May 25, 2011

Leavenworth Classic

Last weekend Ava held the annual spring campout for the UW Climbing Club.  She enticed me to tag along by proposing that we climb Outer Space on the Snow Creek Wall on Saturday (followed by cragging with the big group on Sunday).  After the 1.5 hour approach, we geared up and were just about ready to begin the first pitch when it started to drizzle.  We proceeded to spend the next hour in the presence of goats trying to reach a mutual decision on if we should climb or not.  Meanwhile, the overcast skies stopped drizzling but remained menacing.  We finally decided to go for it.

Snow Creek Wall in the rain: Outer Space begins near the lower right of this photo and finishes in the top center.

Goat intently watching the party in front of us
We got off to a bad start as I somehow managed to turn Pitch 1 (easy 5th class) into a 5.10+ wanderfest.  Pitch 2 (easy 5th class traverse) went much more smoothly, and then the business end of the climb began.  Pitch 3 (the traverse pitch, and my favorite pitch of the climb) involved interesting and sustained 5.8 - 5.9 moves in an exposed and well-protected environment.  Pitch 4 (the dihedral pitch) takes you left from the top of Pitch 3 over to the bottom of the famous 300' hand crack.  This was an enjoyable pitch in its own right, yet overshadowed by what lie ahead.  A tricky start to Pitch 5 (the money pitch) finds you at the beginning of a splitter hand crack on an 80 degree face littered with chicken heads.  Simply enjoyable climbing in a sporadic and light drizzle.

Ava working her way up the money pitch
Pitch 6 (the final pitch) again starts with some tricky moves.  It's supposedly 5.9, but I found this to be the most difficult part of the climb and I'm not ashamed to admit that I pulled on a piece of gear to get through an obnoxiously thin section 15 feet up from the belay.  After that it was a crack and chicken head romp for 65 meters to the top.  As I was belaying Ava up the final pitch, the drizzle returned and intensified.  As she reached the top, the drizzle turned to rain.  Perfect timing?  I'd say it could have been worse, but the fact that we now had to descend the 4th class descent route in the rain was less than desirable.  The following video summarizes the difficulties of our descent.

We eventually made it down safely and had a fantastic day rock climbing in the rain.  We did some cragging at Playground Point the following day before heading back to the cluster of traffic known as Seattle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was Ossum!