Tuesday, June 7, 2011

East Face of Bridge Creek Wall

Earlier this spring Jens Holsten and myself made an attempt on the East Face of Bridge Creek Wall.  For the past couple of seasons we've been looking to BCW to serve up adventure, and it always seems to deliver.

Jens Holsten getting psyched to free the Nose Route, October 2010:



The East Face is a 7-9 pitch route  put up in 1984 by hardmen Jim Yoder, Bob Vaughn, and Gordon Briody at 5.10+ A2.  The route has been reported to have  gone free at 11+ and we were lured in by guidebook reports of ferocious liebacking, overhanging chimneys, and the mythical "Astroman Pitch."

Jens had tried to climb the route once before with local climber Dan Cappellini. Perhaps classic to BCW, they missed the route, and inadvertently completed a different line. In the process sending a probable first ascent, all-free, onsight and ground-up. Nice job guys!!

A large mudslide in Icicle Creek Canyon forced us to begin this venture on bikes:

Though BCW is guarded by an arduous 3,000 ft approach, the views and excitement for the day always seem to wash away the misery of one of the longest slogs in Ltown.

The one and only, Bridge Creek Wall:

Choose your own adventure:

As soon as we rounded the corner to the wall we began to sense, that for this season, we had arrived a bit early.  The descent was still shrouded in snow, and a thousand ft above us, we could see some blocks of ice, shimmering in the sun, and clinging precariously to the upper wall. Nonetheless, for some reason (ignorance mixed with optimism and  a tad bit of OCD?) we continued on.

Rackin up:

and starting out:

We followed the vague description of our topo to the best of our abilities and ended up beneath the closest thing we could call a V-slot, this beast:

Dirty as hell, awkward and loose, BCW was starting to deliver.

The going was kinda slow but we were making progress. A short pitch of flakes and another long traverse pitch put us directly under the cleft that defines the East Face route. The climbing looked to get even better so Jens eagerly launched off into what appeared to be the business of the route.

Unfortunately for us, our luck had come to an end (or was it just beginning?) and the ice blocks above parted from their winter nest, crashed onto the wall a couple hundred feet above us, and littered the belay with thousands of ice chunks.

Jens, shielded from the majority of the ice fall by the steep climbing, quickly called down to see if I was alright. Which I was. Immediately, we began our descent. But not before being hit once more by another barrage of ice. Yikes!

As you can see from the next photo the descent was super chill and there was no loose rock at all (just kidding!!):

While we've tried to get back up there, the rigors of nursing school, and a generally very busy spring, may have delayed the E Face until next season.  Nonetheless, it was adventure we were seeking, and adventure we got served. BCW always delivers.