This past weekend, that is what my friend, Jesse Zacher and I had hoped to do. We were after an adventure into new terrain and onto new stone. And an adventure (noun) was what we experienced.
Jesse had enlisted a new friend, Ryan from North Carolina, to help us schlep water and supplies to the base of the wall because it was going to be in the 90’s all weekend and we couldn’t haul all the goods ourselves. He told Ryan that the hike would be through wild terrain.
It didn’t take us long to realize just how “wild” the terrain actually was. Within one minute of leaving the truck, I found myself passing 70lb packs over barbed wire The next moment, we were navigating a river crossing on moss-covered polished rocks. Soon after, we were faced with having to claw our way up a 100 yards of steep hillside. What made that difficult was the six-foot tall blackberry and raspberry bushes. Tasty as they were, their thorns punished us for trespassing. Did I mention that Ryan did all this while wearing his Chaco sandals? What a trooper! The first thing we asked this guy (who we didn’t even know) was to bushwhack through hell! Even with bleeding feet, he smiled every bit of the way!
After our initial hike things got easier, and the last major obstacle was the thousand foot of elevation gain on the slippery, ball bearing sized decomposed granite. Our initial plan was to climb the direct east face, (where the only known route was located) but as we got closer to the wall we observed that it was full of ledges and broken up faces. Not very aesthetic, nor what we were after on this adventure.
Instead of climbing what looked like garbage, we hiked further around the base of the wall and up even more talus until we sat below the most continuously steep face on the wall. From there we were able to choose a new objective. We dug out camping spots and watched the evening fade, waiting for the following day. The stone was great and there were unconnected cracks everywhere. We had found the mother lode.
We awoke early on Saturday. The sun was up before us and was already illuminating the face above our tent with golden light. After a long night of hearing rock fall it was a pleasant beginning to a long day on our new objective.
Jesse slayed the smooth steep, six foot wide gulley that required more face climbing than crack. After a few minutes, he reached a belay high on the wall. I followed the technical and thoughtful climbing to the belay and was glad to be seconding. We were off. The rest of the day became a blur, filled full of false starts, loose rock, cut hands, sharp jams, rock fall, and cleaning dirty cracks. We took it all in stride, we were relishing the moment of stabbing into the unknown. All that mattered was the next pitch, the next hand and foot hold, the next contraction and release of muscle that would lead us upwards. It culminated with both of us bonking at the summit, with dirty faces and goofy smiles. We worked late into the afternoon rigging the decent, then stumbled back to camp where we chugged water and stared up at our accomplishment.
All things considered, it was a total pain in the butt. But all things considered, we hiked into unknown terrain and established a completely new line ground up and free. After rehydrating and resting, we noticed that the tent now sported a new skylight. A golf ball sized hole, through which the rain from the threatening clouds was about to funnel through. It was time to finish this adventure and plan the next one.
Thanks to Arcteryx, SCARPA, Sterling, CAMP-USA and Wind-Xtreme for all the gear and faith.
Get outside and have your own adventure!
By Rob Pizem