Winter, Spring, Spain

P3 of the Goat Beard - about to get sunny and start melting!

The only good climb on Goat Wall
This winter provided a good (though brief) ice cragging season in Washington. I was able to climb several of the Leavenworth-area classics, make an attempt on "The Pencil" (it was fractured at 80' up, so we did 2 other nearby climbs at the head of the drainage) and I climbed a rarely-formed 1,000' ice route on Goat Wall of Mazama, WA, called Goat's Beard.  The Goat's Beard had supposedly not been fully repeated for 20-odd years after the FA. Local ice gurus Craig Gyselinck and Vern Nelson had kept their eyes on the wall, and after they managed the second ascent, their online pictures inspired other local climbers ready for low-hanging fruit. This year it was fatter than ever, allowing continuous ice climbing where the original climbers had used a move or two of aid out a roof of classic Cascades mega-choss. My partner was Nate "ice-crusher" Farr, who had just returned from Canmore and  quickly ran up his pitches, which consisted of 4/5ths of the climb! The highlights were two freehanging WI5 pillars, an overhanging corner that was turning into a waterfall as we climbed it, and pulling our last rappel rope 5 minutes before a major chunk of the upper route exploded down the climb. We did the route in 5 pitches, with a touch of simulclimbing on a couple of them. I highly suggest a 70m rope for those climbers in the year 2035 who will read this during the next winter that this route comes into condition. And I hope for your sake that the Mazama store still sells day-old sandwiches for half-price in the year 2035 as well.

Leavenworth bouldering is GREAT right now. I've been out 3 of the past 4 days and also recently been able to roped climb a few days in preparation for an upcoming trip to Spain, followed by some April time in the desert southwest! A week ago I got off work in Leavenworth at 2:30PM
 and drove the 1:10 to the parking lot at Index, WA where I met with perpetually-motivated local Shaun Johnson for a half-headlamp and half-running-with-water free ascent of Davis-Holland to Lovin' Arms on the ~600' Upper Town Wall. Despite forgetting the belay devices, we munter-hitched our way up and down the route in 2.5 hours and felt lucky to sneak in an early-February climb of this classic route.

I leave for Spain later this week, and will be there for a month and a half sampling the world-famous limestone. Everything I know about Spain is based upon the following video. I expect to enjoy much religious art and many anchovies!

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