Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Super-local Jon Pobst is moving to France soon. It's been great climbing with Jon and watching his climbing progress over the past year, it seemed only fitting to make it in the hills together before Jon becomes a neon-clad, stitched knee pad, cig-smoking Euro.

Let's go rock climbing!
While our first objective wasn't quite "in" we used our Cascades adaptability powers and quickly teamed up with our buddy Blake Herrington for his third attempt at topping out the Supercave Route on the M&M Wall. We had a blast, a no-falls day for the team with onsight/flashes for Jon and I, and the well-earned top-out/redpoint for Blake.

The Supercave route was established in 2009 after 8 attempts by Spokane locals elaw and leearden ( aliases). Boy did they score! Amazing find so late in the game up at WA Pass, hard to imagine Burdo didn't have his eye on this wall for years.

This route has some of the best stone i've climbed up at WA Pass, it goes all free at 11c, and is absolutely in the realm to be climbed at 10+ with a few french-free moves. Get some!

The approach begins just west of the pullout for the Burgundy col approach, it climbs easily up a loose-ish gully for about 45 mins to the base of the wall.

Still psyched, approach #2 for the day.
As you near the base of the wall you may notice some bolts on a clean white low-angle slab. Not sure who put these in, but they are brand new, and make a pitch and a half intro start to the route.  They are a bit contrived, but with rock so good, why not?

Nonetheless, we continued on up the gully to a big ledge system which we walked rightwards to the base of the first pitch. Pitch one follows a corner system up and left to a bolted belay at about 10a. Already I was giddy from the high rock quality.

Pitch Two. Oh wow. Pitch Two.  I'd say one of the top 5 pitches at WA Pass of any grade, perhaps the best 5.10 pitch around.  From the belay, climb twin cracks up and left to an immaculate corner, up the corner to a crux bulge then rounded cracks up more beautiful stone to a bolted belay. So GOOD!

Jon leading up twin cracks off the belay.


Livin the Dream..

That was good!

End of September with no shirts on, WA Pass delivers.
Pitches 3 & 4 were my block. Pitch 3 is a massive left arching crack/roof system that goes at 11-. There is a bit of loose flakeage on this one, but it's not so bad. Wild traversing climbing ends with a sting in the tail bizarro crux to gain the belay (one fixed KB and a couple fixed nuts).

We nicknamed this pitch The Beast.

Cruxing out on The Beast.

Blake following

Pitch 4 is the crux of the route and involves awkward climbing up a left leaning  corner chasm to a bolt protected sequence over the roof and exciting face climbing up and then right past one more bolt, then a bit of gear while moving back left to a bolted belay in the Supercave, 11c.

Clipping the first bolt.

Neato holds, exciting moves.
The Supercave is super cool. Unique and odd. A 12+ sport route out the cave would really bring the place together..

Jonny Pobst in the Supercave
Blake was super excited for his block venturing above the cave. He started us off on pitch 5 which began with overhanging jug hauling out the left side and into a smooth corner. A smooth corner crux follows then more fun corner climbing with the occasional City of Rocks swiss-cheese jug hold thrown in for good measure, 11b.  This tops out at a good ledge to the left with a single fixed nut (out right is an even better ledge below a wild looking headwall crux pitch that will really finish the route out nicely when it is established...).

Steep climbing leaves the cave

P6 moved left around a pillar to an easy, slightly dirty corner. Up this corner,  eventually moving right on moderate ground to a treed ledge.

Blake's head on P6

Not a bad position
A mini pitch of 5.8 took us to the top of the wall where we unroped and scrambled up to the summit.

Blake topping us out with the Wine Spires in the background

Team No-Falls on top. Send of the Day goes to Jon, impressive climbing homie!
We double rope rapped the route, occasionally coming up a bit short (dbl 70m ropes would be ideal). About half way down i realized I left my new $300 camera and wife's windshirt at the topout. DOH!

So, the next morning Jon and I headed back up, taking the approach gully up and left past the wall to a sneaky treed ledge out right to the summit, grabbed my forgotten gear, and descended back down the way we came. It's a super easy walk off with just a couple 4th class steps, just so ya know.

Thanks for the great day out Blake and Jon!

Afternote: you can't really mention the M&M Wall without giving major props to first ascencionest Jim Langdon and Mead Hargis, whom, in September of 1969, sent the wall ground-up and in a day at 5.8 A4 with an 80 piton rack.  Simply badass. I'd need a rest-day just hauling that rack to the base of the wall.  In the days of 7oz approach shoes, soft-shell clothing, photon lockers, and CAMP Air harnesses it's hard to appreciate what a hardman crushfest this really was. Here's a great TR of Mr. Langdon climbing the Ice Cliff Arete on Mt. Stuart which really brings the HARDMAN out in him.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Let it Burn

On September 1st Adam Lawson and myself took an onsight burn up Let it Burn on Colchuck Balanced Rock. I had been holding off on climbing this route for a couple years until I felt strong enough for an onsight attempt, fresh off a free ascent of Dragons of Eden on D-tail I felt now was as good a time as ever. Well.... didn't onsight, but had a great day out and gave a damn good effort. Adam did great too, nice solid whippers on the 11- pitch.

