Monday, April 20, 2009

Leavenworth Weekend - 04.18-19.09

I took the Intermediate Students out to Castle Rock for their Rock II field trip. Sunday was going to be a fun day with no real plans but to get some climbing in.

We started Saturday morning early and immediately got down to business by climbing Midway and Sabre at Castle Rock. Toward the afternoon, a queue developed for Midway, and Castle Rock was seriously crowded. So, a bunch of us headed over to Ground Hog's Day to leave the crowds while the others completed their routes. This was now the third time I've climbed Ground Hog's Day, and still find the route finding a bit difficult on the third pitch. It appears someone added a foot of chain to the top anchors to make the rappel easier, but we chose to double rope rappel to the anchors at the top of the alternate start. It was still a bit of a rope stretcher, but worked for our purposes.

Afterward, we had dinner in town, and returned to 8-mile campground, which is now open for the season.

We planned out a Sunday that would involve climbing R&D and then The Tree Route. However, we were a little lazy with our wake up time, and had three parties in front of us when we got to R&D. So we headed to Domestic Dome to do a link up of B.S. and Connie's Crack. I am really amazed at the rating on B.S. as it feels much stiffer than a 5.6 through the slab section. It is also a bit run out through that section and quite a wake up call. Connie's Crack was fun, and should probably have a one star rating as it is quite enjoyable with a really fun finish.

After our period of time at Domestic Dome, Matt J. and Adam decided to call it quits for the day and spend the afternoon slack lining at the campground. Matt P., Shari, Steen and I headed up to The Tree Route to climb. I was set to take first lead, but perhaps due to heat or tiredness, I didn't feel up to leading the first twelve feet of lieback that starts the route. Matt was willing to, and we worked out a system where I would follow and we would each bring one of the women up to the top of the first pitch. During the lead, Matt weighted a few pieces including a 0.5 Camalot which I could not remove. Both Steen and Shari spent time trying to remove it, and none were successful. A bit of a bummer for Matt.

I led out on the second pitch which is mostly 3rd class terrain with a few 4th or 5th class steps in it. This brings you to a large ledge where the start of the third pitch is.

The third pitch is the reason this route has a two star rating. It starts on some enjoyable cracks up a short face to a roof. The roof is not particularly imposing, but looks a bit difficult get around. But once up at the roof, the holds are there, and it is fairly easy to go around the corner. After that, you reach the start of the crack system that the final pitch is known for. Around the corner from the roof, it is a large fist crack for someone of my hand size. For most people it is an off-width crack. I managed to get my #9 hex in shortly after the roof as I was saving the #4 cam for higher up, and the #3 cam was too small to be effective. After a few moves, the crack sort of disappears, and I was able to place smaller protection in that period. Then the crack picks up again after a short sandy ledge. I placed my #4 cam as high as I could get it, and decided that I would try to leap frog it up with me to have protection for the last stretch. I made the tricky moves off the ledge and into the crack. Then I moved up past the piece. At this point, I was in a comfortable stance with my feet about one foot higher than the piece. I tried a few times to get at the piece, but decided that it was too difficult to get, and that there was a real possibility that even if I did manage to access it, that I may drop it, and it would slide down the rope leaving me with no protection. So I made the decision to run-out the last 15' or so to the top. Since the crack goes through a slab, and it is off-width, most likely a fall would have resulted with me slipping deeper into the crack anyway.

After carefully getting through the final moves it was time to bring Steen up. I told her to leave in the big hex and #4 cam for Matt to use, as I knew he only had one #4 cam on him as well. Unfortunately, he spent his #4 cam lower and had only my #4 to protect the final stretch of crack. However, he was more successful than me in leap-frogging the cam up to halfway through the final stretch. He arrived on top after leaving the crack to climb the slabs and belayed Shari up. We did a walk-off to climbers right with a short single rope rappel off a Douglas Fir. By the time we got back to the car, it was almost 8pm. I think we blew a lot of time trying to remove Matt's stuck piece. I guess also we just climbed a little slow. Long weekend. When we got back, we were met by Matt J. and Adam who had just returned from town and dinner. I jumped in the car with them, where I was told they both napped fairly long while we were on the route. I guess we all needed some sleep.

My pics are here.

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