Matt carved out a few days off in a row so Big John made plans for Amy and Myself to join him and Matt in the Olympics for some Alpine Rock. The weather went to crap. Not willing to go down w/out a fight, John found some stones of interest in Southern Oregon. The trip definetly had a consolation feel to it but w/ Matt onboard, none of us were jumping ship.
We started the trip along the Umpqua at the Rabbit Ears. After the grueling 4 minute hike, we could see our objectives. They were certainly more impressive in person than on summit post. I didn't know we had stuff like this in Oregon. The trip was losing its consolation feel already.
The gigantic walls lacked good crack systems but somebody is putting up some face routes (aka bolted routes) that I'll have go back for. The East ear has a more climbing and the W ear has more scrambling. Both are super fun.
The two ears are separated by a gully w/ a ridgeback in the middle. We scrambled the gully that went at 4th class w/ a couple low 5th steps. It was incredibly relaxing w/ no need to rush anything. We had all day.
You can see in the above pic how safety conscious I am and how wreckless John and Matt are. I've got my helmet and four points of contact. John has his "soft" helmet and Matt used his skin and sunglasses:-)
We could see a couple different ways the E Ear would go. The route discriptions are pretty vague. Amy drew the first lead. The gear isn't obvious and she had to be creative to get peices in but she did a great job. I was proud of her, when your leading on gear and trying to decipher your route at the same time, it adds some challenge. She did fine. In the pic above, you can see me belaying her from a nice rock bench. We decided to use fixed lines as opposed to climbing in teams of two. We had all day.
As I mentioned earlier, Matt hasn't climbed in a while and you can see how nervous he was. It was a pleasure to watch him soak in the silence.
Amy built the anchor and fixed the pitch. The rest of us followed on prussiks. The rock quality was good overall but like I said, the gear wasn't obvious. Amy still managed three great peices for the anchor.
John had pitch 2. It was a mostly traversing pitch w/ more, less than obvious gear placements. I got lucky taking this pic. First bit of luck, John was looking away from camera and second, there was this magnificent eagle flying overhead:-) Its amazing I have any friends at all.
John called off belay and the rest of us followed the traverse. We climbed ropeless to the beautiful summit where we soaked up as much skin cancer as we could. This trip would go great w Thielsen climbs. It would certainly make the drive more worthwhile. W/ this in mind, we scouted for good rap stations for getting teams of Chemeketans down from the summit.
We found a fixed station that was the second most scary rappel I've seen to date. It looked like there were two coat hanger hooks sticking out of sleeves that were drilled into the rock. I could bend the hooks w/ my hand. I would trust a bubble gum anchor more. I didn't see a pile of bones at the bottom so I guess it worked at least once. Or maybe the coyotes ran off w/ the bones.
We decided to keep our lives and our bones so we down climbed the route. From the top of the first pitch we found a horn that would be suitable for rappel. Not wanting to leave unneccasary tat (webbing for rappelling) the three of them down climbed on prussiks. I put my rock shoes on for the down climb because I'd essentially be on lead. Amy placed good gear before all of the cruxes (on the way up) so as I downclimbed, the gear was still below the cruxes. If I were to fall, at a crux, the gear would be there to catch me. It wasn't overly difficult but it certainly got my attention. As most of you know, downclimbing is harder than climbing up.
We got back to the gully and we had to work our way over to the W Ear. The other three found the path of least resistance. Naturally I got myself treed on the ridgeback between the two ears. Its not easy being me.
Matt decided he'd lead the W Ear now that he found his sea legs. The plan was to scramble till we needed the rope. Matt took 80% of the gear we brought just in case. From the E ear, the W Ear looked slabby and scarry so we figured more gear = more better. We scrambled on up. Its hard to tell the difference between 4th class and low 5th class. I just call it 4th class so I don't have to feel bad about climbing ropeless.
When Matt decided it was time to break out the rope, he built his anchor and I put him on belay. He started up w/ his El Cap sized rack of gear. Twenty feet later he started laughing. What looked like scarry 5th class slabs were actually second/third class ramps. He fixed the line at the top of the twenty foot step and we followed him up.
Amy followed "the pitch" last and soon we were on top of our second summit of the hour.
Amy left her sneakers at the bottom of the pitch. She was breaking in her brand new Katana rock shoes. These boots were not made for walking. The ramps were about 500' long. In the above pic, you can see we decided to aid climb. She must really trust me to let me carry her that close to the edge. She's even smiling, she's crazier than me!
The breeze kicked up so I lounged in the lee of the rock. Of course I was the only w/out a jacket. Its not easy being me.
Here three of us felt like Kings. It's so cool when your on the summit of anything on a weekday. The cool breeze ran us off the summit so we gigled our way down Matt's pitch and headed back for the saddle.
I scrambled this rock buttress that somehow we didn't see on the way in.