Squamish ’15

I wasn’t even thinking about going climbing last weekend with the hot temperatures here in the NW. It was a tough week at work in 90+ degree temps every day. Doug called me though looking for a partner. I do enjoy climbing with him as he is willing to swap leads and always has fun projects in mind. First up was to get up to shady higher altitude climbing at Fluffy Kitten Wall, near Mt. Habrich. After going up the sensitive watershed road for a few miles(FWD, and clearance), it is only about 45 minutes to the base. The wall goes into the shade around 10 am, which is when we started up the 6 pitch 5.11a gem of a route. The pitches were not strenuous or stressful, just long and enjoyable. Lots of foot jamming, you dont need 4 of any cam either.

Jesse’s Blog trip report

Fluffy Kitten Wall from RC

Double TR on CC

Next up was Sunset Strip, a newer link up in the Western Dihedrals -that also stays shady for the first half of the day-. It is a 12 pitch classic that I hear can get quite crowded, but not for us. we started at 630 am and it took a long time still to get through all the tough pitches. What a package that climb is all the way to the end! I ran out of gas on the last crux.

One of my favorite weekends ever! Thanks Doug for rolling out for this great trip!

Mt Proj. beta

Squam. source




Southern Man, SEWS

I find that if I spend ALL day Saturday in bed, resting, I can do something amazing on Sunday. I know everybody thinks their respective job is tough. As a Union Carpenter- Local #30, I am no exception. We are hustling through a mega- project in Bellevue. $1.5 billion will buy you 2 million square feet, and with today’s engineering, it will not come easy.

Not having to work last Saturday, I rested, then headed up to Washington Pass once again for its amazing, and long climbs. Having checked off Supercave, the next on the list was an obscure yet very wild route up the sunny side of South Early Winter Spire with Steph. Named Southern Man in by 2 acquaintance’s of mine on their ’08 FA of the climb, It was later cleaned, and freed by a later party. I was amped to try to free the 5. 11d/12a route, but my physical-state demanded that I take an etrier, and a fifi hook or “old man gear” as I call it. To my utter satisfaction, I freed all but 10 feet of the route, and what a great route it is. It is steep, and exposed for several hundred feet with jagged, sharp thin crack climbing the whole way. Whoever thinks the feet are bad needs to climb at Index more. The feet and locks are good, just a few are reachy. We did combine a couple of pitches, since the belays are not fixed yet and all. The guide book raves about the quality of it, but really it is a knotch below a Passenger or Supercave type outing. It is still a very rewarding and exiting climb.

Steph’s amazing report


Original TR




Click images to enlarge.


Supercave! Ellen Pea Route, M+M Wall

In my typical bungling-along style, Jon and I eventually succeeded in climbing most(6p) of the amazing Supercave/ Ellen Pea route, Located on an obscure 1000 ft. wall near Washington Pass, there is a growing chorus of climbers that say it is the finest climb in the state. Yes, the whole climbing package is astounding, but how often do we get to try a tough climb that has an enormous cave in the middle of it?

Beta page, squamish climbs

Beta page, Blake

Ellen Pea, and Tiger route, Blake

Mt Project 


1st  attempt was last year with Paul. after mistakenly going way past the start of the route up the approach gully, we bailed disgusted with how involved and somewhat dangerous the approach appeared. 2nd attempt was done early in the snow year to try to avoid the bad slabs by walking atop the snowpack instead. The only problem with that notion was that Jon and I found the upper part of the route to be very wet- april 19th , lesson learned.

Attempt# 3 just happened June 7 of 2015, and it was just dry enough to climb it. We knew heat was going to be an issue on the South-facing wall so we left the car at 4am! We swapped the lead order and that left me leading the money pitch (p2) which is quite a pitch.   The pitches(2-5) are strenuous and make tough onsights.  Pitch 3: The Arch is amazing, P4 the crux was 1 of 2 pitches that we couldn’t get clean. The cave of course is just crazy, as is the pitch to get out of it! I’m pretty sure a pterodactyl used to live in that cave.  Bring long runners, patience, and fitness, Know that there are stances between tough moves and fair grades. Have a blast on Supercave, it lives up to the hype!

click image to enlarge.



