Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Trout Creek... take 1

I went to Trout Creek for the first time this past weekend. I had been meaning to go for a while but I would either be distracted by the closer climbs at Smith Rock or I would heed the call of the mountains. Although, to be honest, I was also a little intimidated. I had heard rumors of stout grades and pumpy splitters. I have always struggled on the basalt columns of Smith's Lower Gorge and I imagined Trout to be similar but harder. My preconceptions were, of course, blown out of the water. The columns are huge, the stone gritty, and the climbing has a physical nature totally different from anything I've climbed at Smith.

The crag on the hill from the campsite by the Deschutes.
Chris and I drove out there Saturday morning. We planned to camp Saturday night and climb Sunday too. Chris had been out to Trout a few times but is by no means a veteran. We combined our racks and borrowed a friends too. Climbers at Trout are supposedly pretty friendly about sharing gear, but with the forecast calling for a chance of rain we weren't sure who else would show. As it turned out we got to the base of the Main Wall around noon and were the only ones there.

Purdy view and blue skies... although it was windy.

After scoping around a bit and consulting the guide book in the "community bucket" I racked up to try lead Gold Rush (5.10-). This is a splitter hand crack, named for all of the yellow #2 Camalots it takes. I figured I should be able to get up this clean at least, but less than halfway up I was hanging on gear. I did all the moves fine but found it too pumpy and hung a couple times before the chains. I was somewhat concerned about the rest of the weekend since Gold Rush is one of the easiest climbs on the Main Wall.

Cracks! Goldrush is dead center with the dark pod at the bottom.
Next I belayed Chris on Landing a Monster (5.10). This is a variation to Monster (5.12-) which climbs a double crack next to it before traversing into the upper part of Monster above the crux. He sent that clean and I then top roped it with more hanging on the rope. Still hopeful, I decided to try lead JR Token (5.10). I actually got up the first two thirds (more splitter hands) before getting totally destroyed on the thin hands crux. After a couple whippers I sewed it up and pulled to the anchors. Next Chris got on Suzuki (5.10+) a double crack stem box. He struggled to get up it, using mostly the right crack. I then tried it on top rope and still hung but made it to the top using the double cracks well. For the first time I felt like I had climbed well.

Looking down the Main Wall... JR Token starts from the higher mini pillar on the right.
We got back to the car after dark and made noodles topped with chilli and cheese. We downed a couple IPAs and, after staring at the stars for a while, went to bed. We slept long, got up late, and made our second awesome meal of trip: breakfast burritos. Caitlin is not a big fan of breakfast the meal, eggs, breakfast burritos, raw onions, and all things spicy, but she wasn't there. We cooked what should have fed 10 people... a bag of cubed potatoes, a pile of delicious sausage links from the Primal Cuts butcher in Bend, six eggs, tons of garlic, a whole onion, the rest of the cheese from the night before, some spinach, wrapped it all in giant tortillas from the Mexican bakery and topped it with Habanero hot sauce. Each of us ate two huge burritos and then we made two more to save for later. We sat around for an hour, utilized the out-house gloriously, and hiked up to the wall. It was after noon.

Looking down the Main Wall on day 2.
I started off the day by racking up to lead U3 (5.9+). Another double crack that delivers a big right calf pump. I worked my way up it, found some rests, and finally got a clean send. Chris then tried Suzuki again. He used the double cracks a bit better and was able to get that clean as well. I TRed it clean afterwards, we were stoked. There was another double crack/chimney left of Suzuki and it looked easy to me. Convinced it couldn't be harder than U3, I jumped on it. I thought it was awkward but was certain it was no harder than 5.9. Later we found out it was rated a 5.10- but whatever it's rated I was starting to realize that I was much stronger on double cracks and stemming problems than on straight-in splitters. Either way my confidence was boosted and after Chris sent Mr. Squiggles ( a wiggly 5.10 splitter) I top roped that clean too.

Route finding between route climbing... navigating the boulder maze.

Sunset as we pack up.
We were out of time and day light, but we were both convinced that our "Send Burritos" had helped us have a great second day. We drove home and stopped at the new Base Camp Pizza in Terrebonne. It was pretty good, although I think we would have raved about anything edible at that point.

I shaved the back of my hands pre-trip so I could remove tape gloves easily but the gobis still hurt... drinking numbs the pain.
Overall: Besides a quick bit of rain Saturday, the weather was really perfect, cold but ideal for climbing. We saw two other climbers Saturday and no one on Sunday. It was amazing having such an awesome crag to ourselves and we joked about the poor people lining up at Indian Creek in Utah.

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