Late Season Luck

Late season (good)luck cannot be counted on as a weekend warrior in the NW. So, when it happens there is a sense of satisfaction and the sad feeling like its over for the year too. We had the fortune of experiencing this several times during brief weather windows this fall. My focus was of course on multi pitch, but it also became ticking off “top 100 “ routes at Squamish. We did 8 of them this fall, and it rejuvenated my love for the place, even with its growing pains, Squamish is still an incredible venue.

Merci Me 5.8

Sole Mate 10b

Sunblessed + Enlightenment 10b SB is very fun, enlightenment scary however

Blazing Saddles 10b wild!

Rainy Day Dream Away 10c

Pitch in Time (w/extension) 10d

Apron Strings 10b

Rutabaga 11a, possibly my favorite pitch in Squamish!

 

Index also came through with another run at Hell Bent for Glory in the heat, and a spank down on Free at last to flail on the Glass Eyed Tuna pitch that supposedly is 10d? not buying it, but great job on the new guide book fellas!

Even though I’m working a tough job currently, I feel compelled to grab that last bit of sun.

Now It is amazing to think about ice season coming! Wish I didn’t have to work all winter 😦

The (partial) Slesse Traverse 5.7

Updated! from Cascade climbers 9-23-17:

Nick Elson and I (Julian Stoddart) completed this traverse on August 29th, with no knowledge of Wayne and Jen having been there the day before attempting the same thing (though we did see some signs of recent travel along the way that had us wondering).

We left the truck at 4:45 in the morning and traversed to the south ridge of Labour Day Horn as per Don Searl’s report from 2006. Kept the rope in the bag with a few moves of 5th here and there until the descent from Slesse’s Third Peak. Made a few raps down to the 3rd/South Peak notch, from near the plane wreckage site.

Ascending and Descending the South Peak was our crux. We were likely “off route” on ascent and ended up simul climbing some mid 5th on quite bad rock, In retrospect we’d have been better off staying closer to the crest where the rock was cleaner (we were slightly West).

A few raps from the south peak (again would have been better to stay right on the crest) brought us to the base of the main summit. A quick traverse had us on the regular descent route, which we climbed quickly to tag Slesse proper, passing Kevin McLane and partner who were descending from the NEB.

The usual crossover descent slog was straight-forward and we made it back to the truck before dark, after a very satisfying 15 hours on the move.”

_________________________
that from: Julian Stoddart

Me : Not sure if this effort is the first ascent? Who cares much anyways, Cheers to them!! So fast!!

 

Regular blog post from Jenn and my efforts, just days before their triumphant ascent:

Short version: Amazing lady helps old climber mans dream come true. We set off over a 3 day weekend to climb/traverse 5 of the 6 major peaks in the Slesse Range of Southern B.C Canada.

Itinerary version:

-August 26 Wayne W, and Jenn C. did approach, and climb Labor Day Buttress, aka, the NE Buttress of “Peak 6 (6,800+’)”300m, 5.4. Bivouac on summit. Ref: Beckey Casc. vol.3 pg, 177

-August 27 Rappel “Peak 6” ascend “Peak 5, aka Station D”, 180m 5.7. Rappel, then climb “Peak 4”, South Ridge , low 5th. Difficult rappels off “4”, then ascend “Peak 3”, aka “Southeast Peak 7,100” , 100m 5.7+. The site of the 1956 air disaster.

Difficult rappels off “3”, then bypass “Peak 2, aka South Peak” on the west face, then Climb SW Face Mt Slesse 200m, 5.6, Bivouac on Summit.

-August 28, Rappel Slesse, continue to Crossover descent back to car.

 

 

 

Amazing photo of the ridge we traveled…

Long Version:  I first saw it coming down from Nesakwatch spire weeks before, Why hadn’t someone done the Selesse Traverse?? I was to find out it was a rather brutal and long affair, complete with moss, loose rock and more black lichen than you can fit in your eyes. It was also a very fun and rewarding outing as you make your way across a spectacular ridge line that culminates in the mighty Mt Slesse itself.