Desert Trip 2015

Nearing the end of my time off from work, I wanted to do my annual pilgrimage to the Utah desert. Next to the alpine, I find the desert to be the most visually appealing setting. I made 2 lists this time. The most important list consisted of possible partners to go down there with. Lately, I have struggled with finding a partner for just about any plan, but a road trip partner seemed almost impossible. I advertised on every climbing site I could find. I found the usual” hey lets meet here or there” type, but I had big plans that required a constant and reliable companion. I had almost given up hope when I received a random text about going alpine climbing. Adam was a motivated and flexible candidate that took to the idea of going to the desert if he could get a few days in Indian Creek. With 10 days at our disposal, I could see spending a few of them at the best crack-climbing venue in the world.

At the top of my climbs list was Fine Jade on the Rectory. Beau and I got blown off the start of the route in’10. It was time for revenge. We got it, but I didn’t pull the crux clean on one of the best routes in the state. The next day we did the Honeymoon Chimney on the Priest. What a great route that is, with an amazing, and exposed step-across to 5.11 face. Back to intense planning. How do I get back into the White Rim road with my Prius? Big $$$ will get you anywhere. Renting a jeep seemed logical, but it did not seem possible to get in, and do Standing Rock, and get out in 24 hours. Given 2 days though we could get in and do 2 towers though. We picked Monster Tower as our bonus route, and nearly regretted it. It is a ferocious climb that pushed us both and got our only 70m stuck on the 1st rappel. We barely made it down with the remaining 60m tag line and sections of the stuck rope.

Standing Rock was the one route I had most desired. It is an exciting and memorable route. Seeing it at Joe Puryears slide show in 2009 was the original inspiration for my desert career. We enjoyed the fear and exhilaration of this beautiful tower. 4 days and $700 (rope and jeep) later we were satisfied with our tower bagging for now.

I had had 6 prior days at Indian Creek, but never got to see more than 2 crags. A lapse in seasonal bird closures allowed us to experience Cat and Reservoir Wall. We ended up doing 12(me), and 20+(adam) amazing routes, mostly in the 11+ range. Adam went on a tear, I don’t see where he gets the energy. My favorite was on-siting Dos Hermanos(11+). 3 great days there, and we went for the tower that Adam most wanted: N Face of Castleton. It had eluded us previously due to cold temps, and nearly did again when we succeeded . Try it when it is warm and get an early start. It is justifiably popular as a climb and descent route.

We had perfect weather and the climbs were fantastic. I am grateful for this because I am about to start a 2 year work project that will keep me from doing extended trips. I am happy for the time off and the opportunity to work too. Hopefully I can find interesting things to write about in the meantime, until then, please share your adventures with the busy masses, and know that it is appreciated. Thanks to Adam, Pro Mountain Sports and Canyonlands Adventures for making the trip possible

Click images to enlarge.




Squamish ’14

First, a couple of things about Squamish “14” It’s a shame that I will only get up here once in 2014, and a further shame I haven’t visited since 2010.  I was once again swept up into the resort-like atmosphere similar to Red Rocks, and Yosemite. Big plans were made and re-made to suit the situation.

I signed on with Alpine Mentors with my friend Steve because I love to teach, and I tend to do that anyway. I was happy to join our 3 (already very capable) students and 4 mentors to a perfect fall weekend in Squamish. Ryan was first to experience my “fail forward” approach, as we tried to find Bulletheads East, but ended  up on Krimo-Liquid Gold instead. We enjoyed doing the pitches without knowing the grade. It was a tough and fun outing.

Next up was Alex and Jon, and we had originally wanted to try Freeway, but came down to earth a bit and went for Borderline-Angels Crest-High Plains Drifter. This amazing link-up is the finest outing I have had in my 5 visits to Squamish. 15 or so pitches with distinctly different flavor, climaxing with the incredible position way up on the high plains. I let Alex and Jon do nearly all of the leading, but requested 1 lead up there. I got the 1st of the 2 on High Plains. It is an enduro hand crack that will make you wonder how much is left in the tank for the last pitch and its dyno for the top. Almost everyone struggled with it, and the leader cannot A0 through it either.

