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Gato Negro, Whine Spire

Wow! Had another great weekend in the Washington Pass area. This time we made it up one of the taller routes in the area. We tried the 1500′ Gato Negro last year too, only to have rain spoil the plan. I liked the idea of returning with  2 teams of 2 on the route to share big cams, stoke, and additional safety (except for the occasional rock-fall) . The plan was for me to turn on the jets after we shared ropes on p4. That way Lane and I could clear the descent with no parties above us. I combined p8-10 into 2 -61meter leads, and skipped the last one to save time.We did it in 9.5 hrs camp to camp. The route was very high quality, with several “money” pitches: p2, 4, and 8-11. Take the super-topos advice on the seriousness of the whole package. I took a full set of cams: 0-5,  with an additional half set of small cams. Stoppers were not very useful, but I placed a dozen clips of them. One was a small nut in the crux to avoid plugging a lock.  Beware the bad tat on the first chockstone on the crux pitch.

Lane, Tom, Daniel, and I had a great time sharing each others company, and living this amazing experience. Thanks again Guys!

The last 5 pics, courtesy of Lane.

Toms Report on cc.com

Tower Mt

Tower Mt

P1100511

Liberty Bell group

P1100513

Lane on p2, 10b

P1100521

Lane on p2, 10b, Tom, Dan below

Start of p4

P1100538

Looking down the crux on p4

P1100539

Selfie looking down the crux on p4

P1100541

Stoked selfie looking down the crux on p4

P1100545

Cant get enough Bells!!

P1100547 P1100548 P1100551 P1100555 P1100561

P1080083 P1080097 P1080104 P1080106 P1080123

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Alpine climbs, Rock Climbs | 1 Comment

The Passenger

Washington State has always been known as a great state for alpine climbing, but rock climbing has always seemed like an afterthought. There have been efforts to change that, with many high-quality routes added in recent years. Having traveled extensively this summer, I have found strong comparisons in quality climbs locally with states known for their great rock climbs. If The Passenger were in any other state, it would be highly publicized and renowned. Since this great climb is tucked away in the corner of the country, and next to Liberty Crack, it will probably remain relatively unknown.

I had always been intimidated by these modern routes until Lane and I did The Hitchhiker last year. Though difficult, they can be managed with a strategy that one would approach with any route. Just grind it out pitch-by-pitch, and dont worry about pulling on a piece of gear or 2. After reporting on the wonders of HH, several people chimed in about its sister route: The Passenger. After 2 full months of travel and quality routes, I set my sights on it. A week ago, Vern and I did the Boving Route on SEWS, and I thought I would be clever and leave my gear at the base of the route to return the next day with Shaun. Vern left and called Shaun to find out that he had broken his finger and would not be up for the route. So went my luck at the start of the campaign. I returned fresh with Vern the next week and we made quick work of the route in 5+ hours of climbing. We found the route to be extremely high quality, with short crux sections, good rests, and great protection. There are no endurance sections. The new WA Pass guide is fairly accurate, though the length of each pitch is not described after the first few, and a tough crux is left out at the top of pitch 3. Also use the belay at the tree, top of p2. Doubles  on cams to 1 1/2″, 1 set of stoppers. Pitch 5 is a bitch too, watch out for the loose block mantel to the belay. I like the Blue Lake approach. Enjoy the pics, and plan your send!

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Alpine climbs, Rock Climbs | Leave a comment

Boving Route, SEWS

I must pay tribute to an inspirational climber that put up a set of truly amazing climbs. One can only imagine what Paul Boving would have gone on to do, if it weren’t for his untimely demise back in 1977. Here are a few of his best:

ROTC

Thin Fingers ( Did many times)

Boving Route, Dragontail

NW Face North Early ( I did it in ’03)

NW Face, South Early,  The route that Vern and I just did ,7-10-13!

The day before however, I did a solo of the SW Butt of Cutthroat Peak. I wish I could say good things about the route, but the views were spectacular.

