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Trip Report

Trip 01-02/07/18 Washington Pass/Mazama with David C.
The bad weather looming over Vancouver for the long weekend meant I had to cancel the BCMC trip that I had planned to climb Sunday Escape Velocity in Habrich (hopefully to rescheduled soon). Last minute on Saturday decided to instead go to Washington (US) as the closest place with a good forecast.

After a few stopovers and a late start we made it to the parking lot of the Washington Pass trailhead around 2pm, the lot was almost completely full with lots of car parked on the side of the road. It was late for an alpine climb but we thought that we could do something like the Beckey route or Rapple Grapple reasonably fast, on the way we crossed a party coming down that told us they had spent the entire day waiting and not climbed anything as too many people on Beckey…ok, we are definitely going to be the last people on the route and hopefully people are way ahead of us so we can move quickly, around 3.30ish we arrive to the gully and the sight is not pretty. Never seen so many people on a climb, let alone alpine, the traffic jam made look Diedre on a Sunday morning empty. There is no way the people on the back are making it down with light… lots of parties of 3 and what look as new leaders moving extremely slow, the traffic jams on the belay ledges being full didn’t speed thing up. Noone in any other route on the Liberty or Concord tower though! We considered alternatives to the Beckey route but most of them share a few pitches with it and the prospect of being stuck behind parties that have been waiting the entire day to climb on the way up and then on the rappels didn’t seem too attractive.  I had scouted the North Face of the  Concord Tower as an alternative… and absolutely no one in the entire mountain, so we decided to do this route:

P1: maybe a few 5.6 moves up the crack that starts in the same notch as Beckey route, then left through an easy foot railing (good gear and solid rock) but we were freezing so felt quite uneasy, and arrive to the ledge, instead of using slings around a tree that are used to the rappel I kept climbing up and right to the start of the next pitch to avoid drag for David in the next pitch. Anchored using a sling around a boulder (light case of  screaming barfies in my hands as we moved on to the sun)
P2: David started climbing up the crag, here you can go up and left up some crags and face or straight up for the “directimissmo route”, the later look pretty wide and we didn’t have enough gear for that 60m wide pitch so decided to move left, up some hidden ‘huecos’ that look intimidating when moving on to the face but quite juggy. Here I had read about a gear belay in a cave looking crack ( we found a sling and a broken cam fixed) but just two meters left there is the two bolt and chain rap anchor…this must be new cause it is on route and very close so cannot imagine why anyone would suggest a gear anchor two meter short of a belay ledge with chains.

P3: We were a bit confused, since only had a vague idea of how the route went as this was just a back up I had faintly considered, and not having built the anchor exactly on the same spo confused us, where we too left too low… looks like wide easy crags to the (climbers)right to gain the ridge line or left going up some crags to a slab that traverses left to gain the summit on some steep finger crack that moves again right, we settled on the latter as not knowing the grade of anything it seemed more easily protectable even if a more vertical finish. Doing some research now, we followed the correct line and the one moving right just connects with the ‘directisimo’ finish up easy terrain as well. SUMMIT

Raps are very straight forward summit to anchor of P2 (26m)and to the ledge where P1(30m rope stretch just lands you there, TIE KNOTS at the end) and a 18m rap to the starting notch so no need to bring up shoes or anything. We got our rope stuck on first rap, as they wind blew the ropes to the wrong gully (Patriot cracks route I think) and as I was raping down and tried to retrieved them the knot got stuck in a crag, right at the bottom, so as 3Pitches of climbing was not enough had to go down unstuck the rope (I needed the nut tool, bomber knot placement for sure) and climb the rope back up for a 4th pitch. The climbing was on solid rock, the moves and jams of great quality, the views spectacular and with a lot of exposure, rapping is fast, only caveat is that it’s too short, would’ve loved 3 more pitches of the same!! (No idea how this is just a 3 star climb on mountain project or in the guidebook)

6pm back at the notch, considered at least doing some pitches in Liberty but…the group that we left starting P2…was still at the top of P2 belaying the leader on P3 and the line of rappels was super busy so decided to spend 30mins taking pics of the goats as they seem as interested on the start of the Beckey route as climbers and back to the car in time to go and set camp in Mazama with some daylight left.