I usually put more research into my projects. If I had, I would have found out that we were not the first to have a look at this… Don Searl tr, Slesse SE Divide-partial traverse. I also would have had an idea of the names of the different peaks. It would have been handy to have grabbed the correct beta pages my partner copied for our outing too. With all the makings of a fine epic, we left Seattle at 5am to make a 3 day run of it-> starting with the seldom visited Labor Day Buttress on Labor Day Horn( aka Peak 6). It felt like a 6 pitch 5.7. It went well in spite of the slipperiest heather I have ever been on. Jenn and I climbed the 1000′ route to the summit just as sun set. It was a most beautiful bivy as can be had in the Cascades. The next day’s goal was to get all the way across -the mile long ridgeline- over 5 more peaks (all involving rappels)-to the top of Slesse itself. It would not be an easy day

Peak 5 put up a good fight on the face just right of its south ridge (4p, 5.7). There was a particularly memorable hand crack. Several raps and a long hike to get over to peak 4. It was the least fun summit, and the way down the other side was terrifying. Think sketchy rapps on large loose blocks, chockstones and the like. Even with the first set of trauma raps behind us, the traverse gets more intense as you go.Peak 3 had difficult route finding and a summit that can hardly be touched. It quickly becomes obvious that this is where the airline crash took place. This awful site was eerie, especially when we were again struggling to find good anchors to head down on. On a memorable hanging station made of a single sling, I had to remove a toothpaste tube from the crack behind to rig that single sling.  No back-up, and I am not proud of that, though it was bomber. Walking and rapping by huge chunks of metal was one thing, but there were shoes underwear, seatbelts and other personal effects. I can tell you the airplane was yellow, and it was so close to clearing the saddle, that it blew debris over to the other side of the mountain.

We were very happy to make it to the saddle before the peak 2 Aka: South Peak of Slesse), but we were so very tired from the 2 long days and concerned for our committed position of having to get to the top of Slesse itself for retreat. It was after a long soul search that we elected to go around p2 for expediency as it would have taken many more hours to get up and down that one. As it was, we got to the top of Slesse an hour before dark. We relished our new camp and its relative safety on this incredible mountaintop.

All that was left to do was again rappel and down climb forever, then get over the long, long, long Crossover descent and get back to the truck the next day. Special thanks to Bree and Russ for the use of the truck, Jenn for being a trusting and loving soul, and Drew for setting the history straight.

So this amazing project appears to still be up for grabs. Will future aspirants overcome the dangers and difficulties in fine style? I sure hope so. I can’t wait to read the report!

Squamish ’17 and Hell Bent 2

Weather plays such a huge role in climbing and making plans. We were rained out our alpine plan, but Squamish serves one heck of a plan B !! If you only do 7 pitches there I recommend:

8-19,20-17 Squamish 8p to 11a, w/Jenn

 Rainy day 10c,

A Pitch in Time (w/extension),10d

Apron Strings 2p 10b

Arrowroot 10b,

Rutabaga 2p 11a, Rutabaga especially is spectacular.

All but 1 are top 100 routes according to the 2012 guide, and a damn good time!

a few days later Lane and I did my second go at Hell Bent for Glory in hot conditions. I led all but the 1st pitch this time. Once again the weather was an issue turning us both into sweaty, exhausted, and satisfied people. Such an amazing route, sustained and takes much energy. Fixed lines no longer allow for quick descent, use your 70 to get down and beware of leaving gear at a belay as some pitches traverse a bit.

 

Dairyland, S. Nesakwatch Spire 10d, 6p

Last weekend sent Lane, Doug, and I to the Canada to have a go at an obscure, yet outstanding climb high in the Cascade Range of British Columbia. It was Lanes idea to explore this area that none of us had been to prior, and what fun it was doing Dairyland in what started out to be soggy conditions. We spent 5 hours Saturday going up the 4k+’ vertical approach(ugh), and enjoyed the climb on a brisk Sunday. The climb starts off great, then has a blah pitch. Once that section is over, the crux, and last pitches are quite spectacular. You and your partner WILL be doing the rock, paper, scissors thing for the $ pitch! The whole package of being up in the mountains, good climbing and great friends embody the very reasons I pursue such a strenuous and risky sport. It’s great to be so excited about it even after 40+ years of climbing. It is however strange to run low on quality routes on my (local)to-do list, but fun to explore the unheralded and seldom visited routes!

Special thanks to Doug for providing the SUV for the drive that ended on a pretty rough road. Additional beta in Blake’s new book Cascade Rock.

http://www.stephabegg.com/home/tripreports/britishcolumbia/nesakwatch#climb2

https://muntanyaverda.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/south-nesakwatch-spire-dairyland-bc-5-11-7398/

click photos to enlarge or else they will stay small. forever.

 

 

Hell Bent for Glory, Index

If you are willing to overlook a crappy approach trail,, wholesale excavation/destruction, and dusty starts, the Diamond is producing some amazing climbs. Long, sustained and old school fun is how I would describe Hell Bent. Though short pitches are the norm, the corner pitch(3) is sooo good, as is the last few face climbing pitches. Thoughtful and in balance, you climb more with your brain than body. Jeremy and I had a blast in the cool temps, watching people scrub and work their projects. The route saw 3 parties on it today alone. Thin gear and stoppers are not very useful. Can’t wait to try Sabbra.

