Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Spring Flows and Multi Pitch Ascents

After a prolonged period of rain, sunshine prevailed for 3 days allowing the fine grained Index granite to dry. Just as the forecast predicted we would have 3 days of good weather. With this in mind I contacted many Washington climbers to line up a day of climbing. I first contacted Hun who I met at a rock rescue clinic held at the Vital Climbing Gym in Bellingham. In short order Hun put me in contact with Stephen. The next day we sent 9 pitches on 4 routes providing Stephen with a great introduction to Index climbing. First was a four pitch link up on Aires (5.8+). This route has a short hand to fist crack into an angled finger jam dihedral, a chimney that requires general off width climbing technique and an under cling traverse left turning a corner over wonderful exposure leading to skewed hand cracks.

Hillside above the Wenatchee River
After this we headed to the GM Route (5.9) on the Country Wall. This classic line takes a class III ledge to short face moves, jamming and lay backing a flake, a roof under cling out right into a widening crack that starts with hands and ends in arm widths. The last pitch starts with an right side in off width to mantle out, a long reach into the finishing hand to fist crack.

Our next route was Princely Ambitions (5.9). The first pitch of this route starts with a bolt protected face move to gain a flake, up to the crux of a side pull match then a balanced reach right to a jug. Next is an awesome leftward traverse with a matching mantle to gain the next corner. This section uses finger jamming, lay backing and smearing to gain the bolted anchors at nearly 130' up!

Index and Mount Baring 
With the weather quickly changing in the coming weekend I changed my focus back to the river. Fortunately I have been paddling with experienced guides from Washington and surprisingly many from Colorado. This has provided a great transition from my home turf on the Arkansas River guiding with The Adventure Company. Through out the week we R-2'd the North Fork and the Main Skykomish and eventually I had the opportunity to guide my first trips on the Sky. This was an incredible experience considering this river was a determining factor for working with The Outdoor Adventure Center. Here is another reason to come to the Skykomish and raft with us. We were voted best in Washington. The North Fork was flowing at 2,800 cubic feet per second while the Main Skykomish was at 8,500 cfs. After a successful warm up run on the N. Fork we headed to the Main in the afternoon. My crew was friends with a second year guide, Brendan, and he insisted that I guide his group down the Main through Boulder Drop. With one apprehensive person on the crew we managed to run a clean line through the center. In the end we had a wonderful run avoiding the sticky holes and crushing the unavoidable ones. Namely at the picket fence, house rock and ledge hole in Boulder Drop. At these flows the constriction between the house rocks is an impressive 9 foot tongue of water into an overhead breaking wave. So Much Fun!

Foggy Boulder Drop on the Skykomish River with House Rock barely exposed
At the same time Ryan from Portland contacted me to find out about climbing opportunities. I met Ryan randomly in April at camp in Icicle Canyon. Like many climbers there he was bouldering. However after a few beers around the campfire he decided to come climb Givlers Crack (5.7) with me. Nearly a month later he was on his way back to Washington to climb Index. On the first day we climbed the 4 pitch Aires (5.8) and the 3 pitch G.M. route (5.9). During this time we established multi pitch protocol including transitions, communication and rappelling. The next day we climbed Senior Citizens in Space (5.8) an awesome twin crack dihedral that doglegs left. After that was Magic Fern (5.9). This climb has a sequenced start leading to a corner over a bulging block and through a hand to fist sized crack. The final climb of the day is one of Index's best, Rattletale (5.10 a/b). This excellent route starts up a broken face to a soft corner with a few finger sized lay backs and corner toe wedges. The second of three pitches is the best with a right facing right leaning hand to fist sized crack for about 50'. This pitch requires good jamming for the first half and solid lay backing for the second half. While there is an excellent third pitch we opted out due to water seeping out and soaking the rock.

The last day was a great opportunity for Ryan to put his new found trad leading skills to work. Ryan and I started out on the Great Northern Slab (5.7+). A blocky first pitch leads to the twin right slanting cracks of the second pitch known as Pisces (5.6). Eventually we topped out on bolt protected slab. Since Ryan was headed back to Portland that day we decided on one more climb, namely Princely Ambitions (5.9). I led the wonderful first pitch and encouraged Ryan to lead the second 5.8 pitch. He led the pitch with solid gear placements and appropriate intervals. Great job Ryan!

What a great conclusion to Ryan's trip to Index. When we parted ways Ryan was stoked later telling me that I ruined sport climbing for him. Which is a good thing because now he is stoked on multi pitch traditional climbing!

Meanwhile I was publishing the first entry to Guided Exposure and Chris from Seattle came walking into the cafe at The Outdoor Adventure Center. Chris was in search of a climbing partner and coincidentally I was about to go scout routes for a climbing trip I am developing for Outdoor Adventures. Just as we were about to head out Whitney from Gig Harbor came walking into the River House and decided to join us on our adventure climb. By adventure I mean we were linking up routes on different walls that are stacked upon each other. In this way we would ascend the most vertical possible without descending to the bottom each time we wanted to start another route. Subsequently Chris and I climbed the next two days culminating with Chris successfully on sighting Rattletale (5.10 a/b)!

