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Beautiful Granite in Washington Pass!

Anoth­er cus­tom trip proves to be a spec­tac­u­lar way to spend the week­end in Wash­ing­ton Pass! MM Guide Rob Schiess­er and return­ing client Chris Egnatz were ecsta­t­ic to tack­le an amaz­ing 3 days, 3 big objec­tives, 23 pitch­es, and a whole lot of crisp gran­ite.” Con­grat­u­la­tions to Rob and Chris for their incred­i­ble accomplishment!

Rob writes:

With­in a quick cou­ple of emails, and a fair amount a day­dream­ing, the only real objec­tive we were able to pin down was this: get as much time on high, dif­fi­cult alpine rock climb­ing routes as pos­si­ble on our 3‑day trip. Since the Wash­ing­ton Pass area offers the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of alpine rock climb­ing ter­rain and a short approach, we picked a hefty dose of hard-per­son clas­sics to attempt. 

Pitch 1 on the Hitch­hik­er, a burly 5.10+ cor­ner. Rob Schiess­er photo

We start­ed the trip off with one of the longest bolt­ed rock climbs in the US. Climb­ing near­ly 1,000 feet up a low lay­ing but­tress in the Methow Val­ley, we got into a great rhythm mov­ing quick­ly up the near­ly 9 pitch­es of per­fect steep lime­stone-like rock. The 5.11 crux led us through an amaz­ing thin sec­tion where bal­ance and breath con­trol made all the difference. 

Pitch 2. Bolts led us through anoth­er clas­sic cor­ner sys­tem. Rob Schiess­er photo

In the morn­ing we awoke to a cool hazy glow and were ready to take our trip into the alpine zone. The Lib­er­ty Bell mas­sif offeres many faces of var­i­ous aspects and pitch after pitch of beau­ti­ful sparkling gran­ite. The South Face of the North Ear­ly Win­ter Spire offers a line of crack and face climb­ing up its 1,100 foot wall. The route we chose, The Hitch­hik­er (5.11c) seemed to rise direct­ly out of the hair­pin turn. Every pitch of this amaz­ing line fol­lowed obvi­ous weak­ness­es and fea­tures some­times even ris­ing steeply over roofs of gran­ite with bul­bous buck­et-type holds guid­ing us through what looked to be impos­si­ble faces. The crux pitch spit us off the wall laugh­ing with delight as we test­ed our pow­er endurance in its thin cor­ner-crack fea­ture. As we topped out on the face it took some work to slow down and reflect on the beau­ty of our posi­tion; you just got­ta stop and smell the ros­es, or at least the lit­tle Jack Pine near the sum­mit block!

Anoth­er clas­sic shot of the Hitch­hik­er. Mark Gun­log­son photo

On the last day we real­ized we need­ed a bit of a warm down. How­ev­er, more steller hard climb­ing pre­sent­ed itself and we com­mit­ed to yet anoth­er big hard free climb. The Bovine Roof vari­a­tion on the south­west rib of North Ear­ly Win­ter spire offered some easy ter­rain with a killer dou­ble roof hand crack. The first pitch sent us out into the emp­ty void whoop­ing for footholds. After the beau­ti­ful final hand­crack of the Bovine Roof vari­a­tion we moved into the more com­fort­able 5.6 slab of the upper spire and moved quick­ly to the top.

Top of the spire with clas­sic Wash­ing­ton Pass view. Rob Schiess­er photo