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!

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