Monday, May 3, 2010

Leavenworth Trip - 04.30-05.2.10

Adam and I did a three day weekend in the Leavenworth area finishing with helping out Matt with field trip on Sunday.

We took a midday ride out on Friday for some cragging at Clem's Holler. Arrived around Noon and headed up the steep trail. We had lofty goals of climbing some nice sport climbs, but decided to warm up on the first two pitches of Playin' Possum. Doing only the first two pitches keeps it at a reasonable 5.8 instead of the .10a rating it has for continuing onto the third pitch. I led the first pitch, and Adam led the second. While the climbing was not particularly difficult, my head wasn't totally in the lead, and I had to hang a bit at one point (mostly to rest my feet) before continuing upward. After completing the climb, I was not exactly ready to tackle the harder projects, so Adam and I went searching for Arselips and Elbows (5.8) a 14" wide top rope crack.

According to the book, Arselips is "up and left" of The Hatchet. We found it to be generally left, and that dropping down into a meadow was a more sane way of reaching said climb. We first attempted with some exposed moves on grassy ledges before dropping to the meadow and coming back up. I'm pretty sure we were mostly following goat trails. The terrain was sometimes steep, and had a thick coating of ponderosa needles on it adding to the slippery factor. Plenty of sticker bushes in the area too. You have to persevere to get to this climb. Once there, we had an easy hike up to the bolts to set up a top rope. Then it was time for the groveling to begin.

Looking up from the base

The opening moves were on the face while stepping on boulders to gain the crack. Once at the top foothold on the outside, it was time to move in. I found the chicken wing very secure, but it took a fair amount of trial and error to get some sort of secure leg into the crack. The left side of the crack is also a loose corner, with a small finger crack, but I did not feel too comfortable grabbing on it as I was afraid to pull it off. Inside the crack it was narrow, and a deep breath could mostly keep my in my place. I realized after some struggling that I had to exhale to make moving up easier. In my first attempt, I managed to gain the crack and move a few centimeters off the outside rock before needing my left foot to do something. I took a rest while Adam gave it a shot.

About to leave the outside world

Adam gave the crack a try and made no further progress than I did. He tried it first in his trail runners figuring that would give him an advantage. After his attempt, he decided his next attempt would be with rock shoes. I gave it a second go with a result of getting about six inches higher than my previous attempt. I was able to successfully use my left arm and leg in the attempt, but found the upward progress too much of a struggle to continue further. Adam gave it one last try and it looked something like this:

He's in there

After getting to roughly the same height I did, Adam melted out of the crack and I lowered him to the ground. We both agreed that that was the most effort we have ever put forth to move two inches! I thought I could get up any 5.8 in Leavenworth on top rope. Apparently, this climb proved me wrong. After our struggles, we called it a day and headed back to the car. Our sport climbing objectives at Clem's Holler could wait for another day.

We awoke late (8am) on Saturday, and had breakfast in camp. By the time we packed up camp, it was about to rain and when we arrived at parking for our intended destination for the day (Peek-a-Boo Tower) there was a light rain. Looking west made us concerned so we drove to the mouth of the canyon hoping for better weather. We stopped in the Snow Creek parking lot and by the time we rolled out of there, it was raining as well. So we headed to Peshastin again.

It appeared that others had the same idea when it started to rain in Leavenworth, and many small parties of climbers dashed out of the parking lot to get to climbs quickly. We were in no rush and decided to climb Windward which we figured no one was running to. When we got there, I was not too enthused about leading it and we decided to walk around to see if we could get on something else. When we arrived at Dinosaur, and saw no one on Potholes, we jumped on it. Adam had me lead the first (5.8) pitch and he said he would decide at the belay about leading the second (5.7) pitch. I personally have always found the second pitch harder, but that may just be me. No real surprised on Potholes except for me having more difficulty this year with the crux of the first pitch. And Adam getting a good chuckle from watching me struggle with the final moves to the anchor. We rapped off and headed to Grand Central Tower to climb the West Face.

Adam past the first bulge on Potholes second pitch

It was nice to finally lead the West Face and not have any trouble on it. Well, no trouble climbing it. There was a party that was off route on Nirvana Ridge that kept raining sand down onto us. It does not make for a comforting lead. Adam followed, and even got hit by a slightly bigger rock on the way up. We rapped off to find the wind had died off and it was downright warm out. We decided the clouds cleared enough to the west to try the Icicle again.

We drove back and watched the outside temp drop from 68°F to around 60°F by the mouth of the Icicle. We stopped there to head to Surf City to climb a few moderate cracks. We started on Paydirt, a nice 5.7 finger crack that I would revisit. I was a bit too tentative on the lead on this one, and I am not sure why. (Must have been the theme for the weekend.) I had a minor slip and even opted not to place gear at one point. Hopefully I can revisit that one with a better head.

Stepping into the finger crack

Adam then led Blunt Instruments which was one of those cracks that does not really require crack climbing technique. It was a bit dirty at the top and also finished with a slab like Paydirt did. (Although the Paydirt slab was a bit more runout.)

After that I attempted to lead another route there called Undertoe. I couldn't get a decent first piece in and so we called it a day. This time we were at The Mountaineers group campsite and had a feast. Ben Evans showed up and cooked a huge pan of bacon chorizo paella.

Sunday I was pretty spent from the weekend (and sleeping on a Z-Rest) that I had the student I was with lead all pitches on Midway. I did not climb well, and even used a piton as a foot hold before attaining Jello Tower. It was nice to sleep in a bed last night.

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