Heaven’s Gate ’16

9-11-16 Heaven’s Gate, UTW Index 5.11a/b 4p, 1 fall w/ Priti

I was eager to lead the crux pitch after following it clean back in 6-9-13. Steve was going for his 3rd try at leading it clean back then. It has a super steep finish capped by 2 back-to-back roofs!

Heavens Gate is an incredible face/sport route that starts again with the great giver, 1st pitch: Lamplighter. I am getting to the place where I need to repeat routes at Index, and this one was high on the list. Everybody on Mt.proj gives it 4 stars. Priti, a delightful, up-and-coming climber, picked this route on my list and we were off and running on my only day off again this week. She spared me my 5th straight lead on Lamplighter by getting her first red point on it. I then took the remaining 3 pitches(P2 is Hard!!) and systematically (slowly) worked each of them until the top of p4:  I got off route on the roofs twice, and couldn’t recover the 2nd time taking my own whip off it like Steve did 3 years ago. Makes me even more excited to climb it yet again, after easily dispatching the crux after my 1 fall. Beta is approach each roof from the left then moving right after over the lip with the arms. Stay leaned off to the left.

I have a bad case of Upper Town Wall syndrome and will probably be on Lamplighters trio many more times.

Heavens Gate

Thompson/Fuller Memorial

The Crimson Eye

Blake on HG

About David Gunstone the first ascensionist

Scroll past photos for specific info on the accident.

lesson to be learned from the accident:

Squamish Chief newspaper, Friday 28 May, 2004:

Quote:


Climbing death ruled accidental by coroner
‘Breakdown in communication’ cited in 2003 death on Grand Wall
By John French
Reporter
Like many days last spring, May 31, 2003 was a great day for climbing.
While it may have started as a good climbing day for David Christopher Gunstone, it certainly didn’t end that way.

Gunstone was in Squamish, visiting from Seattle, to do some climbing on that Saturday afternoon. He was with a group of friends and they were climbing a route called Exasperator at the base of the Grand Wall area of the Stawamus Chief. Exasperator is a popular route with a moderate difficulty rating. The route is described as a two-pitch crack climb.

Gunstone, 41, finished a top rope ascent at just after 5 p.m. He was on his way back to the ground when things went fatally wrong. Gunstone fell 25 metres to his death.

Coroner Jody Doll investigated what happened leading up to Gunstone’s fall and determined his death was accidental. Doll’s report was completed May 6 of this year.

Doll determined that Gunstone fell when his climbing team failed to tie two ropes together. Essentially, where two ropes were needed to lower him to the ground, there was only one in place and he fell to his death because he ran out of rope.

According to Doll’s report, Gunstone and his friends arrived at the bottom of Exasperator and met two other climbers already on the route. Gunstone’s group had met the other two climbers through previous encounters in the climbing area. The two climbers completed the first pitch on Exasperator and said they wanted Gunstone and his group to join them and lead the climb up the second pitch.

In consultation with climbing experts, Doll determined that two ropes were initially used to begin lowering Gunstone. One of the ropes belonged to Gunstone while the second one belonged to the other group of climbers.

“Mr. Gunstone and his group planned to leave after Mr. Gunstone was on the ground,” Doll wrote in her findings. “Their rope had to be removed from the system during the knot pass and replaced with a rope from the other group. When Mr. Gunstone’s rope was untied, the replacement rope was not attached in time. As a result, the rope passed through the belay device and Mr. Gunstone subsequently fell to the ground.”

Gunstone and one of the other climbers were using a belay system. Gunstone was on the wall and the helper was on the ground with a mechanical belay device attached to his harness. Gunstone also had a harness and the rope was securely attached at his end.

According to Doll, rock climbers have to look after their own safety and share responsibility for the safety of all the other members of a climbing party. “It is an accepted and common practice for climbers to double check knots and harness configurations, confirm instructions and vocalize plans,” she wrote.

“When a climbing situation develops into a social atmosphere, as is often the case when larger groups of acquaintances congregate at the base of a climb, and especially in a controlled top rope situation, a relaxed atmosphere often evolves,” Doll wrote in her report. “In these situations, the direct line of communication and psychological connectivity between the climber and the belayer is interrupted by exchanges taking place in the group on the ground.”

