Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Three O' Clock Rock - The Kone - 02.22.10

With the great weather Steve wanted to get out Monday. He was thinking the North Face of Chair, but when the trip reports started coming in over the weekend, we moved our sights to rock. Thankfully, as I had already climbed Chair this winter and wanted to get to Darrington and on the rock. We decided on The Kone, a five pitch route rated at 5.9. Steve's coworker Gene would also be joining us.

I picked up Steve and we met Gene in the Arlington Park and Ride. Gene drove the rest of the way. We had a casual start and even though it was after 9am by the time we got to the forest road, there was still plenty of frost in the deep valley. The car's outside temp gauge was reading around 34°F. We stopped at the parking area and headed up the trail. We arrived in short time and went about determining where The Kone started. Once we figured it out, we geared up and scrambled to the base where Gene took the first lead.

The climbing was a bit run out with bolts and a few opportunities for gear. I believe Gene placed only one alien during the pitch. The bolts and the anchor could be seen from the base of the route. I was the monkey in the middle tied into both ropes, so I followed and cleaned gear. When I got to the stance at top, I belayed Steve up. For the sake of rope management and expediency, Steve took the next lead.

The second pitch is a short run out pitch around 5.4. Steve figured he could combine it with the 5.9 third pitch and did. There was an option to take a 5.7 bypass around the overlap but Steve was having none of that. Soon he was bringing me up to the next belay. The belay was quite the hanging belay with little rests for feet. There was a fairly good sized knob that Steve kept imploring me to sit on to rest my feet. But I could not get comfortable and danced around the whole time I was at that stance. Once again due to racking and management, (and the lack of the stance to accommodate three people) when Gene arrived at the belay we sent him out to lead the fourth pitch.

The fourth pitch was a completely bolted affair and in no time Gene was bringing me up. When I arrived at Gene's stance, he suggested I lead the fifth pitch right now and after some rope rearranging, I was off to the final anchor. This was nice, as climbing was possibly slightly easier on my feet than the tight hanging belay station at the top of the third pitch. Once at the top, I was off belay and Gene brought Steve up the fourth pitch before I brought Gene up the fifth pitch. Gene then belayed Steve up the final pitch.

We then set about doing our rappels. The raps in Darrington are usually set up for a double 50m rope rappel. However, we had one 70m and one 55m rope and felt that some of the raps from this route could have been completed with just the 70m. Although I guess to be safe, it is best to stick with the double rope rappels. Not all the rap anchors were new either and there were definitely some museum pieces we were rapping off of. We backed up one set of slings with a new sling on one of the anchors as well.

After that, it was late afternoon, and we decided to call it a day. The climbing was fun and we had a good time. We noticed while we were there that Under the Bored Walk appeared to be rebolted with modern hardware. That is one I anticipate climbing some time this year. The Kone was 99% dry and it appeared other routes did have some seeps on them. It was nice to get out on the rock. In the sun it was beautiful and warm, but on the rappels, the sun went behind the ridge and the temp dropped. I was happy to get a lead in as I felt I climbed better on lead than following. (Which can often be the case for me.) The climbing was enjoyable and it was a route I would repeat, although not anytime soon. Also, the book stated small rack to 2.5". I think only two or three pieces of gear were placed on the route, and they were all aliens. So if you plan to do The Kone, bring a set of blue through red aliens and that should be all the gear you need.

My pics are here.

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