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[TR] Squire Creek Wall - Slab Daddy V, 510+, A0 9/20/2008


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Trip: Squire Creek Wall - Slab Daddy V, 510+, A0


Date: 9/20/2008


Trip Report:

On August 22 and 23 Bill Enger and I made the 4th ascent of the Squire Creek Wall route I have been working on since just after the last glacial epoch. The original ascent was made by Bill and me along with Dan Dingle last September but we had a punch list of pitches to straighten out, ¼” bolts to replace and odd moves to free before the route seemed ready for prime time. As usual we spent a couple of days up there, enjoying the cooler temps and more reliable friction. Look online for the upcoming article in the Northwest Mountaineering Journal.


Slab Daddy lives near the northern end of the mile-wide rampart of Squire Creek Wall and is reached by a fairly civilized approach along a decommissioned logging road followed by a shallow creek crossing and finally a 600-foot hike up through steep but largely brush-free old growth forest. The climb, which has tempted me since the previous century, turned out to be 22 pitches of pure Darrington joy. About half the pitches are 5.8 or 5.9 and the balance some sort of 5.10. While there is lots of bolt-protected slap and pray climbing that Darrington is famous for, there are also a good number of pitches on the wall that require gear, and one of them to at least four or five inches.


The route reaches 5.10+ in a couple of places but still a short section of the 20th pitch has kept us grabbing at the draws. Yarding by two or three bolts in this fashion should see regular mortals (like me) through the difficulties without recourse to standing in slings. We’ve been getting by with a rack up to #4 Camalot and a few doubles in the .75-2.5 range. Having one #4 assumes a willingness to run it out a bit on 5.8 laybacks.


The approach involves walking up the remains of the old road for about a mile and a half and then descending to Squire Creek at a point just opposite the route. To start the approach one walks across the landslide and regains the old road and at the far end. There are two points at which the roadbed has been washed out at culverts. The first has only a small bit of pipe exposed and the second, perhaps a half mile further on, reveals the entire metal pipe lying in the eroded creek bed. This is the signal that you are getting close.


After 150 walking steps up the road from the corrugated metal pipe one will be able to see that, 1. The road (trail) gently starts to angle away from the creek (left). 2. The sound of the creek reveals that it is about as close as it is gonna get and, 3. There are three stones about 8”-10” across naturally embedded in the right edge of the roadway. (this isn’t a cairn and is pretty subtle the first time past).


Descend to the creek in only a couple of hundred feet and hopefully arrive at a expansive gravel bar immediately opposite the slide alder swath coming down from the wall. If it’s the right spot there will be a truck sized boulder in the creek with a small bonzai tree growing out of it. On the other side of the creek, at the confluence of a small feeder stream and about 100 feet upstream from the crossing, is a largish bright boulder almost hidden in the brush.


Climb over the boulder and follow a path across the fern forest for a hundred feet until a short 15-foot uphill leads up and to the left and into the old-growth forest.


The path is not marked but we have walked the same way many times and a keen eye will be able to discern most of the path. Annual blowdowns and such do tend to obscure the path in places. At about 2/3 height a short rock slab and obviously avalanche-shattered tree will be visible 100-feet off to the right. Generally the route goes just far enough into the forest to stay away from the avalanche track out to the right. Stay in the big woods until just below the toe of the formation. Some years the bottom several pitches are buried in ice and avalanche debris until sometime in July.


When the little ice field has finally melted back one can walk up the boulders past the very lowest portion of stone until cleaner ramps lead easily out left to the first bolt. Three thousand feet of climbing later one will pull over the summit ridge and marvel at the madness.


The start of pitch 11



Otto on pitch 19



On the summit



Rapping past pitch 19



Topo (large file) to follow.


Gear Notes:

Gear to 6” with multiples .75”-2.5”, 12 draws, 2-50m ropes recommended

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Descend to the creek in only a couple of hundred feet and hopefully arrive at a expansive gravel bar immediately opposite the slide alder swath coming down from the wall. If it’s the right spot there will be a truck sized boulder in the creek with a small bonzai tree growing out of it.


This is the boulder you're looking for.




Slab Daddy Stoke



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Beautiful topo. Looks amazing. Thanks for all of your hard work and investment. Any idea how hard the A0 will be when it goes free?


According to some logic floating around here, the person who frees those moves can rename the entire line and claim the FFA :rolleyes:

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Did the approach with my 12 year old yesterday, just to check it out. She read the approach info from here, and found our way up there no prob. Pretty easy, short approach for a D-town big wall.

Kinda curious if the first pitch ever really dries. The first bolt was in the water course yesterday.

Anyway, thanks to Dave and crew for all of their hard work.

If anyone wants to jump on this any day in the next week or two, let me know.




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Sloth asked about bivy ledges on the route, and Argus mentioned the high ledge. David and Dan were pleased to find this great ledge at the top of what is now pitch 11, just below the Feature. It proved to be the key to spending large amounts of time within reach of the upper pitches. It is called the Balcony Bivy. Here is a typical morning coffee time on a typical working day, June 24, 2008:




Zack and Otto packing up to go down after the same work session. Note the yellow river-rafting dry bags lined up at the storage bolt in the bush. First two bags were purchased and deployed, found useful, and then another, and yet another. We didn't leave them up over the winter, but they worked out great during each of the last two seasons.




The ledge is broad and flat in three places, for comfortable sleeping. There is not a lot of water available on it, with just a little puddle, but there are good pools two pitches down. We fixed lines and jugged back up with 2.5 gallon bottles filled to stock the ledge.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Climbed the Slab Daddy on Saturday, 9/12 with Geoff Cecil. Besides being a bit hot, we had a great time. Our plan was to climb/bivy @ balcony/climb mostly because we weren't quite sure what we were getting into, but the first half of the route goes really quickly. We ended up climbing the whole route on Saturday, leaving packs at the top of 11, and bivying on the way down. We arrived at the top with barely any light left, and rapped back down to crash and finish the rappels the next morning. As nice as the Balcony bivy is, next time I'd take one small pack with lots of water, and do it all in a day.


Here's some pic stokage (I'm working on editing the bit of video I took):


Racking up the night before




Looking down the first two pitches...




...and up at the rest of the wall




Early on






Start of Pitch 11, the '50 meter headwall'




Did I say it was a bit warm that day?




Umbrella Tree and top third of the route




Looking down at the Balcony bivy




Following pitch 12. Packs are left behind!




Another view of the upper wall. Actually, only the last three pitches of Slab Daddy can be seen in the right portion of the pic.




Finishing up pitch 12




Savoring the shade of the pitch 13 corner. It was short lived.




Finally. Full time shade around pitch 18




Easy, wide layback. Pitch 19




East Face of Whitehorse








The approach and other beta from Dave is great. We had a 3.5 and old 4 camalot, and would have been fine with just the 4.

Super fun route with a great partner.


Thank you again to David Whitelaw and company for their huge effort in seeing this vision through, and sharing with the rest of us.



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