Post Finals Seneca 12/13-16/01

Notes From the Field ~6pm 12/14/01

It is such a good feeling to be here! Dan and I rolled in yesterday around 9pm We were greeted by an empty Princess Snowbird and some temperate (low 60s) though windy conditions. We built a small fire, cooked some hot dogs, read up on a few routes and went to sleep.

As expected, the rain rolled in during the wee hours and continued pretty heavily until we were done with our breakfast omelets. Noting the sopping wet conditions, Dan and I donned our rain gear and opted for a North Peak hike. Other than a slight mix-up with the car keys, the morning went off without any problems and we took some great photos of the fog in the valley. The temperature was in the 60s, though, and things seemed to be drying out so we jogged down to the parking lot and racked up.

We started on a very wet Skyline Traverse (5.3) with Dan leading the first pitch. He lead a little bit past the belay, but a short downclimb brought him back on route. I led the second pitch without too much difficulty and Dan hiked up the third pitch onto Lower Broadway Ledge. We spent some time looking around at the easier routes….the sun was out on the west face so we wanted to get up and over. We couldn’t find the start to A Christian Delight or Lady Elaine, so I ended up leading what I believe was Discontent (5.4). After climbing a damp flake and running out an easy yet lichen covered traverse on small feet, I arrived at the second belay on the Old Ladies’ traverse. Just in time, too, because the wind picked up and a few big raindrops started to fall. Dark clouds shot across the summit as Dan came up the flake. As I glanced up at the last little patch of blue sky, a raindrop fell on my glasses and blotted it out. Nothing came of the ominous looking weather, though…we arrived at the summit and watched more clouds building in the west before rapping down at Conn’s West. For the future, I would like to research routes a bit more before attempting them….it was a bit frustrating looking for some of those lines on the East Face.

All in all though, it was a grand day…the clouds all blew over (even though the wind hung around) and we stuffed ourselves in the evening with rice and bean burritos. We’re supposed to have good weather tomorrow…should be another fun day!

Notes from the living room ~6pm 12/17/01

The weather held nicely for Saturday….we woke up bright and early after a good twelve hour night. The sky was clouded over and the temperature was probably in the low 40s, but according to Thursday’s forecast it was going to turn into a really nice day. We racked up and hiked in to the base of Ecstasy Junior (5.4). Definitely one of my favorite routes…not only is it a nifty climb but it bypasses the stairmaster! I led up the first pitch, leaving Dan to belay with only slightly numb fingers. We swapped leads and then hurried up to Luncheon Ledge to get out of the wind. After a quick snack of pop tarts and granola bars we headed over to Le Gourmet (5.4), but to our surprise the route was occupied! It was only a pair of two, so we waited for a few minutes and they were on their way. We cruised up the route and ended up at the Critter Wall. I scoped out Critter Crack (5.6) and decided to go for it. Beautiful hand jams all the way up and easy pro, along with some decent exposure. I got to the top and was super psyched….my first 5.6 lead and I felt very solid. Dan managed to bloody his hands pretty nicely: while on second his feet popped off but both of his jams held. Hand jams man….just like a belay!

Dan had his eye on leading the first pitch of Prune (5.7), so we rapped down and Dan started leading the pitch. As Dan established the belay up top, a fellow walked up to me and asked to join us. We were pretty much done for the day, so after asking the fellow a little about his experience I tied him in short and sent him up the route after Dan. He didn’t have any problems, and I cleaned the route relatively easily. We all agreed that the pitch we did was not a 5.7 but rather felt more like a 5.5, at most 5.6. Anyhow, the sun was headed down, so we rapped down and headed back to camp. After a fireside dinner of spaghetti and corn we headed to bed. It was pretty early so we played cards for a while. After guessing a bit at the time (I was convinced that it was at least 11:30pm….Dan thought it was only 7:00), we settled in for a cold night.

Sunday morning dawned cold and cloudy. We wasted no time in heading to the Valley View for a warm breakfast. Even after passing an hour or so at the restaurant, the temperature was still only in the low 30s and the cloud cover hadn’t broken. We sat in the car for a while, listening to the one radio station we could get and hoping for a “sunny and warm” weather forecast. The cold is much more bearable when you know it is going to warm up. The radio wasn’t very helpful, so after we’d heard as much “Racing Country” as we could take we geared up and headed to the East Face. We hiked/scrambled/climbed up to the base of Conn’s East (5.5) and I set up a really comfy belay. Dan led the first pitch, a bit awkward and ending in a beautiful exposed belay. We swapped pack for rack and I headed out onto the face to start the second pitch…retreating once to place a piece of “mental pro”. The climb wasn’t difficult, but being on the sharp end with 200+ feet of exposure under my rear still plays with my mind. Anyhow, I brought Dan up and then led the slither across the summit ridge, where we took advantage of the somewhat warm, calm conditions to eat pop tarts and thrash around while taking pictures of birds. We rapped down, considered our options, and decided to head to the Lower Slabs and finish the trip with some hard top-roping. Dan set up Discrepancy (5.8) and we both cruised it a few times….it’s amazing the difference between what feels good on top-rope and on lead. We also played around on the 5.11 crack to the right a bit….managed to do the route up to the crux and above the crux, but the one or two crux moves were beyond either of us. It felt really good to get pumped out after three days of trad climbing on relatively easy stuff.
Anyhow, the weather forecast wasn’t too appealing, so we decided to call it quits and head home. Fantastic trip though….gained a lot of experience and I now have a pretty good idea of what I want to be on next time I head down to Seneca.


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