The Nisqually Glacier covered in fresh snow at Mount Rainier National Park.
Johnny Vegas, 5.7
Johnny Vegas has been on my mind for awhile. We backed down from the route after climbing the first pitch a couple of years ago. Just wasn’t feeling it that day. Our original goal was to see how far up Solar Slab we could make it after toping out on Johnny Vegas. After climbing to the top of JV we decided to bail do to the amount of people that were on the route. We had 1 party in front of us on JV and about 5 parties behind us and that doesn’t include all the people on Solar Slab Gully and above!
Phyisical Graffiti, 5.6
Spencer and I flew to Las Vegas to get some desert rock before the snow start’s falling in Washington. We arrived in vegas around 1 in the afternoon and were able get in 2 pitches before dark! Physical Graffiti is a great moderate route with 2 pitches of awesome climbing!
For some reason Spencer and I decided to go on a hike instead of go rock climbing. I can’t really recall why but now that I think of it, how strange! We chose to hike the Fourth of July Creek trail hoping to get high on the ridge that strattles Tumwater Canyon and Icicle Creek Canyon. We definitely were not disappointed with the views! We could stare right into the Stuart range for most of the hike. We didn’t really know what to expect from this hike and started blindly in the forest. It soon pulled out it’s true colors as the trail snaked steeply through the trees and meadows. We ended up hiking for about 4 miles and pulled right under 4,000 vertical feet. We turned around due to snow as we were plunging knee deep into it. We were probably about 2 miles away from the viewing area on top of Icicle Ridge. We will definitely have to come back and try again!
R&D Route – 5.6
The R&D Route is another classic Leavenworth rock climb. I’ve climbed it many times and I’m sure I will climb it many more! For this trip I had my good friend and climbing partner Mark and another buddy that I’ve only climbed with a couple of times, Dylan. We made quick work into my favorite town and headed up the Icicle Creek Road.
R&D Route is typically climbed in 4 pitches. All the pitches are pretty easy with large comfortable ledges to belay from. Icicle Buttress is located right off the road which means no approach for a 400 foot high buttress! This usually means a crowded rock but in today’s case there was not a single other party on route!
This route is one of Washington’s classics that I keep coming back to! It’s a moderate climb with a ton of history (Fred Beckey first climbed this route in 1948). All though rated 5.6, the chimney pitch has always felt a bit harder for me. The upper pitches are just awesome cracks and corners all the way to the top!
After having a mediocre climbing day at Peshastin Pinnacles yesterday we were excited to have dry weather today! It’s about a 15 minute hike to get to the base of the Midway chimney. We quickly racked the gear and flaked the rope to prepare for a classic climb!
Spencer and I drove to Leavenworth hoping to get out of the rain. The rain ended up following us the whole way. So we continued to Peshastin Pinnacles which was dry for the moment! We quickly packed up and headed toward Lightning Crack on Grand Central Tower. We were planning on the alternate West Face Direct route to avoid the potential ground fall on the original line. The West Face Direct is a slabby 5.8 ending with a sweet corner. You then traverse through the cave to the base of lightning crack.
The Great Northern Slab, 5.6
Mark and I took a quick day trip to do a bit of Index climbing. Index is typically a highly technical climbing area. Which means I usually don’t have much to do there. This route is a classic for novice climbers and I have repeated it many times! I’m sure I will be back many more!
The route is typically climbed in 3 pitches. The 2nd pitch being the cux and has alway’s been my favorite pitch of the climb.
Mark, Spencer and I had many goals for this trip. Funny how things never quit work out. We left Seattle around 6 a.m. hoping to start the trip off with a climb up Mt. Hood. The weather was great for climbing Mt. Hood but the problem was the forecast for the rest of the trip was not so good. Since this was a Smith Rocks trip and not a Mt. Hood trip we decided that heading straight to Smith Rocks would give us a few hours of climbing before the bad weather came in.
It’s a long drive to Smith Rocks from Seattle. I would say about 6 hours. We eventually made it to the Eagle Crest Resort and checked-in so we could leave Spencer in the room and Mark and I could go climb. Spencer decided to get sick the day before we left which I can only imagine made his time at Smith Rocks pretty horrible.
March 3, 2012 DAY 1
The Seattle winter has been taking a toll on us this year. Big storms have given us deep powder and bad avalanche conditions. We needed to get away! These trips are usually discussed after a couple shots of tequila in a bar in my favorite town in Washington; Leavenworth. To much rain and not enough ice always takes us to the desert.
The four of us caught an early morning flight out of Seattle and into Las Vegas, Nevada. By noon we were in the parking lot of Calico Basin in Red Rocks! I have had many trips to Red Rocks in the past but have never ventured into the Calico Basin. Our first destination was a small crag called Cowlick Crag.