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Alpinfox

[TR] Exfoliation Dome - Darrington- Muddy Fingers

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Climb: Exfoliation Dome - Darrington-Muddy Fingers - SE Buttress of Witch Doctor Wall

 

Date of Climb: 9/23/2006

 

Trip Report:

 

On Saturday AlpineDave, Micah, and I had a go at a potentially new route on the Witch Doctor Wall (East side of Exfoliation Dome).

 

The east side of Exfoliation Dome is visible as the left skyline from a few spots on the road. It is extremely steep (overhanging in spots) probably averaging 80 degrees or so.

 

A quote from MattP's website:

Exfoliation Dome is not just a crag, but a mountain peak with no simple route up or down. The main faces on the dome are called Blueberry Hill (facing west) and Witch Doctor Wall (facing east). Somebody named Beckey first climbed it in the ’70’s via the steep northeast face, one of the most imposing walls in the Darrington area with the added reputation of being covered in bushes, lichen and general filth. This reputation is not entirely deserved.

 

Mr. Beckey pronounced the Dome “quite possibly the most difficult 4,000 foot peak in the State of Washington” and he is probably right.

 

In addition to Fred's "Witch Doctor Wall" route, David Whitelaw, Chris Greyell, & Mark Hannah have a route called "Solar Wall" and Dave Burdick and Mike Swanike have a route called "Voodoo Wall". There are a couple other routes up there including "Sunday Cruise" which MattP, Jim, and The Catbird climbed recently. All of these routes connect various flakes of the exfoliating granite for ~7 pitches up the main east face of exfoliation dome. Just to the south of the main wall is a prominent buttress that has some brushy spots, but looked like it might have a good route on it. We spied "a splitter!" about 3/4 of the way up the wall, so our plan for the route was basically just to get to the splitter and climb it.

 

We saw a couple of old rotten slings (one at the first belay and another off to the right several pitches up) so this route (or a similar one) may have been climbed before, or at least rappelled. Matt Perkins mentioned the "Sprague Ackley/Hope Barnes" routes, but I don't know anything about those. More info would be appreciated.

 

Dave wrote up a nice trip report with lots of pictures, so I'll just give ya'll a link:

 

snaf.gif<--CLICK THE SNAFFLE!!!

 

Here is a video I shot of Dave starting the first pitch:

<--CLICK THE SNAFFLE!!!

 

Here is a funny (I think) video of Dave on the fourth pitch:

<--CLICK THE SNAFFLE!!!

 

I enjoyed the adventure of this route, but the amount of dirt, lichen, mud, and trees will probably prevent most folks from checking it out. Dave (with hindsight) is now murmurring about going back and improving the route. I believe it really could be a nice free climbing route. It might take a couple of bolts to straighten out the line and make it more aesthetic, and it will certainly take a lot of scrubbing and digging, but it might be worth it. The 40m "Muddy Fingers" pitch in particular could be ****. I'd love to climb it again if it were clean.

 

 

Gear Notes:

Arc'teryx folding saw (used several times) - Don't bother trying to find one of these. Dave has a special sponsorship deal.

1/4" hand bolt kit (didn't use it)

scrub brush (used once or twice)

Hammer and ~6 pins (didn't use)

rack of doubles to #4 camalot

Lots of small, and very small, cams for the "muddy fingers" pitch - I had to back-clean and lower down to retrieve gear more than once.

 

Approach Notes:

The trail up to Witch Doctor Wall is pretty easy to follow.

 

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I guess I could do with some reading comprehension exercises. Gary, are you still teaching those? wink.gif

 

Didja rap the route and leave slings on trees?

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Didja rap the route and leave slings on trees?

 

Yeah, we slung two trees. One full 60m rap from the top of the "Muddy Fingers" pitch (p5) got us to our belay at the top of the third pitch. From there, a 50m rappel got us to the ground. No rope snags! thumbs_up.gif Scariest part of the day.

 

 

p.s. I added another video link to the original TR. yellaf.gif

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bigdrink.gifthumbs_up.gif

 

I really like that area of ExfoDome- Solaris was a blast! Good to see someone getting up there.

 

MH

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That is so sweet that you guys walked up to X-Dome in this day and age and knocked off 5 pitches onsite no bolts. I hope you spend you all your freetime cleaning it up.

