I took lots of fun pics on this climb, check them out in the gallery!
Last Sunday was a beautiful, warm, early spring day, so Mark and I decided to continue our tradition of climbing Greyrock as our first multipitch climb of the season. Unfortunately, we got distracted in the morning by various cleaning and home issues, and we ended up realizing somewhere around 11:30am that we had to reorganize and repack all of the climbing gear before we could leave. In a whirl of activity, we ended up leaving the Greyrock trailhead for this long, alpine-ish climb at 12:30p! Yes, we knew it was late. Yes, we brought our headlamps.
We hiked the approach rapidly, but then ended up in a long conversation with a group of climbers up in the area for the first time at the trail intersection. They had two guys just in from Poland and Sweden, and had convinced them to hike all the way to Greyrock for their first ever rock climbs! We found the base of our route after some wandering and bush-wacking almost exactly 2 hours after leaving the trail-head.
The route we decided to try this time was Theodore – 5.6. Here’s how it broke down:
Pitch 1: A long, deep, flaring hand crack. The crack is on a mild slab, and arches a bit to the left. I found it easier to use foot holds all over the face than to spend much time trying to figure out how to jam it. Mark, the crack-master, enjoyed easy jams the whole way up. I think we missed the first belay somewhere on top of the crack, as Mark didn’t belay until about 160ft off the ground just left of the large roof.
Pitch 2: There was nothing spectacular about this one. Rather than head further left into what looked like more interesting climbing, Mark led straight up through low angled fat cracks and small chimneys. Another 130ft of 5.4-ish climbing put us on a huge grassy ledge. Mark’s anchor here was pretty pathetic as he didn’t want to sit so far back from the edge that we couldn’t hear each other. Pretty much, it was one good cam, and the butt belay. This was fine with me as the climbing was so easy I didn’t feel I could put much stress on the belay even if I wanted to.
Pitch 3: Mark and I both agreed after this one that it was the best pitch of the climb. We headed up and right a bit over some bulgy slabs. Right as I scrambled over the second bulge, I had a foothold pop off for the first time ever on Greyrock. I then reached up and grabbed a hold filled with water. I was sooo happy… “Oooo! Alpine climbing is sooo cool!” Quite the adventure. After trying not to get wet in this little seam, we rounded the corner and followed a fantastic 100ft long flake up sweet moderate climbing with an incredible view.
Pitch 3a: Mark sat on top of the end of the flake in a web of slings around rocks and a large tree. He really looked like a big spider in a multi-colored web. I opted to climb through the web and hike up the bushy ledge behind Mark to move the belay under the next crack system. This is the ledge from which the 5.6s variation probably starts. We opted to continue up off the far left side of the ledge.
Pitch 4: This pitch was full of looser rock and lots of lichen. The pro wasn’t great, and Mark decided to angle for the left side of the two roofs above us. He set a belay on a small ledge with a fantastic view. Somehow, this ended up being the airy-ist belay of the whole climb. We were both having a great time, but it was pretty obvious we were going to loose our sun, and we needed to top out pretty darn soon.
Pitch 4.5: Mark led up the gully and over the ledges above us. He stopped after about 50ft. After about 3 minutes of no movement I called up “Mark! What’s going on??” He yells down “I’m on top!” Oh, really? I was expecting another long pitch, but I guess this was it. He took up three quarters of the rope and I climbed up over the lichen-covered terrain. As I popped out onto the large boulder-covered ledge where Mark was belaying, the wind hit me full force. “Wow, check out that dark cloud!” I said. Mark frowned and suggested I continue climbing up over the boulders to the full summit and then bring him up over the last 4th class scrambling. And that I do it quickly.
As I scrambled over the last ledges, I came around a corner and there was a guy standing there in a T-shirt. We both looked surprised to see each other. I asked him directions to the lake on the summit, and he sent me up a little higher. I got to say, the best part of climbing Greyrock is scrambling over the last few boulders and popping out to see this view!
Mark untied the rope and started taking apart the anchor when he heard me talking with, as he put it, “a pedestrian” just off the belay. The wind howled for about 10 minutes as we reorganized the rack and rope, but then calmed down rather quickly as the storm moved off. Somewhere around the top of the 1st pitch, Mark noticed that he left his hiking shoes on the ground. He really didn’t want to hike the three-quarters of a mile down to the packs in his new, unstretched rock shoes. After some experimentation as to whether he could wear my shoes for a while, we settle on him wearing my nice wool socks, and I wear the shoes without them. We left the summit at around 6:30p, or 4 hours after we started the climb. Not exactly alpine fast. Nor was our hike off in any way quick.
I left Mark sitting on the trail with all of the gear at the bottom of the rock and jogged off into the darkening trees to try to find our bags. While I was gone he, thankfully, reorganized all of the gear so we could pack it up in a nice manor. We headed off on our hike out at around 7:10, and made it back to the car in the pitch dark at just after 8p. A great way to spend an afternoon, and a really cool way to finish a fun climb.