Uncle_Tricky Posted March 19, 2005 Share Posted March 19, 2005 A day after Highway 20 opened a friend and I went up to climb something at WaPass. "Slowshoes? Who needs them?" I said, starting up the shady, north facing heavily treed slope. .5 seconds later I postholed thigh deep with both feet and resorted to crawling. (Alpine Tip #1: there is nothing undignified about crawling when necessary.) Unfortunatly we'd left the slowshoes back in town and I forgot my roll of ducktape, which is helpful in constructing redneck gaiters. (Alpine Tip #2: simply tape the legs of your acid washed jeans to you boots and you are good to go.) We postholed for another half hour. Given as how we were still within pissing distance of the car, my partner started expressing doubts that we could make it back to Twisp in time for work that afternoon. Blood seeped from my shins and knees where the ice crust hit at each sinking step. I counted my blessings that great white sharks are rare in these parts. (Alpine Tip #3: beware of potentially voracious wildlife.) I promised my pardner that as soon as we reached the steep part, or the open part, or the sunny part or the rock part that everything would be better. However, my partner appeared to be suffering from some sort of posthole-inspired lunacy and began laughing hysterically until fully horizontally incapacitated in the snow and either unwilling and/or unable to get back up. I suggested a five-minute break. (Alpine Tip# 4: A PhD in psychology--or equivalent independent study thereof—can be helpful in sandbagging others and/or yourself. Ten minutes later, we lowered our already very modest expectations and proceeded back to the road. (Alpine Tip #5: Retreat can be a noble cause.) Two miles up valley of Silver Star creek, on the other side of the highway (the south facing slope) there is a clearing and a waterfall next to a small rock crag. Higher on the slope there is another cliff with a prominent right facing corner. It looked interesting. (Alpine Tip #6: When in doubt, lower expectations and proceed to lower elevations.) We hiked up to the waterfall in open, snow-free forest. Invisible from the road, there is a rock grotto off to the right of the waterfall. There is a beautiful looking arete, although the rock appears somewhat kittylitteresque. It would probably make a nice sport pitch or TR. (Alpine Tip #7: Theoreticals infuse even the most mundane with boundless possibility.) Instead, we harnessed up and I headed up the chimney/corner to the left of the arete and right of the waterfall. It starts off with a short boulder problem up a dead tree wedged in the corner, then moves into a very nice hand crack/stem box over some more dead trees and debris. Then come two different chimneys--also short, but quite fun, solid and exciting. (Alpine Tip #8: “Exciting” means treading thru the land of fight or flight where loss of bowel control is often associated with survival efficiency.) The crux is moving out of the second chimney onto the face--accomplished by pulling on an anemic little shrub of questionable vigor. It's an exciting move: the last gear is quite a ways below and the vegetative state of the tiny twiggy bush is not particularly inspiring. (Alpine Tip #9: When recollecting an experience, imagined reality and real reality merge and become one indistinguishable truth.) Once you commit to the shrub, there is another crack for gear, and a lieback/stem move to reach the dirt slopes above. We called this pitch Posthole Redemption, 5.7. Not destined for destination or classic status, but a nice surprise. (Alpine Tip #10: Good surprises are nice; bad surprises should not be all that surprising.) At the top of the pitch, we put our boots back on and continued uphill, traversing to the right and eventually coming to the other crag we'd seen from the road. This is a nice chunk of solid granite. The most obvious natural line is a huge right facing corner leading up to a big roof. In that corner is a nice hand and finger crack—filled with Bluebunch Wheatgrass. For a gardening aficionado such as an ice-axe-wielding Martha Stewart on meth, it would be probably be protectable all the way. Since time was a factor; we opted to toprope the pitch. (Alpine Tips #11: Time is a timeless excuse for moral and/or ethical failures.) The beginning of the right variation is an awkward mantle and traverse left to the crack--unfortunatly not significantly protectable. The left variation is easier and probably the way to go on lead as you could get some gear in. We called this pitch "Posthole in One." (Alpine Tip#12: The option of toproping a pitch means you are not alpine climbing and invalidates all previous eleven Alpine Tips.) Once in the corner, it’s easy stemming and likely good gear if gardened. Gear on the roof traverse would be possible and desirable to avoid a pendulum back into the corner. The final fingercrack/stem problem would be better on lead than toprope given the slabby corner splat factor. (Apline Tip #13: see Alpine tip #7) I ended up rapping off my dog’s leash, which still exists as fixed gear around the big pine 100 feet up this pitch. (Alpine Tip #14: Don’t believe anything you’ve heard until it’s a matter of necessity--and even then be skeptical.) Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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