Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mt Theilsen - Brainless Child

On March 22nd, Steve Elder and I completed the first ascent of "Brainless Child" 5.9 WI5+ X (steep mush) 1600' on the east face of Mt. Theilsen. Here are two different trip reports that we each wrote, and some pictures. report report

Steve's trip report:

Tyler and I left the car at about 1:30am and hiked up the Thielsen Trail by headlamp/moonlight. After about an hour, we lost the boot track and put snowshoes on and went straight up through the woods. I've done this trail many times in winter now, but can still get disorientated in the dark. A quick GPS check showed we were just below the ridge line, so all was well. We ditched the snowshoes at the junction of the PCT and started the laborious post holing around the west face and north face. Under the north face, the snow improved to crampon conditions and our pace picked up. We reached the small saddle between the north and east faces right at sunrise. Another 30 minutes got us to the base of our route. After a quick assessment, I decided the first pitch would be best to go up the rock buttress trending left to gain the ice. Originally I had entertained the ideas of going left or right on ice leads to access the main gully, but both looked sketchy. First pitch was about 65m and probably about was surprisingly fun climbing on even more surprisingly solid rock. Mostly short grunty moves to another ledge system and not bad protection. First belay was on rock just to the right of the gully ice. Second pitch started by stepping left into the gully and up a short thin steep ice section and then up nice rolling ice about WI3+ with a couple of screws. This pitch was close to 70M to another rock belay on the right of the gully under an overhang that was dripping water big time. The belay itself was fairly dry, but once I moved up and left to start pitch 3, it was like a waterfall. I got one dubious screw in this pitch, which was probably WI4+, but soft deteriorating ice with perhaps a 10M vertical section near the top. This lead into low angle snow to a rock belay on the left side. The 4th pitch looked easy from below (how many times do I make that mistake!). The ice didn't look good, but I was soon to find out that it was worse than not good. With huge relief, I found a good medium cam on the left side about 10M up. Then there was no pro for another 10M where I was able to sling a rock horn and weighted the rope down with a couple of screamers. There was no lip to really retain the sling, so I doubt it would have fared very well in a fall, but it gave enough reassurance for the final vertical section to the top. About the only thing I've ever climbed this hard with rotten ice like this was Riptide back in 1994. Gently place tool as high as possible and pull down till it kind of stops. Quick weight test, close eyes and move up. Repeat. Delicate feet required here as the ice was tending to crumble under weight, and crampon placement was causing unnerving hollow noises from the semi detached “ice” shield. Another 10M brought me to a great rock belay on the right. Two more pitches of snow gully with a small step each brought us into the easy upper snow couloir leading to the top. The final step before the upper couloir had such thin rotten ice that I opted to climb the rock to the right, which was actually really fun dry tooling/rock climbing about 5.8 with fair pro.
Once in the upper couloir, we pretty much simul-climbed keeping a picket between us to the top. Luckily our aerial reconnaissance proved correct and the gully was continuous all the way to the ridge just below the summit.

If this climb was in good condition, it could be recommended as a committing but safe WI4+ outing. The problem lies in finding it in those conditions. It is east facing and gets the sun the moment it rises, and doesn't lose it until mid afternoon. All that freeze/thaw is what makes the ice, but for it to be good ice, it really needs to be climbed when there's no sun on it. The problem I've found with Thielsen is that right after a cold spell when the weather clears enough to climb, it either tends to be incredibly windy up there, or you have too much sun as we did. If we'd gotten on it two days earlier it might have been in better shape. As it was, we were pummeled by ice pellets and chunks all day, often conveniently arriving in waves just when crux moves were happening. Higher up in the snow couloir, Tyler was in lead and I glanced up to see a number of rocks hurtling towards him, one the size of a loaf of bread. I yelled a warning, and he scuttled up like a Pug on a hot cook top, but still caught the big one just above the kneecap. Down below, I had plenty of time to scoot left and right and they all missed me. Luckily, no serious damage to Tyler's knee, and we were able to carry on up. Surprisingly, these were the only rocks all day, and there virtually no rock debris on the snow at the base.
Protection on the leads was marginal as screws just wouldn't work.....I think I only placed three the whole route, of which perhaps only one was any good. Rock pro was actually good when available, which wasn't very often. Luckily, the belays were all pretty solid, although I belayed off my harness for all except the bomber anchor at the top of the crux 4th pitch.

