Saturday before last began damply, bad news for the boys from Connecticut who had come to sample the climbing here. Without a clear indication from forecasters or even Doppler, we decided to tour that secret little corner despite its rough condition. Escape would be easy, the climbing was moderate enough to manage if it got a bit damp, and we would have a chance at climbing to the summit of the mountain if the skies cleared.
And things worked out that way. We climbed a lovely 90′ crack line that goes at 5.6, Lukasz leading without a problem, up rock that was just a tad slick, pack on his back. We each climbed with packs on, alpine style to the top of the route, then traversed left to a long, gentle slab curving up the side of Crane. The pitches rolled by: a hundred feet, another, and another. With one more long pitch to go, the weather degraded, after holding up tolerably well for a most of the morning.
Lukasz caps the headwall along Bella Vista.
As it rained, we discussed our options, trying to decide whether to escape downward or wait it out and attempt to go onward. Without sufficient rainwear, we might be in for a soaking. While we mulled over risks and options, a shout far below echoed up the misty slopes. Someone was looking for us.
It turned out to be Ben, who kept scrambling upward toward our return shouts until, quite suddenly, he was above us. That resolved our own discussion for at least a bit. The rain had tapered off, so we packed the rope and scrambled up a brushy ramp to join Ben at the top of the ridge. Without rain to hinder us any longer, we all chose to continue upward.
It is a thrash to get from that lovely open ridgetop to the false summit’s highpoint; from there a short, easier bushwhack leads to the prows right of the summit ladder. We reached this point and climbed up Access Slot, then rested a moment on the open rock there before moving along to Crane’s summit. By then, the weather looked hopeful. It wasn’t sunny, but it wasn’t threatening imminent rain, either. We decided to risk a TR or two before heading down.
First off was the Firecamp’s first and best route: Thank You, Cindy. All three newcomers took a ride on this route, even Ben, who had left his pack – avec all his climbing gear – at the base of the Belleview Slab. The weather held, so we upped the ante to a rope on Gunga Din Chin. This extremely pumpy number smacked us all around (author included); all except Ben, who couldn’t find a climbing shoe to fit him and so had no hope of managing the route.
Hard to tell, after that, what the weather would do, but it was also getting late. We headed down the trail, but chose to stop at the Viewpoint Slab to top-rope Every Creature’s Theme. Ben refused to be held back despite his footwear, and did a fine job on that upper slippery friction section.
Now it was truly time to go home. We hiked to the trailhead, where Ben veered off through the Boulderwoods, making the long trek to reclaim his pack. The three of us remaining drove out, happy with a great climbing day snatched from such questionable weather.