City of Rocks’20

Bored out of my skull, I snuck off to Idaho and met Lane at city of rocks towards the end of the lockdown. We took every precaution we could, and felt safe that we were outside the whole time. It was a strange time to be out climbing with so much turmoil. We ended up having a great trip despite inclement weather and even a close brush with a near tornado! The place was not deserted, and the crowd tended to be younger, but isn’t climbing getting younger?

“The City” was not closed, except for the park campgrounds. Naturally the BLM land was overrun a bit and they had to provide a portapoty to accommodate. The locals were not stoked.

Thanks so much to Sterling Ropes for access to the finest ropes in climbing!

4-29 Private Id, rollercoaster, Collossus, att.@ loc ness 6p to 10c wLane

4-30 Lego, Acid Rain 4 laps to 10a

5-1 Box Top, Heartbreaker, Double Cracks 5p to 10d

5-2 Good Stuff, Eviction 4l to 10c

5-3 Conceptual Reality, Just say no 3p to 5.9 22p total

Amazing, of-the-beaten-path routes that were rarely “crowded”.

 

Tucson 2020

I must admit, with all the news swirling about the virus and economy, it was nice to escape the end of a tough winter and enjoy near perfect conditions in the exciting granite mountains of SW Arizona!

However, the climbing there is very old school, by which I mean spicy, thin feet, tad run-out, earn your pro, etc. Fortunately I have tons of experience with such treachery, yet it is still very engaging for me though. Much is at stake with the lower angle potential falls, great care is taken. I was intimidated immediately with our ambitious introductory route, but hey, first climb of the “rock season”, why not go for Absinthe of Mallet!?? Well, it is quite an onsite, let me say. I had to grab on a bolt to relieve the strain on a “5.9+” pitch. I thought Index was sandbags, but this is next level, and lower angle to boot. You never know what culture you will step into! Most of the climbing was quite reasonable, but intimidating still at times. Very nice to camp out there too.

Day 2:  We backed off of the intensity and did a very fun 5.9 6p called Mystery of the Desert. 

Day 3, Pick up Jenn at the airport and fit in an afternoon blast up The Wasteland, an amazing 5.8 on the East side. All I can say is wow, and don’t try it with a party of 3 unless they are bad-asses like my partners are! Rope drag with 2 ropes is not fun. Traverses are exposed, and committing, yet this route is a gem for the grade.

Day 4: rain led us to the Arizona/Sonora Desert Museum! ( and a much needed rest day for me…)

Day 5 Mt Lemmon, Chimney Rock had the perfect testy trad routes and great access , and got Jenn back to her afternoon flight, no problem.

Day 6 Lane and I sample the insane sport routes of the Backhand crags. What an incredible week ! Now back to the strange life of social distancing? I will bolt to Utah soon, nothing better to do right now..

Good luck everyone and thanks for being a medium of communication, even if it is one way.

 

 

California ‘19.2: Arrowhead Arete and Astroman!

Though a personal, lifelong dream, “Astroman” would have not gotten done without the efforts and care from many, many others in direct support! Jenn’s help alone was beyond remarkable, more on her later. Good friend Jeremy from Momentum Sodo was the obvious choice to badger into the idea of being my partner on the big climb. Dave has been providing the best rope combinations from Sterling. Heck, the 2 guys at the crag gave us such good route beta. Mike and Brit again provided a place to stay, shower, and I brought them much less trauma with this visit. Bree and Vivian watched our dog.  Only through all of these  players could WE have achieved success on one of the most notorious climbs in Yosemite!

The preparation was months in the planning for us. Training and planning along side my life partner was a welcome constant. With minor protest, she let me bring in a partner for my dream climb right in the middle of our first vacation to California! I made sure that we were positioned to have fun the rest of the trip.

We started off with my 2nd time up Reeds Pinnacle, and Lunatic.( my first time up the routes were in 1982!)

We got right after it grinding out the astounding Arrowhead Arete the next day. What a big day dealing with the dastardly approach, wild, old-school climbing, crazy summit, and insane descent to boot (done partly in the dark!!) The mt project comments aren’t too far off. Justifiably less popular, it is still one amazing adventure climb.

Jeremy then flew in for 48 hours, with the idea of getting after Astroman with me. The weather looked and was perfect. Midweek meant only one other party that we ultimately let pass us. The time finally came, and this was the time!

Weeks prior, we negotiated a strategy that involved me getting(1 fall) the Enduro-corner p3; in exchange for me ALSO HAVING to lead the notorious Harding Slot. Further karma exchange would demand that Jeremy lead the nails-hard “Changing Corner” pitch, which led to me closing with the last difficulty pitch, the scary 10d R (capital R), in the dark.