Huge thanks to Tyler for being an amazing partner in this Quixotic quest of mine. I'm sure the vast majority of climbers would have been whining and wanting to bail off before we had done two pitches. Tyler kept a smile on even after the rock tried to crudely trim his knee's meniscus.

North Face

East Face. Brainless Child is the line to the left of the cave.

It was pretty steep!

At the NE saddle as the sun begins to rise.

Looking up at the first pitch with the morning light.

More light.

Looking East.

Starting the first pitch.

Pitch one.

Pitch one.

A little video at the start of the route.

Pitch one.

Pitch two.

Pitch two. 

Following pitch three.

Pitch four.

Topping out on pitch four.

Upper snow gullies.

Top out!

Steve with a smile!

Tyler's write up:

Mt Theilsen was Steve’s idea. Steve is a 56 year old kiwi who has been living in Oregon the past 25 years. He is the definition of hard core, as I think kiwis tend to be, think first ascent of Mt Everest. So with that said, Steve is the one that made this route possible, I was just along for the ride. Steve and I are lucky as we have a secret weapon for climbing; we own a small airplane together so we can easily check on conditions saving us some long hikes. After three years of looking at the east face and never really seeing what we wanted to, we did a couple fly-by's in the past few weeks, and finally found the route to appear to be “in”. 

With some high pressure in place we drove down from Corvallis and tried to catch a couple hours sleep in my camper before starting the hike at about 1:30am. We hiked for an hour on stable snow, and then pulled out the snowshoes for the rest of the hike to the SW ridge. We ditched the snow shoes and traversed the west face, and north face, and found ourselves on the NE saddle just as the sun was coming up. Another traverse halfway across the east face brought us to the base of the route at around 8am, and shortly thereafter Steve was off on the 200’ rock pitch that leads to the base of the “ice”. Luckily the rock was solid and Steve was able to get in a good belay and bring me up. By this time the sun was baking the face, and the constant stream of ice pellets started raining down the route, with each pitch only getting warmer and warmer.  A 200’ pitch on the ice with decent sticks ended below the first vertical/overhanging section of ice, which by that time was basically a waterfall, so we dispatched another 150’ pitch to the base of the crux. At this point I was soaking wet, but thankfully there was zero wind and enough sun to let me dry out a little bit. 

With the route rapidly melting above, Steve fired the crux pith and got 100’ before getting a solid cam and an O.K. slung block giving enough protection to feel somewhat comfortable on the final 70’ of severely deteriorating and overhanging rotten ice, that marked the true crux of the route. I've climbed with a lot of great climbers and have seen some impressive leads, but nothing compares to what Steve did battle with on this pitch. He stayed calm, cool, collected and was pulling over the final bulge before I could even make sense of how hardcore this really was. As I followed the pitch getting pumped silly, trying to get some rests while the pitch basically disintegrated below me, I couldn't imagine in my wildest dreams ever leading a pitch like this. Steve had done the nearly impossible. He somehow found most solid belay of the route, and soon enough I was on easy terrain staring up at the two final rock steps of the route. We regrouped for a second, but had to get moving as now it was really getting warm. Above the two rock steps moderate snow led to the top of the route about 200’ below the summit. 

Unfortunately for me while I was up in front 300’ below the top, the only major rock fall of the day occurred on the route. I heard Steve yell from below but it was too late, I took a nice loaf of bread sized rock to my knee. I ran for cover and managed to find the first spot on the route where I could actually lay down. Somehow the rock didn't do too much damage and after a little rest below the safe overhang, we were ascending the final 300’ to the top. 

