March 15, 22-23, 2003
Three great March days at Vantage are recorded here.
Chris Koziarz and I wanted some rock climbing. We took the long way, first driving to Peshastin Pinnacles (quite wet), then to Vantage. We got there at noon, and decided to visit the Middle East Wall. Hoping to start easily, I led Sleeping with the Fish (5.7), and really enjoyed an initial finger and hand crack to a ledge. Above the ledge, there was a difficult bulge where I nearly fell. I had a good cam in at my feet, but suspected I would hit the ledge if I fell. I really had to use herculean effort (by my standards) to stay in the offwidth overhanging crack. There were no positive holds for hands or feet, so I struggled with an arm bar for a while. Chris pointed out a possible foothold, which I reached after three tries with blood boiling in my ears. That helped somewhat, and I could eventually stand up. Getting a piece in to hang off of and rest was a priority, and I nearly thought it wasn’t worth it because of the energy I had left (may as well fall!). I hung there and gradually came back to life, feeling completely wasted. The final twenty feet of the climb were basically pleasant, with a left crack for finger grips and a right hand crack. I clipped the anchors which were about 3 feet below the mesa-top, then kept going for a strenous top-out. I wanted to get on solid ground! I rigged a belay, and Chris came up. He found the bulge quite difficult too (definitely not 5.7). Getting from the mesa-top to the anchor for rappel was hair-raising (Chris was rigging cams to use as hand-holds).
We walked back to an area with some other climbers. Here, Chris climbed an arete, Savage Heart (5.10b), and set up a top-rope on Sex Party (5.10a). I climbed that, finding it much easier than Sleeping with the Fish. It was an awesome hand crack. Feeling better, I led Teresa’s Lingerie (5.9) which was another incredible hand crack. I belayed Chris on that, then we top-roped The Elders (5.10a), a very nice crack to the left. Leland Windham came along with a friend, and went off to climb Sleeping with the Fish, having heard from others that it was harder than rated (I’m going to keep beating this dead horse!). A climber named Ken suggested we climb Shady Chimney (5.7) on the Sunshine Wall. He had also loaned me a great #3 hex for Teresa’s Lingerie. After this, we took off for the Sunshine Wall, stopping to eat lunch and admire the scenery on the mesa top.
It was Chris’s lead, so I got to watch him struggle his way up the tight chimney. It was pretty funny, he apparently was unable to breathe in the first ten feet. The lead took a while because many strange actions had to be performed. I was excited to climb something so different. People kept walking by and saying “yuck, why climb that?” and “who’s in the chimney?” Chris built an anchor on top of the huge chockstone that caps the climb (you tunnel through a hole in the back). I shed my jacket before climbing, thinking I’d need every bit of space my too-wide girth can find. It was hard to move at first, but it was really fun because it was so different. The chimney slowly widened as I climbed, cleaning thin nuts Chris was able to place in the back wall. It wasn’t hard, but continually interesting. Finally, it widened enough to be able to turn around, and then required the use of an excellent thin-hand crack along with other holds at the end. Getting around the chockstone was unexpectedly easy, and I joined Chris at his makeshift belay as the sun turned the clifs red. People continued to ask how the climb was, obviously imagining all kinds of nastiness. I think of it as a sequel to 7 Virgins and a Mule (5.7). Same difficulty, same ease of protection, but more variety. I’ve also done the nearby chimney climb Stroking the Chicken (5.6), which I found scary. It has two stars in the guidebook, but those stars should be on Shady Chimney instead. Kenneth gave us a good recommendation! We finished the day with a climb of Justified Ancients of Mu-Mu (5.8), to it’s upper anchor. We fumbled in the dark to gather our gear, but the moonlight made the walk out straightforward.
Oh and Leland walked by, having enjoyed Sleeping with the Fish, and reckoned the route to be 5.10a. This was a really fun day.
Theron wrote about the 23rd at his web page.
Next Saturday, Chris Koziarz and I drove back to Vantage. We swapped leads all day, first at the Kotick Memorial Wall where
Chris led a 5.10(?) bolted route left of Silhouettes (c)
Game of Inches (5.9), just right of Silhouettes (m)
Silhouettes (5.10a) - very nice route, not hard (c)
Old Friends - a dirty 5.8 crack, not recommended (m)
Then at the Sunshine Wall:
Crossing the Threshold, nice 5.8 crack (c)
Air Guitar, 5.10a crack - creepy lead due to Goran’s fatal fall (m)
Steel Pulse, 5.10b bolted arete - I didn’t climb this one, but Chris liked it (c)
Tangled Up in Blue - awesome 5.9 crack. My 2nd favorite route, great exit moves (m)
George and Martha - awesome 5.10a crack. My favorite route. (c)
Pony Keg - 5.10a crack (I got tired, had to hang on gear for a minute) (m)
Vantage Point - 5.8 bolted arete. Some of it fell apart on Chris’s lead! (c)
Chris went home and I camped out overnight, drinking hot chocolate and admiring the stars. I had my portable mp3 player, but left it on too long and the batteries died. So I read a book and sat in my “Crazy Creek Chair,” what fun it can be camping by the road!
Theron and Kris came the next morning at 9:30, and we did some fun easier stuff. First we climbed 3 Feathers routes, where Theron did his first rock climbing leads. He led the 5.0, a 5.4, and a 5.5. It was too cold and shady there, so next we went to the Sunshine Wall. I led Shady Chimney (it was so much fun last week), and Theron followed it really well. Then Theron led Peaceful Warrior (5.6), and Kris and I followed it. I also tried the 5.10 face variation, getting about 3/4 of the way up before heading back into the chimney. I was getting tired! Finally, Theron and I climbed the Chossmaster, a two pitch 5.7 bolted route that was really nice. I’m surprised I’ve never done that one before. During the trip we ran into many people, including ChucK, Scott P., Jack, Scott’teryx, Carla from Glacier Peak, and others. There was a hell of a snowstorm going back home Sunday night, we could barely see. My orthodontist was in the same storm, I heard him remarking about it the next day.
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