Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 25, 2008 - 06:37pm PT
It’s all Locker’s fault.
It’s pretty much got to be his fault. Things up at Zeke's Wall have been going really well for the last couple of years, but right from the day Locker sent the resoled Shoenards back to me this winter, everything’s gone totally to sh#t. I think he must have put a curse on them.
No reason he should have, mind you. I paid him on time, and said nice things about the workmanship. And I’ve never even said anything bad about him here on ST, so why would he put the hex on me? But who knows? I mean look at that guy on the bus up in Canada a few weeks ago. Cut off some sleeping kid’s head, and then started hacking bits off the body and eating them. No evidence about his past has been published yet, but I’ll bet once they start investigating, they’ll find out he ran a shoe repair business back in China before he emigrated… All that glue…
Anyway, a handful of us have been cleaning and climbing at a fine new cliff up here, not all that far from Seattle. Getting to it takes a 4x4 plus about 45 minutes of steep hiking, but it’s worth it. Here is what you see when you break out of the forest at the base.
Just like El Cap, right? Only not as big. And it’s got some pretty cool rock features
Not only is the climbing excellent, the views aren’t too shabby either.
But because it’s in Northwest Washington, any feature you might want to use for upward progress, like a crack for example, is buried under about 9,000 years of moss and tree roots and dirt. Cleaning runs about one hundred person-hours per pitch. It’s filthy work, and you’re standing in aiders when you're doing it, so old-fashioned wall boots like Shoenards are perfect. I found an almost-new pair in my size at a second-hand store for cheap, and sent them down to Locker to get the lugged sole removed from the front half and replaced with C4 so I can free climb in them too. Here’s one of them beside one of my old ones
And here’s Locker’s work.
That work looks excellent, but don’t be fooled. He hexed those shoes somehow, and I’ve been paying for it ever since. How? By not climbing, that’s how. As some of you know, it rains a lot around here in the winter, and once you get more than a thousand feet above sea level, it snows a lot, too. So you can imagine that come spring we’re wound up pretty tight, and the thought of getting back on the rock again is all that’s keeping us sane. But this year, spring never showed up, and neither did summer. I think Locker, using some kind of demented genie-back-into-the-bottle magic, somehow forced our spring and summer into an old glue can, and all we’ve had up here is endless weekends of rain, rain, snow, rain, and more rain.
But finally, two weeks ago, the weather cleared, the sun shone, and the forecast was almost for a good weekend. The “almost” part was just a few morning showers in the Gold Bar area, but it was just a ten percent chance, and would only last for an hour or so even if it did happen. No problem. We were just going to hike to the top and hang ropes in preparation for cleaning the upper pitches of a route we’d been working on, so even if it sprinkled a bit, we’d be fine.
Ha! By the time we were halfway up the logging road, it was raining. Not sprinkling, but raining. So we switched to Plan B. A bit of rain might make it too miserable to rig the upper part of the cliff, but we could still hike. There was another cliff a couple of miles up there and across a creek. We’d seen it from the road, and we knew there were plenty of old trails in the forest, one of which must pass somewhere near the mystery cliff on its way up to a lake we’d seen on the map.
So we spent the morning hiking. Hoping we’d be able to find the trail. Hoping we’d survive the stream crossing. Hoping it would stop raining. Hoping that we’d win the lottery and be able to afford to move to somewhere with dry rock.
Here’s Eric as we were getting ready. It’s raining lightly, but not really too bad.
Here he is a little later.
And here’s the little creek.
No, I don’t think we’re crossing here
We finally did get across. If stream crossings were graded, this one would have been about 10d X. Slick logs, and no second chances if we slipped. On the other side, we met one of the locals. He didn’t seem to mind the weather, but his goals for the day were somewhat different than ours. Bugs being forced up out of the ground by the rising water table wasn’t something we really cared about.
We eventually found a trail, and trudged upward for a while, to where it crossed an ancient logging road. We also found a warm sunny spot for lunch.
And some trees twisted in agony by Locker’s demented magic
The road climbed in the direction we thought we wanted to go, but soon became less and less a road, and more and more just another branch of the river we’d crossed earlier.
Yes, that really was the road. So, realizing that we were no match for the Demonic One down in J-Tree, we turned around. Rather than risk re-crossing the stream, we went down, down, down, assuming that, if nothing else, we’d eventually hit the highway and then could hike back up the logging road to the car. But, wonder of wonders, we found a bridge. I scampered across, thinking thoughts of lightness. Eric is bigger and heavier than I, and was thinking thoughts of “This piece of sh#t is going to collapse under me any second and drop me twenty feet into the raging torrent.”
It didn’t collapse, we did find our way back to the car, and two weeks later (i.e. this weekend just past), we tried again. And succeeded. If you can call this success…
I don’t remember this one from Largo’s book on climbing anchors, but it felt pretty bomber.
And finally, in case you think the whole place is a dripping wet ugly jungle, here are a few shots of what the climbing is like. This is Mari and Shanon on an un-named 5.9 put up last year by a couple of young guys who wanted to show how much they’d learned about sandbagging by climbing at nearby Index. Mari said it would probably be about 10c once the dirt was gone from the crux finger crack. Shanon’s more or less dead center in the photo.
Eric’s friend Kris working the third-pitch 12a crux of Mortal Coil (a six pitch gem that Eric is for sure going to redpoint before the end of this summer.
Here are the first couple of pitches of the route we were hoping to get to the top of at the start of this TR. We called it Flow, because there’s a beautiful waterfall to its right. In the right conditions, you climb beside a spectacular rainbow. This is several shots stitched together in Photoshop. First pitch is 11a, but the real crux is keeping your head together to find and place pro in the easier part above the crux. Second is 10b. We were never able to see what was around the corner from the top of pitch two, but when we rapped in from above on Saturday, we found it was the stuff of dreams. I even wore the Shoenards.
And finally, a gentle warning. If it rains next weekend, I’m going to fly down to JT and entomb Locker in a giant pile of glue. Turn him into a giant buttplug, and then go looking for an elephant to insert him into.
This part of the world is wetter than Boulder, for sure, but not as bad as most people think. However, this spring and summer have been particularly bad. Colder and wetter than normal, and the good weather seems to have fallen on days I can't get out. (Old joke: What comes after two days of rain in Seattle? Monday.)
But the rock really is beautiful and the climbing is excellent. I'll try to get a few more pictures posted, in the hope of persuading people that the area (Zeke's Wall) is worth a visit. It would be great to see these climbs getting some traffic.