Rad Posted July 28, 2015 Share Posted July 28, 2015 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. 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. We lost the trail in a swampy area and were escorted up valley by a squadron of black flies. 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. The natural beauty of this area is just as inspiring as the climbing. Meditating on the hard-won view while ignoring the cloud of flies. 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. The meadows come to life. 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. Brandon lead the first pitch, a lovely splitter crack and corner. 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. The third pitch was a 5.7 blocky, rampy, chimney to the top of a tower. 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. 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. A 5.10 face move led to a nice chimney. 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. There is some fantastic, exposed block hopping to get you past a tower over to the summit. 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. And the sunset was lovely. 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. Our line went up an obvious corner on the right side of the cliff just right of where I'm pointing. I lead up a series of corners and small roofs on super clean rock. 5.9 45 meters. One of several good, short corners on the pitch. 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. Future parties could link this with the first part of pitch 3. I then lead up the third pitch, stepping right onto a lovely but unprotected buttress next to a super thin crack. 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. Following the first part of the third pitch before the ledge traverse. Brandon continued left, not sure if anything would go. He worked his way up and left past the left end of a large roof. This was the key to the route. 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. 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. 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. 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. The backside of the mountain is a low angle plateau with great views of Cathedral and many other peaks. More alpine wild flowers. The descent was a super easy walk down a solid low angle ridge to the Northeast back to Deacon's basin. 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. It was a lovely and relaxed afternoon outing in our approach shoes. There are lots of interesting rock features, bolts where you need them, And great views on a perfect summer afternoon. More wildflowers. Views of the Deacon and Bishop are in the upper right, with Cathedral in the background. The perfect end to a perfect trip. A chill in the air socked in the peaks as we left for home. The climbing is stunning here, but the nature was even more inspiring. Please tread lightly if you visit this pristine wilderness. Back at the car, we were eager to dive into the river and start planning our return. 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. 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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