Doll found that a number of factors contributed to the fatal accident that spring day last year. “There was no well-communicated plan to complete the transfer of the ropes and there was a break down in the communication between the belayer and the rest of the group on the ground,” Doll wrote in her report. “The belayer instructed the third member of Mr. Gunstone’s group to complete the rope disconnection and reconnection process. The belayer stayed focused on Mr. Gunstone and assumed the rope reconnection had taken place. The belayer began to lower Mr. Gunstone and continued without noticing that the approaching end of the rope had not been reconnected.”

Doll learned that confusion developed between the two groups in the minutes before the fall as 60 metres of uncoiled rope lay at the base of the climb.

“This created a confusing mess of multiple untied rope ends that could not be easily identified and separated,” Doll concluded.

Gunstone’s resulting fall caused massive head trauma. After the fall a call was made to 911 and local emergency officials arranged for an air ambulance helicopter to take Gunstone to hospital in Vancouver.

Hwy. 99 was closed at the base of The Stawamus Chief for a short time while the injured climber was loaded into the aircraft.

“His injuries were catastrophic and he was essentially dead [from the impact],” Doll said in the days after the accident. “When B.C. Ambulance got there, people were performing CPR on him. Some of his body processes were shut down.”

 

Oregon Adventure Climbing

 

Oregon Adventure Climbing

Black Spider in topo.

The Center Drip, Black Spider, Mt Hood

Oregon Page
Welcome to my Oregon extreme climbing page. This  is where I learned to climb. I have a deep romance with the place as a result.
Oregon”Backwoods”climbing has a very distinct edge of adventure to it. Though it may be an acquired taste(and skillset), those who enjoy it can reap great rewards. Be careful here though , The rock isn’t always great.
Always carry extra gear to get down, and wear helmets.
           

Ice-Columbia River Gorge-the Black Dagger WI5+, FA

Black Dagger

 

 Oregon and more Access Page 

Tim’s New Book!!: NW Oregon Rock Climbs 1st edition

Mt Hood Guidebook!!

tme

Monster and Rabbit Ears

My Favorite Oregon Adventures:
Trout Creek
Turkey Monster    My report     Bens Red Bull Report
Rabbit Ears
Steins Pillar
St Peters Dome
Monkey Face
Beta: – Find The New I-rock Topo!
Portland
Rock
Beacon
Beacon Rock Stories
Abraxas- the Monument
Picnic Lunch Wall
Ice Climbing in the Gorge (When and if)
Mt. Hood: OPB Special
The Black Spider
it is a 1000’Norwand
Illumination Rock-Some of the best mixed climbing on the west coast. SW Ridge in summer. SE Butt in summer

illumination-rock-12-023

I-rock, Pitch 2- photo by Beau

Steele Cliff -mt Hood

Glacier Caving
Razor Blade Pinnacle
Lamberson Butte
Wolf Rock –Jeez!
Opal Rock, vast potential

TMGuides Cascade Classics
The North cirque of Thielsen is very beautiful!
Oregon Pinnacles Page
     St Peters Dome bit:
It was June of 94, right in the middle of my divorce. I went on a series of near suicidal climbing trips to test my mortality. An avalanche ridden solo on Johannesburg, an 80 foot unbelayed fall off Wind mt. .Eventually a solo of St Peter’s dome was the only success on the trilogy of trauma. The Dome was a great climb. Finding the start and good anchors was a challenge. When I got to the start ledge I was greeted by a selection of railroad spikes . They came in handy for the belay and one of my first aid placement. Working my way up on bugaboos exclusively, I was convinced for a long time that I was off route. There were no pin scars  to be seen. I later realized that an entire layer of rock had worn off since the last ascent in the 70s. Watching the blocks shift as I pounded, I could see how this happened. After a short free finish to the crux pitch, I found the belay sings rotted off the bolts and sitting on the ledge with the rap ring still through it. The traverse was exposed yet easy . The final pitch was difficult to find and very loose, When the angle eased off it became a foot thick carpet of moss. I tunneled under it for holds until it could support my weight. The summit was exhilarating and a forest had grown there that wasn’t in the old time photos I had seen. The register was a fascinating history of  those who dared the venture. As time wore on, I copied all the entries and enjoyed this amazing and exclusive summit . The descent was uneventful until I heard voices in the forest across from me. It seemed Bud Young was leading a party on the Mystery Trail. What an unlikely party we had at the saddle. Truly a bright spot in a difficult part of my life.
Part of a Mazama Annual Journal.

