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leearden

[TR] washington pass - SUPERCAVE/166 10/4/2009

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Trip: washington pass - SUPERCAVE/166

 

Date: 10/4/2009

 

Trip Report:

-ellen pea route

-grade IV

-5.11

-1 hour approach

-8 pitches

 

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This wall caught our eye in 2007, 2 children ago, 5 dogs ago, 6-8 attempts ago, 5-6 trips ago.

 

So there we were, driving back east from WA pass and looking up the hill. L says “ho sheet, look at that cave!”

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Moments later, I was hooked too. Since L has done nearly every (note SLIGHT exaggeration) route in the western states and squamish, our team was in search of something with a little less certainty, more adventure etc.

Next time we each got the coveted kitchen pass, we decided against the sport-adventure of the humbugs and instead decided to pack the big wall b.s. to go check out the SUPER CAVE.

Getting there in light the night before we begin, we head up to the visitor center to TCB. We pick up some dude thumbing it down to Cutthroat t.h. named Blake who directs us to the obscure passage in the Beckey guide, naming the wall “M and M” wall, citing a route by Jim Langdon and Mead Hargis done in 1969.

Though we had been scooped by nearly 40 years, we’re still stoked, glad to be out of the ‘can, and anxious to get into that cave to find: Bigfoot, D.B. Coopers remains, piles of guano, or whatever.

After wasting hella energy fighting our way up an undetermined and untested approach…

 

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Traversing into the far right of a lower ledge, we arrive and note a bail biner on a nut 30feet off the deck. It doesn’t look like it has been there since the summer of love, but could possibly date back to before I was wearing package hammock verve-tights.

 

 

L fires p1, 5.11 up to a nice left leaning arch, capped by a classic Cascade shrub-wrestling move, ending at a pleasant stance.

My lead. L directs me to the beautiful double cracks leaving the belay up and left. I, for a moment, ponder the glory of sending on-sight that steep, compelling pitch that has been so conspicuous, even from the highway below. Turning my head sideways, I imagine it would look like this...

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...Pondering done, I take the easier ground, up and right for an unimpressive lead over mediocre terrain. Although I puss out royally I do manage to stick L with some lame-ass bush crawling and back-traversing to get back left to the top of the pitch I should have climbed. Anyhow, we’ve gained the second ledge to spectacular and steeper terrain.

We’re presented options here…

DSCF4016.JPG Beautiful, striking, glorious, (…think “Clean Break” p1 up Silver Star) cracks/flakes narrowing to a just perceptible seam, up a rope length, then out of sight to a possible traverse into the cave?

 

 

…or another left leaning arch/roof to a belay, then perhaps a stone’s throw (or grappling hook?) to the cave?

 

 

 

We choose the arch, (think p1 of “Central pillar of Frenzy” on mid Cathedral meets the “pressure chamber” on S.C.R.) and my lead. Stoked to redeem myself after frighting away from the double cracks, I’m off like a prom dress, jacked at the nature of the climbing, with L narrating as if reading from a beckey description.... ”Delicate climbing over green lichen under a large roof…….. 5.9”.

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His assessment from the gri-gri seems about right as I scoot along,

25 feet 2 pieces-

head: -no problem,

 

35 feet 5 pieces-

head: -wow this is heady,

 

45 feet 9 pieces-

head: -fuck, am I doubled back?,

 

90 feet 60 pieces-

head:-we should have went to Marcus because this sucks,

 

120 feet, and at the crux-

head: -I’ve used almost everything except what I need to make an anchor right here right now…

 

Again with the choices:

--1) Do what L would do… finish the pitch without a whimper, gear be damned, bring up the second as if it were a walk in the park. Or

--2) scream at partner something about how hard it is, or I hurt my finger, or I have diarrhea, or whatever. Then as the second is on his way up I can make excuses in my head for why I made the right choice to quit when I got scared.

 

 

 

So, as L is coming up I decide that my finger never really healed after climbing that blue problem at Wild Walls last February. NEXT GO FOR SURE!!!

