Jump to content

FA Plan 9, 5.10, Grade IV; B-rated


Recommended Posts

Mike Layton and Erik Wolfe 8/26/06



Mike and I met at the Marblemount Ranger Station to sort gear and secure our permit into the Southern Pickets on Wednesday evening.

Geared up, we set out up the Goodell Creek and set up camp at the base of the boulder field around 4100' after dark.




In the morning we had fairly cloudy conditions as we continued our approach up and across the hill.


Clouds drifted around us, allowing glimpses of the cirque, but visibility was decreasing.


Towards noon we found ourselves completely socked in with clouds somewhere in the middle of the McMillan Cirque.


Rather than wait and get cold, we spent the afternoon picking our way around the cirque with 200 feet of visibility, trying in vain to find our way to the Barrier, but more so to keep from getting bored and cold. Snack time:


To show how poor visibility was, we ended up camping at Azure Lake Col!!!


At 6:00 PM the clouds just weren't clearing. Shortly after dinner the storm set upon us for a bracing hour of torrential rain, wind, and hail. Mike predicted the fog to go away a 6pm. He was right! Just at 6pm the fog lifted and we got our views.


Unfortunately, the fog decided to consolidate into a thunderhead, as we dove frantically under the tarp we foolishly pitched in a large patch of dirt. It took a few seconds for the water to come crawling under the tarp...so we dug a moat frantically. We were safe for another few minutes until the damn broke and our spot became a lake.


We furiously shoved everything into our packs, and sat on top of them until the storm let up enough to move our tarp to a better spot. The rest of the evening was spent revising plans for the lost day, contingency plans if the weather continued, etc.



...to be continued...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 28
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic


We awoke the next day to blue skies.


Finally we could see a clear path to the Barrier!


We had a good laugh about our foggy "tour de Cirque" of the day before when we got a good look at where we had been.

The way we should have gone:


We set off and crossed the Barrier


and to the Chopping Block in a reasonable fashion in increasing temps,


don't forget the alpine beauty!


After way too long we finally had a view across Crescent Creek Basin to the objectives!


Word was that the rock on the Himmelhorn was solid, and had a nice long buttress. The other option was the Blob (aka Rake) Mike had been wondering about for a few years now, so we set a course across valley and set up camp early at the base of the Rake/Terror Col.

Being the out of shape one, I was camp Bitch


while Mike scoped the potential lines to as far as the Himmelhorn. He came back very excited about a particular feature that was much closer and better looking than the 'horn.


It looked really cold to me until he reminded me it was summer, and not like that really. Whew! tongue.gif

I hiked up to the South Face of Terror, and found what looks like a nice line on the Terrifyingly steep wall.



Mike gets cell phone reception which is irritating, but he gets a weather report. Great weather ahead, irritation gone! Except the call to the girlfriend....

Link to comment
Share on other sites


8:30 AM, Blue skies

We gear up yet again for the Unknown:



We leave camp and do the half-hour hike to the base of a beautiful long buttress with a steep headwall above.


Wow! The rock looks clean, it's well-featured, and hopefully protectable. The gneiss in this area seems to have a good number of cracks for protection and some granite blended into the mix as well.


The Towers

I lead across the snowfield (directly above the Alien Dirt Ridge-the Meteor Impact Birthplace of THE BLOB), downclimbed 15' of snow, scrambled up the gully and gain the rounded ridge of the buttress. Mike takes the sharp end for probably 3 pitches of simul-climbing of glacial polished solid rock (4th-5.6) until the wall steepens drastically. Pitch 4 is my lead, finding some well protected climbing, sporty in nature, with a few 5.10 moves straight up the center of the buttress and over a little roof. Mike leads Pitch 5 with some more excellent climbing on solid rock and good pro, easy 5.10 again being the crux.



The highlight being a super fun/airy 5.8 dike traverse to the right. Pitch 6 lead me up the right center of the main headwall, up a thin dihedral with some great exposure gaining the arete above and the obligatory heel hook, and clocking in at 5.10.


Three great pitches in a row up bomber rock, solid cracks, and all with some 5.10 moves up the steep headwall! We are getting stoked....

