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Found 2 results

  1. Climb: 6 Days and 6 Routes in the Pasayten Wilderness-Part 2 Date of Climb: 7/28/2004 Trip Report: Part 1 Day 4 continued, Monday July 24th ...after passing through the strange clearing in the forest we wandered through more open meadows, huge larch trees and beautiful flowers. Good game trails made for fast hiking and with careful route finding we stood on the shore of Upper Cathedral Lake less than four hours after leaving Wall Creek. Cathedral Peak above Cathedral Lake This area is popular with horsepackers and we saw several such groups. The typical approaches are at least 20 miles and seem to keep out those who choose to walk. We observed only one backpacker and no other climbers during our stay. Camp was established in a larch tree and boulder strewn meadow on the east side of the lake and we celebrated our arrival by breaking out the horsecock sandwiches and Jaigermeister we had so carefully horded during the first half of the trip. While Cathedral Peak was the big draw to the area we were amazed by how close the north-facing buttresses of Amphitheatre Mountain stood above the lake. Unfortunately the rock had significant hues of red and stood above slopes of talus and dirt. Both indicated less than spectacular rock. We decided to at least scout the creatively named Left-Side Route of Middle Finger Buttress. At 3 PM we shouldered our gear and hiked around the lake and up to the route in about 10 minutes. What we found was no less than spectacular. Middle Finger Buttress - Left Side Route Owen standing at the base of Middle Finger Buttress – Left Side Route The climb starts in an obvious right-leaning chimney near the left side of the buttress. After our practice on Grimface I quickly led the classic chimney and established a belay on a nice grassy ledge. The rock was perfect. Owen climbed up, shoulder the rack and proceed to fire off the single best pitch of mid-5.10 crack climbing I have ever done - anywhere. It is that good. After 30 meters he established a belay on a sloping ledge and hauled the pack. As per the Red Beckey Guide, from the belay we moved left, then up a steep crack system to another ledge. Rather than move left again we stepped back right into the continuation of the crux dihedral and climbed a very nice hand crack to the upper low angle ridge. Described as 4th class we discovered that 1970’s 4th class rock is more like 5.5. Regardless the position was excellent, the rock was solid and a good time was had by all as we tossed the occasional perched block into the abyss. On the “4th class” ridgeline The route is CLASSIC and deserves far more attention. It alone is worth the long approach. Once on top make sure to hike to the north summit of Amphitheatre Mountain, it is as sublime a place as I have ever been. To descend head east until you can drop down the obvious scree gully below a wide col. With a little bit of scree surfing it is no more than 20 minutes back to camp. Day 5 July 27, 2004 Southeast Buttress of Cathedral We woke up early and headed out on the extremely tiring, essentially flat 20 minute approach to the Southeast Buttress of Cathedral Peak. The route looked stellar and proved not to disappoint. Using beta posted years ago on CC.com we started from the top of a table size bolder located in an alcove maybe 150 feet up the gully between Cathedral and the Monk. We climbed nine long pitches to the summit. All but one featured great crack climbing on steep solid rock. The headwall of pitch 7 and 8 was impeccable. We bypassed the crux offwidth by a perfect 5.10a finger crack just to it’s right. Approaching the Headwall On Pitch 2 of the Headwall A recently placed summit register recorded no other ascents in the previous three weeks. Slightly shorter and with a lower level of commitment it’s sort of the kid sister to the Beckey-Chouinard on South Howser Tower with perfect granite, steep moderate crack climbing and a white headwall to boot, except the climbing was higher quality. A confusing descent to the west and another long scree-surf brought us back to camp by early afternoon. Ka’aba Buttress “Pilgrimage to Mecca” After swimming and sunbathing for couple hours we still had a long chunk of the evening to kill. It wasn’t very hard to convince Owen that we should climb an obvious series of cracks and dihedrals on the left side of Ka’aba Buttress. It helped that the base of the route was no more than five minutes from camp. Owen starting up Pitch 1 Owen following Pitch 2 After climbing four pitches of great crack climbing on more perfect rock we were back in camp maybe three hours after we left. The third