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/hell-bent-for-glory/108136104

Liberty Traverse + Skinny Start, Big Kangaroo

The 3 haggard climbers struggled back to the car, now separated, traumatized, and glad to have avoided a major epic. Stuck ropes, incomplete descent beta, and sustained climbing difficulties made for a long 2 days out at the Big Kangaroo.  The 4th of July weekend started out with the Liberty Traverse though, so let’s check back on the 3 exhausted dudes later.

First up, Jenn and I went after our second grade 5 route together: crossing all 5 summits of the Liberty Bell group, you can make it as hard as you want. We tried to begin with the North Face of Liberty Bell. Once recovered from an off route start, we found the Remsberg variation to be quite fun. Water grooves stepping at its finest. It was cool to be up there so late in the day after the crowds were gone. We had to get over Concord(N. Face Directisimo) before dark though to keep our pride intact, then find a lovely bivy between Concord and Lexington. What a great sunset, and view from there. I am sure the traverse is fine getting it done in a day, but…..

Sunset, then sunrise..

pure magic.

 

Lexington was a chossy blur first thing in the morning, and on to the real business of NW Corner of N. Early Winter Spire. Sustained and old school climbing at its best. We had fun behind a couple of young men just getting into this sort of thing. Their stoke was refreshing. We were also next to Jenn’s friends that were having fun on the West Face route too! We did punt a bit on S. Early, taking the easy way up it for lack of energy, not to mention hunger. One of the better traverses in the state.

The second half of the 4 day weekend was to be devoted to the Skinny Start of the Kearney/Thomas route.

James, Lane, and myself aimed to do the possible 2nd ascent of the 4 (not 3) pitch variation start.

We expected typical “alpine” rock climbing, but got closer to Index type climbing(hard!), with dirtier conditions. The trad gear/anchors went in well, making the insane climbing slightly more sane. It is tough to describe how heroic each lead was in its own unique way. Right from the start, it gets after you and builds in intensity right on through the crux and beyond! There is little respite once getting on the more established K/T route. I barely got the crux pitch clean, but James fell early following and jammed his rope into the thin crack in 2 different places!!! Lane had to climb past him and aid the whole pitch to free the stuck rope and get the frustrated James moving again. Surprisingly the maneuver only cost us a cam and 1 1/2 hrs. On to the next crazy pitch and our next surprise at the top of the route: We couldn’t find a rap anchor along the whole top of the suggested rap route: Becky-Tate. It became clear that we needed a back-up plan. I took charge scouting a direct descent to the car for my partners, and then got busy retrieving our overnight gear that we left at the base of the climb on the opposite side of the mountain. The entire descent had to be done in rock shoes for my friends, but at least I got back to my approach shoes at the base of the route. For me it was difficult but passable to stay high traversing to the saddle, this tactic seems to be the best option despite adding onto an already LONG day. The 60lb pack(s) made quick work of depleting my reserves, but burgers became that much closer with each step. We avoided a full blown epic through sheer will. What a weekend!

More info in Blake’s new book, but be careful with the beta, there are more pitches than described, and didnt find the rap anchors for going down the Beckey route.

Jason G, Liberty Traverse report

AAC Skinny Start FA

K/T report

Ian on K/T

Freedom Rider, Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell Group

When your to-do list at Washington Pass dwindles to the last few ticks in the book, Freedom Rider will offer an arresting and consuming adventure. Don’t take it lightly, it is a serious affair. At times the rock is loose, cat-littered, and vegetated. (apologies to the party below us!)I would say that over half of it is very fun climbing though. There are also some very memorable sections that surprise the climber too. The crux is a real head scratcher, I got to the highest part described on the 10d thin, and then just did a pendulum past the off-width to save time. I knew it was going to be a long day: up at 430 am and back to Seattle by midnight! We got pretty tired as it was our first big route of the rock season though. A very ambitious project considering that. Thanks to Jeremy for the amazing day!

