With temps in the 90s, it became necessary to build a list of routes that get limited sun exposure, have a higher altitude, AND ease of access. There aren’t that many however. The west faces of Liberty Bell group, and Wine spires meet the criteria, but you will feel the crowds of people and goats.
Research brought me to the Darrington, and to consider the Ancient Melodies route on the NW face of Exfoliation Dome as a shady option to nab a big route with “easy” access. Don’t take the Granite Sidewalk lightly!
Saturday: Sit by the river. rest and relax
It still took a rest day prior to the climb for me to possibly perform. I helped wrap up the mega work project so I was reeling from the week leading up to our plan. We camped at the end of the fs2060 for a prius.
Sunday: Up at 5 am, we had to get up most of the route to avoid the blistering sunny temps we knew would hit (sun hits route just after noon mid July). We simoed the first 3 pitches quickly and had little trouble on the clean lower slabs.
Slab climbing gets little love from climbers in general, but the 4 business pitches on this route were more face climbing than slabby friction. The movement was exciting too, requiring nerve and figuring out the delicate dancey sequences especially with the feet. Pure joy flowed from us as we marveled at the unique features and positions the route offered. The first of the 4 is a slick feeling traverse that has holds appear just when you need them and would be the money pitch on most climbs, but the next pitch is truly the money, with nonstop excitement all the way up to the chains. #3 business pitch is a fun/tips affair that should lend confidence at sending the crux? I was raring to go on the crux, because the route was so good, I wanted to do it justice( and never take the Granite Sidewalk approach again). With loud yells of effort, I did get the crux clean, finding it to be a couple of the toughest foot mantels I have ever done. I was skeptical that a “slab”route could justifiably receive as much love as it had on Mt. Project, but after climbing it: I can see it, and a renewed appreciation for top quality lower angle routes!