Postscript: I have just learned that Nick Dodge passed away sept 28th after a battle with cancer. I cant say how big of an influence his work was in my early climbing life. I dedicate this story to the memory of this man, RIP, Mr. Dodge
There is a constant battle going on inside the mind of the climber on a scary lead. Ambition and stoke are at war with self preservation. Throw in added stresses like loose rock, exposure, and constant overhang, and you have the supreme conflict like we had on the Turkey Monster last weekend.
Hidden in the trees of the Menagerie Wilderness in Central Oregon, the Monster towers above the canopy with its bizarre sculpture. The 350′ tall tower defies physics with a much larger girth in its midsection than its skinny base. At the top of the crumbling tube is a summit that reminds one of , of course, a turkey, but I see the devil himself.
Originally climbed in 1966 by legendary climbers Eugene Dod, Dave Jensen, and Bill Pratt, they aid climbed the steep cracks on the NE Face using 70 pitons and placing 30 now ancient or subsequently replaced bolts. Later free climbed at 5.11, many of the anchors were updated, yet the large loose blocks and the sketchiness remains.
Obsessed with it as I was from the old Dodge guide, Bob M, Tim O, and I climbed it in 1990, swapping leads and chucking blocks on our way to the top. I still had vivid memories of the amazing yet scary time we had on it with great friends. Here is what I wrote in my journal 22 years ago:
“Truly a Monster. It had been a goal of mine ever since I first saw it in (Nick) Dodges book. Was really a serious undertaking. I had to muster a lot of gumption for this one. Bob led the first one, a 10a or b., rotten, but neat! 2nd pitch put me on the sharp end to tackle the first wide roof, then the “Giant Rotten Bong” crack, which was incredibly loose, perhaps the loosest of my career. After that came the cool, 5.11 crux which Bob attempted. it was so tough to clip the small hangers, he “took” on the last one. I stranded him at his belay above by pulling his rope and leading it myself on “pink-point”, barely pulling it off. From there, easy to the summit, found a rotting summit register and some rabbit bones with my new lucky rabbits foot!”
A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune of making friends with Ben and Bekah Herndon, from Moscow, ID> An aspiring pro photographer, he asked me what climbs I thought would make a good photo shoot. I of course set his sights south to the Monsters lair. We planned it for last year, but weather didnt allow. We again planned it for sept of 2012 and tried to get a much help as we could. I brought along Christina, and Ben, his wife. Nobody else made it there, so we went for it with the team we had. Bekah did great, following my leads on the first day all the way to the top! I am grateful to not have pulled down any loose stuff on her at the belays. ” Sorry I killed your wife, bro” was not something I wanted to offer my good buddy. On the way down we fixed a static line and rapped to the beloved earth.
Early the next morning, I did the first 2 pitches again(!) for the close-ups pictures. They werent any less intense doing them for the 3rd time. What a run, and I hope Ben gets his great article in a coming magazine! Thank you B+B, and X-tina for a wonderful, and safe weekend.
Some photos courtesey of Christina M.
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!
Now for some pics!
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.
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.
-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!
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:
There are many different “sports” within the sport of climbing. May 13th, 2011, I decided to revisited one of my old favorites: Aid climbing. I really used to enjoy its propensity to allow me to be in some ridiculous places. In the late 70s, and early eighties, I dreamed of doing El Cap and many other amazing routes that require such skills.
Then came sticky rubber and I was almost exclusivly a free climber after that.
Aid climbing, however, gave me a great base for rope management, rescue techniques, and getting out of trouble basics, that I think every climber should have.
After recent decades of ignoring, I decided it was time to dust off some old skills. Turned out to be worth doing for a couple of reasons..
Saturday practice for Beau on City Park (c-1), and we tried to sleep to the sound of rescue helicopters pulling a multi-fractured climber off the wall we were off try on Sunday: Upper Town Wall, above the town of Index.
Sunday we got up early, as the temps were expected in the mid 80s for the day. We were going for a south-facing route called Town Crier. Beau had the rock shoes, so he took the first free sections. I then kicked into the first of three, c2 pitches. The 6th placement blew out on me taking with it numbers: 5, 2, and 1. At least numbers 3 and 4 held! The 20 foot fall stopped by Beau (The Awesome Belayer/Climber) Carrillo, left me 5 feet above him and a ledge, PHEW! It was nice to know the system works.
Below is a picture I took a from a few feet above the scene. I had almost made it to the fixed red sling you see just down my rope in the shade. Beau is belaying below.
The last c2 pitch saw me taking a shorter fall, which I caught myself by grabbing the rope in just the right place. The rest of the route went great, with Beau leading the mixed aid/free pitch to the top! What a ride. Now to repeat Davis-Holland!
Nestled in the rain shadow or Central Oregon, Smith Rock stands as the finest climbing venue in the state. Hosting thousands of climbing routes of great variety, it was a great place for me to learn the sport beginning in the 70s. Since moving from Portland to Seattle in 2000, I have only been back to Oregon a few times to climb. After decades of exploring my homeland, my sense for new adventure led me to other states and countries. It will always be home though, and always hold a special place in my heart. Being there brings back so many great memories. Since returning there, I have enjoyed creating new ones.