Hats off to Max Hasson and Jens Holsten on their impressive FA of this incredible route. Those guys put in some serious work to establish this mega-classic. No doubt Let it Burn and the new variation Accendo Lunae are the best routes on CBR and I'll go as far as saying the whole state. Flawless stone, incredible knobs/cracks/flakes, wild position, steep, and STOUT, what more could you ask for?

Plans to return with Jon Pobst and Icicle TV for the redpoint and some filming have been postponed due to forest fires, smoke, and CLOSURE of the west side of the Enchantments. Guess for now we'll just have to Let it Burn.

Mr. Lawson: Guaranteed to eat you under the table in the mountains.
I could do a whole blog post simply on how much food Adam eats in the hills. In the above photo notice my mesh bag of food on the left (a healthy amount) and Mr. Lawson's grocery bag of goodies on the right. Never before has a partner of mine pulled out a cucumber to munch on at the belay, or a friggin carrot. 

Bourbon BBQ Chicken Finger Bagel Sandwich - BOOM!

Isn't it ironic.. don't you think?

Psyched for a cold finger onsight burn of the crux.

Adam seconding P2: 5.12-

Amazing Features

Flawless Stone

P3: 11-
I personally found the crux 12- pitch not so bad, but the two 11+ pitches up high seemed hella stout. Especially P4...  SANDBAG!! By the time you top this rig out you've climbed so much overhanging terrain it feels like you've done weighted pull-ups all day long.

Adam about to do work in the Power Flare, P5: 11+

Nice job on stepping up to this stout lead Adam!

Ain't nobody gonna live the dream for ya!

Short days, cold nights.

It ain't over til you send the Balanced Rock boulder problem, Adam on the tippy.

A couple photos of Hasson's revised topo, don't know if this format helps anyone..


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Seasons Change on the West Face Wall

Greetings all. It's been 4.5 months since my last published blog post (i've started several..). As seems to be a reoccurring theme in these parts, I am sorry for my absence, and psyched if anyone still visits this abandoned outpost. Quick and dirty. That's how i'm gonna post now, no polishing, no waxing and waning. Get'er done, blog style.

Happy Birthday to Me: on top of Gorillas in the Mist, blizzard-style.

I recently turned 34. I had one birthday wish. To climb in the mountains. Unfortunately, our never-ending heatwave drought of a summer decided to end that same day. No worries. Just call up Jens. If your psyched, he's psyched, and even if your not psyched, he's psyched enough for the both of you.

So there we were, driving over Blewett Pass in a steady rain at 5 in the morning, laughing at our determination, curious to see how the day would go. We left the Ingalls trailhead late, knowing that if we really were going to climb on the West Face Wall of Mt. Stuart it would have to be during the peak warmth of the day.

Light snow pelted our faces in a steady wind as we rounded the first pass and soon became gale force as we creeped closer. Nonetheless our charge remained steady, we at least had to look at the wall.

Uncharacteristically NOT dusty and hot...

The one and only West Face Wall

Somedays you just gotta believe. The wind was so rugged towards the end of our approach that I couldn't take a deep breath and honestly worried about getting blown off the pass. Nonetheless as we descended into the basin beneath the face we realized that it was surprisingly calm and  pondered the idea that we might actually get to do some rock climbing.

Add in that song from Ferris Bueller's Day Off when they open his friends garage and see the Mustang: oohhhhh yyeeeahhh, BUMP BUMP!


Jens lead off for the first two and I took over for the monkey traverse.  The traverse was a bit moist. I took off on pitch four in a light snowfall, which soon picked up. Before I knew it it was dumping and the rock was soaked. Soon thereafter the holds became covered with ice.

Jens going ape on the monkey traverse, love that pitch!

And the adventure really begins.
The West Face Wall is steep, big, and complex. And there we were 500 ft up it with a single 70m rope in a storm. We could have bailed, but it would have taken a bit of gear, and we had the skills and knowledge to get it done, so we just kept on going.

The O.G. GITM storm traverse in classic stormy conditions.
The rock was quite wet at this time, the wind was picking up, and it was snowing even harder. We were in go-mode, climbing as fast as the slippery conditions allowed, focused. The last couple pitches were just a free-climbing nightmare of ice, water, and slime, but we kept our chins up and topped that puppy out.

Summers over suckas!


Jens simply adding another hardman point to the collection
As Blake Herrington once stated, "you cant fake the thrill of alpine exploration":

A great day out with Mr. Holsten and a birthday i'll never forget. Stay tuned for a post about my 4 year fight to free Dragons of Eden on D-tail and thanks for checking in!