Tag Archives: Climbing

A long staycation on July 4th – Bouldering at French’s Dome

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So my company was hit pretty hard by COVID-19, and instituted a 10% furlough program. Reduced pay, but balanced by various furlough days scattered throughout the year… primarily around holidays. July 4th was one of those, which meant that I had Thursday through Monday off from work – the 2nd through the 6th. Five full days for adventure!

My original plan was to drive out to City of Rocks in Idaho. I reserved a campsite maybe two weeks beforehand, and started planning out what to bring, and what route to take.

But… It’s a 10 hour drive, shortest route. 11, by the route I was thinking of taking. And that doesn’t include stops for gas, food, and the stretch breaks that I’d absolutely need on a trip that long. I kept trying to talk myself into it, but in the end I just talked myself out of the trip.

I canceled the reservations, and put together a new plan. A staycation, full of relaxation, organizing my new apartment, and re-aquainting myself with the Pacific Northwest…

 

 

Monday, 06-July-2020

 

Monday dawned brighter and earlier than I would have liked. I’d had a heck of a time falling asleep the night before, and getting up and mobile was particularly challenging… as it tends to be after four days of vacation and eating lots of great food. But I mobilized, got showered, and started packing myself up for the days adventure!

The night before, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d went through the various guidebooks that I have and picked out the adventure of the day. I wouldn’t be going back to the Garden, but instead heading East, to a volcanic remnant on the slopes of Hood called French’s Dome.

 

I’d heard about the Dome before, from a few different people, but for some reason had never actually made the trip out to climb it. It’s not like it’s far, either… turns out, it was the closest of the various options! A fact that definitely contributed to choosing it.

I had another happy breakfast of avocado english muffins and seared ham, finished packing up the car, and headed into the great wild… after stopping at the post office and REI for some quick errands.

 

But I made it with tons of daylight to spare, and started in with my bouldering pad and trad gear. Not that I expected to be doing any roped climbing, of course, but it had been so long since I’d placed gear that I figured a refresher course was absolutely in order… if only to remind myself that I do feel confident placing gear in rocks.

 

Well, first off, French’s Dome is beautiful, and beautifully close to the road. Seriously, it was less than 5min walk. Downhill, even. The drive itself wasn’t bad either, but was still just a bit over an hour. Combine those two, and I think I may have a new favorite after-work climbing place here in Oregon! Which… is kind of sad, comparing it to Hammond Pond in terms of distance, or Quincy Quarries in terms of variation of routes…

 

 

But you know what? Gift horses and mouths, as the saying goes, and I was just happy to have found a fun area!

I set up the crash pad, and started working the starts of a few routes. French’s is actually set up nearly perfectly for long bouldering, because the pinnacle is up on a steep slope, which has been terraced to avoid erosion. Because of that, I could get 50ft bouldering lines in, while staying less than 8 feet off the ground! I couldn’t bring my crashpad with me the whole way, which stunk, but it was still a really awesome chance to work on my footwork and endurance.

 

I stayed later than I had planned, only leaving when the mosquitos started coming out and my stomach was reminding me that I hadn’t brought quite enough snacks.

I’ll be back soon, I promise.

Climbing outside! At beacon rock! Multi-pitch!

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Friday, 01-Nov-2019

Fall is my favorite time of year. It’s bright, the leaves are beautiful, it’s cold but not freezing, and the sun is still up for a fair amount of time. It’s the perfect season for rock climbing.

 

Thankfully, we were able to make a bit of time, and Sarah and I headed out to The Beacon for a quick three-pitch jaunt up the SE Face.  It was amazing to stretch out our climbing muscles again; placing gear, building anchors, and facing the cold wind through the Columbia Gorge.  We had a blast!

We’d been debating continuing to the summit, but honestly, after Pitch 3, we were pretty burnt and cold – it was NOT a warm day, and while I love climbing in the cool weather, this was getting just a little into the “cold” side of things.  We conferenced quickly, and decided that it’d be better to descend… everything after Pitch 3 is pretty weak anyways, so we weren’t really feeling drawn to it.