Update On St.Peters Dome!!The Big SPD got its (approx,) 20th Ascent!! Here is the Trip Report on Cascade Climbers!

Dave Jensen Photo Of SPD

Right before Christmas in 2005 The Columbia River Gorge became windy and cold enough to freeze its many waterfalls. One of the unclimbed prizes was a route behind Ainsworth state park. It  had seen many strong attempts, including one where Bill Price and I reached within 30 feet of the top.
During the brief 05 cold spell I looked at the route through binoculars, only to see Marcus Donaldson about to finally be the first to succeed on the amazing route.
That left only one unclimbed route to do: The Black Dagger (photo).

Ice Dec. 2005 040
I rushed back to Portland to tell my friend Lane Brown of our new plan. It included him buying new ropes , and us leaving at 4:00 am to try this extremely steep and exposed water course. As you can see the ice cicles do not reach the bottom of the cliff. In complete darkness I led up the loose rock and moss to the right . The way left evidence of previous attempts both to the right and straight on. A steep mixed traverse allowed me to reach the ice proper . With Lane and I committed now , we struggled up its overhangs and busted away the many smaller icicles that impeded progress. Most waterfall ice climbs are tucked away in corners or gullies. The Dagger is out on a prow, offering a steep and tremendously exposed position. 3 wild  pitches left us feeling like the climb had given us a tough go, but at the top we found the easy looking finish to be very tiring.
Reaching the top was so much more than a consolation for missing out on Ainsworth. We both agreed it was perhaps the best ice either of us had climbed. Our joy was cut short however on our last rappel down when one of Lane’s new ropes got stuck. Going with our new-found luck though , He got it back days later when the pillars melted away.
Lane confided when he took the picture , that he may not have been willing to try this route if he had previously seen it!

Oregon has a surprising amount of adventure climbing, as well as sport climbing. It is conveniently located between other great states for climbing. Often overlooked as a result, it does make a great place to live and play. Enjoy Oregon !!

1

Wayne's site

Black Spider in topo. The Center Drip, Black Spider, Mt Hood

Oregon Page
Welcome to my Oregon extreme climbing page. This  is where I learned to climb. I have a deep romance with the place as a result.
Oregon”Backwoods”climbing has a very distinct edge of adventure to it. Though it may be an acquired taste(and skillset), those who enjoy it can reap great rewards. Be careful here though , The rock isn’t always great.
Always carry extra gear to get down, and wear helmets.
           

Ice-Columbia River Gorge-the Black Dagger WI5+, FA Black Dagger

 Oregon and more Access Page 

Tim’s New Book!!: NW Oregon Rock Climbs 1st edition

Mt Hood Guidebook!!

tme Monster and Rabbit Ears

My Favorite Oregon Adventures:
Trout Creek
Turkey Monster    My report
Rabbit Ears
Steins Pillar
St Peters Dome
Monkey Face
Beta: – Find The New I-rock Topo!
Portland
Rock
Beacon
Beacon Rock Stories
Abraxas- the Monument
Picnic Lunch Wall
Ice Climbing in the Gorge

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“Free ” Mojo, S. Early Winter Spire

In my never-ending quest to climb every long rock route at WA Pass, Free Mojo rose up the list for this recent mini-weekend. I dropped my tools at work Saturday 2pm, and rushed off to meet Doug at my place, soon to be camped out at my usual haunt. Immediate relief followed once getting settled  back into my favorite mountains for a few relaxing hours. Doug is always good company too.

Blakes 2013 fa at the bottom of his page:

mojo

From Blake’s page, Free Mojo on left.

Dawn always arrives though and soon we were headed up with the masses to the busy town on the West side of the Early Winter Spires. First up though, I dumped 2 liters of water inside of my pack.

We had confidence we would be the only party on this obscure route “put up” only a few years ago . The condition of the rock was an immediate issue with lichen and patches of kitty litter on the rock surfaces. We figure the route had maybe been climbed 5 or so times, perhaps less. Doug made good on the headey first pitch with only 1 take, and I barely got the tr-onsight of it with cold fingers.  I had not climbed in several weeks, but was stoked about my chances at cruising the next pitch. I danced through a tough intro, but came off just above the first roof for a 15 footer. I sure haven’t taken a fall in the “alpine” in a long time.  I figured out that sequence, but the rest of the pitch was quite difficult too, and had me grabbing gear a couple of times at the tough, thin finish. I kept the lead going all the way to the top of p3. It didn’t seem to offer a good anchor where the book suggests, belaying atop p2. I suggest bringing 2 full sets of brassies for the lead too. The rest of the climb is very fun: p4 is $$ for 5.9 fun. It then joins the SW Rib for social time. Key beta is the N. face now has a rap route to the packs(single 60m).

