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Frenchman Coulee Cragging

Feathers and the Zig Zag Wall

May 3-5, 2013

We rounded up the Usual Suspects and made a trip out to Vantage for some climbing in the Sun! Donovan, Jasmine and Allen drove out Friday evening and set up camp with their friends Dan and Courtney. Loren and I drove over Saturday morning and Bryon and Krista joined us that afternoon!

It was a super fun weekend full of climbing, beautiful weather, great food and laughing at stories told around the camp fire! Unfortunately it wasn't all enjoyable as Jasmine took a short fall Saturday afternoon and broke the ends of her left tibia and fibula! What we hoped was a sprain turned out to be much more serious.

Donovan, Jasmine, Allen and I witnessed some excitement as we walked up to the Zig Zag wall. We had just stopped to take a look at the guidebook and decide where we wanted to climb when we heard a commotion behind us. We turned around and saw a body falling from halfway up a left facing corner which I think is called Take Control. The climber fell about thirty feet, bounced off the broken pedestal 15 feet from the bottom and flipped over and hit the ground! It was the scariest accident I've ever witnessed in the mountains. I immediately dialed 911 and called in the accident. As I was dialing the climber popped up to his feet and everyone around yelled, "Stay down! Don't move!". He sat back down as two nearby climbers who just happened to be a nurse and an EMT checked him over and miraculously the climber walked away with barely a scratch on his knee! He didn't even need a band aid. I walked over to him and informed him that I had called 911 when I saw his fall but he thanked me and said he was feeling ok and didn't want to be seen by the responders. So I called 911 back and cancelled the call.

We were all shaken up by this accident and decided to just climb some easy bolted routes directly across from the Zig Zag Wall. Donovan and Allen each lead a route while Jasmine and I followed. Jasmine and Donovan's lab-pit bull mix, Riley, relaxed in the sun as we climbed. She was so funny, trying to sit on the rope tarp or laying down in the middle of the trail! It's a dog's life! It was good to be back climbing in the sunshine of eastern Washington! Loren called while we were about to wrap up and we met him back at camp. The afternoon winds picked up and Loren had a challenging time getting his Taj tent to stay down. But he was able to relocate it to an area that sat a litle lower and was protected from the winds.

Dan and Courtney had left earlier that morning in search of more civilized plumbing (the Honey Bucket at the 2nd Parking and Camping area behind the Feathers was nearly overflowing. Donations can be made to the Vantage Toilet Fund) but headed the wrong way on I-90 and ended up driving into Ellensburg instead of George. Oh well, they were able to pick up some needed supplies. Namely Cheetos for Donovan which he bravely dipped into his French Onion Dip. This seemingly odd combination proved to be particularly tasty!

It was great meeting Dan and Courtney and sharing our enthusiasm for astronomy! Dan brought a Green laser pointer which we used to lure marmots out of their holes. It was fun to watch them chase the light down the hillside. We also used the laser to point out planets and constellations that evening. I love the dark skies of eastern Washington. Dan and Courtney attended the Table Mountain Star party last year also.

Bryon and Krista arrived with their baby on board and their lab, Matilda. Bryon had some friends from the Central Washington University climbing club that we met up with at the Feathers. We all had a great time climbing together right up until Jasmine's fall. But Jasmine is tough with Donovan's assistance she made it back to camp and iced her leg.

I had planned to drive back Saturday evening since I was pretty tired from just returning from skiing the Isolation Traverse the day before but Loren offered to let me sleep in his tent and Dan let me borrow two Swiss Surplus wool blankets so I stayed that night and drove back to Seattle the next morning so I could be to work at noon.

Thanks everyone for a great weekend climbing! Looking forward to more camping trips in Leavenworth this summer! We missed you, Merv, Amy, Andy, Tera, and Kim!