It was about 3:30pm by the time we took our harnesses off, and began to descend the south face back to our snow shoes, the descent with crampons was pretty painful, I wound up sliding on my ass for about half the descent, but once I got my snowshoes on and could stay on my toes more, the going got a little easier, an within two hours we were back at the truck. Finally safe and sound I could strip off my wet clothing and get comfortable. We reveled in our stoke for a little bit, and then tried to drive home, only making it about an hour before decided we really needed to sleep. 

Just as we got back into Corvallis the following morning, I got the news my friend Sean Leary had been killed in a B.A.S.E. accident in Zion. This was a blow to the stoke, but I soon realized Sean was with us that day. The last time I saw him in October 2013, we had tried to fly by the east face of Theilsen together so he could see if it might be worthy of a B.A.S.E. jump. Sean never got to see the east face that day as the clouds closed in on us. While Steve and I were on the Theilsen, there was something in the air that kept us going, it felt different than any other climb I had been on. I believe that this was Sean that was with us and kept us going, and that he finally got to look at the east face from above, and fly up it with us in a different sense. With that I’d like to dedicate our route to Sean Leary, may his stoke and spirit motivate generations of climbers to come. I’d also like to thank Steve for the adventure of a life time. 

Sean Leary - September 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wolf 2k13

Since my health sucks we only did a couple new routes at Wolf this year. Nothing special but since new bolts are visible, I might as well let it be known... The first thing we did was Will Nazarian and I bolted an 5.9 extension to the 'Arete Route', like all my routes every one thinks its dirty, but the position is hard to beat! Next was a new sport pitch to the left of 'T.R.', 'B.R.' or 'Brians Route', is a nice new 5.9 face climb and a great warm up. It also can be used as a much safer start for 'Spaced Cowboy'. Lastly Dave Trepp, Chris Fralick and I made a 5.10a direct start for 'The Flying Scorpion'. This climbs past the first two bolts on the normal first pitch but then heads straight up the face above directly to the belay ledge a top of the normal second pitch. There are a couple of cam placements and the bolts are slightly spaced, I think its 6 bolts and 2 or 3 cams in 110' so its a little run out, and if you started up it thinking it was a sport pitch you might shit your pants...

Flying Scorpion Direct – 5.10a
FA: Tyler Adams, David Trepp & Chris Fralick, July 2013

                Shares the first two bolts with ‘The Flying Scorpion’ then continues up past four more bolts and a couple medium cam placements. Finish at the same anchor of the second pitch of ‘The Flying Scorpion’. Slightly sporty climbing towards the top. Protection: Bolts and cams to 2”.

B.R. – 5.8
FA: Brian Gilbert & Tyler Adams, June 2013

                This would now be considered the first sport pitch you reach under the arch. Nice face climbing up clean rock leads to a two bolt anchor at a small stance. This can be used as a much better way to start ‘Spaced Cowboy’ to avoid the run-out climbing on the original first pitch.  Protection: Bolts.

The ArĂȘte Route – 5.9
FA P1: Unknown 
FA P2: Will Nazarian & Tyler Adams, May 2013

The first pitch is a quality route and many climbers first route under the arch. The second pitch is a little harder and has a little bit of loose rock, but the position is one of the best in the area. Its all about location! Pitch 1: Climb past a tricky move at the start and climb up the arĂȘte passing six bolts to a double bolt anchor. Rappel or continue up Pitch 2: Stay more or less on the arete passing nine more bolts up the the same belay ledge as 'The Peterson Route'. Make two rappels with one rope, or one rappel straight to the ground with two ropes. Protection: Bolts

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Callis Route with Callis!