Of course I compared the climbing to my favorite local crag, and I must admit that I prefer the finer coarse crystallization, ambience, and the pitch for pitch wonder of my home crag. This will not keep me from more trips to the north for the long and beautiful routes I have still to see.


Laser beta for HPD crux: Dont go up the thin crack too far as you will miss the best hold for the reach to the right. Wind up and extend to the hold, but dont try to slap for a higher one. Step out right, then match hands. Rock onto foothold. the arete gets better up higher. P1120983P1120985

the extension

the extension

Solitude- Lookout Pt.- Index

I had just cleared the crux(s) and was going free again to finish the sustained , steep lead halfway up an obscure yet classic 5 pitch route. Pumped to all get out, there should have been relief at the top hand jams. A thorny vine wove through the crack that I could just barely reach. The spines dug into the skin, both sides of the hand, where some would stay for days after. 


I wouldn’t ordinarily write about a local route done at the crags, but I had to share this wonderful route with the hopes of hearing more good things about it. I think my friend Geoff first posted about a Mountain Project link to it. The pictures looked great and I am always on the lookout for sustained thin lines.

The first thing I asked Alex on his lead was “Is there any chalk on it?”. He linked the first 2 pitches into 1 dream lead.  He said there was, but we didn’t see much after that. The climbing justifies more traffic though.


Pitch 3 packs a wallop, with a techy crux start to and very thin finger traverse left. I later cleaned the sticker vines out of the finish jams on rappel.

The Chimney after(p4)was short and fun.

P5 was another very fun, varied, and thin crack lovin’ affair. How many routes do you know of that end in a dyno for the summit? We felt like we had really accomplished something that day, and all in an hour and a half away from home. I cant wait to lead 1,2 and 5 on my next go, they are 2 of my favorites for sure. All leads have adequate rests along the way.

I hope the appeal of this route is enough to keep it clean. With the approach and other competitive climbs, it might not however. That is one of the reasons I chose to write about it. Have a go, and let me know how you like it. I think it is a classic, though many may choose to aid a few moves at the crux.


Update 10-20014: Found an early trip report of Solitude on RCNW. Also went back up to Lookout Point and did another Multi pitch route starting with Strange Boar and ending on Black Rock, both of which were very fun. Baby Tapir is real good as well.

Now for some pictures:



p1,2 Solitude

p1,2 Solitude

my thoughts after watching Alex's onsite of p1,2

my thoughts after watching Alex’s onsite of p1,2

crux p4

crux p3

crux p4

crux p3

obligatory chimney pitch.

obligatory chimney pitch p4.



p5 start

p5 start

p5 start

p5 start

p5 start

p5 start

p5 finish

p5 finish

p5 goodliness

p5 goodliness

obligatory selfie

obligatory selfie

Patriot Ford

Patriot Ford


Gorillas in the Mist

7-12.13-14 Gorillas in the Mist, West Wall, Mt Stuart IV-5,11. With Jon T

A few years back, I was inspired by the efforts of 3 young friends of mine who finished the often attempted wall on the west face of Mt. Stuart. They managed to lead the route through difficult conditions from MUCH loose dirt and rocks, bad weather, forced frosty bivy, and severe route-finding issues. What they left behind is a high quality outing on one of the steeper walls in the Cascades, on one of the greatest mountains as well.

It had been on my list every since, and seemed like the perfect option on a weekend such as this one which was very hot. Not getting sun until the afternoon helped shade the sweltering heat of the long days. If only the mosquitos weren’t so insanely bothersome. Glad we brought a tent for that issue. Jon had just gone in there to do the upper north ridge, so he built confidence in me that this was the time to do this climb. We were very glad we did, what an adventure the climb is. Straight forward and hard at the start, it then takes twists and turns from there on. The route plugs along forcing you to go up or over the only way possible. This leads to long, rope-draggy leads that take time to figure out and rig for smooth rope lines.The gear is good and the climbing sustained. I would love to do the direct finish sometime as well, but I couldn’t find the info on it.