We set camp on a free campground with pit toilet close to the start of Goat Creek Road (National Forest land I believe) got up early (not enough I guess) and we were at the parking lot of the Goat Wall by 6.45am. 6 cars already there, as we get ready someone tells us that ‘Flyboys’ the 18P 5.9 sport route is were all those parties are so, another traffic jam on the making. They mention another route 5.9 sport, 12 pitches close by called ‘Prime Rib’, I had read something online but we had prepared for flyboys…looks like another day of changing plans. We go towards prime rib and luckily there is a couple ahead of us that points us the start of the route. We let them a few pitches of distance while having breakfast and we had the route for us! As we started climbing a few parties came behind but we must have been climbing pretty fast as we didn’t see them again (while climbing P4 Dave told me that there were lots of parties waiting to start, so def be early for Prime rib, super early for Flyboys). The climb is very well bolted and impossible to get lost even for a clueless party like us, mostly 5.7 climbing with a few 5.9 very cool moves, lots of bolts so the crux moves are almost in top rope and easily aided if need be, we skipped a few bolts here and there as we were not sure how many quickdraws were needed and how long the pitches were. I think we only linked a slabby pitch that has a short 5.4 traverse to the right (maybe pitches 9&10?) but the 60m wasn’t long enough so had to simul maybe 10 meters? (very easy terrain but lots of rope drag, extend everything if you are going to do that) also looking at the Mountain Project (
https://www.mountainproject.com/route/107730934/prime-rib-of-goat )description we must have linked pitch 6&7 although we didn’t see the anchor in between and def no more than 50m so they might have changed the climb to combine those(?). The climbing is excellent, great views of the valley, great bolting and some very cool moves past overhangs and chimneys very unlikely for the grade but always a jug nearby makes it easy enough to be a fully enjoyable no worries climb! Loved it!!!

We were at the top at 12.30pm…little we knew that was just half way. In flyboys we have thought of rapping the entire route since raps go parallel to the climb, but in Prime Rib the rap chains are the climbing anchors. There is lots of loose rock and boulders on the ledges (only caveat of the route if parties ahead of you are careless with walking on ledges or moving the rope) and with lots of parties coming behind we though would be a dick/dangerous move to drop ropes on all of them (we found out that the party behind us decided to rap anyway) a quick shower convinced us against rapping. 16miles to the car and we hadn’t stashed a bike or arrange a drive out… we caught the couple that started ahead of us at the end of the climb and as they had bikes at the top, they very kindly agreed to take my car keys and move the car from the parking lot (2xkm away)to the bottom of the FSR (only 13km away), so I could run down the 13km of FSR to the main road pick the car and drive back to pick Dave. Bad plan, I charged down running and got to the main road in about 1h I waited there another 30mins hoping that they would come back with my car to find that I must have passed them on the way down and they were behind me (didn’t ask too much, because they were trying to help so no place for complaining here, but must have a mechanical or stop for lunch or something cause despite running pretty fast it’s a very easy downhill road for a bike so no way I can outrun them even less put over half an hour on them) got the keys back hitchhiked back to the car (I got before them cycling)and drove back to the summit to pick up Dave…around 4pm. Completely destroyed and happy from the climb/downhill run combo we headed back to Vancouver. Maybe going on Canada day long weekend and 4th of July week in the States made it a bit overcrowded but with good start times should be easily avoidable, and so much better than top roping wet stuff in Squamish. Awesome two routes! Discovered that Mazama is full of climbing not just the famous two long multipitches that see all the traffic but single pitch stuff (the local climbing shop sells a booklet for it) so it’s a great home-base to explore the Washington Pass for alpine climbing and then chill doing some sport climbing. To be repeated soon for sure!!

Trip Reporter
04.07.2018 (229 Days Ago)
Trip Report TitleWashington Pass and Mazama climbing
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