Wednesday, May 30, 2012

5.30.2012 Broughton Bluff

I went to Broughton Bluff for an afternoon of trad climbing with quite the character from Troutdale. Dennis, as he introduced himself, is one of the original climbers from the area, who along with John Opdyke established the majority of the first route on Beacon Rock, the preeminent climbing destination of the area in the 1980s. We met in the parking lot and hiked up to the base of Gandalf's Grip, a three pitch crag classic. The line follows the center and highest portion of the north face of the bluff, overlooking the Columbia River and downtown Troutdale.
The scenic view overlooking the Sandy River. New construction on I-84 is in the foreground, then Troutdale airport, the Columbia River, and Prune Hill (WA) in the distance. The main street on the left of the photo is the main street of downtown Troutdale. Lewix and Clark are purported to have stayed at the location of the park at the bottom, center of the photo.
The base of the route starts with an aesthetic 5.8 hand crack, easily protected with nuts and cams. As the crack trends left, you encounter more difficult face climbing and a few bolts. The final overhang pull almost comes as a surprise, the "pitch" is so short. Since I saw no reason to not continue climbing, I ventured on up a picturesque, steep 5.8 dihedral, finally ending at the bolts at the top of pitch two (30m total).
The 5.8 dihedral.
The final fifteen feet to the top of the cliff were very peasant with bomber hand jams and fist jams. Though technically considered and OW, it was easy and protected with a #2 and #4. Great views from the top. A single rack from #0.3 to #3 and a set of nuts was sufficient for the first two pitches.
The view from halfway up the last pitch, above the OW.
After walking off and retrieving the gear we had stowed at the base, we walked around on I tried From Something to Nothing a thin , steep, but short 5.10d which, on the final bulge, required a finger pocket pull up. Unable to do it, I abandoned a biner on the 5th bolt. The climbing here was classic basalt columns. Definitely worth an afternoon.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

5.25.2012 Mt. Hood

Here in the northwest it's still winter in the high mountains. The day after arriving home, my father and I decided to attempt Hood via the familiar South Side route on skis. We left the house at 4 AM and arrived at the blustery Timberline parking lot at 5:15AM.Temperature 34 degrees, sleet and 25 MPH winds.
The parking lot at 5:30. Elevation 6000'.
Midway up the Magic Mile, ice and sleet freezing to our shells

The faint outline of the Silcox Hut appears in the clouds. Elevation 7200' and winds reaching 35MPH.

By following the canyon towards the Silcox Hut, we made slow progress in whiteout conditions with visibility ranging from a quarter mile to a few feet. In the summer this gulch is twenty five feet deep, but the Timberline snowcats had filled it almost completely in making navigation difficult. 1:15 to the Silcox.
Moving left and following the lift towers up the Palmer we made swift progress in increasingly variable winds. An atypical storm system rotating counter clockwise around northern California meant NE winds, so the further up the mountain the more we entered the eddy behind it. 

The mid station on the Palmer lift. 7900'.
A typical view while skiing above the palmer.
Approaching Crater rock and at the beginning of the unstable slabs. Final elevation 10,200'.
 By now the temperature had dropped into the low twenties, and with the wind the temperature was somewhere around zero. We made steady progress up to the steepening slopes below Crater Rock. Here we turned on the transceivers and split the avy gear. The wind loading at this point was pretty bad with a variable windpacked slab over ice. Following a band of ice encrusted rocks, we worked to minimize the risk. Upon reaching Crater Rock, we made the decision to turn around. Having climbed the route many times, and with the knowledge that wind loading issues increase dramatically on the Hogsback, climbing further wasn't worth it. Time to enjoy the ski down. In between sucker holes (rents torn in the clouds by the mountain) we skied down in fairly challenging wind packed, crusted snow. Great skiing all considered.

Back in the sun at the top of the Magic Mile. Quite a change from earlier in the day. The top of the mountain was still cloud capped from 9000' onwards.

The gear and the rig.

One last note on equipment. I received this pack (BD Speed 55) as a replacement for my BD Quantum 65. On first impression I am very impressed with the new ergo active suspension system, quality of build and functionality. The most comfortable pack I have ever worn and simple in design. Very well thought out.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Living Vertical #Project365

If you haven't heard about Living Vertical, definitely check out their website.  While you are at it, take a minute and "like" the Facebook page.  Steve Richert, and his wife Stefanie, are on a journey to climb for 365 consecutive days while also managing type 1 diabetes.  They started out in California and are making a round trip across the country before heading back to Joshua Tree.  Steve keeps everyone up to date on the website, facebook page, and twitter @LivingVertical.

Show your support by visiting, liking, and sharing the Project 365 submission on Vimeo to receive funding from the Diabetes Hands Foundation.  I hope to have the opportunity to climb with Steve when he visits the Adirondacks in the Fall.  Until then, I'll be following his journey online.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coldfear Photo Contest

The COLDFEAR Photo Contest is now live on Facebook.  Five photos with the most likes will wil gear from Rab, Cilogear, Grivel, and Sterling.  Cam and I each submitted a photo to the contest, so please help us get some "likes".  The links to each submission on Facebook are in the captions below.  Please vote and share.  Thanks.

Edit: Photo #1 ended up winning a pack of Grivel quickdraws and photo #2 won a gift certificate to Sterling. 

