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Dr_Flash_Amazing

Empty Park TR

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New Year's Eve; plans for a small, low-key gathering fall through, leaving Dr. and Mrs. Flash Amazing with nada que hacer for the usually celebratory eve. We spin a few platters on the hi-fi, nosh on some light comestibles, and lounge; nowhere to go and nothing to do. We quaff some winter ale (Maritime Pacific's outstanding Jolly Roger Ale from lovely Ballard, WA, for those keeping score at home), sip Mimosas, enjoy a delicious Tempranillo (Torres, on sale now for eight bucks at New Seasons market - a steal), and ponder what to do with the Doctor's fast-approaching day off.

 

DFA casually and half-jokingly suggests Smith Rock, although it's probably miserable cold and, at nearly midnight, it's a little late to be packing. Knowing that we'd probably just laze the day away on the couch anyway, we decide to hit the Park. A visit to weather-dot-com portends temps in the low 40s and cloudy skies, and no precip, so it's on.

 

The house is soon strewn with myriad cold-weather clothing; the bed disappears under a haphazard heap of down jackets, fleece, long underwear, hats, socks, gloves, tights, etc. The front room is dismantled in search of various climbing implements scattered in various corners, under the table, in the closet. Shoes paired up, chalk located, quickdraws accounted for, where's the rope?, here's a Gri-gri, harness is in the gym bag, approach shoes are around here somewhere, cram it all in the pack in some semblance of order. Ah, rope's out in the back room. Shove all available insulative clothing in on top, and it's ready.

 

Meanwhile, the Mrs. rounds up provisions in the kitchen; here's some Clif Bars from who knows how long ago, how about some pasta salad for lunch? Sure, it's 12:30, why not? Steam fills the kitchen, veggies scattered about, a little white cheddar in there, and lunch is ready. A handful of fresh red onion for some zing, bring some salami to put in later, and that's that. Coffee supplies are readied for the a.m., gear is double-checked, hey, what should we climb?

 

The Climber's Guide to Smith Rock is dug out of the bookshelf, looking a little dusty. What to climb on a freezing cold, short notice day trip? How 'bout all the routes .10a and easier between Shipwreck Wall and Asterisk Pass? Should be doable, most of them are 5.8 or easier, let's see, that's only ... 17 pitches. Could be done. That Florine character knocks off more pitches than that before breakfast. OK, everything's good to go, we've got a fine goal for the day, it's almost 1:30, rise and shine at 8:30.

 

A shitty night's sleep brings morning and Bob Edwards yammering out of the radio at what feels like far too early an hour. Blah. Perhaps we should just sleep after all? Nahhh. Into the longjohns, brush teeth, water on the stove, toaster breakfast, mental gear check, still asleep, coffee in the Thermos, throw all that shit in the car, don't forget lunch, pop the cartridge in the CD changer and hit the fucking road!

 

Hell yeah, traffic is practically nonexistent at 9:30 on New Year's Day, as the bulk of the population is contemplating whether to puke up all that Champagne or try to hold it down with salt and grease. The easy sounds of Chris Murray (one man ska band) give way to progressively louder and faster sonic accompaniment as the Subaru rockets us through the light snow at Government Camp and past various overly-cautious gapers intent on burning out their brake lights. Don't these fools know? We're going climbing; get the fuck out of the way! Go!

 

Out of the hills, across the surprisingly windy high desert plains, a quick pit stop at Safeway in lovely Madras, where we encounter what must be the only two punx in town, festooned in spikes and patches, hopelessly out of place amidst the sparse crowd of Carhartt one-piece insulated worksuits, big belt buckles, and cowboy boots. Back on the road, and Screeching Weasel's frenetically snotty punk rock carries us to the Smith parking lot. The Sub's thermometer reads 43 degrees, and it's blowing outside like the opening scene of 'The Wizard of Oz'.

 

No matter, we burrow into fleece and down, grab our packs, and depart the surprisingly full parking lot for some tuffage. We figure we'll start at Asterisk Pass and work back towards Morning Glory. Lots of hikers, more than we've ever seen here, and a couple folks with either llamas or alpacas coming down the river trail. We round Ship Rock expecting to see the usual queue at the base of 5-Gallon, posse on Magic Light, someone hanging on Churning, but we see no one. Nobody up at Shipwreck ... no hardmen huddled around propane heaters in Aggro ... no one tiptoeing up Vomit Launch in Cocaine ... not a soul to be seen from Churning to Cinnamon Slab. Could the park be empty of climbers? Nah. Further along, we head up the trail to the Dihedrals, where we spot no one edging up Watts Tots, no one plugging gear into Moonshine Dihedral, no crowd watching someone slap up Chain, no topropers at Bunny Face. Empty, empty, empty, all the way to the Phoenix Buttress. How about that?