Earlier this summer I got a call from Jeff Thomas asking if I wanted to hike up to the Menagerie and climb the classic Callis Route on the Hen with non other than Pat Callis himself. So obviously I was game and really quite excited. Now I don't have a ton to say about the climbing that day since all we did was climb the Hen a couple times so Jeff could shoot video and snap some pictures.  But god damn was it cool to hang out with Pat, he's over 70 and still cranks as hard as your average 25 year old. His memory from the day of the FA of the Hen was as clear as they day he did it, which by the way was back in the 50's before %99 of us had ever put on a harness. Pat is now a professor at Montana State University, climbs regularly, and even still climbs ice as much as he can. A true inspiration for anyone!

Pat and I on top of the Hen. 
Photo: Jeff Thomas

Me belaying Pat up Winter Sunshine.
Photo: Jeff Thomas

Menagerie climbers of two different generations!
Photo: Jeff Thomas

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Umpqua Aerial Tour!

I hooked up with Greg Orton down at Tokatee State Airport and we went and did a little crag spotting in the     Umpqua area. There is so much rock there its incredible! He took me climbing at McKinley Rock later in the day(sorry left the camera in the plane), McKinley Rock is incredible and really deserves more traffic... Here are some pictures that Greg took with my camera and a video I made.

Limpy Rock

Limpy Rock

Redmans Tooth

McKinley Rock

McKinley Rock

Rabbit Ears

Rabbit Ears

Dinner time @ Tokatee State!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wolf Rock 2012

A new year means new routes.... I stopped updating the new routes at Wolf on here in the middle of last summer so here are some new as well as some revised descriptions and tall tales....

The first thing we did this year was adding another pitch to an old project. Chris and I went to Wolf during January 2011and eyed a solid looking buttress about 150' left of the start to ‘The Mystery Route’.  So it was on, and I started up but with only four bolts in my bag, got 70' up and ran out of bolts. Chris took over and added one more bolt and pushed through the routes crux and put in an anchor. We returned a year later in January again to add a second pitch and again I lead the first half of the pitch through the crux, until I got too much moss in my eyes, then we returned in May and Chris took over to finish up the pitch. Next up a couple of weeks later, Dave Trepp and I added two nice moderate pitches we named 'Scorpion Soup' and 'Weathertop' to the left of 'The Dimrill Stair'. Steve Elder and I came back a week later and added a second pitch atop 'Scorpion Soup' and 'Weathertop' consisting of only 50' of new climbing past three bolts to where it joins the second pitch of 'The Dimrill Stair' above the crux, now you can get to the upper ledge at only 5.7/8! So now there are five pitches to be climbed in that area and four of them 5.9 and under! 

WOOOHOOO! Ian Roth and I finished 'Scorpion Soup' to the summit! So now there is another easy technical route to the summit. Three roped pitches and 800' of 4th class scrambling brings one to the summit. 

Also this year back in January  Chris added another pitch to the 'The Coriolis Effect' with the help of his brother and I. This is a pretty stout pitch with a sweet lay back crux just below the anchor.   

I also decided to change the name of 'Gothmog' to 'Balrog' since 'Freaky Easy' was erroneously reffered to as 'Balrog' so that's that and here is whats been going on:

Chris preps the bolt kit to finish up pitch two of the 'The Dimrill Stair'. Hes's just above the crux overhang at the 5th bolt.

Wolf in all its glory.

The Great Arch.

Dave Trepp on the first ascent of 'Weathertop'

Ian Roth on pitch two of 'Scorpion Soup' during the summit push.