 

L leaves belay…shows his junk

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L strolls the short crux, looks around at options, exits arch to the belay stance where a combined pitch logically ends.

It would look like this…

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In 2008.

 

2007. After L brings me up to a pretty good ledge(the least comfortable of the entire route). We are soclose to the supercave, it seems we could almost dyno sideways to grab the bushes hanging down out of the mouth of the supercave.

 

I climb up arch, try to exit arch towards cave. Face climbing seems possible. With a bit of moxie, a strong leader could have pulled the roof/arch, running it out 35+ feet over polished jizzlers and edges, all the while dismissing the prospect that a falling leader could potentially lob 50 feet onto or through the belayer.

As we rappel I remind myself that I probably could have finished that pitch and gained the cave if I didn’t have the diarrhea.

Not enough time to make another attempt on the cave via the cracks to the future. We decide to rap the double cracks, cleaning and sussing we’ve decided that if this pitch is any indication, this wall could be our project for years to come. We hike down, returning tomorrow to clean and work the double-cracks…

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A month passes, we must return to gain the cave. We’ve hit up all our friends for lost arrows and knife-blades and are ready for the cracks to the future.

 

My lead, I free climb for a while, but have brought the aiders.

IMG_1236.JPG I note how incredible the free climb will be when someone finally does, but we’re heading for the cave, take no prisoners. Cams, knifeblades and camhooks. 300 feet to the cave.

Now, my aid-climbing is only slightly quicker than "Piss on him as you pass Pete"(anyone who's had the displeasure of being stuck on a wall in the valley below that godforsaken red and white portaledge adorned as a Canadian flag will understand, that is really f-ing slow).

So, as i'm short fixing up and out of earshot, I wonder, what is L doing to occupy his time........

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Finally we gain the cave from the right. It's getting late,

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we rap 64 meteres out the left side of the cave, readying the pitch for a free ascent. ...

 

returning 3 more times:

--- we are able to top out without freeing everything, though L does manage to follow pitch 5 cleanly.

--- we again fail to free the 2nd and 4th pitch, then after I am unable to shake the overwhelming feeling that I am going to fall on my head, we bail from the cave

--- Then finally, this weekend, we sent the hard pitches.

 

It would have been very nice to have redpointed p5.

it would have been even nicer to have climbed the beautiful striped flake, hanging so aesthetically SUPPLE AND POUTING at the upper left of the wall.

it would have been even nicerto have climbed cracks to the future, (5.12?).

 

As fun as it has been having a nagging project eating at all of our free time for 3 years, keeping us from going other places for 3 years, we are both terribly happy to have some closure.

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

we used gear

 

Approach Notes:

park at m.p.166,

make for talus at lowpoint of gully... go up. When progress is blocked by a chockstone, scramble up left out of gully over loose terrain, 5.1 exposed, then back into gully.

Approach is easier and less scary when gully is choked with snow.

 

 

Edited by leearden

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Nice moves! Looks like some interesting climbing...especially the arch. Thanks for the pictures and nice TR. I can only dream of routes like that...thanks for fix.

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Really cool. I'm confused though. The wall has a route but yours is new, right? How many pitches and how hard was each one? Does it end at the cave then? Great pics.

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Jim Langdon and Mead Hargis used about 11 pitches for their "L and H route" in 1969. Though I missed an opportunity to climb the supercave with Jim to confirm the location of L and H, I have his topo of the route.

I believe L and H begins at the left, and lowest, point of the lower ledge. 5-6 pitches to the mangled tree and blocks at center of the upperledge.

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L and H then moves right, climbs cracks to the future(with only passive protection mind you), accesses and exits cave from the right,same crack. Jim's topo reads "3 inch horizontal cracks to tunnel behind flake, then 1 lead to top"

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Jim Langdon and Mead Hargis used about 11 pitches for their "L and H route" in 1969. Though I missed an opportunity to climb the supercave with Jim to confirm the location of L and H, I have his topo of the route.

I believe L and H begins at the left, and lowest, point of the lower ledge. 5-6 pitches to the mangled tree and blocks at center of the upperledge.

