Tag Archives: rock climbing

Climbing Ozone again – 05-Sept-2020

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Saturday, 05-Sept-2020

 

Yeah climbing outside!!!

This time, it was a whole team of us – five people strong, laying siege to the hard routes and crushing the climbing.

 

I had a great time, if you couldn’t tell.  We all met up at the parking lot, and headed in together to check out a few routes that Lizzy had climbed previously – Going a bit harder this time that we had before, with a 5.10c on the target list for the day… actually, from what I remember, that was really the only route specifically on the list for the day, since Lizzy’d top roped it before, and was aiming to be our rope gun and lead it today.

There’s not really much to say this time – thankfully, no boulders or loose rocks showed up, and it was a gloriously simple and fun day of climbing.  We didn’t get quite as many routes in as last time, but I chalk that up to the larger group… but mostly to the harder routes that we were doing instead.

 

So let’s see…

Routes:

Variant Stairway to Heaven – 5.6, trad lead – Fun route, swings right away from the Heaven’s Ledge over a few blocks.  It’s a bit dirty, but was a lovely warm up / fun route.

Stairway to Heaven – 5.6, trad lead – Fun route, little bit less dirty than the right-leaning variant.

Heaven and Hell??? – 5.7 (5.10??) mixed lead – Our guidebook showed this as a 5.10, but it felt really easy for a 10… but maybe not quite as easy as a 7?  Man, routes at Ozone are confusing.

For Heaven’s Sake – 5.10c, toprope – Tried this one.  Fell on this one.  Really enjoyed this one, if only for the powerful dynamic moves that I couldn’t quite pull off.

??? a thing??? Maybe – 5.10c/d, toprope – This was the big one that we were here for.  I can’t really figure it out online, but the guidebook had it listed as a 5.10c, and it very much felt like one.  It was hard, sustained, and had two major crux moves that I loved working through.

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 on Larch Mountain… or at least trying to

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Saturday, 01-Aug-2020

 

Some adventures are clean, clear, and go exactly as planned.

Other adventures are challenges, that are unpleasant in the moment but make memories that last a lifetime.

 

This adventure lay somewhere in between the two. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it definitely wasn’t as easy as one would have liked.

A quick quote from the trip summarizes it well, “Today isn’t the day that we sent the route. Today is the day we found the route.”

You see, we went looking for bouldering.

 

By now, I should know better. The Garden. The Rat Cave. Neither “famous, best in the area” climbing areas were easy to find – I still haven’t found The Rat Cave after five years living here. When Laurel and I settled on going to Larch Mountain… I should have been skeptical.

The guidebook seemed to have a good map, and showed solid climbing on good rock. Interesting routes, good moves, and safe landings. You know, all that good stuff that you look for in a bouldering area.

We did find it, at least. It did take a while though.

 

Thankfully, Laurel did the driving and so we had the four-wheel drive truck to help us grind our way up the questionable trails in Washington State. Nothing was too bad, but I was still glad that the Mustang wasn’t making the drive up, if only for the time savings that a solid two feet of extra clearance give!

So we drove. Parked. Looked around. Drove some more. Got turned around. Backed up down a scary-small road in a scary-large truck, and were thankful for backup cameras.

Finally, we found one extra landmark that made us pretty confident that we thought that we might have found the area we were looking for. Packed up, and started hiking in.

It was a longer, and steeper, hike than I’d expected we’d be taking, but it was a good chance to get some training in, and for us to just hang out and chat – never a bad thing, especially with views of the whole gorge like we had there.

After a while, we found it!

 

Weirdly, we missed about half of the area though… I think we passed it somehow? I’m not really sure. But we found ourselves hiking into the mid-point, which… you know what? After a hot and dusty hike? Sure. I’ll take it. Sounds good to me. Let’s eat.

The advantage of bouldering is that you bring a crash pad along for safety. Which, interestingly, is just a huge cushion. Sort of like a portable couch.

The disadvantage of bouldering is that you’re in rocky terrain, that doesn’t usually give you a comfortable area to place said couch.

So we settles onto the rocks, pulled out our sandwich parts, and ate.

Then we explored, did some bouldering, and… Man, I couldn’t really tell you what we climbed. Here’s my best bet, though…

  • VB – Two easy / fun routes near the East Fin of the Wild West cluster. Slabby, slightly mossy, but definitely a fun reminder of foot movements and sloper holds!
  • V2 – Meat Cleaver – Maybe? I think we did this one? It was really fun! Must easier if you skip the sit-start, and I couldn’t honestly tell you if I completed it cleanly with the sit start. But We met some cool other boulderers working this area, and both Laurel and I were able to rock most (if not all) of the route, so… I’m happy about it!

From The Wild West, we moved onward. The rock was okay, but the landings were pretty rough – the V2 that we worked was safer, thanks to 3 pads that the other folks brought, but on our own my single pad wasn’t quite enough to inspire confidence with the landings we were looking at.

So we ventured onward, in search for the mythical Leavenworth Boulder…

 

We did find it. After a lot of dust, small turns in a large truck, and bashing through brambles. We did, in fact, find it. Queue the quote above “Today is the day we found it.”

I’d thought I was smart when I wore shorts – It was going to be hot, so I figured that the less cloth would be a bonus. Laurel thought I was nuts, because she fully expected to be bushwacking and battering through brambles… so she wore pants.

I did not make the optimal decision. But, bloody and battered, I was able to break through the undergrowth to the boulders!

 

And… they were… interesting. To be frank, the only good route we found for the day was that V2 I mentioned above.  I mean, we did get to do a quick photoshoot for “king of the fairys” Biscuit, but… that was really the highlight.

In the Leavenworth and Black Forest boulder area, it looked like there’d be a ton of great routes… but we figured out that everything was based on it being winter, without the undergrowth clogging the pathways and landing zones. We tried a few lines, just to give it a sporting chance… but luck and climbing was not on our side, and every route just seemed to dead-end.

You know what, though?

Not every trip has to go ideally. Some trips can be challenging, hot, dusty, and have less-than-optimal endings. At the end of the day, we’d gotten to explore. Go outside. And even find a new area I’d never been to before.

And that? That makes this an excellent trip in my book.