Thursday, July 24, 2008

Skyline Ridge

The mid-summer temperatures were looking pretty warm everywhere this weekend, so Joel, Johnny, Cortney, and I headed up to Skyline Ridge on friday for a couple days of camping and bouldering. We parked at the pass, elevation 4061 ft, and hiked for a mile and a half to the small lake at the shoulder of the ridge. After hanging out and recovering from the sustained uphill hike, we jettisoned most of our stuff and headed the 10 minutes further to the boulders.

The view from the approach
After ditching our pads and running around for a while, Cortney and I headed down the hill to check out another area while Joel and Johnny set about cleaning two new lines. After about two hours of steep hill walking, Cortney and I returned in time to see Johnny and Joel get the first and second ascents of No More Time, the white arete on the lefthand of the two big boulders above. I can't really express the rediculous quality of this line, in such a setting, on such granite...
Here are pics of Johnny and I on the climb, as well as a panorama of Joel eying the line.

We were all feeling a bit tired from the hike, but climbed until the light began to fade. Johnny tried the low start to No More Time, while I flailed on the opening moves. We hiked down and set up camp for the night amid clouds of misquitos.
The next morning we made breakfast and headed up the hill again. Slowly, seperately, we warmed up on one of the few friendlier boulders there - most of the landings are sharp talus. After a while we motivated to try Nunchucks of Fire, a short, hard line Joel and Johnny put up last summer. I was able to stick the hard move after a dozen or so tries, and psyched to top out such a quality line. Soon afterward, Dave, Issac, and the man, the myth, the legend himself, Cole Allen showed up. Dave and Issac made quick ascents of the Nunchucks and we headed over to No More Time, where Johnny did the low start in a few tries on the day. We all hiked to the very top of the ridge for the 360 degree views, then headed back to the lake for some monkey dinner.

Here's Johnny warming up
Cole on Nunchucks

Cole tops out the Mountain

The view of the boulders, the lake, Steven's Pass, and Highway 2

After hanging out in the crisp alpine air for a while, Cortney and I headed down the hill and back to the city. I spent today at work, dreaming of the mountains and the pristine granite out there...

North Cascades

This past weekend I went back to the North Cascades with Cortney and climbed on some new granite boulders. I have been spending a great deal of time outdoors these days and it feels great. Throughout this entire summer I've felt rejuvinated by my most recent adventure, and energized by the anticipation of my next one. It feels good to be motivated and making the most of the summer.

This coming weekend the monkeys are going to head up to Skyline Ridge to boulder on some alpine granite that has probably remained untouched since our visit last summer. Thanks to Jeff Smoot for kicking down the tip.

For now, here are some pictures from the weekend.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I went to Index on Wedensday with Kyle, climbing at the Lower Town Wall for my first time. We had fun warming up on Godzilla and a few other climbs, then tried a climb called Dwarf Toss that Kyle had done on TR and wanted to try and lead. After one hard start move, the climb follows bolts up a tricky face to a huge dyno to a positive edge at least 10 feet from the ledge your feet are on. In typical style, Kyle gunned it down first try despite the baking sun. I took a while for me to make it up to the dyno, which I never quite committed to sticking. It's a super-fun climb I'd like to try again, even though it was a little demoralizing feeling like a beginner as I thrutched and hung up the sunny face. I guess it's supposed to be hard.

After a bit of a siesta, the posse reconvened. I toproped Tatoosh for an awesome cool-down, while Kyle climbed Like Honey, another difficult line established last year by Chris Hensen. I had a blast, even if I got disproportionally worked for the number of pitches I did. I'll have to start leading one of these days...

Here's a picture of Drew on Narrow Arrow Direct

Icicle Ridge

This weekend I took a short break from climbing and hiked the Icicle Ridge trail in Leavenworth. I was well overdue for a solo hike and was grateful for the solitude. After starting up the giant hill from the trailhead near town in the late afternoon on Friday, I hit the top of the ridge after about an hour and a half. I continued to climb along the ridge for a couple more miles, passing two parties and a gigantic black bear, who ran away like a big furry wimp. Once reaching the crest of the ridge, I hiked for a few miles through wide-open alpine meadows, alternating between expansive views of the Tumwater and Icicle canyons. It was a trip to look way down on Punk Rock, which feels like the top of the world when you're there. I found a nice spot a mile or two before the Fourth of July trail and camped for the night, enjoying a small campfire and the untainted stars...