pitch was particularly good following a great finger crack up a solid dihedral before stepping left and climbing steep twin hand cracks. At any crag this would be an extremely popular **** pitch. There was no sign of previous ascents and to our surprise the description of the Doorish Route on the buttress did not match what we had done. On the other hand it’s hard to believe that such a stellar, obvious and accessible line has never been climbed. Regardless I claim the FSTA (First To Spray Ascent). If you’re in the area it makes a great half-day climb and a good warm-up for the Southeast Buttress of Cathedral Peak. Route Description Ka’aba Buttress “Pilgrimage to Mecca” Grade II 5.9 P1) Start from top of large block at buttress toe. Follow L-trending dihedral then cross low-angle slab split by triple cracks. Belay below L-side of obvious roof (170’ 5.7). P2) Traverse left then undercling obvious wide crack into L-facing dihedral. Climb a steep corner at the dihedrals top and step left to a large grassy belay ledge (130’ 5.9). P3) Climb the beautiful R-trending dihedral for 80’ then move left to steep, twin hand cracks. Stay with the right one to another large belay ledge, a **** pitch (160’ 5.8+). P4) Climb the L-facing corner just left of the obvious offwidth on the crest. Near the top move right to stemming moves and easier terrain (130’ 5.8). P2 var) A much better looking second pitch would layback the right side of the block vs underclinging it then follow a L-trending ramp/dihedral to the same belay (5.8?) That evening we ate our last supper by a small tarn and reflected on what an amazing trip we had experienced. The last day July 28, 2004 The hike out went far to quickly. More stunning meadows, beautiful vistas and a complete lack of human impact. We made it back to the car in less than six hours. In the last mile of hiking we met a stocky, powerfully built man of at least sixty years in age. He was excited to hear about where we had been and knew the area well. Turned out it was Bob Cuthbert! We had just climbed some of the routes he established thirty years prior. What a great way to end the trip, meeting one of the legends that first realized the area’s potential for climbing. Gear Notes: Medium Rack to 4" for everying. An extra 0.5 and 0.75 Camalot for MFB - L Side. An extra 2.5" piece for Ka'aba Buttress.
  2. Climb: 6 Days and 6 Routes in The Pasayten Wilderness -Part 1 Date of Climb: 7/28/2004 Trip Report: My best friend, and in 6 weeks - best man, is named Owen. He is as solid a person and climber as I have ever known. We use to climb most weekends together, now that he lives in Colorado, we still plan at least one big trip together each year. Together we’ve carried heavy loads into the Winds, the Sawtooths and the Cascades, climbed spires and descended canyons in the desert southwest, frozen our arses off on a bivi ledge or two. This year the plan was the Bugaboos. We were gonna go for it dude! Do a Grade VI on Howser man… or at least a mess of Grade V’s. But plans can change. Six days of cragging, that was the sum total of my climbing this year by mid-July. Of course breaking my ankle at the end of March had a lot to do with it. It didn’t change the fact that I was out of shape and the few day trips I had done on moderate routes left me hobbled and limping by the time I was headed back to the car. The Bugaboos were not happening, it would be too painful to get all the way in there and have to bail because my body was a POS. We needed a trip with less climbing and more importantly less expectations. As I had managed a fair bit of backpacking with my fiancé in the prior month we settled on a trip to Wall Creek, a remote valley just north of the border that lies below the granitic peaks of Grimface, Matriarch and Macrabe. As it turned out the ankle was healed, the weather was perfect, the wilderness exquisite and the climbing incredible. What follows are photos and notes on what might be the finest trip I’ve ever done. Getting There We left town on the evening of Thurday, July 22nd timing it perfectly with the heatwave that washed through the area. Projected highs in nearby towns were 102 degrees. From Bellingham it’s 234 miles and about 4.5 hours to the Centennial Trailhead. From Highway 3 the last 30.4 miles are on the Ashnola River Road, almost all of it an excellent 2wd gravel road. We pulled into the very obvious trailhead near midnight. Day 1 Friday, July 23rd In the morning we packed up….. Getting into the head of Wall Creek took less than five hours on an excellent trail. Follow the Centennial trail for about 4 miles to the obvious signed fork and take the right hand branch. All blow-down has