In January, Seattle area climbers take up meteorology as a hobby. A network of weather sites and low resolution webcams provide a picture of the shifting mess of storm systems, temperature inversions and rain shadows... txt messages are sent to friend who live near, or may have driven by the crags and cars are loaded with everything from ice tools to crash pads. In past years, I've driven half way across the state with rock shoes and cams to find two feet of snow clinging to the rock and end up sipping coffee in a small town book store thinking of what could have been.
This January, however, I think I have a system worked out. If there is any chance of climbing at all it will be in the rain shadow of the olympics, which, depending on conditions will fall somewhere between Bellingham and north bend. This weekend it fell on the Chuckanut sandstone of Larbee state park near Bellingham.
Though many strong climbers have called this area home, there is little information available on established routes and problems. We simply take our pads, stock up on dried local meats and coffee at one of the small stores along St RT 11 and walk the beaches and train tracks looking for solid, dry stone.
Climbing gently, testing holds before committing, not knowing or careing the names and ratings... basking in the setting sun and finishing the day at the skagit brewery in mount vernon. It is as close to heaven as I can imagine this time of year.
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