Scorpion Soup - 5.7/8 - 1210'
FA P1: Tyler Adams & Dave Trepp, 6/10/12
FA P2: Tyler Adams & Steve Elder, 6/20/12
FA complete route: Tyler Adams & Ian Roth, 6/28/12

             'Scorpion Soup' is a nice easy mixed climb that goes all the way to the summit. The route starts at the furthest left hand arete on the same buttress of 'The Dimrill Stair'. Pitch 1: Climb up past a fixed knife-blade and on to the face. Climb past two bolts (5.7) to another fixed knife-blade right on the arete. Continue up the corner just left of the arete placing a couple of cams then climb past two more bolts to the belay ledge. Pitch 2: Traverse up and right past three bolts and join the second pitch of 'The Dimrill Stair' right above the crux and continue up (5.8) the the belay ledge. Pitch 3:  Traverse up and left on great rock to a bolt, continue up (5.5) placing some cams to a fixed lost arrow. Aim for a small corner on the left of the giant scoop, climb up this then traverse right and up to a one bolt and a fixed knife-blade. From here 800' of 4th class brings one to the summit. You can rappel from the top of pitch two down 'The Dimrill Stair' with one 60m rope. Protection: Bolts, fixed pins & gear to .75"

Weathertop - 5.9 - 110'
FA: Dave Trepp & Tyler Adams, 6/10/12

            This is a great sport climb just left of 'The Dimrill Stair'. It shares the same anchor with the first pitch of 'Scorpion Soup'. Climb straight up past eight bolts to the nice belay ledge. No distinct crux just sustained climbing for most of the way. Rappel with one 70m rope. Protection: Bolts

The Dimrill  Stair – 5.10b - 200'                                                                                  FA P1: Chris Fralick & Tyler Adams, January 2011
FA P2: Tyler Adams & Chris Fralick, May 2012

 Pitch 1: Climb 20’ up to the first bolt and then trend up and left to the next two bolts, easy climbing leads to another bolt and a steep section(5.8) protected by a bolt. Above this easy climbing and one more bolt leads to the anchor. Pitch 2: This is the highlight of the route. Easier climbing leads past three bolts to below the overhang,  Pull through the overhang(5.10b) on the left side past one bolt and then finally another bolt and a good stance. Continue up past seven more bolts(5.7/8) up to the anchor. Rappel to the ground with two ropes, or make two 60m rappels down the route. Protection: Bolts

From L to R: Scorpion Soup, Weathertop & The Dimrill Stair

Chris at the start of 'The Dimrill Stair'

Chris on belay duty atop pitch one of 'The Dimrill Stair' with pitch two looming above.

Drilling at the crux on pitch two!

The Coriolis Effect – 5.10b - 300'
FA: Tyler Adams & Chris Fralick, July 2009
FA: Chris Fralick, Peter Fralick & Tyler Adams, January 2012

This is the best way to access the second pitch on ‘The Mystery Route’, and now with a stunning second pitch, you can go either way from the pitch one anchor. Pitch 1:From where the trail meets the rock head right 30' to the start of the route, 15' right of a small right facing corner. Follow a line of eleven bolts straight up(5.9)  130' to the belay Pitch 2: Follow the second pitch of the ‘Mystery Route’ or follow bolts up to the left of the ‘Mystery Route’. Head up and towards a shallow crack, layback the crack(5.10b) up to a belay at a small ledge. Rappel the route with two ropes. Protection: Bolts

 Chris pulling up the drill kit on pitch two of 'The Coriolis Effect'

Balrog – 5.9 - 70'
FA: Tyler Adams & Peter Fralick, May 2011

    Balrog is another fine 5.9 sport pitch at Wolf. It begins 30’ right of ‘The Coriolis Effect’, look for a shallow black corner. Follow six bolts up classic Wolf Rock style climbing two an anchor at a small ledge. Protection: Bolts

Scope Creep – 5.10a - 185'
FA: Scott Hunt & Peter Fralick, Summer 2011

                This is one of the longest pitches at Wolf, and undoubtedly a classic. Almost a whole 60m to the anchor with no distinct crux, just sustained climbing for a long ways. Follow bolts more or less straight up from the ‘Balrog’ anchor,
 eventually trending slightly left and up to the anchor atop pitch two of 'The Mystery Route', about fifteen bolts. Rappel with two ropes back to the 'Balrog' anchor, then one more single rope rappel to the ground. Protection: Bolts 

