Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yard Art/Lawn Darts - 05.19.10

After sadly not going out on Sunday due to the forecast rain and not seeing any rain in Seattle, I convinced Adam to do a one day trip to Leavenworth. I was hoping to get a lot of climbing in, but the forecast was against us. (40% chance of rain after 2pm) So we drove into the Icicle and headed straight for Peek-a-Boo Tower to do the three star route Yard Art, but finish with the four star Lawn Darts.

Adam starting the first pitch

It was partly sunny as we hiked up, but we quickly donned jackets for the climb, and I ended up in my shell before leaving the ground. Adam led the first pitch which was varied 5.7 climbing and mostly gear. (I found the crux of the pitch to be a chimney like feature about half way up.) I came up to the belay and got confused by the guide's description of the second pitch. "Scary moves off the belay" was not exactly true, as the first moves off the belay were not scary. Once you clip a bolt, there were some delicate moves (crux of the pitch) left before making a few moves upward where you are able to grab a large crack and the difficulties ease off for the rest of the pitch. I led up this pitch and brought Adam up.

Adam coming up the second pitch

Adam said he'd give the next pitch a go, but balked a bit a few moves from the third clip. He started to down climb a move and I didn't like what I saw and locked him off just before he slipped and fell. He shook himself off without any injury and got back on. He started to do the same moves again but admitted his head wasn't in it after the fall. He backed off and gave the lead to me. I cruised up the spot where he peeled, and made the few delicate maneuvers to reach the next bolt and continue to the top. When I got to the anchor, instead of proceeding to the base of Lawn Darts, I stopped and belayed Adam up. There was a wet patch on Lawn Darts, and I wasn't sure it was possible to do, so I wanted to look at it while I belayed Adam.

Adam cruised the pitch on top rope, and we briefly assessed Lawn Darts from the belay. We agreed the water did not appear to affect the route, and I belayed Adam over to the base of the climb, where he brought me up.

We put the trad rack in our pack, and I counted enough draws to make it to the top. Then I proceeded up. This long pitch starts easily and then reaches a small overlap where I slipped after clipping the bolt. (I did not fall.) That shook me up as I was just standing there, and I think it really messed with my head. I hung for a bit before getting back on. The rock near my feet had a high quartz content, and was quite slippery. I had to work for good foot placements before stepping up onto the overlap, where traction got better. A few moves higher up and there were larger features and eventually some cracks/holes that made the climbing much easier through that section. Around this point, it started to rain slightly. Not enough to make the rock wet yet but enough to make me notice.

Adam at the base of Lawn Darts

The crux of the route comes surmounting a roof. It is easy to get halfway up and clip a bolt above the roof, but I found the next move right to be difficult. In my head I just wanted off the climb, and with the slight rain, I just couldn't motivate to figure out the correct sequence and eventually grabbed the draw to move over. Once in my new position I used some "bigger holds" to gain upward movement and continue to the top. I didn't find the upper section that difficult, but my mind was pretty fried and that always makes climbing feel difficult. At the top I set up a belay and brought Adam up. He hung to rest his calves, and then fell twice at the move right above the roof. Fortunately the rain waited to come down harder until he was at my side. Then we started our rappels.

Rapping in the rain

While we rapped quickly, the rain started coming down harder. By the time we were on our final rap, the rock was wet, and we were getting a little more wet too. We packed up and the rain subsided, only to return again harder about the time we reached the car. Our hopes for other climbs faded, and we headed home to Seattle where it was raining heavily on the west side of the Cascades.

A few interesting items of note. One is that I have been noticing the weather forecasts to be spot on lately. The forecast for Seattle the other day said showers until 11am, and I think they may have lasted until 10:30 before tapering off. Today on route, the rain arrived around 2pm just as forecast. This is interesting, but I have made a new policy of going out to Leavenworth as long as the forecast calls for less than 50% chance of rain. Not sure if I'd apply that same rule to the west side or mountains yet. The other item of note is that Lawn Darts is completely within my capability and I did not climb it that well. I started off with a good head for the climb, but the impending weather and generally lackluster day wore me down. As well as my unexpected slip. I'm not sure there is anything I can do about climbing in weather, but I'll try to be more conscious of my deteriorating head space in the future.

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