Monkey Face 2009

Monkey Face 2009 Andrew Trachsel, Amanda Blankenship and me.
Let me rewind to Climb School, this year. Andrew helped Wild Bill carry some of those boxes of coffee up to Horsethief where us Early Birds were prepping the cliffs for the rock day. I jokingly told him (andrew) that he'd be welcome on any climb I go on. Now, he's cashing in on that "promise."

I kept running into Andrew and Amanda at the climbing gym and kinda got to know them. It was obvious that they were excited about rock climbing and they both had an aptitude for it. They mentioned that they wanted to climb the Monkey Face in a way that sounded more like, "Will you take us to climb the Monkey?" I said that I would if they learned "the ropes" first. They took an aid class from a friend Gent at Clubsport. Amy, Vincent, Lisa Ripps and Kerry Ketcham all took part in some of the class as well. Since there aren't tons of girls/women in the club, Amy is happy Amanda has joined and they've become friends. When it comes to climbing, it seems Amy and Amanda were cast from the same mold. Moldy women climbers?

Amanda, in her Ninja outfit heads to the cliff
We broke "camp" at the Sewell's place near Sisters where we ate all of their cereal. Thanks so much. I had another sleepless night and in the morning, I almost emptied my water bottle into my bag of gatorade powder. I needed coffee! Angeline's Bakery was closed for a rafting trip so I had to settle for Big Name Coffee. I almost wanted to turn back and go home. We hiked thru asterisk pass and headed over to the W Face Variation. We were roped up by 800am. Later than I'd hoped but I figured we'd still beat most of the heat of the day.

I lead the first pitch and it was alot more fun than I remember it being. Since we had two ropes, I was able to use twin rope technique and avoid almost all of the rope drag. The downside, the weight of two full ropes near the end of the pitch felt like it added up to half a grade. In the pic above you can see the "kids" at the ground belay. I think the toughest move is getting around the corner at the beginning. My first gear placement is right where I wanted my hand. From there on, it's pretty straight forward.
I belayed both of them up as they climbed simultaneously. Amanda climbed 2nd and cleaned the gear. Andrew climbed third.

They made quick work of the first pitch. We had two packs for the three of us. The leader always climbed packless.

The 2nd pitch was worse than I remembered it. It's not overly difficult but it's super awkward. You go into this dihedral that's too closed for stemming and too narrow for chimney techniques. You kind of just grovel your way up. There's a nice finger crack for gear but I still didn't enjoy the climbing. The kids both managed very well. Where the dihedral ends, the climbing gets alot more pleasant. Above, you can see Amanda about to reach the much enjoyed sunshine.

I really like silhouette pics so I couldn't help include this one. Andrews belaying on two ropes and more importantly, he has that scruffy look that says, "Yeah, I've got the handsome rugged thing going.

We reached the Bohn Street ledge. It took me longer to lead the two trad pitches than I thought it would. I guess I can only climb fast when I'm on sketchy alpine routes. Above, you can see Amanda forcing a smile. It was her lead and it was easy to see she was getting nervous. It would be her first aid lead outside of the class. She was getting serious.

Andrew was less serious. Somethings never stop being funny. It doesn't matter if you're in grade school or on multi-pitch routes.

One thing that was really cool was that both Andrew and Amanda put in the time and they were going to be leading portions of the route. I generally want to lead everything, it's hard for me to give up the sharp end. In this case, it was cool to see both of them stepping up to the challenge. Amanda, took a bit of time to collect herself but she did a great job. I'm glad her parents weren't there because she had a few choice expletives as she gained the Monkey's mouth.
She lead on two ropes. My rope she clipped for protection and this would be her lead rope. The other rope she let hang free. When she arrived at the anchor, she fixed the free rope for Andrew to jumar. She belayed me on the lead rope. I followed her up the bolt ladder. I was pleased to see they added two bolts to the end of the bolt ladder that make it easier to gain the Monkey's mouth.

