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Rad

first ascent [TR] Cathedral Provincial Park / Pasayten - Faith FA, Sentinel Direct, Grimface traverse 7/19/2015

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Trip: Cathedral Provincial Park / Pasayten - Faith FA, Sentinel Direct, Grimface traverse

 

Date: 7/19/2015

 

Trip Report:

Unstable weather in the Bugaboos sent us to Pasayten via Cathedral Provincial Park, and at Blake's recommendation we focused our attention on the Deacon. It was a fantastic trip. We repeated the Sentinel Direct route, did the first ascent of Faith (5.10, 6 pitches, grade III, ground-up, onsight) on a cliff that we don't think has been climbed before, and finished with a classic ridge traverse on Matriarch, Macabre, and Grimface.

 

Team shot at the trailhead.

Cathedral_1-1.jpg

 

There is more fuel in the Wall Creek forest than I've seen anywhere.

 

It's just a matter of time before the whole area explodes in a firestorm. Be careful.

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We lost the trail in a swampy area and were escorted up valley by a squadron of black flies.

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Yes, they're trying to bite you, but don't let them get into your head or you're going to be miserable. Zen.

[video:youtube]

 

The forest gave way to alpine meadows ringed by granite towers.

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The natural beauty of this area is just as inspiring as the climbing.

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Meditating on the hard-won view while ignoring the cloud of flies.

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At the trailhead, I discovered I'd left my sleeping bag in Seattle. Oops.

 

A few layers of extra clothes and our tent made the nights bearable, but Brandon spurned my spooning overtures, so I usually woke up around 4 when it was too cold to sleep.

 

By 5 it was getting light anyway. Dawn among the larches.

Cathedral_1-201.jpg

 

The meadows come to life.

Cathedral_1-22.jpg

 

We headed for the Deacon, a North-facing cliff with a few routes.

 

We did Sentinel Direct, which starts in the right-facing dihedral on the left side of the wall.

Cathedral_1-91.jpg

 

Brandon lead the first pitch, a lovely splitter crack and corner.

Cathedral_1-101.jpg

 

Brandon lead the second pitch in good style. It involved an awkward move into a small corner with 5.10 fingerlocks before escaping left to a more moderate hand crack.

 

I made the mistake of pulling out on a crack getting into the corner and pulled off a toaster-sized block.

 

We both launched off the wall. The rope caught me and the block sailed to the talus below.

Cathedral_1-11.jpg

 

The third pitch was a 5.7 blocky, rampy, chimney to the top of a tower.

Cathedral_1-12.jpg

 

I started on my block by leading a fun 5.9 stem pitch. Apparently you're supposed to traverse right on a ramp before the top of the offwidth crack.

 

I ended up doing a hand traverse and heel hook to get past a large wobbly block guarding the belay without weighting it.

Cathedral_1-13.jpg

 

The next 10- pitch was fun face and flake climbing. It's important to always maintain 3 points of contact. Very serious business, this climbing is.

Cathedral_1-14.jpg

 

A 5.10 face move led to a nice chimney.

Cathedral_1-15.jpg

 

I lead a 70m 5.8 rope stretcher and Brandon took us quickly up another blocky pitch to the top.

 

Thunder boomed around us as we unroped and headed for the summit.

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There is some fantastic, exposed block hopping to get you past a tower over to the summit.

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When I raised my hand at the summit it buzzed from the electric charges in the air. Time to go down.

 

Cathedral Peak was getting soaked but it looked like we might stay dry. Or not.

[video:youtube]

 

We quickly headed down the E gully, which we learned is quite friendly even when wet.

 

The evening cloud formations were beautiful and bizarre.

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And the sunset was lovely.

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The next morning we got an earlier start and focused our attention on an unclimbed line we'd spied on the large cliff to the right of the Deacon.

 

We're calling this cliff the Bishop, because the central feature looks like a giant chess piece or pointy church official.

 

It's the same height as the Deacon and has clean, steep rock.

Cathedral_1-0031.jpg

 

Our line went up an obvious corner on the right side of the cliff just right of where I'm pointing.

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I lead up a series of corners and small roofs on super clean rock. 5.9 45 meters.

Cathedral_1-01.jpg

 

One of several good, short corners on the pitch.

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Around 35 meters I escaped right up a clean, blocky buttress leading to a large ledge.

 

Brandon lead the second pitch, which had one 5.9 move and continued for 35 meters to a small belay.

Cathedral_1-013.jpg

 

Future parties could link this with the first part of pitch 3.

Cathedral_1-014.jpg

 

I then lead up the third pitch, stepping right onto a lovely but unprotected buttress next to a super thin crack.

