Friday, March 5, 2010

Three O' Clock Rock - 03.05.10

Adam had been requesting a trip to Darrington after he found out I went last week. So we hoped for the next sunny/dry cycle to make a trip. Since there was at least a full day without precip we opted to go out to Three O' Clock rock on Friday to see what we could climb.

Due to some technical complications we left later than we wanted to, but I figure that only gave more time for the sun to come out and dry off any wet rock. Driving through Arlington on the way up we could see frost on some roofs that were still in the shade. (The temp was around freezing when I left my house.) I wasn't too concerned because last week there was frost on the trail on the way up and the rock was great.

After the hike up, Adam and I reached the rock around 10am. We spied the route we were intending to climb ('Til Broad Daylight) and thought it looked wet high on the first pitch (or on the second pitch depending on the topo.) We opted to warm up on "Under the Bored Walk" to get a better look at the wetness and see if we should give it a go. This was the route we had noticed had been rebolted last week. Although the anchors did not appear to be rebolted, the rest of the route was and the hangers were stamped with the ASCA letters. We split "Bored Walk" into two pitches. I led the first and Adam led the second. We then did two single rope rappels back to base. Upon rapping I got a good look at the seeps on "Daylight" and decided we should give it a go.

We scrambled up to the base of the route only to see a seep running right down the first ten feet or more. I found an alternate start to the left up a crack and headed off. Adam and I agreed we would split the first two pitches and I would lead both. Due to my detour, the first pitch used a few cams before I was able to clip a bolt or two. The climbing was fairly easy, but the first pitch is always a place where you are trying to dry out your shoe soles, so there was not a whole lot of confidence. I reached the relatively comfy belay stance and brought Adam up.

I eyed the next pitch which appeared well protected although with older SMC buttonhead bolts. This pitch is described as devious and possibly the best 5.8 pitch on the rock in "Weekend Rock." Looking at it I thought the crux would be surmounting the final overlap which seemed quite steep from the belay. I dispatched the first overlap with no issue and was soon sizing up the next one. Due to its proximity to the side of "The Great Arch" this pitch had something I don't normally see on slabs which is some exposure. In order to gain the second overlap I had to go far left to the edge of the arch before making a difficult balance move onto the next overlap. A handful of moves further and I was confronting the final overlap before the next anchor.

Unfortunately this was the section that had multiple seeps on it. Fortunately though, they did not interfere greatly with gaining the overlap. There was also a huge bucket hold that the seeps poured into that left my hand soaking wet upon grabbing the hold. I clipped the bolt above the overlap and started to work out my moves. I thought I was going to have to grab the draw and warned Adam of this. But a few moves of my feet up slightly higher and I mimicked the move that gained me the previous slab. I made a few quick moves to establish myself on this slab and then was able to clip the next bolt. This is where I realized the water was affecting the route. My right foot was on a larger platform but this was just above the bucket I had my hand in earlier and water was running over the platform. Not a lot mind you, but enough to wet it. There appeared to be good dry rock for my left side, but I couldn't find anything for my right. So after attempting a few holds in the water I decided I did not want to be a hero and pulled on the draw to get my right foot out of the water and head up generally to the left of all the water. It was about ten or more feet to the anchor and I was able to place a small cam before reaching the not so comfortable stance. I brought Adam up and he climbed through the wetness on top rope.

When Adam got to the belay he was tying in. I said "I presume this means you want me to lead the next pitch?" To which he responded "yes." This next pitch started with some good moves before moving right to surmount yet another overlap. I moved up from the anchor and was able to get a small cam in before moving right and then I was able to clip a bolt that protected the overlap moves. It was fairly easy and then there were some moves to gain a corner where I was able to place another cam while liebacking the corner. I told Adam this was the good stuff, but it ended shortly as the crack disappeared and I was left with climbing the corner and clipping some bolts. Finger pockets appeared at the end of the corner where there was a small step up. Then a short distance up a knobby face past a couple of bolts to the anchor. While not comfortable, this stance was somewhat more comfortable than the previous and I brought Adam up.

I was concerned about time as it appeared the sun might be going behind the ridge. Once without direct sun, it gets cold on the rock and I didn't want that to happen. We had three pitches to go and my mind was a bit stressed from having led the three to this point. When Adam arrived at the belay I told him if we started the next pitch we would probably have to finish the route due to rappel anchor locations. I then told him I would lower him to the top of pitch one anchors of "The Kone" and that I would then rappel to him. After I lowered him, I rapped down while he got ready the second rope for a double rope rappel back to the base. We made quick work of the second rappel and arrived on the ground to realize it was only 2pm. So we set about to climb something shorter.

I walked to the left of "The Great Arch" and was going to eye the first pitch of "Tidbits" for Adam. It is a 5.6, but when I got there I realized there were only three bolts in about 70' of climbing, so that wasn't a good option for him to lead. I had him come by with the book, and we decided that "Magic Bus" would be our final objective of the day. It is typically climbed as two pitches, but supposedly there are more above that are now forgotten. I offered the first lead to Adam as the second pitch is supposed to be slightly harder. After some internal deliberation, he went for it, and he was on his way. During the lead he said he didn't think anything on the route was 5.8. After following it I agreed. I led the second pitch and also found it to be easier than the rating it was given. There was one tricky move at the top, but perhaps due to our height, Adam and I did not find it that difficult. Adam had left his jacket at the base and was now getting cold as we were no longer in the sun. I lowered him down to the first pitch anchors and then we did a double rope rappel from there. Once again, the route appeared to have newer bolts on the first pitch but had older hardware for the anchors and the second pitch. Perhaps someone can get more of those ASCA donations for this route. I found it to be quite a good beginner lead at Three O' Clock Rock.

After "Magic Bus" Adam and I packed up and hiked out. This was a great day with better than expected weather. We climbed approximately seven pitches. Once again, I suffered from some bad stances at the belays. It is funny when the climbing wears you out less than the belay stations.

My pics are here.

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