The climb went well, save losing time in letting a party pass us. That, and the Harding Slot took hour after hour of unprecedented effort to get through. I felt it was just awful. Somehow I thought my decades of experience would get me up any such obstacles. This one was different, and so I paid a dear price mentally and of course physically. I got the pitch done”clean” but left a bunch of elbow and knee skin, and felt like I was gasping for life along the way. Jenn had dinner and wine when we got down at 10pm!

Jeremy’s great quote after was: ” We have to get up the rest of this route now, because I never want to do that(HS) ever again!” My quote later was: “at least the rest of this is regular climbing!”

Now thinking back after a few days of rest, the initial ptsd is gone, a few other highlights come to mind: The route is so very aesthetic, yet has some loose rock, and a very specific bird guano section. It seems sustained, and at times tricky, but it helped to remember that people free-solo it regularly now, so most moves are doable enough. The “easier pitches” will eat gear, so beware, and bring plenty. Hauling a small pack is great for the whole route, and gives you a rappel option too. Haul your helmets through the HS, tape up knees, elbows loosely, use a long knot, as I just barely fit through it. Try not to panic, just get up a half inch at at time.

Team also sent routes on 5+ Dime cliff, Lovers Leap, and Mt. Hoffman! Click images to enlarge, thanks, Wayne and the Astro-team!

The history of the Astroman climb is also fantastic! I won’t go into it here but much is written into the ongoing story. I must admit that this one feels pretty good. Thanks friends, family and everyone that puts up with my brand of shenanigans!

 

 

Smith Rock ’19

View from top of Cowdog

Like they say: the only constant is change.

My mind again changed when I went to Smith and remembered how much I enjoy the place.

A huge change that I am on the verge of is retiring from my job/career as a union carpenter foreman. I’m sure I will still work in a limited capacity though. More on that later, but let’s get to the important stuff.

Smith rock has dramatically changed as well. I didn’t think it could fit more people, yet at least there are ever more new routes out there for them to compete for. To say it was crowded was putting it lightly. Pressing to get in line for the “cool kids” newer routes, we did manage to squeeze in 17 pitch effort in a cool/cold three day weekend, 4 multi pitch routes too!

10/12-14 Smith Rock 17p to 10c, 4 mp w/Tom

10-12 Voyage of the Cowdog 3p 5.8+, Fish and Chips 10c, Power direct 10a, Pack Animal direct 10b 2p

10-13 Attempt@ Dirty Pinkos 1p 5.8, Chouinards Crack 5.9, Lets Face It 10c, Lost in Space 10c 4p

10-14 Dirty Pinkos 9+, 4p The place emptied out on Monday!

 

A few thoughts on retirement: I am so grateful and lucky to have been able to work in a signatory union field. The pension, pay, and benefits are something every worker should be able to enjoy. I hope we can rebuild our union membership back to where people can have a living wage! Of course, I hope to climb more during my retirement and enjoy life without the toil of waking up so damn early, and working outside like I have my whole life.

This post is dedicated to Cascade climbers.com. Even though the sites content is flagging, the friendships and memories I have made from it have not.

Diggin’ For Dreams, Half Moon IV-5.11aVS

 

 

James and I had a rather intense 19 hour day going after another second ascent in the Washington Pass area.

I must divide the experience into two categories to tell the story.

One category would be the amazing climbing and setting of this astounding climb! 8 of the 9 pitches we did were fantastic! P3, 5, 6 and 9 are particularly interesting. We added the 4 bolts recommended by the FA team too!

The other category would be the sheer terror of the 4th pitch loose rock section that came with a warning in the first ascent report. I felt grateful to survive pulling on the large loose blocks with nothing solid to step on either. Also, unique to our trip, was a horrible descent down to reach our packs at the base. 6 hours down a vast and terrible gully with 10 rappels on tiny trees. Did we take the wrong way down the right hand of the 2 gullies?? No help having contrary descent beta between the AAI FA Report and the Herrington Cascade Climbs descent beta.

Q: Ok, what’s up with the VS in the rating?

A: Very Serious is an additional rating I am using to describe a part of a climb that is or has a very serious section along the way. I rarely, if ever invoke such concepts into an already serious pursuit. The “Kitty Litter”  pitch #4 on this climb is full-on terror for 30 feet! If the 30 feet of this route disappeared, it would be a fantastic addition to the hard core list of routes at WA Pass for sure. Unless it was turned into a safe lead or via ferrata, we, the second ascent team, would not support this rock climb being offered as a “Select” climb in any list or book.

We did do our part in making this climb better by adding 4 bolts to the finish pitches. This made the finish downright fun.

