Sunday, August 30, 2009

Celebrate Balanced Rock

In preparation for the up coming slide shows, Max and I spent the week capturing incredible images of our friends on Colchuck Balanced Rock. I was four hard days of work, but well worth it.

CBR is quickly becoming one of the finest formations on the West Coast for alpine rock climbing. Two new routes have been added to the face in the last year and a half, each already finding their place among Washington's best routes. With an absurd amount of features to still play out, it seems the Cascades has found its Incredible Hulk

On Tuesday Max and I made the second ascent of The Scoop, CBR's newest line. The quality of the route is amazing, the style used in its establishment impeccable. I led the whole route in four pitches, making an on sight ascent, Max jugging behind with extra ropes and camera gear. The Scoop features classy 5.11+ crack climbing that rivals any splitter other granite locales offer. Believe it or not, Washington lacks physical jam cracks of this sort, most stout trad routes thin and incipient.

Once our gear was on top, we threw the ropes down The Tempest, CBR's only un-freed route and most definitely a line of controversy. I won't explore the issues in this forum, but they caused a change in our game plan. Still, we made the best of the situation, Max shooting me on the route's incredible head wall pitch. Max got some great shots and I had fun on sighting a long, beautiful pitch that I had not expected to try. Rapping in late evening fire light ended a great day and we retired to the bivy for an alpine monkey party.

The next day Max and I caught some much needed rest while our good friends Blake and Sol completed a double-scoop link-up of The Tempest Wall and The Scoop. I wish every rest day was filled with that sort of sports action.

Finally, Jessica joined Max and I for a photo shoot on the wall's original classic, The West Face (5.11+). Jess and I stretched, bouldered, and napped while Max jugged The Tempest and established himself above the amazing corners that define the upper part of the route. When the light was just right, Jessica began climbing the route's famed enduro corner. Butt shots of this pitch are inspiring, let alone the pics Max got! Darkness fell and the three of us monkeyed our way up the rest of the route, stars crowning black daggers all around. A dusty descent and nice bivy ended our week.

I gotta give props to Max for all the hard work he has put into capturing these very special images. His unique combination of skills are allowing him to show a side of climbing seldom seen these days. His art is full of the spirit of climbing. Nice job dude!

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