For the most part the rock quality is good, and if more people climb it, cleaner conditions will arise. I will also suggest being prepared for a very difficult climbing experience. Much more difficult than the West Face of N. Early for example. For me though, it is fun to climb routes that are over my head. That is where the ambitious climber should find themselves from time to time.

Some photos courtesy of Doug. click to enlarge

Update from my friend Jeremy 8-20-16:Got on this today and a couple of thoughts: great route with a ton of potential but man it needs more traffic and needs to be cleaned. I’m wondering if it’s OK to take a small hand saw and take out some of those smaller trees to prevent all the crap from filling back up the cracks (I did a little crack excavation today). Pitch 2 and 3 are easily linked with a 70m. (Wayne: I did it with a 60m)Just save a .5, a small cam, and few small nuts for the heady ten section right before the belay and a 1, .75 and small nuts for the belay

My friend Laurel

Approach in the fog Photo by Laurel

Approach in the fog
Photo by Laurel

I only got to climb and socialize about a dozen times with her so I won’t pretend to have been one of her closer friends. I can’t tell you that much of who she was. There are just a few times I caught glimpses of what she was like, and I grew to appreciate this unassuming person based upon what I saw. Perhaps the most striking was when I was desperate for a climbing partner my last weekend before going back to steady work again. I had offers from people who would go cragging with me but I was holding out for something “Big”.

“Is Der Sportsman big enough for you?” She dryly inquired. Not only did she invite me to join her and Zac, but spend a long weekend with them and Daphne at their short term rental in Leavenworth. With that invitation I remember thinking that she didn’t fit the “Seattle Chill”personality. I had a wonderful few days there with them all, cragging, eating(lots of root veggies), and eventually getting on with Prussik peak. That is where I caught another glimpse into her steady and unpretentious nature to the bitter end( for me) of that 21 hr day.

Perhaps our finest outing together was her only first ascent that I am aware of, and my first in several years. I felt that we really became friends on that trip. I got to see what she was like all excited at getting to the top, and all the way back to town there was that smile. I remember being excited to have found another top-notch local climbing partner. It is so like human nature to not realize what you have until it is gone, and in this case there can never be recompense. She was too much to so many people. I sometimes feel like a composite of all the different people that I have known, and I will save a good part of myself for her.

Off belay Laurel Fan

My favorite Index pitch: Up’er Zipper

“Thanks for the work developing that climb! Tom”, I said as we hiked down the Upper Wall trail. He yelled out “You’re welcome” He was arguing with his friend over the FA of the route and renaming it.

“It” was and old 7 pitch aid route on the Cheeks formation, that now goes mostly free. Many people enjoy the 1st pitch of the (lower)Zipper, a total sandbag 10b. Just above that is a A3 roof that is mind blowingly big, steep, and thin. Above that is some dirt scrambling to reach the ledge called the Beach, an airy perch that is usually reached by traversing “the Perverse Traverse, 5.5” via ferrata style. There lies the war chest that Tom and friends use to scrub some of the steepest rock at Index. A few years ago they scrubbed and bolted the upper part of the Zipper route, and rumors floated that it was one of the best long pitches at Index. I went up there early last year with Jeremy and it was too wet. Last Sunday, I got my first shot at it after the usual spend Saturday-in-bed-rest. Doug was fresh off a one year sabbatical, and raring for the plan once I told him of the obscure and hard to get to adventure.

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/uper-zipper/108146751

It totally lived up to the hype. I made the mistake of not warming up on another route, but it was supposed to rain that afternoon. It got up in the face with steep powerful movement right off the ledge.Welcome shake out rests occur about 7-8 times along the way. What a way it is too, when combining the 1st and 2nd pitch into an mega 60 meter lead! Alternatively breaking the lead up into 2 pitches though leaves the party at a hanging belay, then leaves a committing start off the belay as well. It seemed more natural to do it in one long push. After spending 5-10 minute at each rest, I joked that I did the lead in 8 pitches. I got up it with 2 hangs to de-pump in an effort that took way more than an hour to get up. It is such fun that is hard to describe. You will encounter: every size crack, with flakes, knobs, sustained, steep difficulty, and an unbelievably classic pitch that will not easily be forgotten. As Chandler says: “I climb at Index because it is the highest quality climbing I have ever been blessed to experience. As far as the individual routes go I can’t imagine there being anything better in the world”.

