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[TR] Squire Creek Wall - Oso Rodeo 9/5/2011


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Trip: Squire Creek Wall - Oso Rodeo


Date: 9/5/2011


Trip Report:

Climb: Oso Rodeo, V 5.10 FA


Date of Climb: 9/3-5/2011


On Labor Day weekend Bill Enger, Jim Shokes and I completed a new line at the northern end of Squire Creek Wall. It took two seasons; back and forth, nobody there except us, the hummingbirds and the frogs.


A couple years back we had thrashed our way over from the base of the Daddy and there it was, our new beginning. It starts in a kind of hollow grotto, a narrow swan's neck of granite, twisting its way down from way the hell up there, curving and white. Here we could start.


The line is plenty obvious; a twenty-five hundred foot twisting, bucking grand tour. Wet winter daydreams convinced us we could pull it off in two seasons rather than four so as soon as the darkness dried out we were on it. A half mile of sweaty, Squire Creek stone. One day at a time. One move at a time. One bullet at a time.


The first season got us half way. Ten pitches. Eighteen days of working it every way we could. No daze off for sport climbs. No crisp alpine wire-gate weekends. Hammer hammer, twist twist, tendons stretched and the girlfriend is pissed. September came and went. Then in October, late in the day, with all the leaves on fire we tagged the ledges that became the Pool Hall. A comfy bivy spot half-way up the route had been our fantasy, and this one had all of that and a pool of water; a shitload of water! Hundreds of glistening liquid gallons and my elbows were laughing in silly delight; no more jugging with heavy sloshing loads!


Fast forward ten long months. In July this year a sloping ice field of accumulated avalanches survives massively deep across the bottom of the wall. We bring crampons and ice axes to get across. The upper half of the climb takes two and three day outings to be productive. The problem is getting way up there with enough time left to put something together. Usually we were stoked to finish a pitch per day but sometimes it all clicked more easily. It seemed easiest on the nerves to not fantasize about what might lay ahead. We'd just get ourselves up there and attempt to climb the best thing we thought we could actually pull off. Definitely keeping' it real! One fine day Bill, Jimbo and I climbed the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth pitches. The following day saw us up the eighteenth. We wuz onna roll! And it was time to get down.


Contrary to local norms this season's labor day promised believable goodness and so we were back. Still in the sunshine, still two hundred feet to go. Two pitches. Two seasons. Too good to be true! The eighteenth had been a big choice; we'd gone straight up where we could see it and the rock was perfect. We picked the song we liked best and hoped we could dance the tune. There wouldn't be many more choices to make! The nineteenth turned into an elegant rising traverse across slippery, sloping ramps. Eventually it leads to a scary-looking flake system with underclings, fat cracks and laybacks. Another set of anchors placed and suddenly it's just one pitch to go. The last hoo-rah; a yellow brick escalator of bubbly textures and sweet little edges. A hundred feet of perfect stone and then the trees. Down-dangling arms of hanging cedars waited for us. The smell of rotting cedar duff groped for us from beneath the ridge-crest's dark mossy blocks. On the left, six feet below the mess a little ledge answered the question. We were there.






The cool restorative waters of Squire Creek



Pitch Five: Bill trying out his brand new 9.8mm Edelweiss Curve



Pitch Seven: Smoothness at the start of the Black Overhang pitch



Pitch Ten: Whitelaw on the cool quartz sills above the Pool Hall



Pitch Thirteen: There’s still a long way to go



Pitch Fourteen: It’s not always sunny! Yale Lewis juggin’ loads.



Pitch Sixteen: Easy slabs lead up to some cool cracks on this pitch



Pitch Eighteen: Fine slab dancin’ way up there



Pitch Twenty: Some gentle flakes to start the last great pitch


Route topo and approach topo to follow.


We’d like to extend our special thanks to Francis McGrody, Jimbo Shokes, Yale Lewis, and John Medosch for two years of hard labor humping loads, digging cracks and helping us get it done.

photos by David Whitelaw and Bill Enger


Gear Notes:

Standard rack to gold Camalot. A cruxy spot on the first pitch protects well with a #5 Camalot, not needed higher up.

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During the summer of this year we put aside other interests and got up on Wild West circus ride of Oso Rodeo whenever the weather was good. I believe I did ten separate trips up there, of various lengths, and spent 14 nights on the wall.



Liberty Mountain rep Carl Pelletier at the top of the crux seventh pitch. He had just done the Black Overhang mantleshelf, on first try, a move which had me intimidated all summer.



John Medosch after removing an off-route piton anchor which had gained us access to the U-Shaped Bowl above pitch 12.



We lift a glass for Francis McGrody who cleaned the finger crack on pitch 11 and the start moves in Otto's Grotto. He hauled gear and ropes, always with good humor.



After a good three days of work on pitches 14 and 15 with Yale Lewis, our 4-day plan was cut short by rain. Here Alex Enger and I rap off in the fog. His foam roll had fallen off and came to rest on these helpful steps.



On summit day, Jimbo Shokes at his anchor ready to belay the final pitch.



And David doing what he does so well, assessing the next one, making it go. Thanks for finding the line, move after move, keeping to the good clean rock, creating memorable pitches along the way.


photos by David Whitelaw, John Medosch, Yale Lewis and Bill Enger

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And the topos are the best I've ever seen. Excellent job on the topos too.


But, just as an interesting point of discussion, has anyone else noticed how the tree (conifer) cartoons are all backwards?


Maybe David did this intentionally, to look like other tree cartoons. But if you compare the direction of the branches in the cartoons (downward) to the ones in the photos (usually outward or upward), you'll see what I mean.


Of course, they are just cartoon sketches (and nice-looking ones at that). My comment is for those who might be interested in a common misrepresentation of conifers...





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