Tag Archives: Oregon

Climbing at Ozone, taking the sharp end, and cleaning routes!

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Sunday, 23-Aug-2020

 

I got to climb outside again!

I don’t really know if I’d been to Ozone before; I didn’t think that I had, but after doing a few routes here… I’m less sure.  I can tell you that it’s really good rock, with a good approach trail and well bolted routes.  Parking wasn’t bad, and there weren’t nearly as many people as I’d feared there would be.  I mean, it was basically a perfect day, weather-wise, so I’d been expecting a pretty packed crag.  When there were only two teams nearby… well, definitely took that as a win.

The climbing team of the day was Bri, Lizzy, and myself.  We met up mid-morning, packed up the Mustang, and headed in!

 

Driving, parking, and walking in were easy, and in short order we were racked up and started in on the routes.  The specific climbs I’ll detail below, but the first climb was when we hit our most… exciting… part of the day – a loose boulder.

When climbing, loose rocks are just part of the outdoor adventure.  We’re careful, and warn our belayers if we knock something loose.  It’s why we have helmets, after all.

One of the biggest fears of a climber, though, if knocking a big rock loose.  A rock that a helmet can’t help our belayer against.  A bit over halfway up Night Owl, I ran into that fear first-hand when an ~80lb boulder shifted under my hands.

I was on lead, above my gear, which meant that I didn’t have anything to hold onto aside from the rock itself… which had just moved, so… not a great thing to hold onto.  Thankfully it was an easy route, and I was on fairly solid footing, so I was able to quickly re-adjust, and find some safer rock to hold onto.  I was also, more importantly, able to catch the rock on my hip, keeping it in place for the time being.

First up was warning everyone, obviously – telling my belayer and the climbers nearby to vacate the fall zone, and to keep a steady eye on the area that the rock would fall from.  Then, once I found a better handhold, I wedged the rock back into its place as best I could, and continued up the route.  On the way down, I lashed the rock in place with some slings and trad gear – another advantage of climbing Trad, I guess?

 

Once the rock was secure, our plan was to climb, and then re-assess the danger when we took the route down – the rock was safe and secure, and no one was going to be climbing on top of it going forward.

Once we’d all climbed the routes from that anchor though… that was when the adventure began.  I laced up my hiking boots and headed up on top-rope, assessing the size and fall line more directly this time.  We enlisted the climbers next to us to help keep everything clear – they blocked off one side of the trail, and we blocked off the other, making sure that no unexpected teams would wander into the fall area.

With the area safe and secure, my original plan was to lower the rock down with me, so that it wouldn’t kinetically crash down unpredictably.  Once I got to the rock though, it was quickly clear that it was far too heavy for me to safely maneuver on my own… and that ironically the safest option would be to let gravity do the work, and to let the rock fall naturally.

So I disconnected it from the safety gear, and used the webbing already on it to slowly leverage it out.

Honestly, it was terrifying.

But, in the end, it fell safely… if loudly.  Definitely a scary adventure, but I’m really glad that we were able to clear it ourselves, instead of having to leave it as a possible danger.  I did sacrifice some webbing to the rock, since I can’t re-use the webbing that fell with it, but it’s not a bad price to pay… and now I have an excuse to go to the climbing store again!

 

Routes:

Night Owl – 5.6 Trad, Lead – This one was fun, if a bit dirty.  Hasn’t been climbed too often it seems, which led to the previously-mentioned “fun” of removing the huge loose boulder.  Still, worth climbing if you’re around and are careful.

Why Must I Cry – 5.10 Top Rope – This was really fun, but definitely tough… and I may or may not have actually followed the correct route.  I’ll definitely try it again.

Rude Boy – 5.8 Top Rope – Another fun route, but still a bit dirty.  I think I crossed onto this route while doing “Why Must I Cry”.

??? (Maybe Leisure Time?) – 5.9/10 Top Rope – This route isn’t in any of the guides, but Bri and Lizzy lead it on sport… it was definitely a stiff 5.9, if not a low 5.10, and I was very happy to be seconding it.