‘Nuff said, enjoy some pics:

North Dihedral Direct 2007

Since I am not climbing much, I have been posting photos and stories of old first ascents of mine that have lost the photos on the original posts. This is an fa on Snow Creek Wall that may not have happened if the White Slabs route hadn’t already had a party on  it. Peter left a hint about the N. Dihedral, so I threw in a bit of rock gear and the rest is history, hope you enjoy , and stay flexible in your plans, Wayne

 

Saturday(Feb 7-2007) Gary Yngve and I,Wayne Wallace, climbed the thin line left of White Slabs route on Snow Creek Wall. It went in 5 long pitches and was extremely difficult.The route got gradually harder as we went, which helped because we were both off-the-couch. The initial 2 pitches went up fantastic thin ribbons up ramps and micro gulleys. Though thin,hard,and awkward they entertained us for the first 120 meters immensely. At times the ice was 4 inches wide, half inch thick!They ended up in a wide curtain that felt very thick though an inch and a half deep.I ran this out 100 feet to reach the stance below the overhanging ice crux pillar.
The ice pillar was short but extremely strenuous due to the overhanging angle. After that we entered a Scottish style ice gulley, more fun, though Gary had to relieve himself midway while following.
Pitch 4 went up thin ice in the dihedral until the ice ran out then became very difficult dry tooling in a long sketchy lead. At times I felt I could fall and die on the runout. Pitch 5 was easier though the deep snow and short hard sequences drained any energy we may have had available. Topping out after 8 hard hours we reveled in the glow of our first climb together.
Hats off to Peter for dropping the hint of this climb,and Rat and Caps for exploring to make this an enticing prospect and wonderful testpiece.

I am reluctant to give it grades as it may be fatter or thinner when another party does it.. but when we did it it went a little like this.
P1; m4 wi3 thin connecting ribbons
P2: m5 wi3+(R) Thin! Belay at top is amazing!
P3 : wi5- short overhanging pillar followed by scottish gulley
P4 : m6 wi4(R) disappearing thin ice to hard corner-dry
P5: m3 wi3 energy gobbling friggin around
Overall: IV-WI5-M6-R 300m, Placed 4 pins on 3 pitches,I believe. This is the first route to the right of Outer Space.
It was just my kind of route with so much variety. A little piece of climbing heaven in a spectacular-historic location.
Glad you enjoyed the tr, I enjoyed the other fantastic ones on this site for sure!

Thanks< Wayne and Gary

From Gary: Wow, I am f’n thrashed. I was getting over a cold, and I think the cold just came back for an encore. But the climb was worth it. I had a great time climbing with Wayne. Even though I’ve chatted with him at Pub Clubs, read about his exploits, etc., I never really had an idea how tough he is until he ropegunned me up these five pitches.

new stuff 239

NDD on left, White Slabs on right

White Slabs on the right, Northern Dihedrals Direct on the left. The inset offers a little better view inside the dihedrals.

P1010732

We couldn’t see the wall until we were roughly right across it and we had gotten above the clouds. A party was at the base of White Slabs, which may have made it easier for Wayne to get stoked about the left route.

new stuff 241

The first pitches consisted of thin runnels with the occasional mixed move.

For the most part, the belays were pretty sheltered
Wayne forgot to mention that on the 2nd pitch, he had to downclimb 40 feet to retrieve the first piece he placed (a gold camalot) so he could protect the moves to come.

The crux of the 2nd pitch was an off-balance dog-leg runnel of thin ice.

new stuff 244new stuff 243

The ice got thicker, and Wayne belayed below the base of the pillar.
Wayne was happy to sink an 18cm screw to the hilt!

qP3wayne1

The ice steepened considerably, and was thin in spots.
Above the ice was short snow slog and then a sweet narrow icy gully.

P1010741

Wayne enjoyed the good ice while it lasted.

new stuff 245

Then the mixed climbing became delicate, then desperate.

new stuff 247
I flailed up the mixed moves, slipping a few times and happily hooking a fixed pin, all while wondering how the hell Wayne managed to lead it with the potential consequences of a nasty fall. The mixed moves were full-body workouts.

