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first ascent [TR] Index - Upper Town Wall - Swim + FFA of Free Swim 8/10/2011

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Trip: Index - Upper Town Wall - Swim + FFA of Free Swim


Date: 8/10/2011


Trip Report:

Another great Upper Wall route.


I first tried Swim a couple weeks ago and got a little pushed around up there to say the least. But I wasn't all that surprised as this is usually the case on Upper Wall climbs. My second time on the route I choose the solo top rope mini trax mission. While dangling around up there doing some scrubbing and TR'ing I got the bright idea of trying to free a variation around the original 4th pitch A0 bolt ladder.


On first inspection I didn't think it would be to bad. The free variation would start up the shallow corner of Steel Pole Bathbtub and then diagonal left across the bolt ladder onto an old aid pitch I put up 10+ years. Only problem was a fairly large (6ft tall) and loose toothpick shaped block that was barely attached. This thing had to go. And it went without much of a fight. To my dismay my original thought about the pitch looking easy was proved wrong. It was going to actually take some work to do and well to be honest I wasn't so keen on starting another involved project as my schedule was already pretty booked. But for some stupid reason I still got all excited about the project... and I'm bad at saying NO to good climbing. So after a couple more days of work up there which involved a bit of scrubbing and some bolting it was ready to go.



My luck with the weather has been great lately. Lows 60's and a chance of rain in the forecast meant good sending temps. Thankfully for me I found a stoked partner, Rachel, that would be game to go have a little adventure up there with me.


We met up at the parking lot a little before 3pm, which is a perfect time to start an Upper Wall route if you plan on climbing by headlamp...




(Rachel following the 2nd pitch 11d)



It felt nice to be grabbing freshly brushed holds and knowing where to go this time. The climbing was actually enjoyable. We quickly made it the big ledge at the base of the 4th pitch and the new free variation. I opted to pull through on draws for a quick refresher of the moves and one last brush of the holds. I came down, pulled the rope, put on a tighter pair of shoes and headed back up. I had worked the pitch just the right amount. I definitely wasn't sure i was going to send and had to improvise a few of the moves but I managed to make it through without incident. After the funky compact smeary corner crux the climbing eases off to cool, fun and casual 5.10 and eventually meets back up with the original route near the anchors. I can't really figured what to grade the pitch so I'm going to say Index,11d which in my opinion has ZERO correlation to Yosemite Decimal System. IF it were in Yosemite, it would probably be somewhere closer to 12/12+




(the upper 5.10 portion of the new variation)



Rachel followed giving it a good effort but had to resort to a bit of Batman technique through the crux.


The next 11b pitch went down with out much of fight though the sun had still managed to slip perilously close to the horizon. Rachel hurried up the pitch feeling the encroaching darkness. Only two more pitches to...




(good light and a shitty iPhone camera)



I crept up one more 11+ techy slab and nearly blew it on some dirty 5.10 that I mistakenly had not cleaned or climbed previously. I probably should of brought a head lamp as the climbing surely would of been easier if I could see.





Thankfully Rachel was kind enough to let me borrow her headlamp for the last pitch so I could figure out where to go. At somewhere close to 9:45 I topped out. I sure am good at turning a 7 pitch route into an adventure.





Gear Notes:

Mostly clips and slings with a few wedges thrown in for good measure.


Approach Notes:

Snohomish --> Lyndseys Lattes in Sultan --> Index town store for a croissant sammy --> Trail --> Bolts --> Top

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I'm really looking forward to comparing the .11d-ness of the first pitch (off the ground) with the .11d-ness of your new free pitch.

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Tried the (all free) route from ground to summit yesterday. Missed the upsight of the new pitch by one thumbpress. Great pitch; unfortunately I didn't have enough light for another run at it this time. I think keeping with the overall .11d rating will greatly increase the popularity of the climb...


...or something.


Nice work Mikey. I'll have to go back for this one sometime soon.



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Nice job up there Andrew. There was some tricky beta in the tight corner, impressive that you only missed one move.


For some reason I doubt the route will ever see more traffic than an ascent every few years regardless of the grade. There is very little love for the UTW in the washington climbing community.

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