Daily Archives: August 16, 2010

Story of Whitehorse, July 24th – July 25th Part 3

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By now, Daniel and I were pretty sure that we had missed the official escape route, and were trying to decide the safest way to descend from our current position: either rappelling through the woods, or continuing over in the hopes of finding the correct descent trail.  Well, as we’re debating the sky decided to make the decision for us, and opened up with a beast of a rainstorm.  So, Daniel and I rigged up a quick “around a tree” Rappel, and started descending through the trees.  Now, these woods weren’t your normal “hey, this is steep” woods.  They were seriously at maybe 70 degrees, with lots of random cliffs and sinkholes, not to mention tree-limbs and mud-pits.  So, for those who enjoy rappelling, here is the PERFECT time to practice Australian-style rappels: facing downwards and running down the mountainside until you get to the end of the rope (for the love of the lord tie knots in your rappel line if you’re going to do this).

So after about five aussie rappels over cliffs, holes, and small lakes, Daniel and I are finally at the base of the cliff with the rope coiled over Daniels back and the gear safely around my waist.  We walk along the cliff-base until we finally see our gear stashed up on the hill where we left it.  “Finally!  Lets grab it and go!” yelled Daniel as he sprinted towards the gear.  Seeing him run, I yell, “Wait!  I think that’s a…” <SPLASH> he goes, into the concealed lake at the base of the cliff.  Unfortunately combining a huge slab with a lot of rain had created a rather epic pond between us and our gear, which Daniel had kindly decided to show me the edges of by falling in up to his waist.

“Fuck this.  I’m going to get the car, you get to grab the gear” Daniel told me.  So I carefully poked my way around the pond ‘till I was able to get to our stuff, and then started the quick trek back to the Spyder.  Once there, we dropped the wet gear into the trunk, coiled the rope, and took off for Applebee’s, praying that it would still be open.

Story of Whitehorse, July 24th – July 25th Part 2

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After gaining the Lunch Ledge, Daniel and I took a short break and reviewed the guidebook, trying to make sure we knew exactly where to go.  We also took this chance to try and spot a lost cam that one of the soloists had told us about; I was really excited to try and get the cam, since he had told us it was an old-school solid-stem Friend.  After about ten minutes of looking around and route-prepping, I racked up, Daniel set up the belay, and I stepped off the Lunch Ledge.

As I took the first few steps off the Lunch ledge, it began to dawn on me that I was stepping into completely uncharted territory.  The last time I had been on this part of the route Adam had been leading, and he decided to take the harder variation of it in order to save time.  So, knowing that I was leading into the relatively unknown (more that it was unexperienced, I had read the guide book and knew the basic layout), I took the route slow, and tried to place gear in the best spots that I could to protect Daniel from the traverse.

However, as I worked onwards I started to get more and more nervous; this route may have been technically easy, but DAMN it was exposed!  No holds what-so-ever, simply friction moves, and nearly nothing to place gear into either.  However, I finally passed over the boilerplate after much debating over what route to take, and made it to the edge of the overlaps.

Here I spent a bit of time trying to pry an old Friend-style Cam from the rock, but gave up after about 5min and continued moving upwards.  Now, the problem with this portion of the route turned out not to be the difficulty, but the rope-drag.  At the end of the route I could barely move with all the drag, much less climb fluidly.  So, I built a belay where I was, and Daniel lowered me down to remove key piece of gear that were tightening the rope.  After I cleaned them, I belayed Daniel up and past me to the closest official anchor where he built up a full set.

At this point it was starting to get rather late (almost eight), so we decided that it’d be prudent to cut our losses and escape from the route.  So we looked around and started for what looked to be the correct escape route.  Well… two small slabs later we’re in the woods, night has officially fallen, and my headlamp is out of batteries.  Luckily I had my phone on me, which aside from being waterproof and bashable, also has a surprisingly powerful LED on it.  So, I strapped it to the headband from my headlamp, turned it on, and we started to plan our next step on how to get off the route.