P1010747

The last pitch certainly wasn’t a gimme. Some fun mixed moves, thigh-deep snow groveling, and a little bushwhacking. Capped off with a classic finish through a tunnel.

new stuff 239

NDD on left, White Slabs on right

We walked off the backside, scrambling down two short rock steps.

Crimson Eye, and a small ratings bubble.

Before I go into a rant about sandbag grades, let me first state that the 2 new lines on the Upper Town Wall are just fantastic, and are/will get much deserved traffic on them. Super technical, thin, and very bouldery, Thompson/Fuller Memorial and Crimson Eye offer some of the best face climbing you can imagine. It is so great to have even more outstanding choices at my favorite place to climb.

Mt Project Page: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/the-crimson-eye-/111804803

Yes, Index is an amazing place to rock climb, but everyone knows how the ratings are stiff in most cases. That’s the tradition here, and I get it, but do we want to keep raising the bar? My last 2 recent reports highlight 2 routes that deserve such ratings scrutiny. I believe the FA team are well suited to do routes much harder than the pair of routes, so maybe that is a factor. Bouldering has allowed the average climber to do incredibly difficult sequences, and develop far greater finger strength. Maybe my job and age are making climbing more challenging to me? I have always felt that routes should be rated for the on-sight first go at them. If you get it wired then maybe you have Index ratings? RIGHT next to these routes is a route called Heaven’s Gate . It is supposed to be 11a/b, and is way more doable than either of the pair to its left. Make your own judgement by doing these amazing climbs (if you can), but be ready for some tough climbing.

Details: p1: I led Lamplighter for my 4th time overall 10c. P2 then Jeremy got shut down and offered me the crux 2nd pitch, which I fell on, then sent, but grabbed the draw after crux to clip it. note: if you can clip the bolt after the crux move, go for the hidden jug to the right of it first, then it is more clippable.-felt 11d.  P3: Jeremy did an amazing job sending the stiff sequence on p3 (rated 10-. I fell 2x tr-ing it! We mistakenly went left? felt 11b/c, I am told there is an easier way to the right. Gear handy at finish. ). P4: I was amazed that I got through the 4th pitch without falling or having a mental breakdown, because it is such a crazy and awesome pitch -felt 11b, 36 meters.The climb took us 6hrs! Thank gosh that there are rest stances peppered along most of the pitches. What a ride!!

click images to enlarge

Sawtooth Traverse, Olympics 2004

I received an email asking about photos from the Sawtooth Traverse that David Parker and I did in 2004. The photos were no longer on the server so I thought I’d post them here with the trip reports that we did at the time. I don’t remember enough to caption the pics well, but I do remember it was a very fun trip.

from David:

Funny thing is, the whole thing is a blur. I don’t remember what cool pitch went with what pinnacle! I’ll be sharing the photos soon, so stand by.

Ok, here’s my brief TR: Sharpen the Saw

Last weekend, Wayne Wallace and I made the first ascent full traverse of the rugged Sawtooth Range in the Olympic Mountains. Well known for it relatively good rock (as far as volcanic goes), the ridge is comprised of 13 named peaks (some more like pinnacles) from Mt. Alpha to Mt. Lincoln. In all we figure we climbed about 20 doing our best to stay as close as possible to the ridge and climbing NE ridges or faces and rappeling SW ridges and faces, as that is the general direction of the Sawtooth Range. The most popular is the the highest and prominent Mt. Cruiser which graces the cover of the Olympic Mountains climbing guidebook and is generally the only and very worthy objective in the area. While we believe every summit had been touched, we are quite certain nobody has ever made the complete traverse in one single push. We approached 10 miles on a very wet Saturday and ended up at the base of Alpha with zero visibility. We bivied and hoped the skies would clear that night as forecast. Indeed they did, so we were up early and off. Alpha actually had 2 peaks, Cruiser was next, an un-named summit, some more ridge and then the Needle. After that came Castle Spires with 3 peaks. We ended the day by doing both the Fin and the Horn and then had to drop back down almost 1,000 feet to get water as there were no snow patches left to melt snow. We found a small pond and slept well in spite of relentless mosquitos and got back on the ridge where we left off early the next day. The second day (of climbing) was lower elevation and there was considerable vegetation (mostly pine trees) to get through in between pinnacles such as Cleaver, Slab Tower, Rectagon, Picture, Trylon and North Lincoln. We were then able to drop our packs and scramble over to the true summit of Lincoln and return where we finally dropped of the ridge around 2:00. The extremely steep chute of dirt was puckering, but mellowed to scree, then talus and boulders before we entered the forest to bushwack around a ridge and back to Flapjack Lakes. A few doses of slide alder and devils club reminded us we weren’t done yet and the 500 ft. descent in the forest to the lake was more of a controlled fall by hanging on to bushes and tree limbs until we almost splashed into the crystal clear water. A swim in the lake cooled and cleaned us for the 7.8 mile hike out to lukewarm beer and chips in the car. Fish and Chips and 6 Hood Canal oysters on the half shell fueled us for the drive home.

