With a somewhat grim weather forecast for the weekend, Saturday was a write off. But Sunday looked promising on the east side of the Cascades. Lori and I made plans Saturday to head up Sunday morning. Rain occurred most of the drive over including areas NE of Steven's Pass where the snow level was reaching down below 4000'. We were not optimistic. Upon arriving in Leavenworth with the clouds breaking up, spirits heightened.
The goal for the day was the 4-star classic: Givler's Crack. It is a two pitch climb with a 5.8 crux right off the ground and a long second pitch with a really awesome 5.7 hand crack. Lori led off the first pitch in great style and was soon at the belay. After some decision making on which crack she should take to get there. (There is an alcove after the crux, with two cracks leading up to the belay ledge. Lori took the left crack.) The second pitch starts at the base of a hand crack that goes straight up the face. I cannot say anything else about the crack other than the climbing was awesome! After about 20m, the angle eases and then eases again before reaching a boulder for the belay. I brought Lori up and we hung out a bit before walking down to our packs.
With the time being around 1pm, we hunted around for our next objective. We found it in Rare Earth (5.10a), a steep bolted slab. I felt unsure of climbing it, and let Lori have the lead. She progressed slowly up the slab with some minor detours that were perhaps easier ground. After a fall around the fifth bolt, she cruised up the second unrelenting half of the climb. I followed the pitch but had to take twice as it felt my feet were going to burst into flame. Because of my height, the first three bolts went easily, but the second half of the climb really did not have breaks. It was a relief to finally arrive at the anchor.
We hiked back down to the packs and proceeded to climb Freewheelin' (5.7). A short crack with a slab finish a little to the left of Rare Earth. I found the start awkward and bypassed it somewhat with a flake to the left. I lie backed the flake until I had a decent opportunity to gain the crack. After having climbed Givler's Crack, this climb was disappointing. The crack was flaring and did not take jams well. It ended quickly and then picked up as a very thin crack to the right that wouldn't even accept my fingers. A brief stint in the second crack led to a slab with a bolt which didn't seem necessary after climbing Rare Earth. I brought Lori up, and we proceeded to our next destination.
Our final goal of the day was to climb Dogleg Crack(5.8) at Alphabet Rock. We had some difficulty getting down from Freewheelin' and spend a while hiking over to Alphabet Rock. Interestingly, we found a crack we though was the Dogleg, but was too short and did not have an anchor at/near the top. We then realized we were too far right and found the correct route and proceeded to set up a top rope. I was too tired at the end of the day and gave up without really having completed a move. Lori attempted the route and had difficulty with the lower crack and then proceeded to climb the route Hind Quarters (10a) and switching back to Dogleg Crack near the top. We tore down the top rope, and headed back to Seattle.
A great day was had. The weather was good if a little variable. Givler's Crack is easily one of the best routes I have climbed. Although Givler's is popular, we had the route to ourselves and only saw another party coming up as we were leaving the base. Since it is a 4-star route, it spoiled us for the rest of the day. Especially Freewheelin' as it was not nearly as good as Givler's Crack. I'd recommend if you were taking the 45-60 minute walk up to Givler's, that you may wish to stop at Freewheelin' first. Unless you are trying to beat the crowds. Although if there is a line for the route, Freewheelin' would be a nice diversion during the wait.
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