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Disco Inferno


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So I was partnerless, bumming around the Blue Lake parking lot, wondering about the wherebouts of Mr. Peru. As good luck would have it, bivied in the lot was another partnerless climber from Maine. He'd never climbed in the area, so I thot the NW Corner would be a good into. We put together a rack and headed up the trail.


Maine was just heading up the first pitch when we heard what sounded like a crazed snafflehound whistling, hooting and hollering up through the basin below the spire. Sure nuff, Bobbyperu shows up a few minutes later. Instead of jumping on the NW corner, he opted to meet up with us later, instead entertaining himself on a solo the SW Rib of SEWS.


Meanwhile on the NW Corner, I grabbed the lead for the zig-zag lieback flakes pitch--one of my favorites anywhere--which of course left Maine with the shoulder-eating offwidth. I've had the pleasure of leading it, and told Maine I'd feel guilty if he didn't have a chance to lead the OW, because I'd be cheating him out of the full NW Corner experience. He looked at me skeptically, searching for signs that I was sandbagging him, and then gamely thrashed up it.


That evening the three of us met up at the newly re-opened Twisp River Pub where Mr. Peru was staffing the bar. Maine and I hung out and sipped a beverage or two while waiting for the arrival of Szyjakowski. He was making the trip up from L-town so we'd have two teams of two the next day.


(Commercial side note: climbers, go patronize this place! Formerly the Methow Valley Brewing Co., which burnt down a couple years ago, they have employed a lot of talented local builders and artists in the rebuilding. They have fine brews, good chow, frequent music and a nice deck right above the river.)


The next day the four of us parked at the hairpin below WaPass and headed up the gully towards the South Spire, each suffering somewhat from the late night before. While I would generally run screaming in the opposite direction of "5.10c overhanging flaring 5-inch offwidth," Bobbyperu had a wild hair to get on the Inferno Route, a rarely climbed line (I found no references to this route on cc.com?) on the SE face of SEWS.


According to Beckey, the route was named for the scorching August day on which it was first climbed in 1966 at 5.9 A2, and was first freed back in the 80s by Yoder. Seeing as how the forecast was for a windless day of mid-90s, it seemed an appropriate day to get cooked on the Inferno, a corner which closely resembles a solar oven.


The first pitch is vertical, juggy and loose--but at least there's uninspiring protection. BP led this while the rest of us hid in the cave at the base to avoid the rocks that came whistling down.


The second pitch is the hardest 5.6 hahaha.gif I've ever come across. It climbs a steep chimney filled with stacked loose blocks of all sizes then cuts out onto a slab, where you pass a steep bulge on shallow finger pockets. I moved carefully to avoid annihilating the three people below me with one of the car-door-sized blocks. Although I had some rope drag issues, the last few fingery moves before the belay are certainly thot-provoking "5.6."


The third pitch is solid and clean and features a nice crack, followed by a spicy 9+ face traverse/step-across move to reach the base of the hanging offwidth. BP cruised it, and Maine and Szyjakowski led up on a separate rope right on our heels.


The fourth pitch is the business. You see this intimidating feature coming for two pitches, and it just looms over you like "Come and get some of this you jokers, poseurs, hosers and wannabees!" As you get closer, it only looks steeper and wider and wilder. Below, a sharp dead tree we dubbed "Vlad the Impaler" juts like a spear right into the fall zone below the crux.


The direct sun was baking our baked brains at this point. (This is you brain on drugs on the Inferno!) BP, maniacally enthusiastic as usual, launched up the hand crack that widens quickly to fists and then becomes wider still where it bulges out into a weird flaring overhang. He buried the 4.5 cam deep in the crumbly flare, and moved up and down a number of times, trying to figure out out to approach the section. There was no obvious gear above, and the nearest rest was a somewhat distant flake for a foothold on the otherwise featureless face next to the unrelenting wideness.


After up and downclimbing several times trying to figure out the best way to tackle this monster, he took a short rest, then launched into a committing layback off the insecure edge of the crack. After reaching the flake and whooping it up, he realized that it wasn't over yet. There is another difficult move to get back into the 5 inch crack to top out, the nearest gear being the 4.5 left down below the 10c layback crux. Heady fer sure!


Out of respect for the women and children that may read this site, I hesitate to detail the sweating, swearing and psycho-physical scarring that followed as the rest of us did battle with this beast. But we made it and finished the route off with a couple hundred feet of 5.6 tree wrestling and dirt climbing. By which time the water content of our sun-fried hides was approximatly that of the "Hey Dude" brand of beef jerky I'd brought and could not eat for lack of water and a dying-in-the-Sahara-Desert-case of drymouth.


Let's just say we all got a little bit singed a bit by the Inferno.

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hot mamma....

it was 95 in the shade when we got to the ice cream stand........I suppose if i would recommed doing this rooot...it would have to be in the fall or spring. rolleyes.gif

course then you wouldn't be doing the root in tradiional style..

goood times.


nice trip report uncleT

thanks ffor ommittin all my swearing.

need to climb more ow's....

ummmmm yeah right.


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  • 2 years later...

in the theme of bringing back good reading...ala misterE, i enjoyed reading this again...great writing by a great partner, we whooped it up that summer thumbs_up.gif good times.


i imagine that route would be in primo conditions this time of year...sunny and the veiws from the se face are awesome...


that flare is on par with the best of the biggies at wapass...just keep clear of "Vlad"...and a 5" peice could help with the runout...have fun wink.gif

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