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The Climbing Club • View topic - Olympic Peninsula Climbing (and WFR class)

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:33 am 
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Naturally, since Brendan and I just got done with finals and were finally celebrating a brief interlude of summery bliss, we decided to cut short our jubilation and sign up for 10 days of WFR classes at Olympic Park Institute (class by WMI). Aside from being conveniently close to my parents' house, the class was only minutes from two local crags (not unintentional planning on our part).


For those who don't know, the Olympics are known for their extraordinary chossiness - the sport crags are no exception. After our second day of class, we ventured out to the crag locally known as the Elh-wall for a short jaunt up the warm up route Slappin' Skeeters (aptly named for this time of year) before passing out. While not the most technical climb, the sheer amount of dust and mank on the holds makes the top section feel pretty insecure. Thoroughly zonked out, we made note of a few routes worth coming back to and went to seek refuge in our beds.


Fast forward a few days of medical education and we found ourselves checking out a super secret (and by secret I mean no one really wants to go there) crag on the east beach of Lake Crescent for some "adventure climbing." Though none of the routes here are more than three or four bolts high, it was nice for me to venture away from the Elwha and explore a new part of my home stomping grounds. What was less nice was the condition of the crag - again its "super secret" nature prevents much traffic on the few doable routes. Thusly, we came up with an amended rating system to accurately encompass what we we're experiencing (there is no guidebook for this area). Our first pitch of the day was a likely unclimbed splitter which we dubbed Sedimentary Embolism. Not really a destination climb, but a good way to toprope the cool pocket climb on the opposite side of the rock. I got in a short trad lead, and we tested out our new rating system, settling on a grade of 5.moss.VA1 (VA being vegetable aid). Brendan followed, then we rapped down and got the anchors to the climb we'd been eyeing on the other face of the monolithic boulder.

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I shed my cams after their maiden voyage, then we roped up to explore this bolted (and therefore maybe cleaned) climb. Brendan climbed first, setting off in a flurry of four letter words and muttering about the loose mess falling into his eyes. Several times on the way up, I heard complaints about the quantity of spiders/webs occupying the few positive pockets, and 3/4 the way to the top Brendan commented on the gorgeous bird's nest he found in the route's biggest pocket. Upon returning to terra firma, he casually commented, "I think I may have the world's biggest eye booger," but manual inspection and extraction revealed - this is Olympic - a rock.

After both climbing it, we decided to name this route "****", a tribute to the multitude of arachnids present and the (painful) grip - and gave it a rating of 5.9.tree.3 (tree.3 referencing the number of times each climber stemmed off of a large tree opposite the rock).

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From East Beach, we drove 20 minutes around the lake to a house named "La Sage" (we were later informed that La Sage has previously done battle with a skunk - this explained its mysterious skunk like odor). Beach bon fires, beers, whiskey slap, dancing, and slightly inebriated tent assemblage ensued.

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We awoke to a beautiful and warm morning and were glad to have a day off from our first aid class. Following breakfast at Granny's between lake crescent and Port Angeles, we headed back to the Elwha because we just hadn't had enough choss yet. To start off the day, Brendan re-led Skeeter's and I followed. After being reunited with this fantastically nasty route, I naively decided that I wanted something new. So, in the spirit of exploration, I decided to take a shot a week old, newly bolted 5.8 "route" in a jungle around the corner. Though it could be said that it was recently cleaned, the soles of my shoes found precious little confirmation of this claim as I skidded up the first 20 feet covered with mud, moss, and misery. At this point, the move to clip the first bolt was obvious, but the thick mud caked onto both of the footholds I was eyeing for my stem was not exactly confidence inspiring. After clipping the precariously placed first bolt the climb improved, and I shortly found myself clipping the shiny new anchors at the top. Brendan followed and commented on the foliage around (and still on) the climb.

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Since we are not aware of a name for this new route, I have temporarily dubbed it "Wildebeest Crossing." This is partially a credit to the amount of mud, slippery danger, and grunting that occurs during the lower portion of the route. It is also due to Brendan's insatiable hunger after climbing the route, and I quote, "I metabolize like a migrating wildebeest." Despite his debilitating famine, Brendan next led the Elwha classic The Mikey Cooter Prememorial Headbanger Route at 5.8 - a pleasant climb by all accounts, and the least dusty thing we climbed all day. I followed, and then we toproped the 5.9/10 (debatable) Get a Handle On It, which shared the anchors. This was easily my favorite climb of the week, including some fun sidepulls and nice stemming.

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Later in the day we returned with my lil' bro to eek out some more acceptable climbing, repeating all of our previous ascents. At the end of the day, Brendan was feeling good and wanted to lead Gomer's Epic, which the guidebook called a 5.9. After some four letter words regarding the rope drag, and more four letter words after a foot hold snapped off and he found himself decking on a ledge, Brendan found himself at the anchors. I followed, and we decided that this was easily the most difficult lead either of us had done outside, and in the end I would call it a low 5.10. Also to be noted, the top half of the route is a dusty choss fest far surpassing that of the other climbs we did at the Elh-wall.

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The next day our WFR class featured a scenario where we ended up in a dog pile and needed to be rescued. As we were staging the situation, we were told to be totally unresponsive. Brendan's aggressive hunger reared its ugly head once again as he exclaimed, "I WILL break character if someone steals my cookie!" This turned out not to be a problem, as the weight of the 10 people on top of us squelched any protests by preventing sufficient breathing.

After lunch, one of our instructors subtly told us, "okay now we're going to go in and shoot eachother up." And so 30 apprehensive WFR students filed into the classroom to inject eachother with the most hard core of all drugs - saline. All in all, no one fainted and most people felt empowered to have this possibly valuable skill.


Finally, after 10 days of night rescues, immature jokes, cringing, making friends, and learning medicine, UWCC has earned its two newest certified WFRs. Both of us feel so much better about our ability to help others in the great outdoors, and it was an awesome course. I have no reservations about recommending WMI classes, the whole thing was very well done. It was a good week of climbing, and now I'm all psyched up to go bag some new routes this summer!

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:44 am 
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nice TR and a fun week, Jason!

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:43 am 
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Location: closer to josh, kris, and mel than craig
I'm impressed you guys even decided to climb that first moss-pile of a pitch. Well done! And I really enjoyed the new rating systems.

Lastly, congrats on the WFR certification!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:36 pm 
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Just found these two gems from one of the guys in our WFR class...they pretty much sum up our week:




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:18 pm 
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Good stuff! Now we just need to get those WFR practice sessions going...


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:59 pm 
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great write-up!

i believe Brendan's forum handle should be "Migrating Wildebeest"...

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