been removed making for a moderate and enjoyable hike. The meadows are beautiful and pristine. Plans for climbing in the afternoon turned into a chilly swim in a nearby lake, a bit of bouldering and much swatting of mosquitoes. Day 2 Saturday, July 24th Matriarch - South Pillar “Good from far, but far from good!” Actually it’s not that bad, just not the classic one hopes it will be. The 3-pitch direct start is composed of the worst kitty-litter granite choss I’ve climbed. Immediately afterwards the rock becomes much better, in fact excellent, only to deteriorate once again on the final crux moves. With the recommended indirect start the route goes at 5.10b. Be prepared to pull the final roof on mediocre rock with fall potential onto a slab. A recommended line, though not one to center your trip around. We topped out by noon and decide to climb another route rather than eat bugs down in the meadows. We descended a loose gully next to the pillar, grabbed our shoes and hiked over to Grimface. Grimface – Southeast Chimneys Established by Bob Cuthbert and company in 1973 this is an intriguing route that ascends a long series of moderate chimneys on the southeast side of Grimface. In fact of the routes six pitches only one of them is not a chimney and it’s a wide crack! A trickle of water at the base of the route kept us from dieing of dehydration and a large shady cave sprinkled with goat droppings allowed for a long, cool midday siesta before we started the climb. The rock quality is excellent and the chimneying is sustained back-and-foot work. Though generally low-angle, gear is intermittent at best and a fall would have serious consequences. Not the best route for a 5.7 leader. I would however call the route a CLASSIC. There just aren’t many climbs where one can practice such a well-known and interesting technique. The neighboring “Mother of Invention” route looked excellent as well. Either route would make a great finish to the G-M-M traverse for a strong party. To descend we walked down the scenic NW ridge then enjoyed some amazing scree-surfing back into Wall Creek. We must have dropped 1500’ in ten minutes and made it back into camp after a thirteen hour day. Day 3 Sunday, July 25th The Deacon – The Nose Owen starting up Pitch 2 I’ve always been intrigued by the description of The Deacon in the Red Beckey Guide. A friend of mine, Steve Barnett, did the first ascent of the north face in 1973. Unfortunately he can’t remember doing it. Oh well! This is a beautiful formation in a very remote valley. The rock is generally excellent, though a bit vegetated and occasionally loose. The Nose, established by Peter Doorish in 1991, is a very good, albeit serious route that follows a cunning path up one of the only lines of weakness on the face. Maybe even a backcountry classic for the grade. From our camp in Wall Creek we hiked up to col with Ewart creek then traversed meadows and boulder fields to the base of The Nose. The route description in the Beckey Guide is concise but adequate, you won’t have a lot of other options. After starting on the nose for two pitches, the route moves onto the left side of the north face and remains there until almost the summit. It in fact joins the 1973 Barnett-Anderson route on top of the obvious pillar on the north face contrary to what is written in the Beckey Guide. Bring a medium rack to 4”. You will need micro nuts and tiny TCUs to build a good anchor between the 5.10 pitches. The wall is steep, the ledge is small, and the crux is right at the start. Thanks to Owen for leading both crux pitches in style. A brief, very exposed, downclimb into the first notch, followed by one 80’ rappel into the first SE gully, then a quick traverse into the next gully and a lot of scrambling led back to the base of the route in less than an hour. By the time we got back to camp we had been on the go for over twelve hours, our pace had been anything but fast. Day 4 Monday, July 26th Uninspired to slog back up the scree below Grimface, Matriarch and Macrabe we decided to head to the Cathedral Lakes area for the remainder of our trip. It was a very good decision. We found easy travel through meadows and boulder fields on the northwest side of the Deacon , climbing about 1400’ before reaching the top of the expansive ridgeline separating Wall Creek from Cathedral Creek. Owen with Cathedral and Amphitheatre Peaks in the background From here a steep descent led to more beautiful meadows and open forest in the head of Cathedral Creek. Within two hours of leaving camp we entered a strange clearing in the forest. More to follow later.....Part 2 - The Homeland Gear Notes: see report Approach Notes: see report