 

D

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Here is a funny (I think) video of Dave on the fourth pitch:

<--CLICK THE SNAFFLE!!!

 

Yeah thats funny! I hope he at least bought that bush a nice dinner.

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Congratulations to Micah, Dave, and Pax on your big climb. That looks like a lot of neat fun. Especially that 5th pitch when you get it cleaned up. Let me know when it is clean. thumbs_up.gif

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Way to go, guys! There may be a few bushes over there, and a tad bit of lichen, too, but it is a cool walll, no? That dome is way special.

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Here is a funny (I think) video of Dave on the fourth pitch:

<--CLICK THE SNAFFLE!!!

 

Yeah thats funny! I hope he at least bought that bush a nice dinner.

 

 

Very nice! That looks like a lot of fun cantfocus.gif Definite kudos for the ground up, no bolts or excessive scrubbing on the ascent. On top of it all you got to do some tree wrastling on the way up. yellaf.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

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Here's an excerpt from the 1989 Washington Rock Climbs guide by Jeff Smoot: 606444-smoot.jpg

 

Might one or the other of these be near where you climbed?

606444-smoot.jpg.a22e8ec655f1b8ebfa45a7169ea5eba3.jpg

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I have some pictures somewhere showing what a friend and I thought was OBS and WDE. I’ll post it if I can find it. Muddy Fingers looks nothing like I remember OBS although it could be in the WDE area. The approach to OBS was longer than Smoot’s description would suggest.

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Might one or the other of these be near where you climbed?

 

No, we were well to the left of OBS*. OBS is pretty much as far left as you can get on the main wall. We were on the buttress to the left (south) of the main wall. It's separated from the main wall by a brushy, lower-angle depression.

 

Here is a picture:

606452-MF-OBS.jpg

 

Red = Muddy Fingers, Yellow = OBS* (note huge flake with gianormous chimney behind it marked by the upper yellow arrow)

 

*Edit: Apparently I'm totally wrong about the location of OBS. See DavidW's post below.

 

 

Also note that this picture makes our buttress look low-angle. As you can see in the pictures in Dave's trip report, it's not.

 

606452-MF-OBS.jpg.3763e345fc8bcb3b7bbb6a336b572787.jpg

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Hmm ...I think we thought OBS more to the left but my memory is pretty poor...I think OBS and WDE were reported in an old issue of the Mountaineers Journal. perhaps a better description of the routes resides there.

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PP- It would be great to see your picture if you can find it.

 

... edited to remove incorrect guessing yoda.gif

 

anyhow, it was fun to get back up in there and doing it all clean was a nice bonus.

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I cant believe anyone who had been to D-Town would haul out a Smoot description for anything! I had a couple of discussions with Sprague Ackley who now lives in France at the time I was putting Rattle & Slime together,

 

1. The route shown in yellow on the previous photo is NOT Orange Blossom Special. OBS is probably 400-500 feet left of Burdick's new line in an obvious orange colored corner/slab feature... See Rattle & Slime.

 

2. Witch Doctor's Elixir is the name of the route Ackley put up on the left margin of the Witch Dr. Wall. I sent Sprague a photo precisely like the one posted on this thread and asked if his Elixir route went where the yellow route is shown....... He said it did not and that it was probably in the main corner/gulley that marks the end of the wall. I pointed out that his description seemed to match the features there very well and he said he was certain that he did NOT climb there. Soooo go figure... have the years dulled Sprague's memory? Did he climb in and around the right wall of the corner as he described? I havent actually walked up to the bottom of big corner, mostly cause if it goes up that.... I don't need to know more! Sprague felt that after so many years he wouldnt be able to do better than he had at the time and declined to actually draw a line on a photo. WDE does not go anywhere close to Fred's line..Solaris is the next line left of Fred's.

 

3. In Washington Rock (1982) Brooks mentioned that there was a short way off Exfo Dome by making three raps to the ground off the "back-side" of the West Slabs. That descent goes more or less where Burdick's line goes and may explain the slings he found. I've spoken to two parties who have made this descent so its possible it could have been used more often than is known.

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I really like the bush movie. If you guys will give me "rights," maybe I'll add a link to it on the Darington Rock Climbing website.

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I really like the bush movie. If you guys will give me "rights," maybe I'll add a link to it on the Darington Rock Climbing website.

 

Sure Matt,

Link away.

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