Took Julie to Leavenworth for a phase of her farewell tour this weekend. The big goal was to climb Givler's Crack. In my opinion, Givler's Crack is the best accessible crack in the state, A four star classic that I had climbed in October with Lori. I wanted to lead the first pitch, and give Julie the money pitch. We had some other climbing we wanted to do, as Givler's Crack would not take more than a few hours.
Julie and I took a leisurely drive out to Leavenworth by leaving Seattle at 8am. Some rain was forecast for the morning, so we figured we would miss it if we left later. When we arrived in Leavenworth, Julie wanted to hit Gilver's Crack first. The weather was great, and it made sense to get our main objective before the weather turned sour. We had planned for snow on the ground, but most of the south facing slopes were snow-free, with a patch here and there. The north facing slopes of Icicle Canyon were full of snow and crags on that side looked cold and wet. There was still a fair amount of ice on the Pearly Gates.
We hiked in the general direction of Givler's Dome, but wanted to do a warm up on Freewheelin' (5.7) which is another crack route Lori and I did in October. Due to the snow patches, and general water erosion from the winter, we had some difficulty finding the trails. We eventually wound up at Freewheelin', which Julie led and I followed. No issues there, we headed up to Givler's Dome.
After a short walk, we were roping up. I let Julie know that I struggled with the crux when I followed Lori, so I wanted her to know I may need to take rope, or worst case fall. Funny as it was, just getting on the rock proved a little difficult for me. Once on the rock, I placed four pieces in the first ten feet of climbing to get through the crux. It was not as much as a struggle as I remembered it, but it was definitely a work out. The rest of the pitch went quickly and smoothly (I placed only three pieces the rest of the pitch.) and soon I was ready to bring Julie up with my anchor on top of the flake. Julie made quick work of the pitch and reported to me at the belay that taking the pieces out at the crux was difficult. It was her turn to lead up the four star second pitch. We both cruised the second pitch, and were celebrating on top in no time. Now to find other endeavours.
We hiked about a bit to find Fit 'n' Trim (5.8) a two pitch bolted/gear route near Mastodon Roof. Getting there was difficult and as best I can tell, no obvious trail leads there. I started to lead the beginning moves. There is an overlap/roof about eight feet off the ground where I placed a cam. After that, a bolt is clipped above the roof. After bungling around trying to overcome the overlap, I lowered off and gave the lead to Julie. She got through the overlap rather easily, and continued on the pitch to a tree belay. (off route) I followed up to her, after a fall and some hanging at the overlap crux of the pitch. We both ended up going a little left to overcome the crux, which was easier, but perhaps not exactly on route. Once up to the tree, I could see a bolt anchor and led up to it. This was supposed to be the top of the first pitch. I brought Julie up where we discussed the options of continuing up the wet second pitch or rappelling off. We decided on rappel, but I would lower Julie first to see if the rope would reach the ground. It did, and I then rapped down to the packs. (Lowering Julie from the top proved somewhat stressful for my body. I think if I was going to lower someone in a situation like that again, I would lower off the anchor.) We hiked out and called it a day.
Day 2 we again took a leisurely start and hiked up to the Planet of the Eights area in the morning. This is another not so easy to reach crag in the Icicle. Basically you cross the street from the Snow Creek Parking Lot and head generally east until you can cut back west and then up a 3rd class step near Poison Ivy Crack. Trails were well defined, but we had to cut through some cabins on the way there. Not sure if that is a normal or accepted practice. All routes on Planet of the Eights are 5.8, and all have at least one star. When we got up there, the routes looked a bit imposing, and we decided on the far left (Small Change) as our first route. I led it slowly, and then Julie top-roped it. We then both top-roped Surveillance of Assailants which was a more interesting and fun route. We left the third route for another time, and headed down to top rope Poison Ivy Crack (5.9.)
We were pretty much committed to rapping Poison Ivy Crack, as the 3rd class step was wet and not a safe down climb to get back to the road. So we set up an anchor, and we rapped to the bottom. Julie went first and did nice work on the crack. The crux is at the top where the crack ends and you have to move left out of the crack and onto a steep slab before topping out. Julie hung a few of times while working out the moves. She lowered off, and I gave the route a go. Unlike Julie, the route was never really a hands crack for me. However, I was able to climb the crack up to the crux fairly easily as well. I weighted the rope briefly at the crux and then worked out the finishing moves. Neither of us felt that we needed to climb it again. Julie and I agreed that is was not that difficult, but would be a bit harder to lead. I would recommend that anyone wanting to top rope it, use a cordelette or long runners to build the anchor so it reaches over the lip of rock at the top.
That was our last climb of the day. After saying "hi" to Ken, we headed back to Seattle.
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