Flip of the switch…

…and it’s rock season!

In an abrupt and dramatic change, the deep freeze went ballistic in the other direction. With temps skyrocketing to record setting readings as high as 80f in the Puget Sound.


This during “calendar winter”.

Thin Fingers 11a Photo Michael R.

All Index needs is a few clear days though, and yes, there is your rock season whether you’re ready or not. I was stoked to get 12 pitches in, including my first lead of Thin Fingers! I have always been spooked by this route and its ledges. Guess all that training, and ice climbing pays off. Still damp in spots, with tons of snow in places near the bases of the upper climbs!

Other favorites done:

Walking Legend, Meyah( love this one!), Compound W( in newly scrubbed shape, dirty, yet better off), Law and Order( my 5th time up it!) Tried the new, 2nd pitch of L+O, Needs a bolt or 2, will be fun!

The oil trains rolled by, then the coal trains next?

2 last issues:

Please be an advocate/activist for reducing fossil fuels, etc.

Dave E, and Sterling outright gave me 2 Photon ropes to try for ice climbing. I got to try them out at Banks, and they performed like only the best ropes would in the extremely wet and steep conditions. The dry-coat works beyond what I have experienced with new (or any) ropes.

Prior to all that, I already had invested in their heavy duty 70m Evolution rope. It is my go-to for the desert and index. With the durability, it feels a little heavier.( when did 9.8 get to feel so fat!??) They are also more expensive, but worth it if you are pushing your grade. I prefer the extra confidence and handling you will get with the lines I have tried out. Thanks also to Micheal, James, And Jenn for being awesome friends! Thanks for reading, Wayne

Also check out the 70m tope-roping going on in the left side of the Michael photo? All 4 pitches of Narrow Arrow in one mega session!

Sabbra Cadabra





bird and egg p7

I would not have picked Sabbra for my first big route of the season. Jeremy and perfect weather can be persuasive however:

“We still haven’t done Sabbra”
Me: Not sure how I would be on sabbra have not done much climbing yet this season,but
I’d try sabbra if you feel up to the crux.
“I’m game for the crux. I’m climbing pretty strong right now. 11+ bolted correct?”
Me: Ok let’s go
As it turns out I needed more reps to do it justice, but WOW, what a great route. We didn’t “free” it, nor finish either due to a raptor nest atop p6.
     The 4 “business” pitches we did were very enjoyable to the extreme even doing the occasional “take”(sitting in your harness, to take a break). P2 was my cleanest effort, I managed to get up its super delicate slabby insanity cleanly, though the pitch was damp in places. Jeremy did an amazing job on the 1st 5.11 pitch on p3. With and early take, he kicked out the rest in an impressive effort on small holds. After struggling up the follow of it, I led a lot of the next 5.11 thin crack (from heaven) free, but started pulling gear at the end. I also did a “take” on the 10d p6, clearly not in mid season form. It was worth the humiliation, and I cant wait to get back to try it when more seasoned.
   If you look close at one of the photos, you will see the falcon with and egg just visible. We had no idea it was there until I was quietly looking at the 7th pitch. We did not disturb it, and notified the proper authorities for a seasonal closure of the area. My next visit can wait.


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.


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.


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:


Climbing death ruled accidental by coroner
‘Breakdown in communication’ cited in 2003 death on Grand Wall
By John French
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.”


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.


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:

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! He mistakenly went left at the last bolts?? 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

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.


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.


Index 4-16: Big weekend, and close call

4-15-16: Little Fire, and partner takes a huge fall on Law and Order, walks away with sprained wrist.

4-16-16: Solitude, and And Say.

Getting my first 2 day weekend in months had me amped to go big at Index. I had Paul lined up for plan of doing a wild route called Little Fire on Duck Wall. A fairly new route, the first ascentsionist  pulled the 5 hangers from the crux pitch bolts last season. There are thin gear placements to be had, but it makes for a bold, testy route that only a few elite climbers could onsite. I can understand why the fa team made the decision to do that, but it will keep me from repeating it unless it is restored. It was a very fun route to climb except for a couple of dirty pitches. The p2 hand crack is stellar, and the crux is just wild. I really hope to get a good shot at freeing it, but took aid for safety when we did the climb today.

After the spanking we received on that, I thought we should bring down the ambitions, and I suggested that we do Law and Order. Paul was hot to try it for his first 5.10 lead of the season. He did great getting through the crux thin crack, but came off while trying to clip a bomber .4 camalot. As the belayer, I instinctively reeled in an arm length of rope, locked off hard, and waited to see if his gear was going to hold. When I heard the first(of 2) C3 pop, I jumped off the dirt ledge and careened towards Private Idaho cliff top below. I fell 6 feet when the bolt finally caught him, his force pulled me halfway back up. He ended up taking a 50+ foot fall and came down head first inches from a ledge.  We both had some bumps and scrapes. We called it a day, grateful that worse things hadn’t happened. When I retrieved the gear I noticed it was damp and dirtier than when I did it 2 weeks earlier. I had never used the jump-down belay save that I did. I know it puts extra shock on the system, but I knew the bolts would hold. I also knew he was 20+ feet above them. I think it was a good move at the time.


Well, I was not expecting to climb Sunday, but Jeremy was trolling, and I couldn’t resist another sunny day out. We started by repeating Solitude. It was as good as I remember, but dirty from the early season too. I got to lead the only pitch I had not yet led: the last pitch=such a money machine- and a bit edgy too. Jeremy had a bone to pick with And Say an “under construction” route that currently has 3 pitches. 2 of which are very good. The crux is so rad yet doable for the grade. Quite a weekend. I just checked in with Paul, he is doing great with a sprained wrist being the worst of it, phew. Live and learn.

Little Fire p2

Little Fire p2

Little Fire crux p4

Little Fire crux p4

Law and Order from about where partner fell.

Law and Order from about where partner fell.

Jeremy on p2, Solitude

Jeremy on p2, Solitude

Solitude p4

Solitude p4

And Say crux p2

And Say crux p2


4-4-16 index 6 p to 10d w sean

Running journal entry:   4-4-16 index 6 p to 10d w sean

Those words would ordinarily just blend in with my running climbing journal. But not this time. Due to my job schedule, I had not rock climbed for the past 4+ months. If you view my running journal, I wouldn’t expect any sympathy, however. I had lots of time to think about what my ideal first day at the crags would be. The best trip to Index would always include: Accommodating my partners ideas, doing a pitch or 2 that I have never done before, and repeating some of my favorites. Also not climbing for so long led me to be a little out of shape. So I would have to moderate the burning desire once I returned. The plan we came up with involved six amazing pitches on 3 crags:

Princely- Dr. Sniff– Beak, Beak- link up on LTW. Felt great for my first lead of the season being Dr. Sniff! It was so tough to leave the pull of the LTW. ” We must stay true to The Plan!”

Law and Order on Lookout Point. Great, long pitch that raps to 2 more classics: Baby Tapir, Strange Boar, for some shameless top roping!

The Snake. One of the most fantastic leads on Rattletale Wall. Small gear and dicey moves go on, on, and on .

It was Sean’s first time to Index. He did so well, I had to ask him if Index seems easy for him. He said it was not. Now its back to work 6 days a week again until September. Cant wait for my next mini vacation to Index for another day of magic!

Act of a Strange Boar

Act of a Strange Boar