The weather turned out too hot for snow climbing, and there was yet another Spring avalanche warning in addition. So Matt and I canceled our plans and I got one day of climbing in Leavenworth with Jay.
The intent was to climb at Pearly Gates, as it is shady (at least in the morning.) But after the five minute walk and one log crossing, Jay and I didn't like the second rotting log crossing. Since we hadn't committed too much time we decided to go elsewhere.
Our first destination was the bottom of Icicle Buttress. I started to lead The Arch, and backed off after my left foot got wet and I got sketched out. I down climbed pulling my gear. I offered it up for Jay and he got farther than I did. But after three falls, the last involving a pulled cam, Jay had had enough. He hung out in the corner a bit before removing gear as he down climbed the pitch. He said the crack up higher was wet and the foot holds were slippery. I'd have to take his word for it as I didn't get as far as he did.
It was now around Noon, and we decided to head elsewhere. Our new destination was Whutza Point. It is a small crag high on the hillside above Playground Point. After some driving of the road to locate the trail we were hiking toward Playground Point. We did well navigating our way to above Playground Point but couldn't readily see the crag. After some consulting of the book, we could identify the "Birthday Greetings" crag and then were able to identify our target. After some travel on goat trails, we were there hiding in the shade of a ponderosa eating lunch. We figure it is about a 40 minute walk or so.
We decided we would each lead a 5.7 for warm up, and then each lead a 5.8 as well. I was first up and climbed Zerberts. The route started with face climbing and in cut holds and then ended with a 5.7 thin hands crack. The route was enjoyable, and marked the first time I had used my new(er) rock shoes to jam in a crack. We rapped off the ledge and Jay started leading the next route, the namesake pitch of the crag. He got a little off route early, but this was due to wanting more protection. He got back on route and finished up. This route was longer, and we decided to to the walk off from there. Once back around we took a water break, and I headed up the next route.
The hike out was a little more tricky than the hike in. It wasn't as easy to find the trail we had come up on, and we had to navigate a few cliffs to get back to a spot we recognized. This time instead of coming right through the middle of Playground Point crags, we bypassed them to skier's right. We arrived at the car tired and hot.
This was a fun trip and a nice new crag. The routes we did are all listed as one star, but they may deserve more. We didn't do the two that had no stars, but one would have made a nice warm up as it is "5.easy." The other route we did not do is a 5.9, but both of us were too hot and tired and we both wanted to get home. I'd recommend this crag, but you may wish to combine it with some Playground Point climbs as it is not a whole day worth of climbing. It was worth the hike though, as we had the place all to ourselves. Although that may have had something to do with the 85° temps and bright sun.
Fagin's Hike of the Week: Mt. McDonald
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