The Flying Scorpion – 5.9 - 350'                                                                          
       FA P1 & P2: Tyler Adams & Jeff Thomas, January 2011
FA P3: Steve Elder & Tyler Adams, June 2011
This route was established as an independent start to ‘Freaky Easy’. It is named after a large 3” scorpion that was found while tossing some loose blocks off the pitch 3 belay ledges. Unfortunately for him, the scorpion was not a welcomed addition to the team, so he went flying along with some of the blocks which also chopped our tag line! There is a little loose rock on this route as with newer route at Wolf, but with the solid protection and wild climbing on pitch 3, it is well worth heading up. Pitch 1 and 2 can be combined. Pitch 1 (5.7):  Begins behind the tree that covers the trail, about 20' left of Space Cowboy. Be careful of some loose plates right at the start, they are easy to avoid. The first bolt it about 20' up, a yellow TCU protects the climbing to the first bolt. Climb past that bolt to a small ledge with a bolt, traverse up and left past three more bolts to a small ledge and an anchor. Pitch 2 (5.6): Climbs a short but nice 50' ramp up to the right using medium size cams for protection up to another nice belay ledge. Pitch 3 (5.9): Step to the right off the ledge and climb up past four bolts heading toward the small roof, clip a bolt around the roof, muscle through the roof on good holds, then step right to another bolt. Climb up to a small ramp joining ‘Freaky Easy’ and head left past one more new bolt to a small belay ledge at the base of the prominent right facing dihedral. Continue on the freakishly run out ‘Freaky Easy’, or rappel to the top of pitch two, then use two ropes to rappel to the ground or rappel to the top of pitch one and then to the ground with one rope. Protection: Bolts and cams to 2".

Chris, Forrest and I hooked up to go bolt a pitch I had top roped two years ago. I ticked the bolts, Chris drilled it and Forrest led it. A solid team effort! 

The Rubber Boa - 5.10b - 70' 
FA: Forrest Kaye, Chris Fralick & Tyler Adams, July 2012

This pitch starts form the belay atop pitch two of 'Morgul Vale'. Climb up and left from the anchor past six bolts, no distinct crux but sustained 5.10- climbing the whole way. Belay at the anchor for the 'Cross Roads Connection' and either continue to the summit or rappel. Protection: 6 Bolts. 

Chris drills while I chill!

We decided to scope the line the day before to make sure it would go.

Chris starts up pitch one of 'Edge of Mordor'.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Oregon Climbing History

Over the years I have acquired some cool artifacts related to Oregon climbing, but most of it just sits ignored at my house or on my computer.  So I would like to share some of what I've got here, I'll do a section for Western Oregon and Eastern Oregon... enjoy!


Western Oregon

Larry Schmidt atop Callis Spire. September 1st, 1969. Photo: Scott Schmidt

Larry Schmidt atop the Bobcat. October 1968. Photo: Scott Schmidt

Original Barad-dur summit register entry. 1972

Bruce Birchell on Barad-dur. 1978 Photo: Scott Davis

1st entry, Wolf Rock Summit Register. 1964

Dean Fry handmade angle piton, made in the Corvallis High School shop. Circa 1971 

Jim Anglin homemade hangers. Circa 1980's

Pat Callis homemade bolt hangers. Circa late 1950's

Ring angle pitons used during the first ascent of the Turkey Monster. Circa 1964

Hand forged pitons used during the first ascent of Needle Rock. Circa 1968

Eugene Dodd rappels during the first ascent of Needle Rock. 1968. Photo: Jim Nieland

Some of the guys that created a lot of the climbing history in Oregon: Tom Bauman, Gary Kirk & Jeff Thomas. September 2010


Eastern Oregon

 Mazamas Annual: Leslie Gulch. 

'The Eagles Claw' summit register. Circa 1970