Yesterday Mike Schaefer and I completed the "short" version of a larger project I have been contemplating the last few weeks. Originally, the idea was to climb Dragons of Eden, the West Face of Colchuck Balanced Rock, and Der Sportsman on Prusik Peak. Of course, I wanted to use only hands and feet for upward movement. The sheer volume of the day and a few unknowns led to a decision to scale things back a bit. In retrospect, with a reworking of the approach, Mike and I were totally capable of the master link, but regardless, yesterday was fun and challenging.
The day began at 5:40 AM and right from the start we were pushing ourselves to move quickly. So quickly in fact that we ended up at the base of DOE in 1:50! We hydrated, took out the climbing gear and started charging up the mountain. About 3.5 hours later we were on the summit. A time check back at our packs showed 12:20 PM. Again, we were surprised to have gone base to base in 4:20. Tactics that helped attain this time included Mike crushing, me linking all three head wall pitches, and us soloing the entire upper portion of the route.
After a short break (10 minutes) we slogged up to CBR. Heat in the gully was energy sapping, but we still managed to keep a decent pace. Although we felt ourselves tiring we climbed as efficiently as possible on the West Face and achieved our second free route in a day! To speed things up on CBR we simuled to the base of the corner in one pitch and then swapped the few remaining leads. A boulder problem to the summit and the double link was done.
At this point, we were seriously considering heading to Prusik. A quick inventory revealed extremely inadequate calories for such a mission. We were willing to abandon Mike's van at the Mountaineer's Creek TH, but the hike out through the night on the Snow Lakes trail would be too taxing we decided. The day had been amazing and we were feeling good. Going further would have been proud, but also would have driven us into the deepest of pain caves.
After deciding we were happy with DOE/CBR, we backed the pace off a bit, sitting at the base enjoying the buzz of such a happy day. Once we did shoulder our packs we started charging. A time check in the talus at the far end of Colchuck lake showed 7:30 PM. We certainly had slowed a bit on CBR, but made up for it on the descent, reaching the van at 8:40 PM.
Although the ultimate goal was not realized, this was a day I won't soon forget. For me, those 15 hours gave a glimpse of whats possible and was a great wrap up of the last few years activities. Thanks to Mike for being the perfect partner. It was a hell of a lot of fun out there.
Finally time to drink beer...