Leavenworth Cragging - 4/27/02

Phil and I headed out to Leavenworth Saturday morning hoping for sun and warm dry rock. As we pull out of Seattle Phil informs me that the pass cams for blewet pass showed 6-8" of fresh snow this morning. Hmm.. Should we be skiing today?

We drove over Stevens pass and were treated to a beautiful hole of blue sky and sun. The skiing fantasy propagated, and soon we were looking at descents all over the place. As we pulled out of Tumwater Canyon and into Leavenworth the rain just began to fall. There was no one at Castle rock, and no one in the icicle. The rocks looked wet, so we headed over to Peshastin Pinnacles in hopes of dry rock.

The rock at the Pinnacles looked drier so we headed up, encountering Phil's friend Michael Stanton and partner who had just completed Diagonal Bypass (5.4). Michael said that the first pitch felt more like 5.8 due to the river flowing down the crack at him, and that he had actually taken a fall somewhere up there! The stream had stopped by now, and the new found sun was quickly drying the rock out.

"What the heck, why don't we just do this one Phil."

Phil coming up the last bit on Diagonal Bypass.

We racked and I lead off on the decidedly runout pitch. Not a problem in normal conditions, but the wetness tended to make friction climbing more like "pee-gravel" climbing. With protection every 25 feet or so, the first 25 meters had my full attention! I totally didn't see the "regular belay" and thus continued up a thinish undercling past a bolt to a higher belay in the "Diagonal" feature. Whew, that was a hard pitch for 5.4! Phil came up and we decided to skip the low angled rampy second pitch. The pro looked scarce, and it looked wet!

As we were packing up a party showed up and started leading Voyager One (5.6) quick and furiously. As we were walking away we herd the yelp-of-falling-leader and the "oooooh" of the belayer. It appeared from our vantage that he'd fallen at least 35 feet. ouch!

We walked over to Sickle Slab and setup under Windward Direct (5.8). The rock was pretty dry by now and the sun was beating down. This route has some real nice climbing, including a crux that makes you step back and think about it. I was able to use a #1 camalot size down low, and a #1 (blue) metolious just before the crux. The crux would be pretty scary with out it! But overall this route still has more bolts per meter than most Peshastin routes. (thus no little skull picture in the guide book?)

Looking down from the top of Windward Direct.

Phil comes up that last few tricky "crack" moves.

It appeared that the sun was shining over in Icicle Canyon, and we'd had enough "sand-duneing" for one day, so we headed back over there. There were still very few parties around, and when we pulled up to the Icicle Buttress we found it empty. Phil noted that this was probably due to the veritable waterfall coming down Cocaine Connection and all the moss everywhere. But isn't R&D supposed to be a mega classic easy route? We hiked up and looked at the damp, mossy first pitch of R&D and decided to climb on the cracks off to the right along the base.

We arrived at the base of Spaghetti Sauce (5.8) which looked dry, except for the initial 5.7 layback crack. The wetness didn't prove to be a big problem, and I was soon looking at the dry and smooth hand crack that climbs the right hand side of a big flake. Solid and nice jams in this akward corner lead quickly to the belay bolts. Nice route! That's what icicle cragging is all about.

Spaghetti Sauce is the crack going up that there flake.

After rapping off I started eyeing The Arch (5.8) which is immediately right. The only issue was a rather wide wet streak that appeared to be right at the crux!

I lead off, climbing up the initial flake that leads to the arch. I didn't want to get too committed if the water looked real bad, but once I started traversing, I was going to be there whether I wanted to or not! It turned out to not be so bad and with a little help from a mini cam I was able to protect ahead of the major wetness. My shoes stuck surprisingly well to the wet mossy slab, and I was soon rounding the corner to the belay.

Dave leading The Arch. You can see the top of Forking Crack in the wall above. Photo by: Phil

Phil came up and we moved the belay over to the ledge under a neat looking crack breaking the short vertical wall. Still feeling spunky, I lead up the crack which yielded excellent hand jams with a cool mini-roof start. Later we found out that the crack is called Forking Crack (5.9). Once on top, we saw another party just finishing the "chimney" pitch on R&D. From our vantage the pitch didn't look wet at all, so we decided to traverse the 3rd class bench over there.

Weary of ticks we moved quickly, sometimes running, over to the belay for R&D. The 2nd pitch starts with half a rope length of scrambling, then up a nice pair of hand cracks. There was a minor stream running down them, but it didn't pose much of a problem. Upon reaching the base of the actual chimney I was in a full on shower. There were pro opportunities everywhere so making the wet slabby moves wasn't hard and I soon found myself on the expansive belay ledge below the final hand cracks. Phil came up and said that he had simply dyno'd across the wet slab and into the chimney. Sweet!

Phil on the last pitch of R&D.

Phil lead off on the final pitch while a decidedly evil cloud approached from up the valley. As we topped out the skies opened and gave us a through drenching. All the rock was completely soaked in half a minute. Oh, and our hopes of climbing at the B.O.B. wall? Trashed!

Coiling the ropes in a total downpour!

We hiked down the trail in our rock shoes which was a bit painful. I guess you never know what will happen when you plan on doing a single pitch, eh?

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