Having only done a couple of Paul’s finest, I was wary of his route on South Early Winter Spire. It had the makings of a brawl with 3 stiff pitches, the first 2 are the cruxes. Never mind doing them in the cold morning shade. I took the first one, and found it to be techy, balancey, and insecure. At the last 20 feet of the lead, I got suckered into some chalk to the right, shoulda gone straight up and left of that finish. The 2nd lead also offered great pro, it is a core workout on rattly locks in a flared thin crack. Though a short lead it is also sustained the whole way, Super fun, yet the Boving Double Roofs offer another spin on the boldness of our past explorers. Just make sure your follower is strong, not a fun fall off this one.  We finished the route in a simo, and the summit is becoming a place of great celebration for me as of late. For Beta I like the Beckey topo over the Supertaco, simple is better in this case.

Thanks to Vern, Pro Mt Sports, and Paul,  for yet another great experience!

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July 12, 2013 Posted by | Alpine climbs, Rock Climbs | Leave a comment

California Classics

So it had already seemed like I had been living out of my car for a month when Lane and I went on this 9 day trip to California. Since being off work in late May I have barely home for a couple of days at a time. I was a little cranky to say the least, but the incredible routes we did made for a whole lot of happy ( 6 big routes in 7 days). A miserable drive to the Needles proved to be very worthwhile. We did 3 amazing routes in 3 days, starting with the 3 pitch 10b named Airy Interlude. It is well named to put it lightly, also completely reeks of quality climbing. Weird weather on day 2 allowed us to do Igor Unchained , 3p, 9+. We saved the best for last with a day 3 ascent of Thin Ice, 2(long)pitches 10+. I can’t say enough about how incredible that route is. You just have to find out for yourself? The Needles is sure to amaze and challenge anyone who seeks its unique resources. Glad I finally checked the place out. Hike in on day 1, then after the day of climbing, Hang and leave  your gear for the next days outings.

pics:

photo-1

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Next up was a couple of days in Tuolumne Meadows to do 2 stunning routes of renowned fame. I wanted to do Crescent Crack on DAFF Dome, but it was wet. Blown Away (4p, 5.9) made a nice plan B. It had a great variety of crack, slab, and exposure.

The route that was up next concerned me greatly due to its old school nature and difficulty. Oz (ounce) (4p, 10d), on Drug Dome was a classic test piece back in the day. Today, it still pushes modern climbers with its testy crux, and enduro corner pitches.  It went smoothly for me, though glad I have decades of experience to see me through it. A must-do if I ever saw one.pics:

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Last on the list of stunning classic climbs was Positive Vibrations. Many reports have glowed , justifiably, about the wonders of the route, so I will provide some drawbacks to it. It is more”alpine” than I thought it would be. Meaning, there are great rests and short cruxes with easier moves between. There is still some loose rock on it. It is not very steep in general. Dont be intimidated by it, the hard part is just enduring the whole experience of going up, and down it. I will also provide some pics to this right-of-passage route:

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July 4, 2013 Posted by | Alpine climbs, Rock Climbs | , , | Leave a comment

The Hitchhiker! S. Early Winter Spire

I have a new favorite route. Last minute planning brought Lane and I to the base of the Burdo/Johnson route they named The Hitchhiker. It rambles up the steep SE Face of South Early Winter Spire. Originally planning to attempt Gato Negro for the 2nd straight weekend, we opted for more sunshine instead. The switch was last minute, so I didnt have the anticipation nor expectations. I was blown away by the quality and positioning of the climb. It has every type of climbing as well as serious exposure to add to a full-plate meal of a climb! Dihedrals, led to slabs with thin cracks, flakes, (easy)wide sections, roofs wild traverses, you name it. Leading every pitch was stressful, as the climbing is thought provoking, but it was so fun, I didnt care. It took almost 8 hrs to do the 9 pitches. Each lead had its own surprise. Though the route has about 20 bolts, it still requires a big rack and I am glad I took 1 aider for the 3 short sections that I couldnt free. I know I write in superlatives but this route for sure is a gem. I hope to see more reports on this relatively newer route.

Great way to spend my 49th birthday. Thanks Lane and Christina for the cake and climbing party weekend.

Burdos book and these reports will have more beta, enjoy!

Cascadeclimbers description, very accurate!