Balsam Root Flower
After a couple weeks of amazing adventure in the Cascades we were drinking cold beers on the patio of the River House taking in the views of the Upper Town Wall when one of the most legendary mountaineering figures in North America came walking by. This man has put up hundreds of first ascents. He has put up routes from Alaska to Arizona. Subsequently he wrote the book on Washington mountaineering namely Fred Beckey. This icon came strolling back to his car. An unsuspecting character who is 91 years old! Check out this video on Fred. This reinforces the fact that Index and the central Washington Cascades are a destination for any outdoor adventure enthusiast.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Launch of Guided Exposure

Welcome to Guided Exposure

This blog is created to promote adventures in guiding. These adventures are part of a career guiding whitewater, rock climbing and other activities. Through this blog I am giving friends, family, and clients a place to view current adventures I am leading. Moreover I hope to generate interest in other guiding opportunities throughout North America and beyond. Also this blog will showcase the images I capture while traveling this path.

To bring everyone up to speed I arrived in Washington in October 2013. Immediately I found myself paired up with Chris from Seattle and en route to one of the states best traditional climbing routes "Outer Space" on Snow Creek Wall. This route lies with in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. Outer Space is defined as the white streak through the shield on the left side of the wall.

The Shield

This was a great intro climb to Washington granite. With a crux 5.9 traverse on the third pitch, 2 full length pitches of hand size cracks and plenty of chicken heads outside the crack, this is one of the finest multi pitch routes I've done so far. I look forward to leading clients on this route in the future. Sustained exposure, in a beautiful setting, within a wilderness area, overlooking Icicle Canyon provides an exceptional climbing experience.

Chris on Pitch 5
With the summer drawing to a close and winter on the horizon I made my way to Glacier Washington and Mount Baker. This is where Jeremiah and I started the season with a tour on Mount Ruth.

Jere on Mount Ruth

Eventually I landed a ski tech job at the Glacier Ski shop working for John and Drew Adams and an amazing crew of shredders. Here is some of the crew after a dawn patrol shred of Mount Herman.

Peter, Charlie, Woods, and Core

To no surprise the Baker back country truly is legendary. I spent the season exclusively touring on my Venture split board. Most of the time I toured around the Bagley Lakes Arena. This area provides some incredibly steep and varied terrain with easy access. With a base elevation of 4,200' it also provides consistent conditions. 

As the season was firing off I found myself preparing to head back to Colorado so I could spend time with my brother during his spring break. Immediately upon return I was shredding some of the best lines of the season and some of best lines I've ever ridden around the Frisco back country. Including all three chutes on Little Chief, two descents on Mount Royal via Dirty Books exiting left and right, and Willy's Way and a line I have named "The Swell" on Mount Wichita. The Swell is riders left of Willy's and perhaps has seen only a few descents.

Mount Wichita from Chief
After this I was on my way to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area outside Las Vegas Nevada for a rock climbing course with Colorado Mountain College. This amazing opportunity allowed me to learn from American Mountain Guide Association certified Rock Guides Kip Davis and Rainbow Weinstock. Since this course focused on single pitch traditional climbing I was able to assist other students with knots and hitches, belay, and anchor building skills.

Next my brother Justin and I were on our way to Moab Utah to hike, ride, and climb. This was an amazing trip where I was able to show my little brother some of my favorite spots. From Eldorado Canyon to Moab he got the best of the best. From climbing on beautiful multi colored Fountain sandstone to soft splitting Navajo sandstone that creates arches, windows, and towering walls. We hiked, We climbed, and We rode.
Justin and I on T1 in Eldorado Canyon after climbing Swansons Arete
As with all good things this trip had to come to an end. I made my way back to Washington in search of guiding opportunities either on water, rock or both. After interviewing with a number of outfitters I decided to work with The Outdoor Adventure Center based in Index Washington. Through Outdoor Adventures I have the pleasure of guiding different sections of rivers. These include the class III Wenatchee River in Leavenworth Washington and offers big water roller coaster waves through apple orchards on the dry east side of the cascades. This trip is also surrounded by some incredible rock climbing in Tumwater Canyon, Icicle Creek, and The Enchantments. This is where the aforementioned Snow Creek Wall is located. Another great class III trip we offer is the North Fork of the Skykomish River. This wild and scenic trip features big waves and consistent rock bar drops and can be combined with our class IV/V trip on the Main Skykomish. The Main Sky section is one of the main reasons I joined Outdoor Adventures. This trip is varied with class III/IV boulder gardens on the North Fork to its confluence with South Fork creating the Main Skykomish. Subsequently the water flow triples and big water ensues. The Main Sky has rapids such as Big Foot, Butter My Biscuit, Lunch Hole, the ever popular Aquagasm and of course the crux rapid Boulder Drop. With water flows fluctuating between 4,000 and 13,000 cubic feet per second this rapid is either class IV or class V. This section has no shortage of house size pour overs, troughs, and breaking waves. As with the Wenatchee the Skykomish River and the town of Index are located within walking distance to some of the best granite climbing in the state. Namely on the Index Town Walls where there are 6 pitch 500' routes. With a short 1 hour drive from Seattle and the Outdoor Adventure Centers riverside location on the North Fork Skykomish, how could a person go wrong?

Working as a guide in Washington will offer many networking opportunities while progressing my whitewater skills. Furthermore I will be working on prerequisites for future American Mountain Guide Association Rock Guide Certification.

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