Here are some of the prior reports on it:

The first ascent: Jens, Blake, and Sol 2009

2011 GITM Direct Finish

7-2012 report

8-2012 report

10-2012 report, with topo

Mt. Project report





Stuart from Ingalls Lake

P1120434 P1120441 P1120453 P1120468 P1120480 P1120484 P1120485 P1120489 P1120493 P1120496 P1120501

Red Rocks -14.2

Given the highly volatile nature of west coast weather, necessity demands flexible (last minute) planning to be successful. I am lucky that Vern called me and asked what my plans were, because he knows I am off work and driven to make the most of it. We settled on an idea that neither one of us ever considered. Drive all the way to Vegas!!!!!! The weather even this far south was sketchy, but nothing compared to the pounding the west got this week. While staying in Vegas, having a rental house to stay in was a fortunate thing! (Thanks Mark and Rosey!)I must admit to a cold windy belay, or 6, but we made the right call. Logging in many multi-pitch routes day after day was the dream we had hoped might come true.

The drive down was endless, but we still got to the crags at 4pm the next day. Then on day 2 we had an amazing trad day linking Triassic Sands, Wholesome Fullback, and Our Father. Cant beat that for a start, but it then got even better! Another rest/sport day and its off to Unimpeachable Groping, a steep and relentless 5 pitch route that is simply one of the best! Day 5 , and we wanted to go up Risky Business, but it was too cold, so we opted for an amazing “alpine day” and did the complete Dark Shadows to the top of Mescalito. Cant describe how fun it was to do 10+ pitches in 4 long simo- blocks!!! Day 6, of course is a rest/rain day . Day 7, we were able to get 6 pitches at Black Corridor, then begin the monster drive back to Washington. It ended up being my best trip to Red Rocks (35p). It is a wonderful climbing destination, and I will be spending much more time there. Thanks Vern, Mike, Steve, Alasdair, Nate, Lisa, Fred, Randy, Aaron, Mark, Daisy, Abbey for keeping such great company, and Pro Mountain Sports for always having that last minute item!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Utah Desert-14

My 5th trip to the Utah desert yielded some great adventures. I thank Mike and Brinte for again being gracious hosts. Mike, always an agreeable and fun partner, did only 1 route with me that he hadn’t done prior. They were all great classics, and he got to swap the leads that he followed on his prior ascents. We started off in the Red Rocks Canyon. After a warm up day of sport climbing in the Calico Hills, we set our sights on Levitation 29. An astounding and steep route, it lived up to its stout reputation. I think the route is getting harder with the sandstone now offering fewer footholds in critical sections? At any rate , I enjoyed it and got up it with only pulling on a couple of draws. Great deproach too, down a scenic valley to the West (no leaving your stuff at the base, and carry 1 rope). We were excited to spend the night at the base of Rainbow Wall route, but the temps were too cold for us in the morning to enjoy our first time up that route. Retreat back to a cheap casino for showers.  Next time..

Zion was one of the last major western areas that I had yet to climb at. It was covered in snow last year when I had the time. This was my best chance, with moderate daytime temperatures and stable weather in mid-March. Iron Messiah was first on the list, what a fantastic route! All types of adventurous climbing and  long leads made for a great intro to the park. Next up was the monster route called Silmaril on the Watchman. Mikes tried and true strategy was to fix several pitches on day 1, then on day 2, jug and finish the route. With the strenuous and long pitches, this was a critical move. We were humbled by the first 3 pitches.  Right off the ground we did a short section of aid, then a full power finish to a 50m lead. My lead on p2 started off on a set of huge blocks that had a set of blocks behind that shifted while I was jamming them. I was just able to keep it together and get beyond this dangerous section with some serious self-talk and breathing. Rocks were tumbling down the cracks, and my cams were expanding in the right hand crack. Be careful on this section. Mike did the 3rd straight hard lead with small amounts of aid, and with 1 69m rap we were on top of the original route pinnacle. Another 30m rap and we were back on firm ground. Day 2, we hiked back up and did the steep jug back to our high-point. The most memorable pitches after that were the 10+hands endurance corner and Mikes resilient off-width lead. Both days were exhausting and I can’t imagine doing the whole route in a day! It was my hardest sandstone route to date, a medium I am learning to respect. 1 sandstone lead can equal 3 on granite. A given hard lead can take hours to get up.

