| Cripples and Couloirs
Two noobs and a cripple walk into Eldo – This was Jason’s title of a photo album, posted just recently.
I couldn’t have thought of a better title. Noah (Winter8000meter) has been out of commission for a little while, due to a broken collar bone. Of all the unique alpine climbs he has been a part of, he decides to break his collar bone running at full speed down hill. Well if you know Noah very well, you know that he’s not out of commission for long. Down time for him is simply time to plan a next big objective. I can’t imagine taking on some of the large alpine climbs he has been a part of, so I just keep him company on what he will allow me to tag along on.
Today, it was the Bastille Crack. About a week ago – I saw some photos of Noah climbing a mid 5th route, following trad in Eldo – with only one arm. The other arm was in a sling, go figure. Well this week his arm was feeling even better and we decided to go play around in Eldo. Jason (thatnissanguy) came along and we had a grand old time. I started off with leading the 5.easy Breezy. It was a very hot day. Noah climbed the entire pitch with limited use of his right arm. An hour later, he would lead the first pitch of the Bastille Crack (5.7+ sandbagged Eldo rating) with ease.
The next day we had planned either the Flying Dutchman couloirs or Dreamweaver, or perhaps the Sharkstooth. Well the hours went by and we couldn’t really make our mind up on anything, so we decided to hit Eldo again. Not to mention, the temperature trend’s we’ve been having aren’t exactly favorable for what we had in mind. The Sharkstooth proved to be too big of a day – all of us getting to bed very late.
The Bastille Crack:
The Bastille Crack description, quoted directly from mountain project,
One of the most classic climbs in the country. It begins right off the road on the Bastille, a 350' cliff on the left as you enter the canyon. Often crowded, a weekday is probably the best time to attempt this climb.
The climb is north facing and in the shade until mid-afternoon. As Jim Erickson said in his classic 1980 Rocky Heights guidebook, "avoid it like the plague if the weather is not warm, or you will shiver away much of its charm."
Start at the center of the north face of the Bastille, below a hand crack that starts 20' up the wall, with a huge serrated flake to its right.
The first pitch has been the site of numerous accidents, so make sure you're solid on 5.7 crack climbing and placing pro before attempting to lead it. “
Jason and I have been Sport climbing recently, getting our technique down. Lately, we’ve both been in the Trad mood. Trad and Sport vary greatly. Although both are not lacking in either physical ability or the “Leaders head”, Trad is a different animal all together. Not only are you on as difficult terrain, there is more “messing” around with gear which often consumes precious energy, whereas in Sport climbing, you simply clip a fixed bolt and continue on.
Confident in following 5.10 and leading 5.9 Sport, it was finally time to put some trad leading ability to the test.
A photograph of the Bastille Crack in Eldo. You can go here to read more about it, http://mountainproject.com/v/the-bastille-crack/105748490
The first pitch is supposedly the crux pitch of the entire route. However, the climbing is very sustained and physical.
The first pitch, on lead. The crux is stepping across from the flake to the left hand crack.
The cripple following the first pitch
Exposure at top of first pitch.
Jason getting his game face on, ready to lead the next 5.7 pitch.
Jason at the top of an awkward slab area, the crux of that pitch.
Semi-hanging belay at beginning of pitch 3 (or 4?)
The cripple threatened to beat us with his cane if we didn’t let him lead the last pitch. It was raining at this point, fortunately we didn’t get completely pelted.
And we made it through the storm. Bastille crack is a trial by fire for a semi-new trad leader, but a great and memorable one at that. Thanks Jason and Noah, excellent day on the rock.
And now for Super Star Couloir on James Peak.
So Jason and I were planning on doing Liberty Ridge on Rainier earlier this week. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the plans didn’t go through. The weather this week was nuking in WA, so we felt a bit better. Prior to we got our crevasse rescue on up at St. Mary’s, also sleeping at high altitude after driving around for umpteen hours lost on 4x4 roads, trying to find the Kingston Peak 4x4 trail.
Well in the midst of all that, we spotted super star couloirs and it appeared to be still “in”. Super Star is a steep snow climb topping out at about 55 to 60 degrees. At the top, one must traverse the snow (it was sketchy when I did it) and find a 5.4 (more like a 5.0) crack leading to the summit.
The snow was in decent condition, despite the high temperature. We got an early enough start, topping out on the summit around 11 or 12, can’t remember. We finally did do some research and find out how to drive up the evasive (to us) Kingston Peak 4x4 road. We parked on the tundra below James Peak, dropped down to James Peak Lake and commenced our climb.
There was this gnarly truck at the bottom of our decent down into the basin to gain the couloirs.
A view of Super Star. Steep snow, 5.4 alpine rock finish. 100’
Sarah coming up, Jason right ahead of her out of the photo.
The Sketch Traverse. I post holed up to my waste just below this. Snow was unstable here. Below is a continuous death drop, not pictured.
This is the belay ledge for the 5.4.
Jason getting ready to lead the 5.4
Me topping out, Jason on belay taking the photo
Super Star probably isn’t in the greatest condition any longer with this hot weather we’ve been having. The large cornice at the top is still in place and looks beastly to be going either left or right around. The best option is the 5th class area to the right. Route drawn on photo below.
Jason took all of the photos, hope you enjoyed them as I did!
Here is the link to better quality photos, and a few more not posted.