Monday, September 8, 2008

Le Petit Cheval - 09.07.08

Looking through trip reports online, Julie and I decided to hit Washington Pass and attempt the Spontaneity Arete on Le Petit Cheval, a prominent feature on Kangaroo Ridge. (Sorry Sabrina.) Since it was later in the season, and I am growing weary of longer approaches, we figured the estimated 1-1.5 hour approach sounded good.

What the information on the web does not tell you is that much of the approach is technical. Second, third and fourth class terrain separate you from the route. Julie and I made quick time down to the river and across then out into the clearing. The trail ends at a 3rd class step, and this is where things begin to slow down. After the step there are numerous sandy ledges to hike, more 3rd and even 4th class steps to confront and two fixed lines! Once near the top we had minor difficulties finding the start of the route, and eventually, I led off for a rope length that may have been a touch too early. Julie led out on mostly 4th class terrain until we were on the ridge proper.

After a touch of scrambling around, we found the area that appeared to be the second half of the second pitch with some 5.7 corners. Julie led up and we were back on the ridge for some legitimate 5.7 crack climbing. Some unmemorable climbing led to the 5.7 corner that I led, followed by Julie leading a steep section out of a cove, and then my turn at the "fun headwall" pitch. It was the most fun climbing on the route (for me) and was an enjoyable lead. Julie led one more pitch and we scrambled (roped) to the summit where we hip belayed each other for the somewhat exposed summit moves.

We could not find a rap station or suitable rap anchor near the summit to rappel into the gully. So we down-climbed back to the last rap station and proceed to rap the route. This was tedious, and the rope was fighting with us to get stuck on every pull. It eventually did, and I had to belay Julie back up 30' to get it loose. We eventually found a rap station that would get us into the gully. This proved no better as the gully was sand on slabs and plenty of loose rock. We finally made it to our packs and started the down-climbing and rappelling that would get us back to non-technical terrain.

We arrived at the 'first' 3rd class step just before turning on our headlamps. We proceeded to find our way back to the trail and get off trail in the forest. Fortunately we just headed downhill to the creek, and found the correct crossing. I, deceived by headlamp and darkness, thought I was stepping onto a section of dry creek bed, only to plunge 1' deep into water. Thankfully the car only lay a short distance up a not so fun (in the dark) loose rock/boulder field away. This is a trip I will not soon repeat. I did not find the climbing worth the approach.

My pics are here.

Julie's pics are here.

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