After such body-wrecking , It was nice to enjoy more reasonable classics. Monkey Finger and Smashmouth are 2 of the best. They made a great trip even better. A must do pair of routes for sure. I had never cragged in Little Cottonwood either. Mike showed me around for a couple of days before I flew back home. 55 pitches in all, 5 multi-pitch routes. Cant wait till next year! Thanks Mike and Britne!!

Top of L29

Top of L29


Iron Messiah, crux


Iron Messiah


Iron Messiah


Iron Messiah photo by Mike


Iron Messiah rapping


Red Arch mt. from Iron Messiah


Silmaril, Watchman


Silmaril, Watchman










Monkeyfingers p4


Monkeyfingers p2


Monkeyfingers p3


Monkeyfingers p1


Monkeyfingers p6


Smashmouth p2








L29 approach


Mt Wilson


Silmaril approach


The Watchman


L29, Eagle Wall


L29 p1


L29 p1-2


Monkeyfinger p3


L29 crux
















Rainbow Wall


Great White Temple


Kenisava from bivy


Iron Messiah, center


Iron Messiah


Silmaril p1




Silmaril p3


rapping, day1, Silmaril






Silmaril ow


Silmaril, gear


Silmaril, top


















Little Cottonwood

20140309_190408 P1110692 P1110702 P1110708 P1110710 P1110725 P1110726 P1110777 P1110781 P1110784 P1110795 P1110797 P1110799 P1110815 P1110818 P1110824 P1110830 P1110838 P1110859 P1110904 P1110915 P1110917 P1110932 P1110955 P1110959 P1110963

Index. Seattle’s amazing home-town crag

1-25-14 Tunnel Vision ,Angora Grotto. GM to Heart of the Country,  LTW Index w. Shaun , crazy fun 4p.

I have been blessed to live in areas that enjoy great climbing venues within a 1-2 hour drive of home.

Portland, Oregon has decent cragging, boasting 4 areas minutes from the city. Beacon was always the prize day out. The scene and route selection can be cumbersome however. On the day-trip/weekend radar , you always have Smith and 50 other crags to enjoy. Viva l’Oregon! Great place to live for sure.

A huge step up at the time for me was moving to Tahoe and having Donner Summit and the lake environs to enjoy solid granite. Sierras were the standard weekend fair, and seldom disappointed.

One could build a great case for moving to The Vancouver/Squamish area…wish I had done that.

Seattle took time to develop, and continues to a dozen years later. I have well-plundered Leavenworth, Vantage, and half of Tieton. I keep finding myself stunned by the routes at Index! You can’t easily find such a collection of sustained and inspiring climbing. The character of the pitches in the 5.10-5.11 routes suit what I like in a route. I enjoy thought-provoking, balancey, sustained, quality, tricky, and insecure movement. You WILL get that here, and it is humbling at times. Some moves feel impossible at first go. Then there is some secret laser beta you get, and then.. oh I get it. Tough place to onsite., hope you like a challenge. I used to avoid Index because of Hwy 2 traffic(it can be an issue), and a reverse snobbiness about the place. Glad I got over it and can get down to business here again! No wonder the parking lot is always full now, Thanks AAC and WCC for the work on that. See you out there! Thanks for reading.


Heart of the Country,10+, courtesy of Evan

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Its fun to compare the areas and the climbs they offer. My nature is to climb everything out, then move to another locale if possible.  Not gonna be easy at Index. I seem to be fairly entrenched in Seattle for a bit, so its great to have new wonders waiting . Looking forward to some time off work now as well!