Stupider Friends

I really need to get stupider friends. Years ago my old climbing partner from Australia came to visit. For part of the trip, he and a friend of his Jesse (now a mutual friend) came up to Seattle for some climbing. I had to work so I missed the second half of the trip – but I leant Grant my rack.

Well the two of them were nice enough to re-mark my gear – you know – just so it was consistently marked and make sure it I got it all back. They marked it with pink tape. Hot pink tape. I would not be surprised to find out if they had to drive round to find it special. When a decade later – Grant, Jesse, and I went climbing in Colorado we went to upgrade gear – they presented me with a roll of hot pink duct-tape.

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So now whenever I get new gear – the first thing I do when I get home is mark it all with pink. Hot pink. I need to get stupider friends. This is a practical joke that’s been running for nearly a decade with no sign of ending. On the plus side – I have yet to meet someone who marks their gear with the same color.

Day climbing at deception crags (March 20th, 2018)

Made it out to Deception Crags for some more practice today, and boy did I need it.

We started the day by setting up by practicing rope work and rappelling again. Here you can see Tyler transitioning from his personal anchor system over to a rappel. It is hard to see in the picture, but he does have a prussic backup set up. Its actually a good spot to practice. Its a safe approach to the anchors, but immediately exposes you to a vertical drop to practice with.

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Must have action shot. We each did like 3 times down the rope. Main thing was practicing and drilling on coming onto our personal anchor system, then coming off it to a rappel. After that we pulled ropes and went to climb on write-off wall. That’s where things went a bit sideways.

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I was supposed to lead the unnamed climb, set up an anchor, and then come down so Tyler could climb it. I had never climbed this route before, so I got about 4-5 bolts up before realizing that while the line was straight up until then, at the very end of the climb it broke hard right and finished directly over another occupied climb. I was worried about showering the climbers with rocks and crap, so I ended up bailing off onto knife in the toaster, one climb over to our left. It was a dogs breakfast. The rope literally went up, over, and down.

Complicating things – and part of the problem, I think, was that I was more sketched out than I realized by leading the climb. The climb is totally a 5.6 on top-rope, but it has got two nasty looking falls. All in all I found leading and down climbing the 5.7/5.8 climb I had to do to get the gear I left behind easy by comparison. Something about that climb was just messing with my head. The climb runs about 3 feet to the left of the rope line Tyler is on in this picture.

In the end Tyler climbed it gracefully, then rappelled back off the climb.

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In a word, ugh. There are no bad days in the mountain when nobody gets hurt, but this was just a weird, weird, day. I’m glad we put in the time to practice. It was a fun if frustrating day, but I think I really needed the drill time.

Day climbing at deception crags (March 16th, 2018)

Tyler and I started the day by setting up a top rope on Glob Job. It is only a 5.7 – but neither of us wanted to lead climb it since it looks like it has a real ankle breaker of a first bolt start. Here you can see Tyler setting up the rope for the climb.

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Turns out, once we were on it the first bolts is not that bad, the crux move seems to be clearing a tiny bulge in the wall to get to the second bolt. I figure we will try leading it later in the summer but ick. The concrete crack is full of small sharp as stones and just ripped up our hands. I ended up coming off the climb and taping up to do it.

After that we hiked around to write-off rock and did the unnamed 5.6 between Knife in the Toaster and Mom There’s Pink in my Burger. It was Tyler’s first sport lead – and it was a decent climb for that. Solid holds and well protected. Only weird part is the chains are kind of far above the last decent footholds. So Tyler got up there only to find that the chain link PAS system I lent him was to short so it was kind of awkward for him setting things up. I felt bad. I use a longer anchor system, so had less problems breaking things down when I cleaned.

While we do need to get faster – it was all in all a good day. We got a bunch of solid rope work practice and climbing in. Joel and Owen met up with Tyler and myself.

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Owens only 6 – but it looks like he will be a hell of a climber one day. The picture had him motoring up a 5.4, and we had to physically lift him off the climb to prevent him from just motoring on up the rock. I’ll be curious to see how he does when we bring him out there with a harness and let him climb roped up. Probably the weirdest part – is the last time Joel was out there was when we were climbing together in college twenty years ago.

Day climbing at deception crags (March 10th, 2018)

Tyler and I took my Aunt climbing today at Deception Crags up at Exit 38. It had been nearly a decade since either of us had climbed there – so we went up without a guidebook and kind of played things by ear.

Unfortunately, I picked a 5.9 for my Aunts first climb – Knife in the toaster. It is smack in the middle of “Write-off Rock”. She did awesome, but it had a 5.4 on the left and a 5.6 climb on the right – so I just totally miss called the difficulty of the climb. I felt especially bad since right after she left we ran up flammable pajamas next which was the super easy 5.4.

Probably the first lesson of the day was that I look ridiculous in a pony tail. I’m choosing to ignore that lesson though.

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Knife in the toaster had five bolts and was my first lead of the season, and first in nearly a year.

Its actually more like a 5.7 climb, with a 5.9 crux move at the end. I just was not seeing the last move though. I got the bold clipped, and kept going up and down looking for the next move but just was not seeing it.

Here you can see the line for the climb – I just need to head straight up and to the left a bit to nail it. In the end I finished by going round, and to my right. The lead for flammable pajamas was next, and it was super weird. You have to climb half way up the climb to get to the first bolt, so the climb with only two bolts, feels like it is over before it feels like it starts.

All in all a lovely day – we need to go out there again soon.

Ben holds a grudge

Ben must hold a grudge – I can’t tell what is worse – this picture of me or my board position. I got slaughtered at Go – but the Wisky was excellent. Come to think of it – those two things may be related. All in all I am calling the trip, if not the game, a win.

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Early march attempt of the Tooth

Yesterday Conrad and I attempted a snowshoe approach for climbing the Tooth. We were initially going to meet at the trailhead for a 9am start. This was the first snow shoe trip in several seasons for me, and Conrad’s first snowshoeing, so we ended up deciding to meet at REI at 9 instead so we could each pick up a few things.

Unfortunately, on Sunday REI does not open until 10 so we lost an hour. Then we got stuck in a crazy traffic snarl getting to the pass. So we did not hit the trail-head for our start until 2. Yeah, it was a super late start. We had no idea what the hike in times would be – so we decided to bring full climbing packs anyway in case we got lucky. If we didn’t then worst case we know our travel time with packs for when we come back.

I think we both had a fun day. I know Conrad got a lot of laughter in when I tried out a new down hill “glide step” technique. Which started out awesome for the first 3 steps – then it turned into me tumbling ass over teakettle down hill.

I think we both were having fun.

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We hiked in to Source Lake, then turned south east to switch back up to the Great Scott Basin. In this picture its that V where the two dotted paths split just below the tooth. Not the chimney, the one on the snow field.

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We were loosing the light – so we turned around just under the 3 hour mark. We were making good time down the mountain so we took a break for a celebratory beer and some food before motoring on out. Thats going to become a tradition – because that beer was perfect.

It started snowing fairly heavily on the way out – which I found hilarious – since Konrad was at times like an abominable snowman in font of me. I found the half inch of snow hanging on the tip of his ice axe especially funny for some reason.

We ended up hiking out the last hour and a half with headlamps. No one was anywhere around – so the world seemed to be ours. Here is what it looked like. We only had to back track once – and that was my fault.

All in all al lovely day. With an 8am start next time we should have no problem summiting and hiking out before we loose the light. Cant wait.