Cathedral_1-0171.jpg

 

I was able to garden just enough gear placements to make this safe and arrived at a giant ledge after 60 feet.

 

Above us, the cracks looked like dead ends or unprotectable seams. And the rock was steep.

 

We thought if we traversed left toward the main wall we might find a passage.

 

Bailing would not be easy as there were not a lot of cracks up here, but we had faith something would work out.

 

At a large ledge I headed left for about 50 feet, including a couple of exposed moves, to a good belay at a ledge and crack.

 

We'd call pitch 3 5.7R, 30 meters.

Cathedral_1-0172.jpg

 

Following the first part of the third pitch before the ledge traverse.

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Brandon continued left, not sure if anything would go.

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He worked his way up and left past the left end of a large roof. This was the key to the route.

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It opened up a magical passage on a rightward trending ramp through otherwise steep and blank terrain.

 

Pitch 4 ran 5.7R, 45 meters to another giant ledge.

Cathedral_1-0381.jpg

 

We moved the belay left 80 feet and up 20 feet to the base of a corner below several cracks.

 

I chose the one that went straight up from the belay. It turned out to be quite physical.

 

At the crux, I had a crappy heel/toe cam, my hands on rounded holds, and had to blindly place a #3 in a flare.

 

I find that the best climbing experiences are the ones where the outcome is in doubt but you somehow keep it together and succeed.

 

I was unsure if I would send or whip off this pitch until I sank my hand into a great jam just below the lip in this photo. 25 meters, 10c.

Cathedral_1-0401.jpg

 

Brandon lead a wonderful series of hand cracks that went straight to the top of the wall. A finish with an explanation point! 35 meters, 5.10a.

Cathedral_1-0461.jpg

 

It's hard to explain the feeling of launching up a wall into the unknown. I've only done it a few times, but it's not like any other type of climbing I've experienced. You must solve the physical and mental puzzles of climbing and placing all your own gear as you go, as with any trad onsight, but you also have to figure out where the route should go, how to handle loose rock, what gear to save that you might need above, and how much risk you are willing to take.

 

It's about having faith in your partner, faith in your abilities and experience, faith in the gear, faith in the rock, faith that you'll be able to piece together a clean line to the top, and faith that you can back off safely if necessary. Not blind faith, mind you, but faith borne out of experience and a deep awareness of each of these elements.

 

As you climb, a stream of details are gathered by the conscious mind and merged with a river of intangibles that filter in through the peripheral subconsciousness of your mind's eye. They combine, as in a flow state, and turn thoughts into actions. Actions into experience. Experience into memory.

 

The satisfaction that comes from a ground-up, onsight, multi-pitch route worthy of repeat ascents runs deeper than words can convey. It is the joint creation of the climber as artist and the natural canvas of the rock. Authorship is shared.

 

It is vertical wilderness exploration. There is only so much you can see from the ground. You have to go for it to see what will emerge. The world is not completely known, despite what the internet might lead you to believe. Adventures can still be found by those who seek them.

 

Partnership makes it richer still, a shared experience.

 

I am deeply grateful for all of these.

 

This time there was no thunderstorm. We marveled at the summit tower and dreamed of future lines on the wall.

Cathedral_1-0711.jpg

 

The backside of the mountain is a low angle plateau with great views of Cathedral and many other peaks.

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More alpine wild flowers.

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The descent was a super easy walk down a solid low angle ridge to the Northeast back to Deacon's basin.

Cathedral_1-0221.jpg

 

Cathedral_1-0192.jpg

 

The next morning we tried a new route on another cliff, but what looked good from a distance turned out to be vegetated and unpleasant up close.

 

So we down climbed and headed off to do the Matriarch, Macabre, Grimface traverse.

Cathedral_1-81.jpg

 

It was a lovely and relaxed afternoon outing in our approach shoes.

 

There are lots of interesting rock features, bolts where you need them,

Cathedral_1-0232.jpg

 

And great views on a perfect summer afternoon.

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More wildflowers.

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Views of the Deacon and Bishop are in the upper right, with Cathedral in the background.

Cathedral_1-0331.jpg

 

The perfect end to a perfect trip.

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A chill in the air socked in the peaks as we left for home.

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The climbing is stunning here, but the nature was even more inspiring.

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Please tread lightly if you visit this pristine wilderness.

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Back at the car, we were eager to dive into the river and start planning our return.

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Special thanks to Blake for providing great suggestions and Brandon for being the perfect partner, even if he does hog the only sleeping bag!

 

We had an odd conversation at the US Border at Sumas:

 

Border guard: Where do you live?