In the morning I woke to thousands of misquitos and blackflies and decided to get moving. I hiked for a bit to the junction with the Fourth of July trail and continued to the old lookout site, unsure whether to continue for the longer loop I had considered. After hanging out at the top of the ridge for a while, I decided to head downhill to do a bit of climbing and just enjoy myself. I hiked five or so steep and dusty miles down the Fourth of July trail, passing numerous panting, misguided parties tackling the steep hill. I walked three miles up the Icicle to retrieve my bike from Ida Creek, then rode down to my car at the trailhead, stopping at the Sword to do a mini-circuit. The hike was spectacular and well-appreciated, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone considering an impromptu backpacking excursion in Leavenworth. Next time I'll bring some deet and do the 30 mile loop past Lake Augusta and Carter Lake, descending via Chatter Creek.

Here's a picture of a weathered trail junction sign, and the view from of the Stewart Range from the old fire lookout.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Doja Direct Video

I made a new video today from footage I took a couple weekends ago in Gold Bar. Cole Allen climbs the Bricklayer before Johnny Goicoechea does the first ascent of the Doja Direct. The music is by Midnite, who are playing in Seattle on August 13. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Goin' Hiking...

My skin has been flaking off with utter abandon during the last couple days, so I am going to listen to my body for once and head out backpacking instead of climbing this weekend. I'll spend one or two nights up in the mountains above Leavenworth, then climb for a bit if I can before heading back to the city.

For now, here's a nice panorama I took in the North Cascades last weekend, and a lichen circle.

Monday, July 7, 2008

More Bouldering...

We had a great weekend camping and climbing. Here are a couple of pics of the sweet granite of Washington...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

North Bend

I went to Exit 32 yesterday with Cortney and Ryan to climb on a bunch of moderate sport climbs. It's usually been raining when I have climbed at Little Si, but as we had nice weather we decided to check out some of the other crags besides the World Wall.

We warmed up at the Woods and Midland, where the highlight was definitely the moderate arete Sweet and Sticky, and then headed over to the World Wall when the clouds finally broke and it briefly started pouring. I put a rope up on Aborigine for Cortney to try, and we all had a couple of fun topropes. Then we climbed Son of Jesus, another tricky moderate on the less-steep right side of the World Wall. Cortney made a sweet TR flash and we packed up to head back down the hill. We stopped at AWOL on the way down and I had a quick cool-down run on Goddess.

We had a nice slow hike down and made it to the car around nine. A quick burger and beer at the North Bend Grill and were back in the city and half-asleep at eleven. I think we all had an awesome day, and I was personally psyched to get a ton of climbing in and lead all day with no falls and no hangdogging. Hopefully the weather will hold out this weekend so we can have a bit more of an adventure...

Gold Bar

This past weekend I went up to Gold Bar with a big posse. Cortney and I drove to the top of the hill on Friday and met up with Kyle, and eventually Johnny and Joel. We warmed up in the Sanctuary, then spent a lot of time on the Funpuppet boulder. The rest of the guys tried Wheel of Dharma while I wrapped up Dookie's Pinchfest. This is a strenuous climb I had tried whimsically for many days, but had never been able to put together. So I was pleased...

After that we headed over to the Doja boulder, where Johnny climbed Doja Direct quickly for the first ascent. We played on the other climbs on the boulder, then headed to Volition so Johnny could try as the last light faded.

Here's a weird one of me on Dookie's Pinchfest
Kyle attempting the Doja Direct
That night, Dimitry and Elena came up the hill with Cole. The next morning was a gorgeous day, made slightly worse by the 30-odd 4X4 yahoos who were driving through our campsite to access the new clearcut trail. Most were really friendly, but it didn't make up for the fact that we were woken up by a symphony of gas-guzzling monster trucks or that one of them smashed into Johnny's car, removing the bumper. When the sun got warm and we tired of watching this circus, we headed into the solace of the woods.

We climbed on the Bricklayer and Gates of Fire, where Joel and Johnny climbed the low start to the latter. After that we headed down for a seista and a session at the Funpuppet boulder. Cortney and I were whooped and hungry, and I was under the false impression that I had to work on Sunday, so we headed down the hill and got cheeseburgers (well, one cheeseburger and one garden burger) and drove back to the city. I had fun practicing the art of do-nothing on Sunday and recollecting the feel of the amazing GB granite. Keep an eye out for video of Doja Direct and the Bricklayer...

Elena on the Bricklayer