Monday, April 12, 2010

Leavenworth - 04.11.10

Sal and I headed out to Leavenworth to try to link up The Tree Route with The Stump Route. This link up is new to the new edition Leavenworth guidebook and we wanted to see if it was a worthy option for climbing in the Icicle. I already like The Tree Route for the lie backing in the first pitch and the fun roof and off width in the third pitch.

When we got over Steven's Pass, it was raining and continued to do so as we headed to Leavenworth. By the time we headed up Icicle Road, it was raining harder and the rock was visibly wet. We made the decision to turn around and head to Peshastin where we could see bluer skies to the east.

The purpose of the days climbing was to get Sal more gear leads. Unfortunately there are not a whole lot of options at an easy grade for that in Peshastin. And once we left the parking lot, we found that it was even less true on this day. There were what appeared to be multiple parties on The Tunnel and Diagonal Direct, setting up ropes. Once near the base of Diagonal Direct, a young woman explained that they were setting up ropes for (60) kids who were coming by to earn badges or something. We hiked further hoping to get on the easier routes on Sunset Slab, only to find those occupied by the group as well. We then resorted to climbing Porpoise, a 5.6 gear route on Martian Slab. This is a fun route with an exciting traverse option to the anchors. It was my first time leading it and climbing it in rock shoes since I climbed it in boots about four years ago. After two laps of it (we each led and followed) we packed up and headed back to the Icicle.

Once back we hiked up to the base of the route where we had lunch. The first six feet or so was wet and when I led it I sewed it up for fear of my feet slipping on the wet rock. I felt like I had good traction with my foot in the water, but once I removed it and placed it on dry rock it was very slippery. Sal seemed to think there was no traction in the water. Once around the initial difficulties, I headed up to the base of "the cave." There are two variations on this pitch (that I know of.) The one I have done is on the right and is an awkward corner. The left variation Adam informed me was easier although looks intimidating as it starts with a wide crack/squeeze chimney that cannot accept gear. I had gone up to the base of this without getting any gear in and tried to find a placement before heading up. I was unsuccessful, and even contemplated taking the right side. After a short down climb I found a pocket for a cam and committed myself to the left side.

The climbing was easier than it appeared but somewhat run out in the first section. A small crack on the outside of the chimney granted me my first pro placement of a small cam. After that, there were a few blocks/chock stones in the chimney that I placed a few more cams near. The final moves out were really fun and involved stemming out of the corner to the belay. I brought Sal up and he went on to lead the second pitch.

After a while, Sal brought me up to the belay and we re racked for his lead of the third pitch. This is a pitch I really enjoy, and for the first time was able to follow it. Sal climbed it in fine style and sailed through the remaining off width to the top. I followed the route and did not enjoy the off width crack with my new shoes which seemed to make my feet hurt a bit more. Once at the top we realized we were not going to have enough time to complete The Stump Route in a safe manner. So we made the ten minute hike to the base for future reference.

The hiking above The Tree Route was terrible. Mostly on goat trails that were not well suited for human travel. (Although gathering by the goat tracks, they didn't seem to have an easy time traveling on these trails either.) With lots of slipping and sliding on sandy soil we then attempted to walk back to our packs. When we reached a cliff, we rappelled from a chain anchor. (This turned out to be the right side of the Crack Du Jour crag.) Once down our rappel we noticed we could have scrambled down slightly from the edge and then followed the ledge system to some more 3rd class moves out of a gully and back to sandy walking terrain to the base.

If I was to attempt this link up again I would gear up at the car and carry the rope and summit pack with us so we would not have to return to the base. I'd be inclined to do that even if I was just doing The Tree Route. Overall, a fun day where we got five pitches of climbing in each. Not bad considering all the driving.

My pics are here.

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