US: Seattle, Mt Vernon.

Border Guard: Do I know you? Have you come through here before?

Me: We were here a few weeks ago, were you here?

Border Guard: No. Are you wanted anywhere?

Me: (Pause) Just at home by our wives.

Border Guard: Well, don't hurry back.

He handed our passports back and waved us through.

We ignored his advice and hurried home to our loved ones.

 

 

Gear Notes:

Doubles to #3 Camalot plus single #4 Camalot. We had a 70 meter rope, but a single 60 meter cord will suffice. A sleeping bag would be nice!

 

Approach Notes:

Approach via Wall Creek. Stay on the trail on the East side of Wall Creek. There are good campsites in the top of the basin. Please keep this area pristine.

  • Rawk on! 1

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Nice trip, great photos! Looks like you put a more direct start on The Nose route. Definitely a sort of quasi-classic. And you saw how many other people on the trip? Seems like the G-M-M traverse would have a queue on it all summer long if it were anywhere else.

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Genuine & inspirational, a wonderful expression of what adventures like these mean to you, and no doubt to your partner as well. Heartily enjoyed that, thanks!

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One of the very best all around climbing trips I've taken. Beautiful area, solid climbing, with one hell of a climbing partner. Looking forward to getting back out there and checking out the other side of the border some day too! Faith is so cool, I really didn't think the mid section would go and then to have it come together at 5.7*** was a pleasant surprise

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So Bishop is basically the east face of the north ridge of Deacon?

 

I think that's correct. And if people want to call it part of the Deacon that's fine w me. The Deacon is the peak there, which is rather rounded and broad. The Deacon cliff is separate from the feature w Faith.

 

The Deacon is on the left. The Bishop is on the right. There is a large gully between them you can't see in this image:

DSCF3007.jpg

 

The Deacon:

DSCF2996.jpg

 

The Bishop:

DSCF2997.jpg

 

From Grimface, you can make out the Deacon and Bishop at the right edge of this photo around the same height as my head. Cathedral_1-0331.jpg

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Looks like you put a more direct start on The Nose route. Definitely a sort of quasi-classic. And you saw how many other people on the trip?

 

The beta we had listed those pitches as "Sentinel Direct". I have no idea who climbed them first but it wasn't us.

 

We didn't see anyone in 5 days.

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I believe so but it sure appears to have a separate identity, especially when viewed from the basin. It seems to be separated by a rather large gully and depending on the viewpoint looks anywhere from a continuation of the ridge line to a completely separate mountain. From Grimface it looks like a crumbly mess but up close its solid rock....not without its fair share of death blocks, most of which were removed off of "Faith". Cheers to you Rad for having the foresight that the line would go. I had my doubts but you never did.

Edited by bwwakaranai

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Wow!! You two got about it! Amazing trip report; that 5.9 corner shot has me drooling...

 

Brandon very cool meeting you at WA pass yesterday.

 

 

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Awesome! Your report was great storytelling and I like how you included the unique mental and physical challenges of a first ascent. Beautiful photos too - just seems like a dream trip all around.

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Beta and topo for Faith:

 

Faith. 800 feet, 5.10c, Grade III. On the Bishop, which is the obvious yellow/white cliff on the right side of the Deacon in Cathedral Peak Provincial Park.

 

P1. 45 meters, 5.9. Start in a large corner near the right side of the wall. Ascend a series of corners about 35 meters, step right and head up a featured buttress to a large ledge. Step right and belay at a good crack.

 

P2. 35 meters, 5.9. Head straight up a short thin crack, pass a short bulge (5.9), then head straight up to a small belay stance in a corner.

 

P3. 35 meters, 5.7R. Step right onto the buttress or head straight up the thin crack corner. There is a large block to sling on the buttress. All other protection involves heading back to the crack. Reach a large ledge after 60 feet. Head left past a tree and an exposed step to a belay at a good crack.

 

P4. 45 meters, 5.7R. Head left and up to the left edge of a large roof. Pass the left edge of the roof and head up and slightly right on a ramp to a belay at a large ledge.

 

Move the belay 80 feet left and 20 feet up to a ledge at the base of a giant gray corner. 3rd class.

 

P5. 20 meters, 10c. Head straight up a series of cracks that lead to a flake on the skyline. Step right at the lip and move up another 25 feet to the belay.

 

P6. 30 meters, 5.9+. Follow a series of excellent hand cracks directly to the summit.

 

Descent: Walk to the high point to the North and follow an easy, solid buttress down to the saddle at the top of Wall Creek. Class 2/3.

 

..................

