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.
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:
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:
I have such strange luck when traveling alone. Dread of long hours alone in the car -in the middle of nowhere -is new to me in my recent years. The scars from my Euro trip still showing? Though I wish I could have found a full-time travel partner, I am looking forward to meeting up with several friends on a multi-state journey . Wish I wasn’t such a wuss about it.
I soon got into the flow of taking care of myself, and letting plans flow due to weather and people I would meet.
Overcoming my pre trip dread was easy after visiting my family in Pdx, then meeting old friends in Smith, then Utah, then Idaho, whew! Perfect weather the whole 3 weeks has helped me do many great pitches along the way.
It was a relief to finally succeed on the Titan ( 8p, 5.9-C3) with Mike. Our first attempt was hampered by rain and one of my biggest falls on lead. Neither one of us expected to return if we didnt make it this time.
After getting a late start, I was able to fix the first 2 pitches, and retreat in the dark to a camp at the base of the route. It was great climbing in the cool of the morning in perfect weather. The climb went great, and we finished the route by 3pm. Some pics:
Then after a few great days in Potash Road with various folks, , I hooked up with a nice couple from Brazil. We climbed Lighthouse Tower together (3p, 5.10+). Got some great pics there too on my 8th, and their 1st tower!
The trip continues to Indian Creek.I pulled in to Supercrack parking and met a couple from my neighborhood, David, and Dafna. We did a couple of fine routes in the shade. Cave route and Generic crack made a nice evening for sure. Dave and Dafna told me to find a wild man from Colorado in the Cottonwood camp. I went straight for him (Dave, from Colo.), and we hooked up the next 2 days on some of the most stunning climbing I have ever done. Day 1 sent us up to the Rambo Wall, and we got busy with Blue Sun for a warm up, then we went after Layaway Plan, an amazing 11+ corner to undercling roof. Dave came so close to the red-point, it came down to a spun biner. I pulled the rope and got the pink-point of it. Way-Rambo sent me to the cleaners, Dave , and wife Mia, led Desire, and we finished the day on a beautiful arch : Chestful of Kindness.
That evenings rain storm made Rimshot that much more slippery the next day. The 5 pitch 5.11 offers 4 very difficult yet fun pitches in the morning shade. Being cold at the belays was a testament to the near perfect weather I have had on this incredible trip.
After leaving Indian Creek, I stayed with Mike and Britne, thanks again to you 2 for the hospitality. The next day it was off to Castle Rocks/ City of Rocks to meet Lane for a few days. On the 3rd, and last day with him, I started climbing with Mike S. from Colorado. Mike and I stayed a couple of more days and had bagged many more classics, my favorites were Silent Partner, and Morning Glory. Left to reflect on the trip driving back, I believe it to be one of my best trips ever, climbing 80+ pitches average in 10c and 3 stars to boot. Being able to rope gun/guide allowed me to be compatible with 15 different climbing partners as well. So glad I went and made it a great memory.
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!
It is out, the Northwest Oregon Rock/Ice guide!
I wasn’t expecting it, and it surprised me greatly. The trend in Tims series gradually had less content as the new editions came out. This one obliterated that trend with an exhaustingly complete catalogue of nearly all of the major ares as well as dozens of the obscure. Such a treat for the adventure groveler. Areas include 80 different climbing areas from south to Eugene north to St Helens. East to Hells Canyon. From winter mixed on Illumination Rock, to a brief section on the Menagerie. He also included Gorge Ice! The Wolf Rock section is amazing. Absent is the Portland area crags, and the Beacon area, but he has covered that well in the past efforts. Not since the Dodge guide have we seen a book that covers so much of Northern Oregon. This edition really floored me with the vast array of information and areas I hadnt even heard of. Cant wait to check out some of them for sure.
Hats off to you Tim, and thanks for nearly 20 years of hard work in your public service to us all, Wayne
Buy it here, for surprisingly little $ : http://www.portlandrockclimbs.com/portland-rock-climbs
Its the 2nd book down the list.
Footnote: This is hardly an unbiased review of this book. Tim has been a dear friend to myself and others for many years. I have enjoyed his work greatly, and have enjoyed working with him on a small part of his relentless efforts to bring it all out to the climbing community. We expect to have the new Mt Hood Guidebook out soon. Again it will be a biased review, as Tim and I were some of the main authors to that particular project.
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.