A Week's Worth of Work

Learning to climb in Stehekin and Bellingham, I never had a "local" crag. And I still don't have a local crag, now I have hundreds! Last week was a climbing smorgasbord, with 6-consecutive days out, doing everything from bouldering to ice climbing, and long trad pitches mixed with short sport routes.

Here are a few shots from Le Void in Eldorado Canyon State Park. Every time I climb there, I appreciate the place more and more. Not for the high-quality stone or striking lines (gotta go elsewhere for these) but instead because the walls are so enjoyably climbable! Small seams, flakes, knobs, and edges cover all the walls, creating far more (excellent) routes than immediately meet the eye. Le Void follows a long corner crack as the moves turn from 5.9 to 5.10 to 5.11-. After a rest stance, one launches up an overhung flake, arms spanning to both sides, until you've got to commit to a few tenuous 5.11+ moves up over the flake and to another stance. From here, the rock changes from perfect to downright Cascades-esque, and Josh removed a "fixed" piton by hand while AOing through the 5.12 roof to finish off the 160' pitch. I followed and still couldn't figure out the roof sequence, but nervousness about using 1/2 of the available holds may have played a part.

To reach Le Void, we'd done Guenese through the lower roof. Here's my friend Scott hiding his eyes in shame after pulling the roof.

And more of Josh leading Le Void...

The beautiful colors of the lichen really shine in the evening light. However, evening's the time I'm cutting lemons and slicing focaccia bread at my restaurant job these days, so some early-afternoon washed-out shots will have to do.

Another day was spent ice climbing at Hidden Falls, which is just inside Rocky Mountain National Park, and reached by hiking* for a couple miles from a trailhead between Lyons, and Estes Park.

The waterfall gets climbed so much, that one doesn't even need to swing ice tool, but just place them into the many holes that other climbers have already created. It felt like climbing 5.7 rock with giant holds. But I can't really complain about too many climbers, since I was one! I was with a friend named Camilo Lopez who does expedition-style climbs around the world. This movie was created by Camilo's friend Luke, who had his first day of ice climbing at Hidden Falls that day. I think Camilo intends to use the clip for his guiding business.

At 1:53 you can see my patent-pending gear modification, in the form of a pastel-pink chunk of microfiber towel, Seam-Gripped onto my glove. My nose always runs in the cold and now I've got the fix. The trick is finding a spot that wont get torn off when you've got to bust out the gloved hand jam or other snowy grovelling.

The dry El Nino winter has been good for climbers, and bad for glaciers. It's kept approaches fairly manageable and skies fairly blue in the northwest. Local alpine heroes Wayne Wallace and Tom Sjolseth have both had really successful winter seasons in the notoriously difficult Cascades. For some beautiful photos and inspiring climbing, check out Tom's pictures from Chair Peak or his First Ascent of Assassin Spire, and Wayne's new routes on Pyramid Peak & Mt. Hood.

And my fellow Western Washington University Alumni Nate Farr has had a pretty good winter season as well, including a recent probable new route on Illumination Rock. Even better, Nathan and I were just awarded the American Alpine Club McNeill-Nott grant, for a trip this summer.

*according to Demetri Martin, hiking is just walking where it's ok to pee. I like this definition.

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