DSCF4097.JPG

L and H then moves right, climbs cracks to the future(with only passive protection mind you), accesses and exits cave from the right,same crack. Jim's topo reads "3 inch horizontal cracks to tunnel behind flake, then 1 lead to top"

 

And I'll bet swami belts as well.

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We didn't learn of L's and H's route position until after we had picked our route to exploit free climbing potential.

As far as I can tell the routes are independent, but intersect in the middle of highledge.

We begin at the far right of lowledge, and after gaining highledge we move left, under and past cracks to the future to the left facing roof/arch. There we take 2 pitches to enter caveleft. We exit caveleft UP and out. 3-4 pitches from the cave to the topout.

I've had a speedbump with my pictures, so I didn't complete the TR. I can offer a possibly false, poorly pasted, unprofessional rendition of belays used and lenghths to those interested.

So if any of you hardpeople don't want your on-sight to get ruined.....

 

 

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stop scrolling now..

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.

.I've indicated the belays we used with a capital B

We short fixed to climb cracks to the future( part of L's and H's) then I belayed L into caveright. I left a pin at my belay, indicated with a p

Also the first pitch, B1 is mislabeled, it should read 180 feet to lowledge.

.

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Looks like a nice adventure on a cool wall. In your opinion, is it worthy of being repeated?

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Absolutely.

This route was very clean when we started. It's even safer now.

This route is closer to the car than any other route of it's size at washington pass(I'm interested in comparisons). You could watch people breaking into your car.

This route faces due south.

this route catches weather protection from the ridges west of the wall, to the effect that we were once able to continue climbing in t-shirts through a squall obscuring the rest of the valley

5 of the 8 pitches begin and end in the same crack, No wandering.

This route has sustained pitches with good gear: pitches 1-6 are 5.11, pitches 7 and 8 are less.

 

this route is steep

july_08_029.jpg

 

Edited by leearden

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Arden, nice! Wish I could've gone with you guys to finish it up. Going to Leavenworth this weekend if you're interested.

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Yo! Thanks for the hitch-hike ride. I was up there this summer wondering if you guys would go back to finish up the project. Way to go.

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Now, my aid-climbing is only slightly quicker than "Piss on him as you pass Pete"(anyone who's had the displeasure of being stuck on a wall in the valley below that godforsaken red and white portaledge adorned as a Canadian flag will understand, that is really f-ing slow).

 

There is only one guy in the f-ing universe this could be! I sent the quote along to Piss on him as you pass Pete for a good laugh. Says he just got up Never Never Land for Yosemite route number 39, nobody pissed on him except the weather.

 

http://speedclimb.com/yosemite/compare.htm

 

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jeepers, thanks for the warm fuzzies...

 

anyhoo, i got a batch of L's pictures, and I found some from the upper portion of the wall.

 

L taking his shot at p5.

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and me following it

 

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and a few more beautifully composed shots down at some punter trying to follow L up p2....

 

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not bad eh? If I hadn't seen that incredible shot of Blake climbing through the clouds on "Gorillas in the Mist", these last would have been my favorite pictures of the year.

 

 

 

Nice, looks like fun.

 

 

 

 

 

So what's in the CAVE???

 

 

in the cave, it's impressive. as big as a tennis court, won't give further details but go check it out.

 

to access cave from the highledge, one could get up there 2 ways:

 

-- via the left....5.11 arch under the roof to a stance belay, then, mandatory free face climbing at 5.11c (now protected) to the cave

 

or

 

-- via the right, cracks to the future...a2, 5.8

 

 

Sign in at the cave register. I left a can of red rustoleum to record your thoughts on the cave wall. Please leave: your name, any new (or old) routes accomplished, the weather on the day of your ascent, poetry, favorite color, whatever thoughts happen to be going through your head at the moment, or whatever. enjoy

 

 

 

 

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..

 

 

jokes...... please don't do that

 

Edited by leearden

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Bump. We'd like to include this route in the NWMJ short reports section this year. If anyone knows how to get in touch with leearden or his comrades please send me a pm.

Thanks a ton,

Rad

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