Beta tweeks that vary from other reports: p2 is easier than p3 for sure. P3 is pumpy, and a damn crazy pitch! P6: don’t keep going up the finish dihedral, instead, step right around the prow to the low belay after 20 meters. Easily combine p6,7 and belay at my first bolt? watch for rope drag is all, or P7 is really short traverse right, a little then up to the exposed ledge on the prow, where I placed the first of 4 bolts. I belayed there and backed the single bolt up with the second bolt 20 feet higher (strange tactic, but would make sense to add a second bolt to make a legit belay). I then went to the summit in a 60m lead from there, unrigging the complicated belay en-route! Hilarity for sure.

Lastly, I have no idea where the FA Team came down that awful area just West of the Half Moon, but don’t take it lightly and avoid the horrendous gullies if at all possible(see photo)

click photos to enlarge

California ’19

 

ww p1

Lane and I got down to the Sierras again this year, ticking off some old school classics at Lovers Leap, Toulomne Meadows, and the legendary Calaveras Dome.

We began our long weekend with Surrealist Pillar direct, finishing with the impressive Hospital Corner. What a great link-up. We wished it were cooler enough to finish with Tombstone or Travelers, but when the sun came around it was oppressive.

I had yet to visit the newly settled Mike and Britne in their new life just outside of Sonora. They stay in a cute ranch together with the mighty beagle known as Chief. We all headed to the Grotto crag nearby and really enjoyed basalt splitters until the sun made that too tough again. Unfortunately, one of our party slipped on the descent trail, and sustained a tib-fib fracture. Heal up fast Brits!

Next Lane and I headed to Toulomne and checked out Dozier Dome, a relatively recent addition to the knobby slabs that frequent Toulomne Meadows. Starting with the 4 star Felsic, then Cheetos and Everclear, and the dastardly Plutonics, rounded out a slabby yet fun day

Crescent Arch was dry! We had a look at it last trip here when it was wet. Glad we hit it dry because it was brutal, and strenuous to lead as is. Enjoyable in the end though.

Wall of the Worlds on Calaveras Dome. Wow, what a climbers climb, and one of the best crack climbs ever! It felt like an expert route setter put this one up. Right from the start it gets thin, then opens up to ring locks, then off hand, all of it exciting, doable movement, with rests in between the tough sections. Then the traverse gets interestingly harder as you go along, climaxing in a wild undercling to flare section. SO good, then the route goes to pure fun after that. We only went as far as far as the top of the Mexican Flake, we had a plane to catch that evening. I’m always impressed with the climbing available in California! I’m grateful for living there for 4 years in the 80s, and several trips each decade since. Thanks again to our great host Michael, Britne, and Chief. Thanks also to Lane, and Sterling Ropes.

7-4 Surr. Direct, Hospital Corner, Lovers Leap 5p 10b w/lane

7-5 Grotto  5p to 11a w/ Mike Brit , lane

7-6 Felsic, Cheetos and Everclear, Plutonics Dozier Dome 7p to 10b r w/Lane

7-7 Crescent Arch, Daff Dome 7p 10b w/lane

7-8 Wall of the Worlds, Calaveras Dome 7p 10c w/lane

 

 

 

The Passenger, and a call to involvement

The climbing community is exploding in numbers, but also too should be our involvement in the infrastructure and our influence. I spend most of my time pursuing my own agenda and pushed on by my “tick list”. I do try to get involved through a couple of volunteer activities, as well. Last weekend I drug Doug along into my scheme to spend Saturday working (still ongoing and needing help)on the eroded base of a prize crag in Mazama. He was promised a few pitches that day. However, he got so into the work, that we came back to task again moving huge rocks to the wall. This time we got to work with Big Givers themselves; Bryan B., Mark A, Lowell S, Jeff T, and many others. Somehow Bryan and I hadn’t met prior, but quickly formed our mutual admiration party.

For Sunday, Doug was promised a run at Bryans impressive route on South Early Winter Spires, S.E. route called: the Passenger.  In perfect weather, up at 4:30 am, we began the long day of hiking up and doing its 8 great pitches. So many memorable moves on this climb, starting with p1s undercling. Right away getting you into tricky moves, I was able to figure out the double undercling again on p2. This left Doug with the sustained p3 and its tough move at its end. I did the crux p4 in the same style falling on the 5.11 friction and aiding the 12 boulder problem. Added bolts on the 10d block mantle make the following pitch less dangerous. Further up, the spicy 5.9 section is a bit  pg rated? The rest of the climb was fun including the direct finish! The place was almost deserted too.

It was my second go at the route and I was able to eliminate a point of aid for myself and great to not have to lead all pitches too!.

