Since we’d been away in New Zealand for most of April Eric and I hadn’t been able to go cragging.  Eager to get out on real rock after a winter fo plastic we headed out to Leavenworth. We chose to climb “Aquarius” a 3 pitch 5.7 multi-pitch on February Buttress. The crag itself was easy to locate. It is the second to late climbing area in Tumwater Canyon just before reaching the town of Leavenworth. We parked on the shoulder and easily found the climbers trail that steeply leads up to the foot of the crag. Our book Leavenworth Rock describes  three routes on this wall. Groundhog Day and Ain’t Misbehavin’ are right beside one another… Aquarius was supposed to be several feet to the right.

We found what we thought was the other two routes and walked right until we reached watch we thought matched the the drawing of Aquarius  in the book. Eric and I brought a full set of nuts, DMM cams 0-5; a second DMM 3 cam; pink & red tricam; wildcountry hex 9, 6 &5, 2 double runners and 11 alpine draws… a lot of gear, but it wasn’t an alpine route.

I led the first pitch which was supposed to have bolts on it… i never came across any. This was the first hint that we were not on Aquarius. The rock took my small and medium sized nuts well. In fact that is all it took! The gear was pretty run out, but climbing was not scary… definitely 5.7 though. Lots of mantles and positive holds. Good friction. I came across a set of chain anchors just below a small rope and clipped in. The views of the Tumwater Canyon were speculator. I belayed Eric off the anchor and vowed that next time i would use a redirect. Out 10.2 mm rope put way too much friction in the system.

Eric led Pitch 2 over the roof above us, a slab and then over a second, more cruxy roof to another set of chains. Again we were missing the bolts. However, we kept hitting chains which meant we were on some route… However, the description of the only other reported multi-pitch, Groundhog Day, did not match our experience either. Again the route took nuts and a #0 and #3 cam. However, the route was again run out and the cam placements less than ideal.

Finally, I led up the final pitch… lots of fun with good holds, mantles and slabs. This pitch ate took no nuts, only my #0-3 cams! Instead of topping out though, i reached another set of chain well below what was the summit. I belayed Eric up again.

The next pitch was more of a 5.0 climb with a few higher rated moves. Eric lead up until he got to some rappel webbing just short of the top before belaying me up. We then scrambled to the summit which had another higher point behind it… and another behind that. We scrambled on easy rock and through arrowleaf balsmroot until me reached the highest point.

The route required us to rap down as there is no easy walk off. Eric and I decided to see if we could find some of the other crags along the ridge though instead. Traversing across was no easy task and in the end up ended up descending over very steep ground back to the road.

So if anyone knows what route be climbed, let me know!

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