Goals and Ambitions

What a great fall the Northwest has seen!

It's amazing that the nice weather has actually coincided with the weekends as well! There have been more nice weather weekend days in September and October than there have been in the last two summers' worth of July and August!

This weekend was great, an awesome way to spend my last one in the Northwest before embarking on a road trip.

Saturday I headed down to Index to go rock climbing on perfect granite with Calvin, who runs the Outdoor Center at Western Washington University, and Jake, a guy who works for the North Cascades National Park that I'd briefly met once before. I was finally able to redpoint Climax Control, a climb I'd nearly onsighted which had then frustrated me by seeming more difficult on subsequent tries.

The whole Index crew was out in force, and it was warm! We eventually moved on to the Upper Town Wall and did the 4-pitch classic Heaven's Gate... one of the best sport climbs in the Northwest. This route has been around for a few years but is not in any guidebook. Here's the beta:

Heaven’s Gate 5.11b ****

Single set of cams to #3, ~14 QDs, rappel with a 70m rope or walk off. Gear only needed for P1.

This route climbs a prominent dike in a virtual plumbline just to the right of the Lamplighter route. After the first pitch protection is fixed.

P1 Climb the first pitch of the Lamplighter route. This is the right of two overhanging wide-looking cracks, about 5 minutes left of where the trail meets the upper town wall. Can't miss it. Gear and 3 bolts. (5.10c) Continue up and right of the Lamplighter belay to another bolted anchor. (5.7) Leave your trad gear at the belay here if you are rapping the route.

Move right then climb past a bulge(5.11a) and then follow the dike more or less straight up to a small belay ledge.

Continue to climb the dike. Near the top of the pitch the dike begins to become less defined. The pitch ends at a large ledge. (5.10+)

Climb an obvious weakness up and left until it is possible to break out right to the first of two bulges. Strenuous climbing leads through these to easier climbing and a large belay ledge. (5.11b) From here it is easy to scramble to the top.

Rappel the route with one 70m rope.

Climbing on the Upper Town Wall in the fall is always gorgeous, especially with a train rolling over the bridge right at sunset.

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