The super topo and Blakes book are pretty accurate beta resources, here are a few others, and some pics:

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/freedom-rider/109496572

http://www.supertopo.com/rock-climbing/Washington-Pass-Liberty-Bell-Freedom-Rider

http://blakeclimbs.blogspot.com/2013/06/washington-pass-freedom.html

http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=595691

http://iannicholsonslife.blogspot.com/2011/10/freedom-rider-v-511b-or-510d-scary.html

Moab ’17

P1200747I had only been home for a couple of days when Lane asked me again to join Paul, Michael, and him in Moab. The steady rain in Seattle and the pending work project sent me re-packing light enough to fit in a small Honda with 3 guys, their gear, and a dog.(what, am I a teenager?) We met Lane in Moab after a communication fiasco that would be repeated throughout the trip. It is a very different experience climbing and travelling as a party of four. A leader must emerge, yet maintain democracy. Though it may allow greater flexibility, misunderstandings are bound to occur. A few nice advantages become evident however:

If you need 2 ropes to get down, you are set.

If a partner or 2 wants a break, set.

If one of the cars are too lightweight, pile in the other.

Working as a team to get the first leader up the first pitch can be very quick.

Critical gear can be handed back, or left in place for the 2nd team.

Photography.

“Swap-roping” (swapping top ropes)

Makes for fun team meals at camp or restaurants. Shared expenses.

As a result of good weather, luck and company, we all got up some great towers and crag pitches:

4-9-17 Maverick Butt. 4p to 5.11 w Lane, Paul, Michael R. What a crag!

4-10-17 Sister Superior, Jah Man 4p 10+a0. Went too high at the crux, fell. Such a great route though.

4-11-17 W. Face 3 Gossips 3p 5.11 a1. Intense crack climbing, got it with 1 take, and 2 gear-pulls.

4-12-17 Long Dong rt. Kissing Couple 5p 5.11 ao. Our favorite climb, we all agreed. Tough first pitch, got it clean, except the blank section at the top bolt. We came in from the high approach, and 3 of us got to take the low approach out. Paul got the car and picked us up. Met interesting folk on trail.

4-14-17 Scarface Wall 4p to 5.11b. Got the on-sight of the legendary routes at this amazing crag.

4-15-17 Donnelly Canyon 3p to 5.10 w Lane, Ramsey, Whitney. Lane and I got to pretend that we belonged with 2 charming young ladies.

Some photos by Lane, James, and Michael Rowley Photography

Red Rocks ’17

I’m just gonna let the pictures do the talking about my best trip to Red Rocks yet.

Ok maybe the stats can have a word too..

3-26-17 Prince of Darkness 5.10c a0 7p with JC, difficult route! Holds are worn out.

3-27-17 Black Magic, Lotta Balls 6p 5.8+

3-28-17 Epinephrine 5.9 16p, Wow, what a route!!

3-29-17 Black Corridor 6p to 10c

3-31-17 The Fox, Danger Bros. Roof+ 4 others 6p to 11a w Mike. Burley , fun routes!

4-1-17 Y2K, Next Century, Out of Control 7p to 10d, stuck rope y2k, other 2 routes are fantastic.

4-2-17 Community Pillar 5.8+ 6p Think fun tunneling

4-3-17 Fiddler on the Roof 10d 4p So techy, thin, 48p total

Thanks to Jeff, Stefanie, Jenn, and Mike, love you guys..

click image to enlarge..

Canada Ice and Mixed 3-17

Until I saw the photos on the Canada Facebook page, I was not planning a 3rd trip back to the Rockies. The locals had just installed several new routes on the 70m wall right of Twisted. The pictures showed wild, exposed climbing, and a mind blowing setting. Of course the exposure led Keenan, myself, and many others to scramble there to sample the newer climbs. I would describe the area as the light version of Stanley Headwall of fun! Not too hard, but feels like you are on something steep and difficult. I hope they can form every year. (note; now that I look at old pics of Twisted, I think they will regularly form!)

3-11-17 Nasty Habit 3p wi5-m7  WHAT A GREAT ROUTE!! p1 starts out fun mixed (m6, gear to 3″) to a bolt protected dagger move, fun lead to start the trip on. Nice easy alpine p2 with thin ice wi4. P3 is fun, scratchy hooks, getting gradually steeper, fun sticking the ice too. We then couldn’t do Blobs, because of 2 parties already on it.

3-12-17 Lower Weeping Wall, center 3p wi4/5. We wanted to do the upper pillar too, but 6 new inches of snow began sloughing off in the hot sun.

3-13-17 Curtain Call 2p wi5/6. Super fat fun in easy shape. long leads though as always.

3-14-17 Blob, Blob, Blob 3p wi3-m6+. Got our revenge on this amazing climb racing a local party that photographed us. Cant say enough about the 2 pitches….amazing, athletic, weird, and steep moves. Watch for large loose blocks. It wont take long to see that the routes are new, and still loose in places.

 

This great trip made me glad that I trained hard, keep an eye on route reports, and participate in the fantastic sport of technical winter climbing!

click to enlarge photos