Thanks to Doug, Mark, work crews making our crags better, Sterling Ropes, WCC, and the AAC for putting together this awesome weekend!

Stephs reports:

My prior ascent:

click to enlarge photos

 

 

 

 

South Africa ’19

For me, international travel is always a journey from anguish to redemption. I tend to be a rolling contradiction of enjoying my routine, yet craving adventure and uncertainty. Struggling with the idea of wandering off far away, yet always grateful for the experience during and after.  Lucky also to have an amazing girlfriend to share it with. We created a trip of a lifetime with Jenn and Lane planning the stays, and safaris, and myself planning incredible climbing outings at Waterval Boven. Our plan there was to pick the finest climbs at as many different crags as possible, and enjoy kick ass “rest days” in the wilds. We kinda nailed it.

We did plenty of relaxed time in between, and the last 6 days planned en-route!

Bouncing from place to place, this ended up being our incredible itinerary.

5-4 fly

5-5 fly, sleep

5-6 Drive to Waterval, jet lag, stayed Troutways

5-7 6p to 10d Jenga, Dead Ant, Doom, Snakeskin Suit

5-8 5p to 10c Red Herring, Im Macho

5-9-12.  4 days of safaris, stayed @ Satari, Lower Sabie, Bergendal

5-13 8p to 11d! Women Aint Trouble, Triffids, Dendrophilia, Moondance

5-14 5p to 11a Madiba magic, Electric Ave, ENDLESS SUMMER!!, Who’s your Daddy?

5-15,16 Blydes Canyon, saw: Sudwalla Caves, The Pinnacle, Gods Window, Wonderview, Mac Mac Pools and Falls, stayed Graskopp @Sherries. Echo Caves, Sabie

5-17 5p to 10d Rainman, Ms Doubtfire, Shout at the Devil

5-18 5 p to 10c Temple of Love etc. Jenns Birthday at Lebos!

36 pitches in all! Free pdf of guidebook

5-19,20 Soweto tour, Mandela House, Apartheid Museum, drive around Jo’burg. Fly, fly

Aside from the amazing climbing I was floored by the history, and culture of the country! The past and future struggles gave me hope for humanity, and the idea of moving past racism. Overall inequality is never close to satisfaction in most societies though.  We have far still to go.

Huge thanks to : Jenn, Lane, Dyonne, Brian and Rondelle at Troutways, Gus and Alex at Roc’n Rope, Lebo’s, and the very welcoming country of South Africa.

Photos are in gallery form, click to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

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.

.umm.

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!

Woman of Mountain Dreams – Red Rocks ’18

DSC01169

Ironically, she is probably dreaming of the city at this point.

This is a story of a great long weekend trip to Red Rocks that ended in me getting beat up by an amazing route!!!

10-12 Willow Springs 5p to 10c: Nadias 9, ragged edges 8, Chicken Eruptus 10b, Left Out 10c/d, black track 9

10-13 Frogland 5.8 6p w Jenn, Eileen, John

10-14 Woman of Mt Dreams, Mt Wilson V-5.11a/b 17p w/Jenn

Right out of the gate, I found the most sandbagged 5.9 for my sweetie and our 2 other friends. Nadias 9 is a consensus 5.10 on Mt Project and a stiff one at that, we elected to pass on p2.

Ragged Edges, Chicken Eruptus, Left Out, and Black Track rounded out this amazing “warm up day”!

Frogland, Glad to have gone early to avoid crowds, fun route and glad we took it “easy” this day because we stuck with our plan of going big the next!

The Dream! (of Mountain Woman), is just that, if huge and amazing routes are your thing. From my very first trip to RR (1997), I had picked out this route as the biggest, proudest  line in the whole area. Was it going to be quality though? Mixed reviews on mt project left me pessimistic.

For 12 straight hours, it greatly exceed my expectations! It was more sustained, steep, and quality than I had imagined. I did spend extra energy being cold, and nervous. The route comes at you and never lets up. Once a ways up it, you must fight your way out of it. Good luck getting to the top before dark. We had gps in case we didn’t, but we got all the way to the creek at dark. Still a long way to go finishing up the 20 hour effort. I was so worked and tired that I slipped between 2 boulders and messed up 3 fingers on my left hand. Though beat and bloody, I felt so lucky to be with a gal that plans trips like this, and has the trust and gusto to get to the top of some of the most amazing climbs I have done. It was our 4th grade V together!! One of my all time favorite climbs to boot.

Eric and Lucie report 2008

Dow report summit post 2013

Riley Rice report

Laurel Arndt has the better description on the Mt project comments. The comments about seriousness are legit, the reports about looseness, not so much. I think the route is getting cleaned up.