from me:

Sharpen the Saw

The Complete Traverse of the Sawtooth Ridge

Olympic National Park, Washington

Always on the lookout for new adventures, I found The Sawtooth Ridge to be a great possibility for an aesthetic traverse. I use the word “aesthetic” because I have found not all alpine ridges lend themselves well to a full crossing from end to end. Some have nasty deep clefts or shaky blocks or, like to Northern Pickets, they can be just too much. So when a natural and fun ridge comes along, its time to lose some shoe rubber! I found The Sawtooths when it came time to look for fun climbs on the side of the water I now call home. David Parker had told me had Cruiser in his sites. That led me to look into The Climbers Guide to the Olympics where I found Cruiser to be the crown of a very serrated ridge system. Having a rough year for climbing, David immediately caught fire on the project. It was fun doing the research on Cascade Climbers.com. We had no idea which was the better approach though into what the folks were calling the “Olympickets”. We did find it had the best rock and the sharpest summits in this wild range though. It was interesting to find the place also had a bad combination of steep –ass rock and sparse protection.
Heavy rain made us nervous as we drove off that Friday. Was the forecast going to magically turn things around for us so quickly? We needed to get part of the ridge behind us on Saturday to have a chance of getting done an to work on Monday. A stop at the last tavern before the park was to water down our apprehensions. The stupid rain was still there when we left the place though. David had the shady yet effective idea of finding some vacant cabin carport for a dry bivy. After working on our explanation to any arrivers,, we slept to the noise of the downpour.
Saturday morning, It was still overcast as we hiked the 10+ miles into Flapjack Lake. We gave up all chance of getting on the climb that day when it was very thick at 6 pm.. Serious concerns crept into our ambitious plans. It appeared we would need Monday if we wanted to finish. It was great to see it finally clear as we want to sleep at the base of our first objective: Alpha
With all the many peaks we went over David was later to say the whole trip was a blur. Alpha is one of those for me too except I do remember it was about getting to that big tree in the gully and barely 5th class to get over its 2 summits. Whatever it offered us was forgotten once we saw Mt. Cruiser .Its Northeast face was a great introduction to what fun lay ahead: Steep and exposed climbing with sporty and little pro. For the first time we saw the long road ahead that leads to Mt. Lincoln. It would not be easy or quick to get through.
After a satellite peak was crossed, we found David ready to get after The Needle. He thought it would be good to leave our packs at the base and scoot around the base after we come down. I had the feeling there was a nasty chimney to contend with on the other side. Sure enough we couldn’t even see down the crack on the other side it was so steep. 5.11 chimneys must be just grim. Above that notch lay one of the greatest leads on the trip. The first of 3 summits on Castle Spires led up vertical face to an almost overhung arête! We were so stoked to find such quality and charm to a peak we did not even expect to be on! The other 2 Summits fall into the blur category. The Fin Though is always a vivid and amazing memory. A crazy angled face problem led to a monster chimney. This made the adventure all the more complete.
Now running out of time and water. We saw the Horn was not going to let us up the straight line along the ridge direction we wanted to take so we compromised our pure ridge traverse here and went around to the standard route on its east face, which was no disappointment for any aspiring 4th class climber, really? 4th class? Our thirst drove us down to a pond at the base of the peaks where we made our second and last bivy under very bright stars.
Monday we went right back up and followed a sharp ridge line over 2 minor peaks that both had tin cans at their tops. After much of tough travel we found the Cleaver to be yet another fun lead and rappelled to the great Slab Tower. It had an obvious slab arête the I begged to give a try. It may have been one of several first ascents we did on these many pinnacles. The Rectagon and Picture Pinnacle were more leads that left us wondereding if any had tried its Northeast side as well. We really made an effort to stay with the ridge and its crest. The ridge was surprisingly accommodating too except for the Horn and now the Trylon too would need extensive rap-bolting to stay with the line direction. I am not sure the place is ready for that, but establishing this would make it an incredible Traverse that I would put near the top of the list for the country we share.
The North Lincoln Peak was a non-issue except for its intense and long descent. After we found its base, we ditched our packs and ran for the summit of our final peak. We enjoyed the view this time looking back to the distant Mt. Cruiser. What a long and fun climb it had been! What I had to do now was race back before my girlfriend called a rescue for us. I had mentioned it could take an extra day but was she listening at the time? The “trail “ down to the lakes may have existed but all we saw was the usual slide alder and devils club to round out the trip. The still cold brews would lessen the pain from that too as we happily reached our car again.

