New Routing



  • I blamed the top down approach to being conservative in the Covid era. In reality Isa had no interest in belaying a ground up attempt....
    Kids these days are too strong to get sandbagged on our routes...



  • @NickG said in New routing:

    I blamed the top down approach to being conservative in the Covid era

    On any route that is mainly bolt-protected, top down is the way to go. Oh, yeah, I know, you don't get the same bragging rights, but everyone who climbs the route after you will thank you.

    Maybe that's sacrilege, particularly coming from someone who learned to climb on the insanely runout slabs at Squamish that were bolted ground up, but those aren't really sport climbs. No, the key to putting up a good sport climb is getting the bolts in the right places, and that is a million times easier to do top down (with plenty of top-rope rehearsal) than ground up.

    Which brings me to the photo of Tom's knee I posted above...

    Mari decided that some bump on Google Earth just 30 minutes east of Seattle might be a cliff. We expended a fair bit of pain and blood getting to it (blackberries are evil) but eventually found something we thought would provide maybe half a dozen good sport routes. We also eventually found a relatively casual approach, and spent a few weekends rappelling in, cleaning a bit of moss (not too bad, for the PNW), and removing the odd loose block.

    Tom joined us for what we thought would be the last checking-things-out day before bringing in the drill. While Mari rap-cleaned her proj, Tom belayed me on a top-rope ascent of mine.

    Now, bear in mind that I'd already spent two or three days prepping the rig. It was clean, and anything loose was long gone. I just wanted to take a TR burn on it before bolting it for lead. Totally casual, right? And Tom, being a sensible guy, was belaying from way off to the side, just in case I pulled off any dirt or pebbles.

    Well, to keep it short, half-way up I mantled onto a ledge... or, grabbed the ledge to start the mantle and peeled off a block the size a washing machine. Which dropped maybe 20 feet and exploded into a hundred bits, one of which flew sideways and nailed Tom directly on the kneecap.

    For those of you who don't know him, I should tell you that he is about ten times harder than you are. But taking a lunchbox-size rock directly on the kneecap is tough even if you are Superman. He passed out. Not for long, maybe only 20 or 30 seconds, but (and he can chime in if I'm exaggerating) he was definitely not in this world for that brief time.

    Thank Petzl for GriGris, cuz if he'd been using anything else to belay me I wouldn't be writing this.

    Fortunately, there was a static line hanging on the route beside my toprope line, and I was able to transfer onto it and rap down. And Tom's kneecap wasn't broken, so he was able to (painfully) jug out, and (painfully) make the mountain bike ride back to the car. But he didn't have much fun walking for the next couple of weeks.

    So, yeah, the joys of new routing.

    The cliff? Nothing that will make people desert Yosemite, but really close to Seattle, and offering a completely different (i.e. not granite) kind of climbing. Steep pockets. Here's a shot of Mari doing some cleaning.

    Steep pockets.jpg

    And the scenery on the approach:

    View from the approach.JPG

    And the approach itself (gated logging road -- too perfect)

    The approach.JPG



  • super glad you guys were smart and belaying in the right spot and everyone lived.. Looks like some routes on those mountains in the background? yes top down is the preferred method for sport though I have gotten it right ground up quite a few times. If cliff top access is difficult my preferred method is to pick the easiest looking line and do that ground up so that we have both an easy warm up and a way to get up there with all the tools to develop the harder lines.



  • @David-Harris Wow! Glad all involved survived.

    I am reminded of a similar experience at Smith. Not a new route and not nearly as large a block, maybe twelve to sixteen inches cube? Still plenty large enough.

    I was on lead and it felt a bit wobbly as I began a test pull. I hollered down to my belayer but he was too busy chatting up his gf/wife and not paying attention. Well, it went. I hollered "rock" and did not fall myself since I really had minimal to no weight on the thing. I don't know how it survived such state at such a popular area. Scared me good. It is one thing to kill yourself, quite another to kill someone else. Fortunately, missed all below. They blamed me and never climbed w/me again after that.

    This was probably circa late eighties and still pouts a knot in my gut and makes my palms sweat today. Not a particularly religious person but somebodys' guardian angels were working overtime that day.



  • @David-Harris that looks like a super cool crag with those pockets..



  • @NickG Yes, that's what we thought. Steep, pockets and edges, no cracks, easy approach, closer to Seattle than any other cliff... Nothing like it that we knew of in Washington. We thought we'd found something exceptional, and our only regret was that it wasn't much bigger.

    But all that went into the bin after I pulled that block off.

    Not that we hadn't pulled a hundred blocks off other cliffs, but this one was different in that there was no visible fracture line. I had been up and down that particular climb several times with wirebrush and crowbar, and thought that it was in perfect climbable shape.

    So when that chunk of what looked like a totally solid and integral part of the crag peeled off we decided there were better places to spend our new-route energy.

    As to the pocketed rock, neither of us had ever seen anything like it. We showed some samples to a geologist friend (Tricouni, from ST) but he couldn't give us anything more than "I don't know. Maybe some kind of sandstone?"

    A few pocket pictures:

    Small pockets
    Olney pockets 01.JPG

    Bigger pocket
    Olney pockets 02.JPG

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers pod
    Alien pod lo res.jpg



  • is that the scar from the block that came off?? I have heard that sort of thing happens in portero‚Ķ

    What about the mountains in the background. what are they??



  • @NickG No, nothing in the photos from where the block detached. They're all from a bit lower down.

    The mountains visible from the approach are Mt. Index on the left and Mt. Persis on the right. Southeast of the crag we were working on, and southwest of Index. They are big -- not in absolute elevation but in relief. I think the buttresses on Mt. Index would offer close to 4,000 feet of climbing...

