Climbers are a small community and finding a partner can be a difficult feat. Even more difficult is located a partner that you not only climb well with, but also get along with off the rock. So when you find a person who might have this potential we tend take a gamble. That’s what Colleen and I did anyway. We met each other over a year ago while climbing in Leavenworth with our husbands and have a 15 minute conversation. Afterwards we only communicated on Facebook due to them living in Canada (and then traveling to Turkey for several months). When they returned from Turkey, Colleen and I decided to randomly meet up and go climbing in the Central Cascades for two days based on the 15 minute meeting over a year ago!

We began the day mid-afternoon and headed over to Index Town Wall. Our plan was the climb the classic route Great Northern Slab, 5.6. Instead of scrambling up to the start of the route Colleen tried to lead Lizard Crack, 5.8. It’s a gnarly fist crack and since this is Index the rating is heavily sandbagged. There is a silver fixed cam jammed at the crux toward the top. As it turned out after a 30 minutes of unsuccessful jamming and smearing I lowered Colleen and also gave it an unsuccessful attempt. The rock was bit damp due to the earlier rain, so I found that even though my fist jam was solid I could not do the required smear off the already low friction left wall. We decided to call it out the crack and scrambled (class 4) to the base of three pitch Great Northern Slab.

Colleen led the first pitch which is short and blocky. It is probably rated about a 5.3-4. There are giant railroad chains at the end that can be girth hitched with runners and clipped into as an anchor.

I lead the second pitch. I’ve climbed this route twice before, but have never led this pitch. It is definitely the longer and more difficult. First the you must navigate over an awkward bulge featuring an off-width crack. It is well protected though making it easier on the mind. There is a tree to sling almost directly afterward. A nearly vertical double crack system protected well with nut placement leads normal chain anchors. It’s a pretty uncomfortable belay stance though. We swung leads and Colleen led up the final pitch which is more difficult to protect. It is most friction with some horizontal cracks before topping out in the trees with chain anchors.

We did three rappels to the very bottom of the wall avoiding the scramble down. By now it was early evening and time to hit the road for Leavenworth.

Note that since it had rained earlier in the morning some routes that were stems or chimneys that we passed where still wet. These features dry more slowly.

 

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