Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Nose: A Free Ascent of Bridge Creek Wall

My burning heart skips a beat. It's a small bear, but in the sunset I was startled. I keep running, powering up the hill until I can't go on. "It's high enough" I think, before laying two gallons of water next to a squat pine and a jumble of stones. 2,000 feet above Bridge Creek Wall sits lonley and wind swept. A bird screeches in the cold wind. My legs carry me back into the canyon.

Two days later Sol and I are sipping on the water stash under The Nose, a serpentine line of big cracks, chimnies and roofs. For years, the 5.10 A2 skull and cross bones (Viktor Kramer, auther of Leavenworth Rock, uses the symbol instead of R or X designations) rating enticed me. After Max, Sol, and I repeated The Nose this past spring, we knew it would go free. That particular day, the runout, dirty nature of the crux pitch stopped our free effort. This time Sol and I had a few pins and a hammer, hoping to make it sane.

Classic, cleand 5.9 wide

Ropedrag, moss, and a bridge of death blocks led us to the start of the money pitches. A wide, wandery chimney, a traverse, and a connecting 5.10 slab brought us to a needly ledge with a gnarled pine. A bar down the hatch and we were off to splitterville. A four inch offwidth, double finger cracks in a corner, and the best 5.8 splitter in Leavenworth deposited us to the crux cieling. "I'll tag up the pins and hammer if I need them," I say and then start stuffing my feet in the flaring crack leading up the roof. A reach to a hand jam, a jug, and a mantle and I'm through the difficulties. Unfortunately, I am also looking at two broken legs if I blow the spicy exit moves. I take a deep breath, think about the work involved in placing a pin, and decide to climb on.

The crux...not too hard, but don't fall on the face above the roof!

On top, we sit satisfied, enjoying the panoramic view of the Stuart Range. Nine exciting pitches fall away below our battered toes. The water I stashed and the cloud cover keeps us hydrated and happy. Jumping and rapping down the descent slabs leads to the longest sand surf in the world, beer, and the familiar rush of the Icicle.

The Nose
IV 5.11b R

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Let It Burn


Splitter cracks, good natural pro, and juggy knobs. Challenging lines that demand fitness and technique. Spiky views of Mt. Stuart, Colchuck Peak, and Dragontail. A petite meadow borderd by firery larch trees. In my mind Colchuck Balanced Rock, or CBR, reigns as one of Washington's best alpine rock faces.

Following pitch 2 (5.12a)
On September 22nd, Max Hasson and I free climbed a new route the left of the West Face. Overall we spent 10 days on the route, always climbing ground up to our high point before continuing to push new ground. Wildly steep and pumpy climbing led us through incredible terrain. The features linked a path up the wall and gear was abundant. We hand placed four bolts on route, two on the wild second pitch (5.12a), and two at subsequent belays. A visible blaze dubbed the "Eight Mile Lake Let It Burn Fire" by the National Forest Service, consumed 119 acres while we worked on the route, hence our chosen name.

Pitch 4 (5.11c)

Pitch 5 (5.11c)
Max and I have climbed extensively over the past 8 years, but this experiance was especially satisfying. Let It Burn is an absolute classic. The moves are gymnastic and the route sustained. From the moment we climbed on the line we knew we had to complete the mission. We were inspired to say the least. Our hope is that the route will be repeated this season or next. Let us know what you think!

Puttin' it up

Max on the first ascent of pitch 4