CC Photo/topo

Sols Tr

Now for some pics!

Lane following p2

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September 19, 2012 Posted by | Alpine climbs, Rock Climbs | Leave a comment

Acid Baby-Aasgard Pass

Pitch 1

Blakes tr on Cascade climbers

This being my only weekend off since July 4th, I wanted a route with maximum fun, as well as minimum effort. I have been working overtime six days a week for months and am chronically exhausted. I picked the perfect route with the selection of Acid Baby in the Aasgard Pass area, next to Dragontail. It wasnt going to go smoothly however. Overnight permits on labor day weekend were scarce, and my partner bailed at the last minute due to injury. Cascadeclimbers to the rescue again. I found a dental student in the partners wanted section named Jon, and we were off. Not able to get a permit from  the daily lottery, we crunched the trip into a long push.We did it in 5 long pitches ( +1 belay move), each lead was totally enjoyable. Its grade fairly @ 10d(+) a little strenuous in places, dicey traverses, and some wide stems. The climb is fantastic, both in quality and atmosphere. I give it four stars. It felt like I was finally home again after being away a long time.

Pitch 2 belay with Jon

Pitch 3,” Money Pitch” 5.10d

Dreamy belay view

High up on p3

Delicate start to p5

on belay

p5, delicate traversing yet again

Aasgard Pass Spire

Some stray notes:

We think we saw the accident site, and there are still loose blocks there to dance around, save a small yellow metolius for plugging in above the blocks. They want to be trundled but the base would have to be cleared of the endless hikers below.

These may be the loose blocks that are left over from the august 2012 accident and they are very loose. They can be protected with a yellow Metolious cam above them, and then mantled upon with great care. They should be trundled though by a local party with ground support clearing the trail of people. Spread the word, Thanks.

-If you get the odd numbered leads, you will get all of the best pitches and cruxes too. All leads are very fun though.

-Make sure your leader is not pulling for slack, while he is actually falling!!

-Hats off to my friends -Mike, Rolf, and Dan- who did the first ascent of this amazing climb!

September 3, 2012 Posted by | Alpine climbs, Rock Climbs | 1 Comment

Fine Line/ Sunrise Book, Elephants Perch

Faced with the possibility of working 6 days/week all summer is not a fun prospect. I wanted to have a trip with sun, fun, and full value routes. After considering several options, I went back to the Sawtooth Range of Central Idaho for an ass-whooping 4th of July 2012. While Lane and Christina (X-tina Princess Warrior) did the the Mountaineers route, I joined forces with Nic H. on Fine Line. It may be the most amazing rock climb I have ever done. Boasting 10 steep, sustained, and amazing pitches, there is some special movement with every lead. Nic, a local Idahoan, provided a strong partner for swapping the leads. I will have to come back again to this route to try to free the 3 places I “aided” on the first pitch.

The next day after, Lane, Nic and I teamed up to dispatch the spectacular Sunrise Book on the shorter West face of Elephants Perch. It offered 5 crazy pitches up a dead vertical and overhanging corner. This intense route ended in a giant chimney/roof that was one of the all-time sick finishes. The Elephants Perch is fast becoming my favorite alpine wall! Enjoy the photos, and go there someday!

The Fine Line/Sunrise Book slideshow:

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July 7, 2012 Posted by | Alpine climbs, Rock Climbs | 3 Comments

Illumination Rock, Rime Dog

Topo courtesy of Zac Riesner

Faced with a 1 day weather window, and deep snow in the mountains, Beau and I headed for the friendly alpine playground of Illumination Rock. We did the most reliable and fun route on the sunny South Face of the I-Rock, It is a route I named after my girlfriends late pet: Rime, our Scottish Deerhound. I had done the route a couple of times before, it is worth repeating for sure. It offers 4 short pitches of outstanding easy mixed climbing at a moderate angle. It also now has a rap anchor at the finish that gets you most of the way down to the South Chamber with a single rope rappel. We had a blast!  Mikes tr, under thin conditions

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Rime, and her beauty.

Rime Dog

Topo courtesy of Tim Olson. copyrighted.

