as two parties of two up the NE Buttress to the NE Summit. The day had gotten hot and the shade of the east side of the summit was a welcome releif. Two double rope rappels got us down and we began the arduous trudge down Aasgard. Since our ascent two parties of our friends have climbed the route and it has received good reviews, though they both commented about how dirty it still is. One party was able to place a bomber green alien from their tippytoes to protect the moves off the pillar on the crux pitch. This essentially takes the R out of the grade. Also, Blake and Pete H climbed a variation that we pointed out to avoid the crux pitch. It is an obvious crack about 25 ft to the right of the crux pitch and went at 10+. I highly recommend the route and hope people don't let the difficulty of the grade deter them from giving it a burn. With just a few french free moves on a couple pitches, the grade can drop down to 11- or 10+ C1. I think even aid climbers would have a blast spending some time on the route, with only a mandatory move of 10b face on pitch 2. The hauling's clean and the climbing's steep. It is possible to rap the route without too much nonsense (and with two ropes) from the top of The Great White Headwall. Though this is a an option (for slackers) I highly recommend the finish up the NE Buttress which is pretty stress free, and aesthetic, and would earn one a full tick. Feel free to PM with any questions. Hats off again to Wayne and Bob for their impressive 1989 ascent! Free Rack: dbl blue and green aliens, triple yellow alien to #1, with dbl #2's and #3's. Single set of nuts with one green HB Brassie (#5). TOPO Climbing Hot Flash Jen's TR Mucho gracias to Wayne Wallace, Max Hasson, Ryan Paulsness, Ginnie Jo Blue, Keri Carlton, Jim Nelson at Pro Mountain Sports, Adam at Leavenworth Mountain Sports, and Graham Williams at Cilogear (4 cilogear packs were used for this ascent) for their continued help and support. You guys rock! Thanks for the patience in getting this TR written, edited, and refined.
  9. Some ice/mixed stoke for some of you. 3sEm_j5fqqw Story at http://www.climbing.com/news/hotflashes/winterdance07
  10. Trip: Gunsight range - West face-north peak Date: 7/25/2007 Trip Report: Inspired by CC.com trip reports Jens (Holsten) and I got on a boat last week and headed towards the fabled gunsight range. Though this website can sometimes be a waste of time, even a repository for spray and slander (mine own included) I feel sort of obligated to return the favor, as without the info gleaned here our trip may have never been. Anyway, enough bullshit. The trail up Agnes creek was uneventful right up to five mile camp, where the trail crew had stopped. Immediately after this we encountered the aforementioned hundreds of blow-downs and developed a cowboy like posture after so much straddling. A light cloud cover didn't do a whole lot to abate the heat, but it was better than nothing. We had hoped (foolishly) to knock off the approach in a marathon afternoon, but after reaching the spruce creek turn off decided to bivy. This was a smart decision, as darkness would have found us stranded on a 50 degree hillside suffering in the rain. Instead we camped on the river and ducked in the tent when the light showers hit. Not a whole lot to say about the next day, just some straight suffering up a hill. Blake and company humbly understated this phase of the journey, we were just glad to find the mountain. Several hours later we hopped onto the blue glacier in the afternoon heat, hoping not to get creamed by an ice fall. We walked right by what was to be our basecamp, intent on making it over to the chikamin. After some sketchy recon we discovered our mistake and settled in to one of the most amazing bivies ever. Wednesday morning we ambled over the pass above our camp and roped up for the super loose step down onto the gigantor chikamin glacier. A mellow crampon session found us at the base of the west face, I only fell into one talus hole where I nearly lost control of my bowels. The route is gained off a rad traversing ledge which beats the hell out of some ungainly moat. As almost everyone else has said the rock quality is superb, if a bit grainy the higher you get. If this wall was a little closer to the road I don't think this would be the case. Anyway, I headed up just to the right of Blake's cairn and wound my way towards the fabled crux pitch. It seems like Nelson and Dietrich (I think that's his name) veered right on the second pitch and climbed a very thin corner before moving back left to the belay which supposedly needs bolts. Again, no bolts were found in situ, leading us to conclude that Jim Nelson had a bad memory. The second belay would be more comfortable with bolts, but they certainly aren't necessary. Jens tentatively made his way upwards, made a tenuous move left of thin flakes and was still unconvinced that the pitch would succumb to our assault. However, move by move, he found unanticipated decent holds, good gear, more positive flakes (a trademark of this wild wall) and uncanny knobs, all of which took him past the crux to a well deserved victory whoop. Here he is crushing. I also managed to scrap my way up this stellar pitch, which left us exhilarated but also a little nervous about the rest of the climb, which wasn't quite over yet. The next crack system looks sort of like a hand crack off the belay, unfortunately its a shallow flaring flake. It does accept gear however, and after a little bit of pansying around I commited to the steep lieback. Another flake follows the first, and I did a little more pansying, unsure if our relatively light alpine rack would get me to the next stance. Luckily the crack finally turns into hands, where I was able to recover enough to run it out to a little knob belay where I plugged in the last of my gear, the four camalot and a blue alien. Here's Jens following. The final bit of steepness supposedly contained some crux wideness, which Jens so graciously allowed me to lead, but it ended up being a little less difficult than the third pitch, which didn't dissapoint me in the least. Jens led one more shorty to "flat ground" and we eventually found a way up onto the crazy summit blocks. The library is about to close so I'm just going to leave it at that for now. I'll give everybody some time to slander and wrap it up when I get the chance. Suffice to say, the rock is good, almost as good as Index. Maybe even better than Mt. Stuart.
  11. Climb: Sherpa N. Ridge & balanced rock 1st free ascent- Date of Climb: 7/11/2006 Trip Report: After recenly meeting Scott GG, we decided to climb the north ridge of sherpa peak in a day and along the way, try to make the first free ascent of the sherpa balanced rock. Scott picked me up early in the morning and we started up at the stuart lake trailhead at 4:45 am. Scott passed my litmus test for new climbing partners which states that they must like either coffee or beer-at least one of the two. People that dislike both scare me. We trodded in and eventually thrutched up a dirty chimney where Scott tied the rope around his waist and placed a piece on his way to the notch. Once on the north ridge, we put the rope away and soloed the entire route to the summit (The final steep rock above the final tower puts the climber in a spectacular position). After summiting, we went over to have a go at the balanced rock. I had climbed it several years ago and new how much fun it was. I climbed up on the east side of the balanced rock where a short section of overhang with very thin face climbing led to a small ledge. If you were to slip at this section, you'd break both your ankles for sure. You have to commit to the move. I traversed right and jumped for a small edge and managed to stick it. Scott followed the pitch. We descended down the east and decided to descend the NE couloir. We had tennis shoes with crampons strapped on so down climbing the thing was quite slow. We reached the basin and hit the creek and eventually reached the car that early evening. beta: The mosquitos are really bad right now. Hopefully Scott will post some pics. Summary: Sherpa- North Ridge & Sherpa Balanced Rock FFA 5.10c, Jens Klubberud & Scott Gg. - Gear Notes: Bug Spray Mosquito headnet red bull for the drive home
  12. So, on accident, jja and I climbed the South Face, Center Route on Concord Tower (TR on why we did this will come later). Beckey has limited information, but still calls it 5.7 A3. We encountered some 5.9 climbing, loose shit, and general WA Pass rottenness. Does anyone have any information on if this route has been freed? I would presume that it has, but we were curious. Note: I wouldn't descend this route. A more sure-fire descent would be the South Face, East side route. Thanks Greg_W
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