Pitch 7 is lead by Mike, aka "Red Leader":


and following, I am thinking "this is one awesome 5.9 pitch!" The moves are fun, edges good, protection good, position spectacular. It starts out super steep (up the steepest part of the upper headwall) but the handjams and fingerlocks are so good that it didn't get harder than 5.9. I get to the top of the tower where Mike is, all psyched about the amazing pitches, look up, and OH, SHIT!

Between the headwall of the buttress and where we are lies a short ridge traverse, then a 150 foot knife of rock, and behind that an even larger tower. All in all, there are two major towers blocking our view to the summit, and they don't look connected. We feel like this is as far as we can go...shut down. I do the short traverse gaining the base of the first spire at 5.6 downclimbing (pitch 8),


then Mike leads out to the right, and is soon out of sight (pitch 9). These two pitches could be combined with some fancy slingwork, though the follower would suffer for it. Coming around the corner, I am mortified. Mike is belaying on the edge of a sheer precipice, and is pointing the way across this vertical wall via a series of small ledges.

"I already scoped it out, I am pretty sure it goes." Mike says grinning, handing me the rack. I look up and see nothing on the tower that shoots straight above me, so I lead out on thin edges, and up the dihedral to the notch at 5.9 (Pitch 10).


Mike following the dihedral:


Mike leads Pitch 11, gaining the West-East summit ridge of the Blob.



The climbing is 5.8. I get the lead on the summit scramble (5.4) and the final 12th pitch.


Mike joins me on the summit, and we give respect knuckles: Plan 9 has been climbed to the summit. But the route had still a ways to go though before the descent to the col after 7 hours climbing up to the main summit....



Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Ridge

Wayne Wallace said the traverse he did from the Rake Col to the Blob was really fun climbing. We would be doing it in reverse, so it would be different than on his Pickets Traverse climb, but it did look good (and long) from where we were. Looking at rappelling the route, we decided the traverse to the col was appealing for two reasons. First, it added 5-6 pitches of amazing climbing to our excellent route, effectively turning into a Grade IV. Second, the rappel into the col leaves us minutes from our camp. Mike leads ahead on a half-rope, and I follow simul-climbing.


The initial cliff looks intimidating, but down-climbing to the right gains the easier ridge below. We stop 3 times to re-outfit the leader,


and I lead the final simul-climb to the notch of the col. Each summit tower (there were around 6 or 7) provided a little cruxy downclimb or traverse and a ton of exciting exposure. The position from the ridges is nothing short of stunning, the exposure boggling, and the climbing is excellent! (5-6 pitches, a few 5.7 moves mostly 4th)

After 3 hours simul-climbing, two 150' rappels off horns straight down landed us on the top of the Rake/Terror col, and we are swimming in a pond above camp 25 minutes later.



We got back to camp 12 hours after leaving it.



The route:





We decide to descend the Terror Creek drainage since it is way more direct, and hopefully scope an easier way in as well. We took the traverse in across the Barrier since Mike knew that way for sure already. The ridge trail to the top of the slope at 3500' is spotty at best, and difficult to follow. The descent from the top of the slope was extremely steep, and we did not find the trail until a few hundred feet above Terror Creek. I would be reluctant to commit to this way as an approach, given the difficulty of trail finding and lack of available water, but it would be a lot quicker. The descent back to the car took about 6 hours, twice as fast as the approach.


In keeping with the B-Movie theme of "The Blob", we named our route Plan 9 because of the movie "Plan 9 from Outer Space" and it also reflects how unsure we were on WTF we were going to do. The climb is on The Ed Wood Memorial Buttress, and the 2-3 pitch traverse around the upper towers is The Bela Lugosi Traverse.

The climb starts in the obvious gully above The Alien Dirt Ridge (where the Blob came to earth in it's Meteor).


Gear Notes: Crampons and ice axe for moat crossing late season, medium rack to 3", double ropes for 2 long rappels, plenty of long slings and tat, no pins necessary. If you want, huck your crampons/axes off the ridge and get em later. Gummy Bears and Bacon and Smokables for climbing fuel.


Edited by Mos_Chillin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...