 

Pitch 2, photo by Beau

p3, the rime chimney, photo by Beau

Crux, pitch 3, by Beau

 

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Alpine climbs, Ice Climbs | , , , , | 2 Comments

OPB on Mt Hood Climbing

Jule and friends at Oregon Field Guide did a wonderful half hour special on climbing Mt Hood. Last year she invited me to do an interview and asked for some of my photos and video of various new routes that I was involved in on the mountain. Her team did an outstanding job capturing the experience. See for yourself.

OPB Special

They use my voice-over several times, the interview occurs at 18:43 and again at 24:25.

March 30, 2012 Posted by | Alpine climbs, Ice Climbs | , , | Leave a comment

Trip to Europe

Nov 6-2011. I recently went to Europe for my first time. It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. My favorite climbing book in our grade school library was a huge glossy photo coffee table book from Gaston Rebuffat.  The birth place of the  sport has called me and I cant wait!  I had this trip planned for feb of 2011, but I got a surprise job offer then, and had to put it off.

The flight was quicker than I thought it would be, going through Iceland (13 hrs). I arrived in Paris  without sleeping on the plane. Traveling alone, I jumped the metro train to Paris. Once I got into town, I went into the 1st info booth to get directions to the hostel. Behind me a great commotion started. 5 guys were trying to break through the glass doors that myself and another guy were enclosed in. The other guy was trying to keep the doors from breaking loose and glass was flying everywhere. They persisted and it was truly terrifying to watch. Eventually they left, and I found out they were trying to mug the other guy for his cell phone. The Police came and I left to find my room. “Welcome to Paris” the other guy told me.

The info Booth after the Attack

My first run through Paris was great. 24 hrs in one of the worlds great cities was not going to be enough. The weight of the history pulled at my psyche tremendously. So many stories. I was glad I had Josh talked into exploring the place further at the end of my trip.

  
  

Versailles, Hall of Mirrors

I had plans for Chamonix coming up and it was off on a plane to Geneva. This is where the trip first turned into a struggle. As Tom and I approached the N Face of Le Doites, I began to feel a cold coming on. Auto-bail at 2 am-> to the trains again. Too bad, as the weather and conditions were optimal.

Approaching Les Doites, N Face in Background. NW Alpine Bibs in the house!

On the train between Geneva and Zurich, my main large duffel was stolen from the luggage keep.. Stuck in Zurich to file a police report left me wandering the station all night . It was my 2nd night without sleep as I refuse to pay big bucks for a hotel in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Losing everything, being sick, and delirious from lack of sleep, I was ready to pack it in and bail a week early. It was up to Michael in Munich to keep me from cutting the last week out of my trip. Of course his stoke got me back on track. We had a great 3 days in the Innsbruck and Dolomite areas.  Micheals Trip report on the Dolomites.

Michael near top of Sas Ciambac

  

  

Gotta give big thank you to Michael and his family for the great hospitality I felt better staying with them at their place in Munich. They moved there a few years ago from Seattle. Miss you guys already.

After a few great days in Munich, sampling the bakeries, and 30 m climbing gyms, I was looking forward to meeting up with Josh in Paris. Nice to know I wasnt the only one who struggled with the trains. He jumped the wrong one and ended up in the slums before getting back to the hostel we were in in Montmartre. Over the next 3 days we did a thorough march on the city visiting the great sites of Versailles, the Louvre, and the Eiffel tower were just a few. I was particularly smitten by the amount of work it must have take to do so many vast great works. Despite its peculiarities, what an amazing place to travel.

 

Gotta give huge high fives to a few key people in this adventure!

Lane B., financier

Tom G. for a chance at Chamonix greatness as well as Davide for the connection

Jim at Pro Mt Sports for helping me replace several thousand $ worth of gear.

Michael S  and wife Kris for every good day after the last bad one!

Josh for meeting me yet again in a crazy place

Thank you to Bill at NW Alpine for the salopette  bib pants! They are the perfect weight fabric for the legs. They may still have free shipping. Let the winter stoke begin!

Excellence meets excellence

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Alpine climbs, Rock Climbs | 1 Comment

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