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[TR] Squire Creek Wall, Darrington - Slab Daddy V 5.10+ A0 6/1/2014

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Trip: Squire Creek Wall, Darrington - Slab Daddy V 5.10+ A0


Date: 6/1/2014


Trip Report:

Yes, we broke the carabiner. No, we found the hanger that way. Details later.IMG_11254.JPGSlabDaddy_2014_V_5_10_A0_038_re_size.jpg






To our chagrin the snow pack was cavernous guarding the wet streak of the first bolt. Prudence demanding, we aimed a little right for a ledge across thicker snow. As the snow progressively became too hard for my climbing shoed feet, I chopped steps with a #4 C4. I was pleased with myself… ha.


Across the first obstacle my numb fingers fiddled in some small cams (C3 and a mastercam) and I traversed to the wet smear. In it, thick moss and algae surrounded a bolt smack in the middle. Delicious. And slab of course. The next sequence involved aiding, gardening, muddy shoes and desperately trying to stand on slab while groveling a poorly placed tricam and repeated popping of a number one ball nut. Colorful vocabulary deflagrated across the valley. Hands down, this was the scariest part of the entire route for me. Finally past the first “5.8” move we had serious doubts. Was the rest of the route going to be like this? With courage, Matt followed up the ropes. A similar challenge awaited him on pitch two.


Pitch two, 5.10 something, squarely placed in the next wet streak on the wall. Cleverly, he moved out right, set a few small brassies in the rib crack and tension traversed back down to the first bolt. Clip. Moving left, he made the next moves on dry rock to the second bolt in the streak. Clip again. Rather than continue with the heinous shenanigans, he harnessed his huevos and ran it out left up the easier cups. Success greeted him at the 2nd anchor.


What had we gotten ourselves into…


In all seriousness, if the first pitch has a wet streak at the bolt, you may be better served exploring the forest up and to the right of the route to try bypassing directly to pitch 3.


Pitch 3 passed with ease, only moderate algae with the bolts on mostly dry rock.


Feeling sassy, Matt linked pitches 4 and 5 with our double 60’s. Finally we were making progress!


Pitch 6 was spicy, slap and pray indeed. A little step across a wet streak and up we went. Water = bad.


Matt thoroughly enjoyed pitch 7. The 10’s on the wall seem to be much more closely bolted than the 9’s. On whole, we encountered a lot of loose bolts en route, tightening about 40% of all total. Ha! Looks like we were the first ones up for the season.


8, 9, and 10 went without consequence and we had finally reached the 50m headwall. Leading out with style, Matt graced his way up. Inspired by the beauty of the face, I followed clean haul bag and all. Excellent pitch. We salute your vision Mr. Whitelaw.


Relieved and amazed, we arrived to the beautiful balcony bivy by 3 o’clock. Not bad for all our shenanigans. In all truth, we didn’t think we’d make it after the first two pitches.


To our extreme good favor there was a bountiful puddle on the north side of the ledge, a steady trickle in and out. WE HAD WATER! WOOHOO! We’d had suspicions from the large tear streak on the right side of the head wall, but now it was confirmed. Note: if there’s a streak on the head wall, there’s water at the bivy. If not, probably want to water up on the lower ledges.


Within the hour we were in the shade, sitting fat and happy. Refreshed and not wanting to lead 5.10 straight off next morning, we rustled our gumption and I put up the next pitch without the burden of a pack. Another stellar pitch. Ropes fixed, our minds a little more at ease, we enjoyed our first ever planned bivy on a wall. This was living life. Moonless night, the stars were spectacular.











Next morning Matt woke first, the sun finally prying me out of my bag as it cracked over the ridges. Breakfasted and packed, we touched the ropes at 7.


Pitch 13 was less enthusing for Matt with some slimy crack/corner. Overall it passed. However, the anchor surprised us with the broken/sheared hanger. 24kn firmly stamped in the stainless steel. Holy sh**. What terrifying forces were above us? Was there more waiting to clobber US? We had fear in our hearts. Matt styled out an anchor by screwing a wire nut to the bolt, which we decided to leave in place.







Pitch 14 followed with good fun. Little spicy, nicely protected. Cool open book feature at the top of the pitch with high committed feet to clip the bolt.


