Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cougar Rock: Who Wants to Climb Some First Ascents?

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The View from the parking spot...approach involves only10-15 minutes of hiking.

Two years ago Jen and I found a cool hilltop rock at around 6000 feet on the east side of the North Cascades. It is composed of weathered old granitic rock somewhere between washington pass and joshua tree in quality  with a number of intruding dykes, cracks and wind sculpted huecos forming steep and interesting climbable features. We've been back a few times and established a handful of fun boulder problem and one okay roped routes which lacks anchors as the short hardware store wedge bolts we had with us were sketch in the weathered rock. 

Atypically for Washington, the rock is quite clean. Everything we've done so far has been ground up though the steepness of some of the lines may convince us to hang a rope down them.

View from above.

The climbable season for the rock is somewhat short due to its elevation but it also provides an escape from both the rain of the west and the heat of the lowlands making it the perfect destination 1-2 weekends a year. The 360 degree views and wildness of the spot also make it rather unique.

Jen working "Spine Tingler" a cool dyke that arcs through an overhang. Currently you finish by stepping across to the tree but I would like to eventually top it out on aliens in pockets or should make a decent length pitch.

We have had it to ourselves for a couple of years and have not even touched a number of the quality lines. It seems the best course forward is to invite our friends out for a first ascent weekend sometime soon so that they can also share in the bounty...let us know if you are interested. 

Logistically the crag is 4.5 hours from seattle, about n hour of that on a dirt forest service road that was cleared and graded recently and should still be passable to honda accords and similar. It is well outside of the wilderness area (as demonstrated by the dirt and mountain bike trails in the area). Reports from mountain bikers in the area suggest the snow has melted but this year who knows. You can camp at the parking area though there are no amenities and it is on the way to nowhere ...bring your own water, plenty of gas, spare tire etc and be prepared to dig a pit to poo. The nearest developed camping (and swimming and climbing not developed by us) is about an hour away due to the winding dirt road. After our experience with short wedge bolts we are convinced all fixed anchors should be long stainless rawl five pieces or similar and I bought a number of these.

There are many other undeveloped crags and boulders and some larger walls in the area waiting to be scouted...four wheel drive and or mountain bikes could be useful. 

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The short approach. A sweet looking steep crack splits the overhanging headwall of the left spire...we haven't tried it yet as we got distracted by all the cool dykes and huecos close to the ground.

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The crack from below that hides the steepness of it.

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And another from the side...with the slaby crack below this will make a really cool hard single pitch crack route to an independent summit. 

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The saddle between the two spires.

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The one roped rout to date. 

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Overview of that wall, note the abundant intruding dyke features.

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A steep, featured, wall.

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"Spine Tingler" on the right end of the steep wall.

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The strange "paw" feature.

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Slaby wall awaiting first ascents.

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This slab could have an awesome tip toe route on some small and select the larger size for full effect.

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Unclimbed flake to a Hueco covered roof. 

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Some cracks.

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Telephoto shot from far below showing small boulder field.

Jen on the FA of The "Sand Ladder" warm up boulder. 


The "Huecos are for Lovers" alcove.

"Flakes are for Fun Lovers" to the right of huecos, finish left and up, right finish remains to be done.

One of the Hueco problems in the alcove... finish by stepping off to a large boulder at your back.

Flakes and cracks in the saddle.

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Cougar prints we found around our tent one is a wild place.


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