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Ryan Hoover

[TR] Darrington - Slab Daddy, Oso Rodeo and Illusion Wall 7/3/2014

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Trip: Darrington - Slab Daddy, Oso Rodeo and Illusion Wall


Date: 7/3/2014


Trip Report:

Finally got an opportunity to climb in the Squire Creek Area With Michal Rynkiewicz. It started as just Slab Daddy, then turned into me taking an extra day off work and our plans spreading to the rest of the routes in the area. We end up climbing 8 routes over 4 days.


The climbing on Squire Creek Wall is phenomenal, our favorite being the Illusion Wall. It seems crazy people aren't climbing out here more. Steep slab, splitter cracks, and tons of knob action with a relatively short approach.


We hiked in Wednesday night and camped at the river crossing going up to Slab Daddy and Oso Rodeo. We scouted the approach and ditched some water at the base of Slab Daddy.


Thursday we linked up Slab Daddy and Oso Rodeo, offering 42 pitches of excellent slab climbing. We did each route in about 5 simul blocks each. Most of Slab Daddy was slightly damp and in the fog, giving the route a erie feel. It cleared up and gave us perfect overcast for Oso. Both routes were a ton of fun.


Can you tell this is mid route on Slab Daddy?



Fun Corner - Slab Daddy



Stoked to top out Slab Daddy!



Slabbin out on Oso



Nearing the Top




We slept in Friday after feeling a little drained from the day before. We hiked to the base of Illusion wall and went up The Engineers route and Dingbat. The Engineers route offered fun 5.9 climbing on some rusty 1/4" er's. It follows the far left hand skyline of the Illusion Wall. Dingbat is a amazing variation consisting of .10 crack, slab and climbing on steep knobs comparable to those of Iconoclast.


Illusion Wall



Top of Pitch 1 Engineers



Pitch 2 Engineers



Pitch 3 Engineers



Looking down the amazing Dingbat




On Saturday, we climbed the Page, Excalibur and The Holy Grail. Each route consistently surprising us with pitch after pitch of amazing climbing, protected well with either bomber new 3/8 stainless or splitter cracks. Illusion wall is much steeper and more featured then the Slab Daddy area.



Looking up the crux pitch of The Page



The Page Delivering More Goods



Stellar finger crack on Excalibur



Exposure on Excalibur






The Excalibur Flake! Three Finger in the Background



Unbelievable Stemming Corner on Excalibur






Tips Layback on The Holy Grail



Splitter Corner on The Holy Grail!



The Holy Grail!



More Steep Slab!



Such Clean Rock



I hope you don't hate amazing knobs



The BEST pitch on Illusion Wall, The Holy Grail



Just another view.



One More Can't Hurt



Come on, Really? More greatness? The Holy Grail




All of the routes on Illusion follow very obvious paths, we never had any route finding issues having no topo's of each route. We felt the .10+ pitch on The Page to be the most difficult pitch on the wall, offering steep sustained slab and face.


Sunday we headed up Schizophrenic, just another guidebook worthy route in the same location as 4 other classics. I'm not sure I could say the 11- felt any harder then the cruxes of the other routes. It feels like everything just stops at .10+ in Darrington.






















Gear Notes:

Slab Daddy and Oso Rodeo - Gear Singles to 4". I think we only placed 4 or 5 pieces on Slab Daddy.


Illusion Wall - A ton of water. This place is dry and the bivy gets hot. We found one glorious puddle to fill up on our last night. This wall can stay dry through a day of light drizzles. All routes do good with doubles to .75 and singles to 3" and a #4 for Schizophrenia.


The only trace of water to be found at Illusion






Approach Notes:

From the town of Darrington, drive out Squire Creek Road and follow it until it ends. This will be the start of the Trailhead. These are both easy to follow, shortish hikes that will bring you to seas of amazing granite.


Slab Daddy - Follow the road past the landslide and continue to pass two wash outs. Walk past the second, and after 150 or so feet there will be a well cut trail dropping into the forest and to the creek. Once your at the creek, walk 100' or so up and left and cross the creek at its lowest point. You will head left to a little rocky sand bar and a field of ferns. Find the boulder and start bush whacking toward the forest up and left and stay to the outside edge of the forest and then cut in. You will find a good trail that will lead you to the base of Slab Daddy.


Oso Rodeo - Same as Slab Daddy, but continue up and right and follow the base of the cliff to a trail that eventually leads you to Oso Rodeo.


