The original plan was to head to the desert for some climbing. But in a strange twist the weather was forecast to be better west of the mountains. So Sabrina and I changed our plans and headed to Mount Erie. The hope was to clip some bolts and maybe do a little top roping. We left Seattle around 7am and arrived near the top of Mount Erie around 8:45.
We were attempting to access the Powerline Crag and had some minor difficulty determining where to park. (Thankfully we brought two guidebooks with us.) Then we headed out on the trail in an attempt to find the crag. In typically Mount Erie fashion, we hiked too far over some sketchy terrain. We were only about 20' above a trail that looked level and should lead us back to the crag, but could not find a way down. We hiked back and eventually found the crag and our starting point for the day, False Impressions (5.8).
It was a bit chilly and Sabrina and I procrastinated before I decided to do the first lead. By this time, a man and a woman arrived and started on the route immediately to the right of False Impressions. I balked at the high first bolt and committing step out onto the route and handed the lead over to Sabrina. She balked a bit before she got going and she was on her way. She made her way smoothly through the first four bolts and then hung because of the pump of figuring out the next move. After getting back on the wall, she made quick work of the rest of the route. I followed the route, and found it more difficult than I probably would have on lead. I also took a direct start which eliminates the committing step out, but it means you are climbing for 10-12' before reaching the first bolt. Sabrina climbed it again on top rope and found it more difficult to follow as well.
A crowd had gathered by this point and there were now six other people in the area besides ourselves. So Sabrina and I headed to the east end of the crag to climb a few more bolted routes. This involved a scramble up to a ledge system which was somewhat precarious. Fortunately there was an anchor bolt that we anchored into as well as secured our backpacks to. One of the other parties also came up to the ledge and we negotiated routes.
I led the 5.8 Finishing Touch which I found easier than False Impressions. (Perhaps why one guidebook lists it as a 5.7+?) It was less steep and had some thin balance moves. Sabrina led it after me and found it more difficult. I followed her lead and we did an ill advised walk off to climber's right to get back. (We were using a natural anchor and the only rap anchor was being used by the other party.)
After our walking excursion, we set our sights on No Holds Barred (5.10a). I got the first lead and cruised up the easy section at the bottom to the second bolt. I paused for a long time attempting to unlock the moves above me all while my legs were getting pumped. I finally hung and attempted again. It wasn't working. I lowered off and rested my legs and then had back at it. This time I was successful as I had made a plan from the ground. I then fell repeatedly trying to figure out the next set of moves. Part of my issue was that I had not seen a critical hold for my right hand that was near the fourth bolt. After finding the hold I was able to move up and complete the route. Sabrina led it after me and had a short fall at one point and hung a bit at another point before completing the route. I tried it again on top rope without any issues.
At this point we contemplated what to do next. We knew we had to leave the immediate vicinity as there were no climbs left for us to do. Where we started in the morning had become crowded, and that was no longer an option either. So we were going to have to scramble down from the ledge to walk up and out. I decided that we should put our packs on and climb Finishing Touch again so we would be at the trail. Sabrina agreed if I would lead it. So I did. In the mid afternoon after a bit of climbing, the pack really affected my ability to climb. It made the 5.8 feel harder than the .10a we had just climbed. Near the top I avoided the crux of the route by traversing over to the final moves of No Holds Barred. I anchored to a tree and brought Sabrina up.
We debated briefly about going to another location to climb but Sabrina suggested we relax and enjoy the view. Being fairly tired and knowing the difficulties of getting to another crag on Erie, I agreed and we sat a bit on an outcropping enjoying the day before returning to the car to go home.
Overall this was a great trip. It was nice to get out with Sabrina who I had been missing going out with. While the forecast was for "mostly cloudy" the day went from cold and overcast to sunny and warm. Short sleeves weather in the afternoon was welcomed by all. I felt I climbed well enough, but was hoping to climb better. I enjoyed all the routes we did, and would probably recommend them to others.
E/W and DC Merge!
16 hours ago