One of those return adventures settled a long standing score. Beau and I finished the Center Drip route on the East face of Mt Hood in 2010. It was fitting that we would head down again this year to explore Smith. We spent 3 days there doing many classic routes. The weather was perfect, and the park was relatively deserted. We were humbled by the difficulty of our warm up project: Gumby/Zebra/Zion. I forgot how stiff it was. Fun though. Day 2 we headed for Beaus 1st Smith lead 5 Gallon Buckets, which then brought us to Sky Ridge. Seeing parties next to us on Wherever I May Roam made us hot for the route. We hit it perfectly in the afternoon sun. Along the way I led Unforgiven and top-roped No Pain No gain. Amazing classics all. This tiring day was one of the all time days for me at Smith.
From those routes, Beau saw and wanted to do Monkey Face. Who was I to deny? Day 3 we warmed up at Phoenix crag and hoofed it around to the Monkey , doing the 4 pitch route West Face Variation to Pioneer Route, What a weekend! Enjoy the rest of the gallery.
2-3-12 Tomorrow I leave to join up with my friend Mike for my 3rd trip to the Utah Desert to rock climb. The area has become my favorite place to do such activities.
The 1st trip was a 3 week road trip with Beau, and what a great time we had hitting many different venues: City of Rocks, Castle Rock, Castleton Tower, Indian Creek, and many others. The 2nd tripwas a sweet week with Jesse, Mike , and Britne his wife. Bagging 3 1/2 towers along the way.
This trip was in February (4-17th) though, and it was COLD! Especially at night, with temps dipping to the single digits in the Swell. Day- time temps were fine at first, but gradually got more cold and windy until the storms hit us in J-tree and Red Rocks.
We started off close to Salt Lake, visiting the San Rafael Swell. We spent 3 days there, bagging 10 stiff routes. My favorite was Old Bushmills, (10b)
We then went to Joshua Tree NP at first finding warm temps, but over the course of the 5 days we were there, it got much colder and windier. It didnt stop us fron doing 21 pitches of great climbing however. Some of the routes includes such classics as: Illusion Dweller, Figures on a Lanscape, Solid Gold, Coarse and Buggy, Rubicon, Bendix Claw, Heart of Darkness, Clean and Jerk, to name a few. We also did the Chasm Cliff “Night Cave” traverse. Much fun, It was my first time there.
We then wanted to try bigger routes, so we headed to Red Rocks only to find the snow pilling up . We still got in 11 sport pitches before it really hit.
Our last hope was a good forecast on the last day, so went for the Primrose Dihedral route on Moses in Canyonlands . It was a great time on my 6th tower. It was also the most demanding too. Thanks to Mike for being a great host, and climbing partner, I will be back.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Every now and then, I run across a route that challenges me to the near-fullest.
I cant think of more that 10 free routes that I have done that compare to SBA in terms of difficulty and length. A few come to mind: Sunshine on Snowpatch, Scenic Cruise in the Black Canyon, and Liberty Crack are in the same league. The league or 2 above these routes would be the Nose on El Cap. Hard, classic, and exhausting climbing from start to finish, nearly every pitch must be taken seriously. In this case we did 13 pitches of outstanding crack climbing up the Southeast Face of Les Cornes, this on our second attempt. The route must be started by doing the the first 3 pitches via the Sprungc_ock Erect start. That makes it a full day of steep fun. Easily one of my favorite routes of all time.
We thought we were going fast until it went dark back at the car, and home @ 12:30am monday. I would suggest being on strong rock-climbing shape when considering this gem.
Even with the mosquitos, we were happy that we bivied in the talus 400m below the route. The approach is easier, I am sure, in the light of day. We found the way though the alder, and once it got too thick on the road, we headed up through nice big tree ridge easily spotting the next flagging and cairns.
On climb day we got up at 5 am and on route at 7, topped put @ 3:30pm. The pitches take some time to figure out and the route finding is weird only in a couple of places. The most difficult place to find is the 5.8 hand traverse. It is preposterous at 1st glance. It goes around the left side of the ridge. We tried a couple of alternatives and I had to back off a 5.11 crack on one of my new stoppers. The climbing is spectacular almost the whole way. If it is hot, fill at least 2 q./person of water, as the route bakes in the sun.
The crux move is hard, but easy to pull around on a fixed stopper. There is lots of good beta on the route online, Here are a few, thanks to Jesse and Lane:
Thanks again to Jim at Pro Mountain Sports for helping build the big rack needed for this route.
Lane and I went on a hard route spree last weekend bagging Paisano Pinnacle via the Rampage route (4.5 p, 5.10d)and the (probable) 3rd ascent of Action Potential (9p, 5.10c/d, imo) on the East face of Burgundy Spire (a route we had attempted a few years ago).
We had a great time on these wild routes of similar character. Both routes had steep flaring thin-cracks and very strenuous cruxes.
Afrter humping the bivy up to the col saturday we racked up and hit The Rampage route on Paisano in the afternoon. The 4 and a half pitch route was great, offering 2 crux pitches that had similarities to a fist fight. Maximum effort was required to stick to the rattly jams and locks. The last pitch we got off route and I ended up traversing across some wild face to avoid the disappearing seam I had got stuck on.
Sunday, We were up in the morning to chop steps with a rock to get around to Action Potential. A couple of my friends, Mike Layton and Mark Allen, put up this route . I liked the name, and Lane and I wandered up there a few years ago only to find it foggy. This time we were headed up it and found good rock and fun moves with a very demanding crux. Their sense of humor was evident on pitch 6 with the “fun” 5.8 pitch. Expect very serious climbing and route finding on this, the 2nd crux. Impressed with the exposure and the how dang long the route was, it was great to be on the summit after a 14 pitch weekend. Not bad for a couple of 48 year olds.
will load Lanes photos soon.
Here are some of Lanes pics