Photo Submission #1
Photo Submission #2

Saturday, May 12, 2012

5.12.2012 Wallface

Joe, Cam, and I decided to head to the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks for our last climbing trip of the semester.  The goal was to climb "The Diagonal" on Wallface, an 860ft climb.  We left Troy after exams on Friday at 12:20 pm, arriving at the parking lot around 2 hours later.  There is a normal hiking trail that leads to a climber "trail" which follows small cairns to the base of the cliff.  Most of the trails were wet, swampy, and rocky, but we hoped that the route would end up being dry.  The boulders around the cairns that mark out the climber's trail were huge, and I was surprised not to see any chalk marks or areas cleared out for bouldering pads.  Hiking from the parking lot to the first "real" stream crossing took right around an hour, and from there it was another hour and a half to the cliffs.

The 4 mile long approach was all worth it when we reached the base of the cliff, the tallest in New York State.  Some people call this the El Cap of the East even thought it is only 1/10 the size.  From the base of the cliff, we could tell that the first two pitches, both 5.5G, were going to be wet and dirty, so we opted out of putting on our rock climbing shoes.  Cam took the lead on both of these pitches, the second being the most difficult.  We were all carrying gear to spend the night on the wall, so climbing with heavy packs added to the difficulty of the route.  Up near the top of P2, Cam took off his pack while on lead and anchored it with a hex in a crack.  I followed with my pack, pulling pro, and rappelled off of the other end of the rope to find Cam's pack while Joe climbed up.  With the pack on my back, I prusiked back up the rope and prepared to lead the next pitch.

Pitch 3 heads directly up the ramp, one of the most defined features on The Diagonal.  This is a 5.3 PG13 slab, and it ended up being soaking wet in areas.  I started up the slab, placing a cam for my first piece of protection.  This is where the PG13 part comes in.  I followed a slanting crack to the right side of the ramp, where it was the most dry, and ended up much further above my protection than I would have liked to be.  With my nerves starting to kick in, I climbed even more right to a potential spot for protection, in which I places a medium sized nut.  This placement wasn't the best, so I backed it up with a ballnut about a foot down the crack.  My only option now was to down climb and try to head up on the left side of the ramp where it was more dry.  I left the protection in, even though it caused horrible rope drag, and found an easier route further along the ramp.  Gear was all good from there on, and I made it to the top of the belay anchors at the top of the ramp.  

Cam followed up the ramp, still needing to head far right to remove the nut and ballnut.  Cam decided to pendulum to the left instead of traversing in an attempt to save time.  In the process of swinging, the link cam that I had placed towards the top of the ramp blew out and sped down the rope to Cam.  The jolt was totally unexpected, but the belay anchors held strong and nobody got hurt, so all was good.

At the top of the ramp
All up at the top of the ramp, Cam took the lead again and headed up P4.  The goal for the climbing today was to reach the ledge on the top of P4, so we were on track to get there just as it was getting dark.  For some reason there was not enough rope length for Cam to make it to the ledge, so after belaying me up to where he was, I took the lead and finished off the pitch.  Even though I had a full rack of gear, all I needed were quickdraws because there were two bolts on the first face, and then two more at the top.   

Cam on the bottom part of P4
Once we were all up on the ledge, it was time to make it a little more habitable for the night.  Joe moved loose rocks and two large tree branches off to the side where we were not going to be sleeping.  Cam and I set up an anchor/gear storage system so we could all stay clipped in to our harnesses at all times.  The blue sling on the left was used for gear storage and organization.  The other sling was set up like a dog leash system.  I clipped in to the sling with my PAS and then Cam clipped in to my chain so he would have more room to move around.  Joe remained anchored in with a clove hitch.  After heating up some tuna glop and a freeze dried meal we cleaned up the kitchen area and set out the sleeping pads.  The ledge was not smooth by and means, but it was better than hanging in a harness all night.

Anchor setup for sleeping and storage
Cam demonstrates the "I can't believe I left my rock climbing shoes at home" face.  On the other hand, I was totally fine with my shoes and couldn't be happier on the ledge.  There was a lot of water falling from the roof above down to the side of where we set up sleeping bags, so we set up water bottles and my cooking pot underneath the heavy drips, which yielded about one liter of water every hour.

All set up at night...

...and also in the morning
Interactive Photosynth
Water collection system
P5 was a 4th class traverse that led to the next three pitches of solid 5.8 climbing.  I tied in for the lead on P6, but could not figure out how to make the next move after placing two pieces of protection, so Cam lowered me off of a 0.75 cam and a ballnut before finishing off the pitch.

Attempting the lead on P6
Cam belaying for P6...
...and then finishing off the lead

View from the top of P6
I wanted to lead the next pitch, so Cam and I transferred gear and I headed up the distinct crack in the photo below.  I placed a #10 and #11 hex in the crack. and then clipped an old piton above the first major ledge in the photo.  A small slab section followed this crack, but I realized that I didn't have enough slings or quickdraws to protect anything past the slab, so I built an anchor with a #2 cam and an old piton to belay Cam up.  We swapped gear once again and he continued climbing to the top.  Finally, we belayed Joe up the last two pitches and then got ready to rappel.

P7 Crack
Belay anchor at the top of P7
Looking up P8, getting ready to follow.
There were 5 old pitons on this pitch, but they didn't look reliable enough to clip.
Top anchor on P8, the end of the climb.
Setting up for a 60m rappel
 After four full 60m rappels, we all arrived back at the base of the cliff.  We made our way back to main trail by following the cairns marking the climber's path, and then hiked another 2 hours back to the parking lot where we started off.

Still some snow on the ground
Wallface Panorama
Descending the ladders