Instead, we rapelled down, packed up our gear… and then hiked to the summit!  Woo!

Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Thursday, 31-May

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Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Thursday, 31-May

A West Virginia adventure – Spring Break in the New River Gorge, 2018

Saturday, 26-May, through Saturday, 02-June, 2018

 

Life is old there, older than the trees. Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze. Country roads, take me home… to the place, I belong! West Virginia, Mountain momma… take me home, country roads.”

I’m pretty sure that the first real spring break I ever had was with Daniel, years ago, when we drove down to the New River Gorge to climb, and attend the New River Rendezvous. Since that year, we’ve done our best to always link up and go on some glorious climbing trip on or around Memorial Day. This year was a tough one, with Sarah breaking her leg, but she insisted that I go anyways, and let her live vicariously through me as she convalesed at home. I’d already cleared the week as vacation with my boss, even before I was hired for the project, so I was free and clear for a throwback adventure…

 

Thursday

Thursday.
A sad day.
A day without climbing.
The saddest of days.

It started out well enough; I woke up and, per what’d become a very pleasant “normal”, made bacon and eggs. Or… sausage and eggs, if I recall. They were really good. Then the sad bit: everyone headed out to go rafting, and I stayed in to write and nap for a bit. I’m not a huge fan of white water rafting, honestly… not only was it fairly expensive, but it’s just not my jam… as far as activities go. Not a huge fan of water, of swimming, or of being out of control. And, funny story, rafting has all of those things in spades.

So instead, I went hiking and scouting.

Specifically, I drove out toward Lower Meadow wall, to check out a specifically beautiful 5.14a called Mango Tango.

But… after spending 15min looking for the parking lot, I gave up. I’d planned on parking on the side of the highway, but when it came time to actually do so, I decided that was silly and dangerous, and instead I’d park at the official parking lot. Which… is invisible? Maybe? I don’t know, man. I couldn’t find it.

I moved on to my next destination: the Endless Wall. A massive fortification of stone, a rock face 3 miles long, consistently 80ft tall, and covered in brutally hard routes.

I started on the far Eastern side of the cliff, planning on hiking the whole wall and then following the Endless Wall trail (a nationally renowned hiking path) back to the car.

I met a guided group. They were cool. They told me where I was, and gave me a bit of information about there area… but we mostly left each other alone. Since, you know, they were guiding people.

I explored an open-air museum for the abandoned nuttall mine. There were placards and rusted buildings, and mine cars with plants growing out of them.

 

I hiked West bound, and ran out of trail repeatedly. Let’s talk about this bit for a second: The New River Gorge has between two and three gagillion routes. And I found an entire section of cliff with almost no routes. No joke – I didn’t see more than two or three bolt lines for hundreds of yards along the cliff bottom. There’s so much room for development here, you don’t even know.

After I got turned around and I lost the trail for the fifth time – I could have kept bushwacking my way through… but my guidebook mentioned something about a “sea of poison ivy, hip height in summer” that made me slightly cautious about continuing. Instead of risking ichy devastation, I turned around.
Then I tried to stop at the general store for lunch. They were closed, which made me sad and hungry.

Sadness and hunger were drowned out by parking at the next trailhead, and starting into what USA Today called the best hike in the country. Instead of getting food. Which was a decision. I’m not quite sure I agree that this is the absolute best hike in the United States, but it was definitely quite pretty – I got some really awesome views, and that’s even before I descended three ladders, a cave, and a few short drops to get down to the base of the cliffs.

The trail around the bottom of the cliffs was amazing – It reminded me of the Gunks, but with smoother rock. Cliffs towering a hundred or more feet above me, continuing on unbroken for miles. I never did make it to the far end (or even the sea of poison ivy), but I did very much enjoy the hike and exploration.

After exploring the cliffs, the rest of my day was pretty simple and boring – I got lunch at Burger King (because I wanted to), picked up some groceries, and hung out with everyone at the house. Nothing particularly exciting, except for maybe the volume of food that I bought at BK, though dinner was really good – Lauren and Thomas cooked up some burgers and bratwurst, which we gorged on while washing it down with some pretty excellent beer.

A good rest day.