Sean Maher Posted April 14, 2016 Share Posted April 14, 2016 Trip: Green Giant Buttress, Darrington - Dreamer/Urban Bypass Date: 4/9/2016 Trip Report: This is my first trip report, so any feedback (too much beta/not enough conditions info, etc) would be appreciated. The report with photos can be found on my blog: http://craggingabroad.blogspot.com/2016/04/dreamerurban-bypass-510b-darrington-wa.html In the depths of my Friday-evening climbing despair ("no one wants to climb with me waaaahhhhh") came a return text from the darkness: an acquaintance from school was down not only to go climbing but to do a big trad route on my WA tick list! An hour later we were on our way out of Tacoma, careening towards a huge granite dome looming above the forests behind the small town of Darrington. The final nine miles of rocky road were never meant to be passed by a Honda Civic and it took us nearly an hour before we could go no further due to down trees. After a quick sorting of gear and eating of pizza we settled down for a short nap. Here is a breakdown of our day: 3:45 am- got up, ate breakfast, packed up camp 4:30 am- started hiking 7:20 am- reached top of approach slabs and started climb 1:20 pm- started rappelling at top of pitch 8 3:00 pm- packed up at base of 8 rappels and hiked out 5:30 pm- back at the car 6:30 pm- back on the highway The approach was adventurous to say the least- four miles of dilapidated forest trail, a river crossing, scrambling up a stream beneath tunnel of brush, kicking steps up steep snow, and smearing up blank slabs in hiking boots sums it up. Oh yes, and it was in the dark! We reached the first set of anchors as the sun poked from behind a distant ridge. Eric lead off on the easy 5.5 slab, which was deceptively long! The next anchors looked to be only 70-80 feet away but Eric stretched the rope out a full 60 m to get there. We swung leads and I cruised up more of the same slab, but slightly steeper and with a gear-protected layback. The length of the pitch was another optical illusion, with 100 feet suddenly turning to 200 by the time i reached the bolted belay. It was hard to get a sense of scale on this ocean of granite! Next it was Eric's turn to lead the crux of our chosen start to the route: the Urban Bypass at 5.10b. The innocent-looking slab became steeper and blanker, culminating in full smears with no hands to reach a pocket just below the next anchor. Eric took a few falls at the top before finishing the pitch and I managed to follow it clean, but only by the skin of my teeth! Above Urban Bypass, I got slightly off-route on a mess of bolt lines decorating a slighly less-blank slab. This resulted in Eric having to lead a fifth pitch that turned out to be harder than expected, with hard slab moves directly above a roof threatening a bad fall. He ended up about 40 feet right of the intended line and had to belay with a bolt-supplemented gear anchor. My turn. To get us back on route I had to go up on thin edges with microcams for pro, swing out across a blank slab using ripped-up slings on a dead tree for a handrail, and make a long under-clinging roof traverse. This turned out not be the most technically challenging thing in the world, but the exposure and the unknown were freaky! Above this, more undercling moves and an exposed step brought me to the "blue crack"- a fun ~60 ft lay-back flake to anchors. All of this adventuring started to get to Eric, who is more experienced with sport climbing. He bemoaned the emotional strain of the route but agreed to go at least a bit further provided I do the leading. To be honest I was looking forward to the security of a toprope on the next pitch, but the call of the summit pushed me onwards. This climb was definitely the hardest and longest of my multipitch experiences so far and I was determined to finish it one way or another. Unfortunately these ambitions started to crumble when Eric got to the next belay, seriously freaked out and pushing me to descend. Pitch 7 involved more insecure slab moves and another undercling roof-traverse which wasn't friendly to the exposure-adverse! I argued that I wanted to at least get one pitch higher since I'd never climbed higher than 7 pitches before. Eric conceded to this and belayed me on another wild pitch of run-out face climbing on knobs and edges. Eric seemed to enjoy the pitch despite his vertigo/tiredness, but he was also pretty adamant about not venturing the last two pitches to the top (more 5.9 knobs and 5.6 scrambling). I really wanted to continue, but didn't want to provoke a confrontation or melt-down either and so agreed to rap off from there. I wonder if I did the right thing by practicing some humility to assuage his discomfort, or if it would have been better for both us to push through the difficulties and experience the joy of finishing the route? Who can say. Eight rappels straight down the climb got us back to my pack, and 2.5 hours of walking got us back to the security of the car. Waterfall and Green Giant Buttress in the afternoon light Despite not quite reaching the summit it was still a spectacular outing with good climbing and beautiful scenery. Knowing that only maybe two more hours of climbing and rappelling would have brought us back with plenty of daylight also gives me confidence that I can do big routes at technical grades. I can't wait for the next adventure! Gear Notes: a single set of nuts, a couple microcams and c4s through #3 with doubles in #2 did us fine. There are lots of bolts, but pitches 5 and 6 are mostly on gear. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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