Friday, September 19, 2014

Washington Pass 2014 - Take 2

Washington Pass 2014 - Take 2

September 5 - 7, 2014

Participants: Aaron Cornes, Don Montrichard, Alan Trick, Julio Velandia, Mike McMinn, Amber McMinn

 The weekend after labour day Mike, Don, Aaron and I along with Alan and Julio returned to Washington Pass to climb a couple of  the routes that we had been rained off of a few weeks earlier.

South Early Winter Spire

Washington Pass, Highway 20, WA, USA

South Arete, 10 pitches, 5.6, Difficulty II

On our first day we climbed the South Arete on South Early Winter Spire.  The other guys in our group had hoped to climb the Southwest Rib but unfortunately we picked a busy weekend and there were already 5 parties on the route by the time we got there at 8:30am.

We started the day with a 5:30 wake up call, met our group at 6:30 and were hiking by 7am. The approach took a little over 1.5 hours to get us to the base of the route and we were lucky to be the first ones there for the South Arete route.  We paired off into 3 climbing teams and followed each other up the mountain.  

The route starts right away with the crux, a 5.6 mantle move, and then quickly eases off. The next pitch has the second crux, a 5.4 chimney section.  The next few pitches involved a lot of scrambling with a few climbing moves mixed in. 

On the 7th pitch you get to cross the white Camel, a fin of rock that you hand rail (or straddle depending on your comfort level) as you traverse across, that added some excitement to the route.

 Shortly after the White Camel pitch you get to the exposed traverse that brings you to the summit bolder.  Aaron and Don strung a fixed line along the traverse to ease the passage of the rest of our group. It worked out well as it got all 6 of us efficiently across the traverse to the summit.

Once across the traverse we took turns climbing onto the summit boulder to enjoy the views and had a well deserved rest and snack on the summit. 

Once we were done enjoying the summit we crossed back over the fixed line, hiked down a gully, traversed the white camel and began a series of down climbs and rappels to reverse the route and get off the mountain. 

One note about this route - it's popular! Start early! We passed about 20 people on the way down. It was nuts! 

We reached the base of the route around 11:30am and were back at the cars by about 1pm.  Climbing time: about 3-4 hours return from the base of the route, 6 hours car-to-car. 

The route was not technically difficult but was still a fun romp in the mountains - providing enough interesting pitches to be worth the effort and providing stunning views and atmosphere along the way. 

Since we were back earlier than expected we spent the afternoon cragging at the Rhinozone at Mazama Rocks for a few hours, enjoying refreshments from the Mazama store and swimming in the Methow River swimming hole before retiring to Klipchuck campground for the evening. 

Prime Rib of Goat

Goat Wall, Mazama, WA, USA - 11-pitches, 5.9, sport route

 On the Sunday we headed out to Mazama to climb an 11-pitch sport route called "Prime Rib of Goat"  It is located on the Goat wall, 3 miles North of Mazama on Lost River Road. "Prime Rib" is marketed as the longest moderate sport route in the US and follows a rib of rock up the Goat Wall along side a gully. 

We were once again up at 5:30 am on the road by 6:45am.  We were at the parking area for the goat wall around 7am. We had read that there was an area at the top of wall where you can park a car and do a car shuttle allowing you to top out and avoid the 15 rappels that it takes to get off the route at the end of the day so we opted to go for the car shuttle option since we had 3 vehicles with us.  

4 of us headed up to get started on the route while Don and Mike kindly volunteered to organize the car drop for the 6 of us. The car shuttle took about an hour and involved driving up the dirt Goat Creek Road (South of Mazama) for about 20-30 minutes and parking at the second cattle guard located at 5500ft elev. and then returning to the base of the route, North of Mazama. 

The rest of us started the approach which was relatively straight forward with an obvious trail located about 100m North of the parking area which we followed for about 15-20 min before emerging into a talus field below the goat wall. From there we picked our way up and then left across the talus for another 20 min or so to reach to base of the wall. 

Aaron and I were climbing together that day and I started out leading up the first two pitches at around 8am. The climbing in general was liberally bolted and straight forward. Aaron took over the lead on Pitches 3-9 and we cruised up the fun terrain enjoying the movement and atmosphere of the route. By about the 4th or 5th pitch Mike and Don had finished the car shuttle and caught up with Julio and Alan on the route and all 6 of us followed one another along the route for the rest of the day. 

I took the lead again for pitches 9 and 10 and Aaron finished off the route with final 5.9 crux pitch. We scrambled a few hundred feet up into the sparse forest and found some shade to enjoy lunch and wait for the rest of our group. 

From the top of the route we traversed up and right through the forest for about 20-30 min before coming to a barbed wire fence which we followed out to the dirt road. We then hiked up the road a few hundred feet to find our car waiting at the top. It took about 30 min to drice back to the base of the route and our other vehicles, which was significantly quicker than 15 rappels would have been. The car shuttle was well worth it!

We ended our day with a swim and celebratory beverage in the sun at the Methow River swimming hole and then we said good bye to Mazama and Washington Pass and headed for home. 

We topped out at around 1pm, about 5 hours to climb the 11 pitch route. The climbing on the route is a lot of fun and would be a great lead for a 5.8/5.9 climber who is looking to get some multi-pitch miles. The whole route is well bolted, the climbing is fun, varied and interesting, difficulties are short lived and the views and atmosphere are awesome. Well worth the trip!

Goats Beard Mountain Supply Store in Mazama sells guidebooks with topos for the routes on the Goat Wall and surrounding climbing areas. 

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