My burning heart skips a beat. It's a small bear, but in the sunset I was startled. I keep running, powering up the hill until I can't go on. "It's high enough" I think, before laying two gallons of water next to a squat pine and a jumble of stones. 2,000 feet above Bridge Creek Wall sits lonley and wind swept. A bird screeches in the cold wind. My legs carry me back into the canyon.
Two days later Sol and I are sipping on the water stash under The Nose, a serpentine line of big cracks, chimnies and roofs. For years, the 5.10 A2 skull and cross bones (Viktor Kramer, auther of Leavenworth Rock, uses the symbol instead of R or X designations) rating enticed me. After Max, Sol, and I repeated The Nose this past spring, we knew it would go free. That particular day, the runout, dirty nature of the crux pitch stopped our free effort. This time Sol and I had a few pins and a hammer, hoping to make it sane.
Classic, cleand 5.9 wide
Ropedrag, moss, and a bridge of death blocks led us to the start of the money pitches. A wide, wandery chimney, a traverse, and a connecting 5.10 slab brought us to a needly ledge with a gnarled pine. A bar down the hatch and we were off to splitterville. A four inch offwidth, double finger cracks in a corner, and the best 5.8 splitter in Leavenworth deposited us to the crux cieling. "I'll tag up the pins and hammer if I need them," I say and then start stuffing my feet in the flaring crack leading up the roof. A reach to a hand jam, a jug, and a mantle and I'm through the difficulties. Unfortunately, I am also looking at two broken legs if I blow the spicy exit moves. I take a deep breath, think about the work involved in placing a pin, and decide to climb on.
The crux...not too hard, but don't fall on the face above the roof!
On top, we sit satisfied, enjoying the panoramic view of the Stuart Range. Nine exciting pitches fall away below our battered toes. The water I stashed and the cloud cover keeps us hydrated and happy. Jumping and rapping down the descent slabs leads to the longest sand surf in the world, beer, and the familiar rush of the Icicle.
IV 5.11b R