 

Faith_photo_overlay_1_JPEG.jpg

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I learned that Faith was repeated twice in the past week.

 

The description above is sufficient to get you up and down the route. Once you hit the last ledge there are a variety of options. One party stayed in the corner left of the 10c crack and found 10a climbing followed by 5.9 climbing to the summit.

 

The rock is very clean, the climbing is super fun, the runouts really aren't scary (if you can climb 5.10 you should be fine with 20 foot runouts on 5.7), and the setting is outstanding.

 

I would say Faith and the Sentinel Direct are both quite good and would make good fall routes.

 

Enjoy!

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I was in one of the parties that repeated your "Faith" route last August. I just wanted to to say that my experience with the rock on that face seems somewhat contrary to the description above. I found the rock quite loose and, although the climbing was easy, the objective hazard was higher than I had hoped, especially on the lower half of the wall (real risk of pulling stuff down on your belayer). In the topo photo posted just above, you can obviously see that the lower part of the route climbs entirely stacked flakes. The last 60 meters of the route was quite fun crack climbing in more solid rock.

 

I appreciate the new routing!! but I just wanted to make sure people were aware of the loose rock. In my opinion, the whole route deserves and "R" or an "X" because of the objective hazard.

 

We also climbed Sentinel Direct. The rock was way more solid and it was an extremely fun route (one belay on micro-gear), which we then linked into the Grimface traverse (East to West - done unroped except a few raps). We also climbed something on the south side of the Grimface (not sure if it had been climbed before).

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I was in one of the parties that repeated your "Faith" route last August. I just wanted to to say that my experience with the rock on that face seems somewhat contrary to the description above. I found the rock quite loose and, although the climbing was easy, the objective hazard was higher than I had hoped, especially on the lower half of the wall (real risk of pulling stuff down on your belayer). In the topo photo posted just above, you can obviously see that the lower part of the route climbs entirely stacked flakes. The last 60 meters of the route was quite fun crack climbing in more solid rock.

 

I appreciate the new routing!! but I just wanted to make sure people were aware of the loose rock. In my opinion, the whole route deserves and "R" or an "X" because of the objective hazard.

 

We also climbed Sentinel Direct. The rock was way more solid and it was an extremely fun route (one belay on micro-gear), which we then linked into the Grimface traverse (East to West - done unroped except a few raps). We also climbed something on the south side of the Grimface (not sure if it had been climbed before).

 

Thanks for posting. I would comment that any route in the mountains is likely to have some loose rock to navigate.

 

On Sentinel Direct, when I followed the opening 5.10 sequence of p2 I pulled out on a crack that turned out to be part of a detached block. It flew off the wall with me attached to it and went crashing to the talus below when the rope caught my fall. The third pitch of Sentinel on the rightward traversing ramp/chimney was a jenga of giant stacked blocks that one had to climb quite delicately to avoid dislodging. The final moves on p4 involved a hand traverse below a giant detached block that looked dangerous. Then there was an expanding flake near the opening of p5. So I wouldn't call that route any more or less solid than typical mountain routes.

 

On Faith, the first 80 feet of the first pitch did have some stacked blocks, but Brandon and I threw off what we could and subsequent parties will do the same. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary there, and almost the entire rest of the route, other than rubble on giant ledges, was very clean and free of loose rock. So my memory doesn't quite match your impression.

 

That said, anyone who climbs in the mountains needs to be aware that loose rock is never far away and could be a hazard to you, your partner, or your rope. R or X ratings are typically for the distance between pieces of protection and the consequences of a fall in those spots. I didn't see anything that merits this kind of rating, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

 

Finally, why don't you post info/pics on the Grimface line you did? Was it worth repeating? Sounds interesting.

Cheers,

Rad

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I understand that there is usually loose rock to navigate... My impression of Faith is there was more than normal. I know you put the route up, but that's just my two cents.

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As for the pitches we climbed on the South side of Grimface, it was only 2 pitches off the "cubby hole" that is described in the Beckey guide. It is on the western aspect of the south face. There is a bunch of stuff that has been climbed in there, but it was difficult to figure out what was what.

 

We climbed the Left facing corner system in the center of the photo. Moving right onto a large ledge below the upper headwall.

11903888_10152994555030496_4628624158133701531_n.jpg

 

 

 

We climbed the squeeze/offwidth, then branched right through a fingers sections, leading to hands and off-hands.

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Me branching out in the fingers.

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This was a fun outing from camp (moderate lichen to deal with). Worthwhile if you want to do something for a couple hours after the hike in. It is an easy scramble to the summit from the top of these pitches. I would grade it at 5.10+.

 

 

 

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