Sawtooth Ridge Traverse Grade V+-5.7 R (old school;)
August 7-9, 2004 Wayne Wallace (40), David Parker (44) .Both from Bainbridge Island.

Peaks include:
Alpha 1
Alpha Beta
Mt Cruiser
The Blob (Ok some of these we took the liberty to give our own names)
The Needle
Castle Peak 1
2
3
The Fin
The Horn
Tin Can 1
2
The Cleaver
Slab Tower
The Rectagon
Picture Pinnacle
Trylon
North Lincoln
Lincoln Peak

Gear : 2 ropes , med rack to 3”, several small pins, tat cord.

Brett Thompson and Scott Fuller Memorial Route, UTW, Index

Lane and I picked the perfect spring day to do one of the best new climbs at Index.

The Brett Thompson and Scott Fuller Memorial Route is a recent addition to the top of the fabled Upper Town Wall of Index. After a couple of steep old school trad pitches, it eventually gets up on one of those steep, and exposed slabs you find at Index that can have incredible face climbing.

p3

p4  photo by Lane B.

Here the rock can have features like: patina, tortoiseshell, thin seams, stegosaurus spiney craziness, with an occasional crystal pocket. I had to take some time to figure out the sequences, as they were neither obvious nor effortless. It felt like a never ending boulder problem, fitting perfectly with why I like climbing at here. Great challenges can yield great rewards.

 

“Bouldering with a rope” . Blake Harrington knocked it out of the park for me when he described what Index is to himself. The modern climber cannot deny the influence that bouldering has had on the sport of climbing. Bouldering demands intense concentration on ever smaller holds and figuring out some tricky sequence to solve a typically complicated body riddle. Get rid off the fiddle and extra weight of gear and of course you can find the sport at its most difficult. It is bringing up a generation of power house athletes that if they do rope up, will find routes that are very difficult indeed. Being an old schooler, I struggle with this influence at the gym, at the crags, and occasionally when I boulder. I am used to the slightly more natural lines, but do enjoy the prospect of pushing myself. Bouldering, and sport climbing are good ways to do just that.

The first ascension team named the route for a couple of close friends that took their own lives. The route is great and I hear the 2 young men were too. I’m told Scott was the master of slang and super strong boulderer and Brett the laid back trad guy with a sweet spot for Darrington. I am getting to know the fa team and I wish them peace and closure with their friends departure. Thanks for the huge effort it took to put up such a long outstanding climb and bringing your burden and collective memories to the community.

 

Another bout of Labor Pains

Ah early season. Stoke runs high, conditions are weird, and people forget to bring things. Plan “D”is often in play. Due to unfamiliarity and spectacular snow cover, it can be such  an amazing experience though, just good luck figuring what to do. Limited possibilities can crowd routes, but this Memorial Day, the weather kept many parties away. Monday was the only day it wasn’t snowing, so we made for the shorter West facing lines that got sun once it warmed up in the afternoon. We had picked Free Mojo, but the sun wouldn’t hit it before 1 pm. Labor Pains it was, even though Lane and I just had done the route last September. Would it be as fun as I remember?

I was rusty and the rock was damp, so I was not as relaxed as last time. The gear felt worse too in the damp cracks. I combined the last 2 crux pitches this time, and had the worst rope drag possible. Barely able to pull the crux and exhausted with drag of the 2 ropes, I still say that it is a great climb with a chip on its shoulder. I wish the pins could be replaced with bolts, and a good belay could be added to the last 2 pitches. It is dangerous to move off that belay there now with the way the bolts are. Don’t let my whining take it off your list though. Just bring long slings, Revolver carabiners, and some nerves.

click images to enlarge.

 

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