Sunday, September 13, 2009

Just Another Diamond In The Sky

"Where is that?", I wondered, my eyes straining to catch the small caption at the bottom of the page. "Somewhere in the Cascades," was the only hint given. Brook and his pals sure have all the fun I thought.

Almost 10 years later, I found myself looking at that same inspiring shot that had graced the cover of the Metolious catalog so many years ago. This time though, the picture contained a line, and most importantly, solid beta from Brooke Sandahl himself. Der Sportsman has slowly (it has only had 5 ascents!) become known as one of the Enchantment's best routes, featuring everything from technical stemming to off-size jamming. One year ago, Sol Werkin and myself made the second ascent of this line, a birthday on-sight my gift that day. As we walked away from the peak, I knew I would be back to this climb soon. It's just so damn fun.

Pitch 1: 5.11+

Fast foward to last week. Audrey Sniezek, an old friend from the Redmond Vertical World, asked me if I would be willing to partake in an alpine rock climb with her. Immediatly, my mind fell upon those flawless fissures of Prusik's south face. What a place to introduce someone to the beauty of traveling in the alpine and climbing high in the mountains. Audrey is an inspiring athlete with 5.13+ sport routes and competion success under her belt. Her passion for climbing is huge and her work ethic solid. Instead of a trip up the South Face or the West Ridge (both classic mid-fifth routes on Prusik), I started hyping the Sportsman. Making the fifth ascent of one of the state's most beautiful routes would surely give Audrey the ultimate experiance.

Pitch 2: 5.11 R

An after work jaunt into the high country put us in position for Prusik, the night's darkness holding back suprises to be revealed with the rising sun. The next moring we bounded through a fairytale land, our feet barely planted in reality. The cobalt blue sky, turning Larch trees, and shimmering white granite gorgeous beyond words.

Pitch 3: 5.10

Der Sportsman takes a plumb line to Prusik's summit, following a challenging set of cracks the whole way. I stemmed, liebacked, and jammed my way up the first 5.11+ pitch, feeling inspired by the quality of the climbing and the views all around. The next pitches fell away from our feet, upward movement methodical and effecient. 5.11 slab moves, mini corners, and 5.10 hand cracks defined our trip up the spine of Prusik's south face. A mid-5.11 off hands crack right before the summit blocks provided a wonderful finish.

Pitch 5: 5.10

I was proud of Audrey for pushing through the whole day. She threw herself right into the fire with courage and ambition. Nice work Audrey! We had made the fifth ascent of Der Sportsman for her first alpine rock route. Not bad! Also, leading the whole route was an awesome training exercise for me as I have a silly link-up planned in the next few weeks that finishes on Der.

Good Job Audrey!

A falling sun cast soft shadows across the Enchantments as we descended back to reality. I was glad that Audrey had experianced the alpine at it's finest. Long walks, grueling moments, beautiful granite, the peace of nature; we lived it all. Nice work Audrey!

Der Sportsman: 5.11+, 6 pitches:

Pitch 1, 5.11+:

The route's crux. An easy start leads to 5.11- thin fingers, a rest at a large knob, and then sustained stemming and liebacking past 2 bolts and a fixed nut to a two bolt anchor.

Pitch 2, 5.11 R:
Brooke gave this pitch an R rating, although it is really quite safe. Just don't fall onto the belay! Awesome face and knob climbing past two bolts leads to a bouldery mini dihedral. Belay on ledge with two bolts.

Pitch 3, 5.10:
Great hands and fingers. Gear belay at rad ledge.

Pitch 4, 5.10:
Ditto pitch 3, except for the "peekaboo tower" finish...go do the route, you will see what I mean.

Pitch 5, 5.10:
One of my favorite pitches on the route. Climb fingers in a left facing corner, pull a crux, surf over some huge knobs past a bolt, and climb a 5.9 flake system to a belay below the crux. One bolt and a yellow alien at the belay.

Pitch 6, 5.11:
Flairing off hands with knobs for your feet. Sinking hand jams and placing green aliens. Crazy stuff. Airy and classic. Finishes in a beautiful chimney.

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