    ...if anyone was far enough separated from reality to climb on them.



  • why would you not climb them?



  • @NickG Because, despite the glorious views from afar, everyone who has gone in to jump on those incredible-looking buttresses has come home saying "Not worth it."

    Sure, both those mountains have reasonably easy routes to the summits, but the incredible-looking stuff... Well, if you ever come up this way for a visit, I'll be happy to drop you off at the base of Mt. Index...

    ...and come and pick you up when you realize that, as incredible as those lines looked, you will leave them to someone else.



  • is it kitty litter? the kind of thing that if it was in Europe in 1936 they would have thrown young men at it with nationalistic pride until someone finally summited....



  • Enough about failed new routing on the tiny cliff above Olney Creek where I almost killed Tom.

    Here is the real deal. One of the best routes I have ever done. The crag is called Zeke's Wall, cuz, down on the highway below, from Zeke's Pizza, you can see it way up there. We called the route "Flow" cuz there is a beautiful waterfall cascading down beside it.

    I'll think about a full TR, but here is a teaser, looking up at the fifth (and final) pitch on the last cleaning day...

    last-pitch-mod.jpg



  • @NickG said in New routing:

    is it kitty litter?

    Pretty much everyone who sets out to climb on the beautiful walls of Mt Index comes back with the same story: The easy lines are kitty litter, while the non-kitty-litter lines are way beyond too hard. As in A4 aid climbing on big (2,000+ ft) walls with a horrible approach.

    There has been the odd successful climb (you can look up The Norwegian Buttress), but despite the fact that it is in plain view of anyone climbing at Index, it is just too well defended to get much traffic



  • Once upon a time in the Rockies

    00001223.JPG

    00001228.JPG



  • is that the top or did you have to climb through that overhang?



  • @NickG said in New routing:

    is that the top or did you have to climb through that overhang?

    I'd love to be able to say that I left all the gear hanging at that station and free-soloed up and over, but...

    ...no, that was the top.



  • @David-Harris said in New routing:

    @NickG said in New routing:

    I blamed the top down approach to being conservative in the Covid era

    On any route that is mainly bolt-protected, top down is the way to go. Oh, yeah, I know, you don't get the same bragging rights, but everyone who climbs the route after you will thank you.

    Maybe that's sacrilege, particularly coming from someone who learned to climb on the insanely runout slabs at Squamish that were bolted ground up, but those aren't really sport climbs. No, the key to putting up a good sport climb is getting the bolts in the right places, and that is a million times easier to do top down (with plenty of top-rope rehearsal) than ground up.

    Which brings me to the photo of Tom's knee I posted above...

    Mari decided that some bump on Google Earth just 30 minutes east of Seattle might be a cliff. We expended a fair bit of pain and blood getting to it (blackberries are evil) but eventually found something we thought would provide maybe half a dozen good sport routes. We also eventually found a relatively casual approach, and spent a few weekends rappelling in, cleaning a bit of moss (not too bad, for the PNW), and removing the odd loose block.

    Tom joined us for what we thought would be the last checking-things-out day before bringing in the drill. While Mari rap-cleaned her proj, Tom belayed me on a top-rope ascent of mine.

    Now, bear in mind that I'd already spent two or three days prepping the rig. It was clean, and anything loose was long gone. I just wanted to take a TR burn on it before bolting it for lead. Totally casual, right? And Tom, being a sensible guy, was belaying from way off to the side, just in case I pulled off any dirt or pebbles.

    Well, to keep it short, half-way up I mantled onto a ledge... or, grabbed the ledge to start the mantle and peeled off a block the size a washing machine. Which dropped maybe 20 feet and exploded into a hundred bits, one of which flew sideways and nailed Tom directly on the kneecap.

    For those of you who don't know him, I should tell you that he is about ten times harder than you are. But taking a lunchbox-size rock directly on the kneecap is tough even if you are Superman. He passed out. Not for long, maybe only 20 or 30 seconds, but (and he can chime in if I'm exaggerating) he was definitely not in this world for that brief time.

    Thank Petzl for GriGris, cuz if he'd been using anything else to belay me I wouldn't be writing this.

    Fortunately, there was a static line hanging on the route beside my toprope line, and I was able to transfer onto it and rap down. And Tom's kneecap wasn't broken, so he was able to (painfully) jug out, and (painfully) make the mountain bike ride back to the car. But he didn't have much fun walking for the next couple of weeks.

    So, yeah, the joys of new routing.

    The cliff? Nothing that will make people desert Yosemite, but really close to Seattle, and offering a completely different (i.e. not granite) kind of climbing. Steep pockets. Here's a shot of Mari doing some cleaning.

    Steep pockets.jpg

    And the scenery on the approach: I'm

    View from the approach.JPG

    And the approach itself (gated logging road -- too perfect)

    The approach.JPG

    Looks good.



  • Isa wanted me to do this for her woody project..
    IMG_4758.jpg
    I talked her into doing this and having a look at a cliff we found about 10 min drive from her house, while XC sking.
    IMG_4767.jpg
    Pretty darn nice spot to have so close.
    IMG_4777.jpg
    A few miles down the road we washed off the dirt and refreshed ourselfs with a VERY COLD swim.
    IMG_4787.jpg



  • @NickG That is so similar to what Mari and I had. And have in our new home.

    Okay, the swimming near our crags is quite pleasant. None of this Polar Bear Swim shit. But otherwise, yeah, a treat to have what amounts to your very own cliffs right out the back door.

    First ascent of Iron Road at a crag we called The Railyard.
    Mari on Iron Road, lo-res.jpg



  • that looks better than what we have....


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