Illusion Wall - Hike about 30-45 minutes to the start of the old trailhead. You will take the obvious right hand trail. Follow a well beaten path to the log crossing. Cross the river and head up a small talus path. Follow for a short distance and look for a cairn that will take you up right and into the woods. Follow a steep well beaten climber path until you reach a woods bivy. From here you will find a low angle slab that will take you up about a pitch worth. 4th + class slab leads you to the top. You can rappel this on the descent if you choose. Wander your way up and left through ledges until you reach the base of the wall that you can follow all the way to the base of Illusion Wall. The will be an obvious Bivy ledge at the base of the routes.


Upper Ledge Climbs - Walk past the lowest bivy ledge and follow bolts up to a crack that leads the upper route ledge. The upper route ledge hosts routes in order, Excalibur, The Page, and the Engineer (W/ Dingbat Variation).



Starting Up Engineers



Pitch 1 The Page



First Pitch of Excalibur, game on from the start




Search for the Holy Grail - Heading straight up off the bivy ledge, follow easy slabs to a crack that will lead to the obvious roof above.


The First Pitch of The Holy Grail




Schizophrenic - From the bivy ledge, follow the trail back and past the first hump, drop down and look up. You will see bolts.


This topo is all you really need for the Illusion Wall Routes. The dark blue line shows the excellent 5.8 approach pitch to the upper ledge routes. It is slabby 4th class between routes with traverse bolts.


Illusion Wall Topo


Slab Daddy and Oso Rodeo Topo's


Slab Daddy Topo


Oso Rodeo Topo


Oso Rodeo Approach

Edited by Ryan Hoover

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Holy crap. That is an incredible amount of climbing in 4 days!

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Bad ass! Talked to Michal yesterday and he said you guys climbed the place out. Didn't realize until later that you guys literally climbed the place out! Very impressive!

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Thursday we linked up Slab Daddy and Oso Rodeo, offering 42 pitches of excellent slab climbing.

Dayum :shock:

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Way to go fellas. I am going to assume you had some sort of magical foot numbing salve to get through all that climbing. 40+ pitches on one day and 30+ pitches on another! Good thing you took that rest day and climbed the engineers route. SICK! :rocken:

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Way to go fellas. I am going to assume you had some sort of magical foot numbing salve to get through all that climbing.


Whiskey, Weed and Black Sabbath!

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Impressive. Thanks for the TR, photos, and links.

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Oh, there will be crowds soon after this report! Great tr, thanks a bunch.

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M Hanna

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Fantastic job Ryan & Michal, and thanks for the nice write-up.


Hard to see how you could stop to take any photos! Nice pics.


To do ~4 pitches per simul-belay on Slab Daddy and Oso, how many quickdraws did you bring? Or did you skip bolts? For all those raps, did you also simul-rap?





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Hey Jon-


We ended up bringing 30 draws, skipped bolts whenever possible and simul-rapped everything. We climbed with 100' of rope out with the gri gri's attached on both ends to manage slack/set up a quick belay.


It made for quick climbing, neither route took more then 4.5 hours to top out, rappelling took 2.5 hours.


We were able to link a lot of rappel pitches as well.

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Thanks Ryan, that's nice to know.


As someone above was saying, those routes are about to become a little more popular...



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yes! that is a HUGE amount of vertical. Took Ken and i more than 4 days of work to go all the way up Illusion (from the bottom up). When we did what is now skitzo, about 18 years ago, it took us about 14 hrs, NOT 4.5 HRS.... AND of course, we didn't have pre placed gear (bolts), beta, and HAD HUGE runabouts. I move way slower, with my last pin or small angle 60 to 90 feet below. And, i would NOT have been able without having a world class European climber lead most of the top pitches. They seemed to be more than 10+, but we were sticking to where we could get a good piece in. Remember getting scared out on the chicken heads, looking at a great crack just to the right, but to scared to just move over to it. Several pitches of this route Ken Strong and i did as we were exploring the north end of Illusion. All of the bottom we did in the dark, before bolts. There are many more ways to go there. I have gone up the north end of Illusion, over 6 different ways. Just go for it, and don't look for the "line of bolts", like some one is doing to the very first route Dave J. and i did on Zips wall, more than 26 years ago. What ever happened to "CLEAN CLIMBING?"

AGAIN, WAY TO GO FOR IT .... kids....

If you don't think the pre-placed gear (shinny way to go trail), and beta made any difference, then get your butts over to the main center wall, (lot of 20+ pitches there!) or to the n.e. face of 3 fingers!!!! You will be challenged there!!!!

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We saw some of your old anchors over there while rapping Schizo. Did you ever make it up any of the corner systems up there, it looked fantastic.

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