Helm’s Deep – 5.9 Top Rope – Similar to the previous one, but has the fun of starting off a huge pillar… so there’s a sort of moat around it!  Much easier than the unknown, but I’d still happily call it a 5.9.

 

A good trip, in every sense 🙂

Climbing at French’s Dome – full ropes and everything!

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Saturday, 18-July-2020

 

Today, the goal was to get some rock under my hands.

 

Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve climbed? I don’t, actually. I mean, I’d bouldered recently, but actual roped, vertical, leading? I… couldn’t tell you. I think Sarah and I did the first three pitches of Beacon at some point in the last year, maybe?

It’s bad, man. I shouldn’t let myself go that long.

 

Thankfully, French’s Dome is nearby. I met Bri at her place in the morning, we packed the car, and got ourselves moving. Sticking to the new theme of the year, we weren’t particularly rushed… but we did get going at a pretty reasonable time, since French’s is definitely a popular area.

The trailhead was packed. Like, seriously packed.

I’m a good driver, thank you very much, and I know how to park my car. But this… well, parking was creative today. With some spotting though, I was able to wedge myself in pretty safely, and was even able to check with the drivers of nearby cars to make sure they didn’t mind me coming in so close. With everything good, we headed in.

And got a beautiful surprise – even with a packed trailhead, very few of the routes had people on them! And all the routes that I was hoping to climb? All of them were open!

Continued birthday luck, I guess.

 

 

We pulled out our gear, and set up shop:

  • Giant’s Direct – 5.5, Sport – Fun climb, not bad at all
  • Balloon Knot – 5.9, Sport – I think we did this one? I don’t remember it being 5.9-level difficulty, but this is the only route I can find in any of the guides, and it looks exactly like what we climbed. Maybe we did a variant?
  • Tin Man / Tin Tangle – 5.8, Sport – This was really fun too, though the fact that the guidebook lists both names is a little confusing.
  • Alpha – 5.8, Sport – Fun!
  • Straw Man – 5.7, Sport – Also fun!
  • Giant’s Staircase – 5.6, Sport, 2 pitches – We summitted! This was fun and easy, and a great way to get up to the top of the dome. With snacks, of course!

 

It was a good day. We got more climbs in than I’d hoped for, and it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I’d feared. I was definitely pretty weak, and did run into some mental walls while above the bolts in a few places… but you know what? That’s fine. It’s expected, and I felt good.

That’s the fun of climbing, right? Breaking through walls, being strong, and enjoying the rock!

A long staycation on July 4th – Exploring The Garden

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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…

 

Friday, 03-July-2020

I haven’t climbed outside in… longer than I can remember, actually. I think it was Joshua Tree? There must have been something since then… maybe a run of The Beacon, or something, but nothing that stands out.

So I went outside.

 

I pulled my guidebook off the shelf, and leafed through it. I opened up Mountain Project on my phone, and paged through that too. It took a while, but I finally settled in on a bouldering area called “The Garden” that claimed to be the best bouldering in Oregon… at least on Mountain Project.

The car packed, I headed out. Finally tracked down the parking, thanks to some friendly climbers I met – the trick is to say Hi to people with crash pads. Since only climbers use crash pads, it’s a pretty good guess that the random people parked on the side of the road, loading crash pads into their cars, are probably climbers.

After hiking in, I set about to exploring and climbing! And quickly learned that… well, I politely disagree that The Garden has the best bouldering in Oregon. It was… okay, but not my jam in any way. The rock was pretty, and the scenery beautiful, but the routes themselves were… not good. Maybe it was just too overgrown, or maybe the rock had worn down over time, but it just wasn’t interesting, you know?

 

 

I stayed and climbed for a while though, and even headed downhill to try and find more boulders down by the nearby river. I didn’t find any, unfortunately, but I did find some beautiful rapids, and excellent views of the river!

I’ll take that as a consolation prize. I’m glad I got out, and got my hands on some rock, even if it wasn’t quite as stellar as I was hoping for.

 

To quote a YouTube channel I’ve been watching, “A parade of mediocrity… is still a parade”