This is a shot Amanda took of Andrew and I on Bohn Street. I'm not used to seeing pics of me from above. Andrew and I were talking crap about which of us would arrive at the mouth first. He would be jugging and I'd be following the bolt ladder. I hate losing but I can admit, he beat me to the top. At least my undies were still clean;-)

This is a cool shot of us following. I like Andrews shadow on the rock below me. Since I'm a sore loser, I'll make excuses for why he got to the mouth first. I had to get some pics of Andrew on his first jumar AND I almost peed my pants watching him turn colors as he swung out in to the nothing. Since his rope wasn't fixed to the wall, only the anchor, as he began jugging up, once his weight was on the rope, he swung waaaaay out. I have to admit it looked pretty freaky. He had a mini cardiac but he regrouped. He insists that he wasn't scared and that he just couldn't breath. Hmm...

I kind of know what he means. Sometimes the exposure takes your breath away, even though you're not scared. Andrew used one jumar and a gri-gri to ascend the rope. Since, I'm a sore loser, I'll make fun of his shorts. It looks like he borrowed them right out of Wild Bill's closet! Ok so they weren't super short but were just riding up his harness. Either way, you can see that he would look good in Daisy Dukes.

Back in the Mouth, Amanda appeared to be relieved to have her lead out of the way. We stopped, rehydrated, ate and rested. It was nice to be in the shade. The welcome morning warmth gave way to scorching heat. We had beef jerky, sandwhiches and some fruit. There's always something funny about eating bannana's in the monkey's mouth. It makes me smile just writing this.

Andrew gives up the pack and preps to head out around Panic Point. I didn't get any pics of him leading out (the whole belay thing again)but the exposure was huge and it took him some time to compose himself. I watched him tremble his way around the corner and up. This is a very intimidating lead and I was psyched to see him handle it. He got the shakes out of the way and finished it up like an ole pro.

This is the view out of the cave, not a bad place to be. We were all glad we weren't working.

Another forced smile from Amanda. She also felt some trepidation headed out of the Monkey's mouth. After she headed out around the corner, I heard some thretching and some more grunting and then I heard some laughing. Climbing in a capsule. Thretching leads to grunting leads to laughter.

I climbed past them and lead the last pitch to the summit. While I was belaying it was hard to not really appreciate our climbing club. Six months ago, I didn't know either of these two. Andrew hadn't really done any climbing and Amanda had done some. Somewhere along the way, they turned from some new climb school students to my friends. From new climbers to Monkey Face summitters. They didn't just tie in and follow but in true John Petrie/Ellen Gradison/Vincent Dunn Fashion, I was able to help them learn some basic skills so they could have an integral role in THEIR Monkey Face climb.

Amanda completes some of the finishing moves. In this pic, she's gaining the bridge of the Monkey's Nose.

From the summit, Amanda gets a shot of me belaying Andrew up the final pitch.
Along time ago, Andrew saw a picture in a magazine of some people on Monkey face, he had no idea that the monkey was in our back yard here in Oregon. He dreamed of climbing it one day. One of my favorite parts of climbing. When you turn the things you can imagine into the things that you're doing.

The view down towards Asterisk from the Monkey Summit.

At the summit, the altitude sickness once again kicked in and I began losing my mind. (maybe it was just sleep deprivation?) Above, Andrew, Me and my imaginary friend enjoy the summit. I don't know what I was doing but it looks like I was hugging my imaginary friend that I've been accused of having.

Another summit shot.

I was psyched to allow these two to drag me up the Monkey once more. One of my climbing mentors, George, always said that it he's almost as happy watching his friends climb 5.8's that they didn't think they could do as he is sending 5.12. I certainly can't climb 5.12 but I can see what he was getting at. What a blast.

Amanda reminds us again how much better girls are than guys
Andrew demonstrates how men are the weaker gender. This was as good as it got for him. I did a back flip. There were no pics and nobody saw it;-0
I didn't see any reason to prove it to anybody.

Amanda challenges my prom queen pose from Mike Neimeyer's Blog. She simply can't hang.
We summitted after 5 1/2 hours. Not too bad considerring we stopped for almost an hour in the mouth and we were climbing in a team of 3. Andrew and Amanda did an awesome job and they should be proud of themselves. What a great day.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings Jesse!

    We haven't met, but I am a co-worker of Pam/Chad. They directed me to your site and I must say, I am impressed!

    I moved here from NY recently. I mostly climb, hike, and have started kayaking as well. What are some local favorites for climbing? Currently, I am a 5.10 climber and mostly climb sport. Do the Chemeketans hold training seminars for trad climbing? (As I'd like to get into that more). If so, is it offered to the general public?

    If you have a chance to reply, go ahead and contact me at Thanks!