 

Fuck, it's chilly, and the wind keeps gusting bad cold through Asterisk Pass. Into the harness, grab 1 2 3 4 ... looks like seven draws plus anchors, unpack the rope, how's that DBBB knot go again? Out of the warm shoes and socks and into the downright unpleasant velcro slippers. Check, double-check; harnesses doubled back, locker is locked, knot looks OK, she's the hand DFA's the climber, chalk up and off we go. 5.7 was a lot easier when you could feel your fingers and toes! The foot looks like it's on the nubbin, cold cold, wind wind, slooowww, anchors. Take! Pull the rope, the Mrs. leads it, numb digits and slow progress as well, at the anchors, cleans the pitch, back to the dirt, and it's been ... 45 minutes since we set the packs down. As it's almost 2 p.m., this could put a dent in our planned 17 pitches. So it goes, and who gives a shit? It was this or the couch, eh? The sky spits a little rain, but it's gone as soon as it starts. At least we'll get another pitch it; hopefully the rain doesn't set in for good.

 

On we go, fueled by small doses of hot coffee and cold Clif Bars, in and out of the haven of the down jacket, near-numb appendages scraping up tiny knobs, fumbling with draws, trying to see over the bulge of climbing shoes tucked inside the jacket to hook up the Gri-gri while belaying. Irreverence and Revelations are enjoyed, in slightly less time, but it still looks like we'll probably be lucky to make Bunny Face before it gets dark. More spatterings of rain, more coffee, drag the gear over to the dihedrals, marveling all the way at the silent emptiness of the park, save for the clatter of draws hanging on someone's project, the clatter of pigeons doddering about their ledges, and the occasional hiker hollering about something. A couple of climbers pass by sans gear, just checking out routes, wondering what's the matter with us climbing in decidedly less-than-ideal conditions. Just out having a good time. The Mrs. casts off up Captain Xenolith, cruising up the small nubbins; the pitch is far longer than expected, pushing the clock back a little farther. DFA cleans on TR and downclimbs over to the anchor on Helium Woman for what will be the last route of the day; basking in the frigid gusts falling like water from the jumbled summit above Go Dog Go. More coffee, another turn at belay duty, savoring the down jacket, then back on the TR for what the watch and the fading light confirm will be the last route of the day. Clean the anchor, back to the ground, cram everything back in the packs, and it's back to the car. Still no sign of anyone else with chalk-adorned frozen fingers.

 

The trip back is marred upon arrival in Madras, where we discover that Martina's is not open. The dream of finishing off a fine day with carne asada tacos is dashed, so we finish off one last Clif Bar and hope that a brewery will be open in Portland. Thankfully, the Laurelwood is open when we get back, and meat and beer are gratefully consumed as we recall the fantastic and dodo-rare experience of being the sole climbers at Smith. A little cold, a bit of a hassle for just a few short hours of climbing, and damned if we didn't score less than 30% on hour 17 route goal, but it was an excellent day. We'll surely think of the wonderful emptiness next time we have to battle for parking, pass 50 people on the way down the trail, and take a number to get on whatever warm-up.

 

Happy New Year. bigdrink.gif

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that TR makes a grown man cry. I feel like a waste sitting in a warm office sipping coffee from a glass coffee cup dreaming of sending a few routes. Think Spring

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No, wank-o-riffic. Read the post: it's FURTHER proof, just another nail in the coffin, et cetera, et cetera.

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You lucky DFA!!! beats hell out of my New YEars Day wich consisted of Pizza and napping wink.gif

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Truly sick and demented going all the way to Smith for a day of numbing-cold climbing! But I love it, great TR!

That TR makes my run around Green Lake yesterday seem very warm and dry in comparison!

Coffee and Clif Bars with bone chilling climbing in rock shoes and a ten hour drive all in one day... makes me nauseous just reading about it.

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Dodo rare indeed! Now you've gotten me all excited for my upcoming excursion to Smith next weekend!

 

P.S. Nice TR

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Hah, I was there with my parents on New Year's Eve. The weather was perfect, warm, and 6, yes, only SIX people were in the park (not including tourons). We did all the route on Morning Glory (except Zebra Zion). God, Smith is SO much nicer when nobody is around!

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DFA, I have long admired your entertainment value, but will hand it to you on this thread. You managed to turn a few sport pitches of otherwise routine tuff at Smith into a TR of epic proportions.

 

I can also relate to your source of "fuel." What kind of coffee did you say you were you drinking?

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Gumby trad climbers Ray Borbon and I knocked off more multi pitch feeding frenzies than that on several occassions at Smith Rock bolt boy.

 

Our inspiration? Bachar and Long's Half Dome Day as told by John Long.

 

Score one for the Washington Trad Klan.

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damn doc, you used to be highly entertaining... did you fuck up and get a job or something?

bigdrink.gif

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CHA-CHING! Holy F-ing classic thread resurrection!

 

thumbs_up.gif

 

Glad to have caught that. Sounds like 90% of my climbing career, though we didn't have the micro-brews, fine coffee, cacaphonous canned anomie, or qds. Or your culinary flair, but ham sandwiches require no brain.

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Excellent TR!

 

The best part was how well you hid your disappointment at not being able to pose down and beta-spray in your usual manner. hahaha.gif

 

Those are good days at Smith. thumbs_up.gif

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