Matt was up. Pitch 15. Executing nicely, he moved through the first 5.10 sequence. Traversing out right to the face he began to pass from view. Up, clip. Up, clip. A little more rope out, a little more rope out. Moments pass. Slack hastly develops, I pull it back as fast as I can. I wait. Ting… ting… swirl. A blue case of chapstick pirouettes through the air. That’s odd… Why was it tinging? I look up and Matt’s back in my view, wide eyed. “What happened, a little fall?” “THE CARABINER BROKE!” “What!?!”


In his (Matt’s) own words: On pitch 15, according to the topo, "there is a committing 5.9+ sequence that takes you to an isolated ledge". I attempted to reach the ledge-ish area by climbing high and to the left. Reaching out for the edge of the ledge, I slapped, prayed, and fell. I bounced and slid down directly upon my last bolt five feet below me. I was jerked askew and heard a popping sound. I noticed the rope-end carabiner on my quickdraw was broken as I continued to fall further over clean wide-open granite. The next bolt held and arrested my fall. All told, I had fallen twenty-five feet and could now see Alex again. I hollered down about the broken biner. He calmly responded to double check the ropes and my harness for damage. Everything looked fine so I climbed back up to the now lop-sided draw and replaced it with two, one for each rope. What can I say? I was feeling a bit spooked. I chose a slightly different sequence, attacking the ledge head-on, smearing up the blank rock, which worked much better. Once I had gained the ledge, I looked up and saw that the next bolt was still twelve feet away! oh, Darrington.


My personal analysis of the broken carabiner is as follows: I believe that as I fell, my body slid along the bolt, draw, and carabiners attached to the draw through which my rope went, the rope-end carabiner gate was forced open as the left leg of my harness slid part-way into it. The biner was then shock-loaded in the open position against the static leg-loop of my harness. The way in which the force was applied put pressure on the most vulnerable part of the biner, in a way it is certainly not designed to be used, causing it to snap. Jeremy and the other pros at AAI agreed that an open gate, minor axis, shock loaded biner would not be very strong. Less than any of the ratings listed on the biner. This was a weird rare event. One that I am happy to be walking away from.








Pitch 16 was fun.


17 interesting. Feeling worked, we traversed out right avoiding a harder 10 sequence. This brought us direct to the easy blocks.


18 was easy blocks, though a little loose.


19 wasn’t nearly as ugly wide as we’d thought. A #4 walked up nicely under the large flake, and at the mouth of the wider 4-6” bulge was a smaller crack that took a small cam. Don't bring a #5 C4.






20 was a bear. Fortunately, there were button heads galore. The hour was getting late, we were worked, and French freeing was sounding very appealing. Taking full advantage of the liberal smatter of pins and bolts, we were able to aid our way through most of the pitch.


21 was pretty. Finger lay backs in a nice crack brought just below the final pitch to the snag. We couldn’t believe how close we were! Gear recommendation for this is 0.5 times 3, tri cams placed nicely as well as we only had doubles.


One thing had become clear, the higher we got, the tighter the route held its prize. There was no easing up. 22 had some pucker. The first 5.9 section is gross. Slim gear and a big committing move right. On the first go I backed down, foot slipped and I actually smelled burning rubber… Yikes. Perfect hand crack welcomed me once across. The steep 10- section above was steep and awkward. Funky jams, high feet, weird finger lock. Fell once, then placed a higher cam and pulled through. We had somewhere to be. A little gardening and funky pro, then suddenly, we were on top.







We had cell reception at the car, bivy, and the top. Thanks Verizon


We made the top at 6. It took eleven hours to climb eleven pitches. The top half of the climb is harder and steeper than the bottom half. Don't try to combine pitches 18&19 into a long rappel. Your ropes will get stuck (ours did). Our ropes also got stuck on pitch 13. Alex the rope gun bailed us out both times. We arrived at the bivy ledge around 9 and realized we would not be into work on Monday. We arrived at Train Wreck just after 1:00pm Monday. Great Climb!!!


Gear Notes:

Double set cams finger-#3. Triple #1 and #0.5 (pitch 21) would be useful. Bring a #4 and some micro cams, set of nuts, set of offset brass nuts, 4 tricams, 3 small ball nuts and 14 draws. Metolius Torque nut tool, and 2-6 bolt hangers. Alex liked the green 6" big bro on pitch 22.

