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Great Northern Slab (5.6)

Index, WA

June 5, 2009


My good friend Jeff Witt is getting married next month (Congratulations, Jeff and Tracy!) in Jackson, Wyoming, so Kim and I are working on getting in shape for some fun climbing in the Tetons while we are visiting for the wedding. It has been a while since Kim has been out on real rock, so we picked GNS as a fun warm up.

Having climbed this route just a few weeks ago I have the approach scramble down pat. Kim scrambled up also with the security of a top rope and soon we were at the base of the climb. I remember aiding this first pitch years ago with Michael. It's comical to imagine trying to step up on aiders on a pitch that is 40-50 degrees. We were practically laying down on the rock as we stepped up to place the next piece. I recall it was raining or had just rained too, so the rock was really wet.

Today there was barely a cloud in the sky! We cruised up the first pitch and Kim arrived at the massive anchor belay, just as another couple was rapping off. We chatted for a little bit then I continued up the original route left and up from the belay. I used all double runners and the rope drag wasn't bad. I made sure to protect the traverse back to the main slab face well, then headed up the fun crack system and past the large "bonsai" tree growing from the side of the wall.

Too soon I was at the three bolted anchors and called off belay. With the bolts I was able to use my nifty Trango Alpine Equalizer. This is such a cool anchor system for multi-pitch routes with bolted belays. REI used to carry these, but Mountain Gear.com has them for $39. Once across the balancy traverse, Kim had a great time climbing up the face in the cracks. Here we were treated to great views across the valley.

We spent some time finding a good stance for Kim to belay from before I headed up on the final pitch. Efficient change overs at the belays are really important when climbing long routes so we talked about ways to stream line this for when we will be in the Tetons. As I was climbing up, another party was rapping off Breakfast of Champions and asked if there were anchors halfway down for single rope rappels. I assumed there were but since I didn't know for sure, I told them such and continued up to the top. (When I got home I looked it up and there are anchors to the left of Roger's Corner. Rock Climbing Washington states that a 50m rope will reach the ground from the anchors of BoC)

Kim and I had only one rope ourselves (our rap rope was accidentally left at home) so we made three rappels from the top and even then our rope got stuck on the first rap. So Kim belayed me up on the other end of the rope and I got to lead the first half of the last pitch again. On the way up, I was careful to place gear in places that would also protect the tricky sections for when I downclimbed the route. Back at the second anchors with an unstuck rope, we were able to complete the remaining rappels with no further ado!

No climbing trip to Index is complete without a stop at the Alpen Drive In in Gold Bar. With the soul and body fed, we drove back to Seattle with plenty of time to get ready for Train Night at the Mariners game! What a great day!