Edited by HighLife

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bitch'n'camero :rawk:


I ran over my neighbor's dawg :fahq:


Nice clamberin HL et al. :rocken:



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you guys are not first up there this year. it has seen a lot of traffic in may. i see climbers using this superlight weight gear all the time, and i ask them if they fall on it a lot .. they usually reply, Fall? Never! i have taken many falls over 70 feet on squire and seen a guy from germany fall about 90ft after zipping out his kb,s onto a 1/4" bolt i had to talk him into placing there, just for that reason, on zips wall. Now that i am getting much older, and WAY LESS BOLDER, i have been going back and placing Mass bolts on many of my routes that i used to solo free climb. The cheese grater stuff can rip you up, if you dont know how to fall on it. Saw 4 bolts this year ripped out by rock fall on squire so far, THIS YEAR. yea, we were up on "something amazing". surprised you dint hear us. i love to yell, esp. in the morn and night ....

Edited by crazedmaniac

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Maniac is manicuring his routes for the masses!? Tell us more!

Nice work gentlemen. Seems like a lot more gear than I thought was needed. Thanks for your opinion.

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Another great TR on this modern classic!


In all seriousness, if the first pitch has a wet streak at the bolt, you may be better served exploring the forest up and to the right of the route to try bypassing directly to pitch 3.

We ran into similar conditions - snow cone on pitch 1, wet streak on pitch 2 - but found a dry climbing alternative to the right that went at around 5.8, if a bit runout

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HighLife- Great TR glad you survived the carabiner snap in two trick- Plz check your PM's, hoping to get a closer look at that hanger if possible.





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IIRC it's pretty common for snow creep, avalanches and rockfall to damage bolts on certain alpine slabs.


Labyrinth in the Darrans of NZ needs to have a couple bolts replaced every few years for instance.


So far Yak Pk seems exempt from this

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NOT the masses. just '4 ME'. cause im old, and way less bold. Old injury's (spinal cord)are screaming at me. Point i was making, if a piece failed on me like this, i probably wouldn't be here telling you about it. Have only broke 3 biners in falls (crossing on bolt hangers, and already stress cracked, cause of being dropped/hit on rock or ?) and 'allmost allways', place a nice HEALTHY old school biner when im looking at a long fall above that.

The past cpl of years, it looks like the MASSES have been up to squire walls, tho. Was told the other day that in only the past cpl of years, there has been more people using the engineers trail to big tree, (up from the old parking lot, logging landing)than all the years combined before that. I did some quick math, and i highly doubt that. i have personally taken up more than 80 DIFFERENT people up there, of which way MORE than 1/2 of them have gone back MORE than a doz. times, and bringing others with them. i have personally gone up 'that way' more than 400 times, and with MORE THAN 3 people, almost ALL those times. (you do the math) Good times, and you couldn't tell it, as we didn't take saws and prunning tools, and we went different ways, except for the obvious places, that have now been been 'marked' with tree removal. We actually enjoyed losing our way, cause it was a test, to see how we did in the devils club and knawly thick bushes and tree falls. more of a attitude test. It NOW looks like the MASSES have been there.

One bent cedar tree, that had become polished by having MORE THAN 1,000x,s, hands rubbing on it over the years (before a cpl years ago) on a steep slope, was cut last year, cause it was "in the way?" i counted the rings SAME DAY this climb here was going on, and it was about 80 HEALTHY yrs old (where it had been cut, so way more than 80,s yrs old). It hadn't changed much over the 28 years i HAD been pulling on it. Only getting stronger with all the pulls on it, as we swung around it. I have a great story to go along with that one. There has been way to much marking of the trails, by removing thick moss on rocks, my 'favorite' super sweet mass producers OF blueberry bushes, small old firs and super old cedars, ... '4 ME'.

By the way, one of the first accents up Squire Wall's was done just to the left (south) of this route, big daddy, w/o any 'beta' or bivy gear. 3 days of climbing to the top and back down,(dinkin around slabs)not the easy way. Dj and friend.

A lot of the climbing here in the pacific north west, is about the APPROACH, as much as it is about the rock, and getting off.

i can tell you , more?

LOVE YOUR PICS, high life! THANKS!!!

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