An Alaskan in American Bavaria?

So I had the chance to add a couple of days on to a work trip and visit Jeff Claeson, my best friend and old climbing partner in Spokane.  We decided if the weather played nice we would head up to Leavenworth for a night and get in a couple of days of bouldering.  I apologize in advance for the fact that Jeff took most of the pictures.  He really did climb.

Well, the weather played very nice, and except for a few short sprinkles, we had a nice mix of sun and light clouds.  I’m not sure of the temps, but there was a cool breeze which was very nice for keeping the temps reasonable.  We started out at an area called mad meadows, and warmed up on a couple of problems.  As we were looking around and getting our shoes on we see two large groups come up the trail.  The first group looked like they were going on a picnic, and must have had 4-5 bags of food for 6 people, but at least they looked like climbing too.  The second group up the trail(come to find out they were locals) brought 7 people, 1 pad, 2 cases of beer, and a fair amount of weed.

We started warming up and ended up climbing a couple of the same problems as these guys.   Jeff and I did a couple of nice v2-v3 problems, then moved on to another area to avoid the chaos.

Next up was a really nice tall problem, with just enough height and just enough of a questionable landing to make your heart flutter a bit.   Especially on a first time out.


After this we met up with the picnicking crew at another nice boulder where I did a couple more really nice warm-ups.  Then we were off to a really classic local testpiece called Pimpsqueak.  This is a really beautiful and inspiring line.

The climb basically consists of a couple of mellow moves up the lower arete, to a big move out the lip, followed by a series of compression moves squeezing between the arete and a big hueco like feature in the roof until you hit the end of the roof and a big jug before topping out.  This is a true full body workout, both legs, your core,  and lats will all get worked.

I was lucky the climb suited my style and I was able to send it on my third try.  Jeff and the other guys continued to work it, while I helped spot and then worked an interesting problem just to the left called Crimpsqueek.

This problem took my quite a few tries to figure out the right beta, which ended with a crux lockoff coming out of the cave.  This would be a really outstanding problem if it weren’t for the big boulder behind you.  The hardest part is not being able to swing at all or you will hit the boulder.

Jeff continued working Pimpsqeek and was able to make good progress, but wasn’t able to send as his calf was worn out and cramping too much.

After this Jeff and I headed back to the car and drove up to an area called Forestland.  This area had a lot of hard problems and definitely some I would like to come back and work on.  We started off on a problem called the shield.  This is basically a vertical face with a series of widely spaced but good crimps.  There are really bad intermediate crimps, for those smaller/lighter/crimpmaster/non dynoing types, but Jeff and I just hucked for the good hold.

I think it took a little while to dial in the desire.  I had the distance first go and the hold felt fairly good, but I just couldn’t make myself actually grab the hold.  After about 15-20 times of jumping up and not grabbing the hold.  Jeff  finally decided to get on it (he had done this problem on a previous visit).  He got it after 3-4 tries.  My natural competitiveness came out and I finally started committing to the move.  After a couple more tries, I stuck the hold and cruised to the top where I inexplicably decided to miss the jug.  I reached for it, got the distance just right, decided to close my hand on empty space, and fell.   A couple more tries and I cruised to the top, not missing the hold this time.

From here we explored the area and came to one called the coffee cup.  This is a really aesthetic and simple line consisting of three moves.  We tried it a little bit, made some progress, but knew we weren’t getting anywhere so we decided to move on.  As we headed down we found some guys working a problem called Bananas, this was basically two moves to a top out, with the first move being a big move to a crimp, then a short punch to a good hold on the lip.  Jeff figured this one out pretty quick and sent after maybe 5-6 tries, but I was not having any luck.  After at least 20-30 tries, I got nowhere. We headed over to a neat v7 up a steep face via a couple big moves, then a crux mantle top-out.  I figure out the bottom fairly quick, but my elbows were not OK with a straight v7 mantle.  Jeff was not having any love on the bottom part of the problem, so we headed out.

We were both worn out and pretty happy with our day, so we decided to head down and get dinner.  We asked around and had someone recommend a burger place called Uncle Uli’s.  Jeff and I found the place and sat down and ordered a big burger for dinner.  So after climbing I am usually starved and everything tastes gourmet.  This burger was bad, so bad we didn’t finish them and we were still hungry.  We probably should have had a clue when we found bacon bits instead of bacon strips.

The next morning we headed by the local climbing shop  and I got a nice big chalk bucket on the way out climbing.  While we were there I noticed(it was fairly hard to miss, but I can be pretty dense) there were quite a few stand up paddle boards.  Apparently, the Wenatchee River is a pretty popular place to paddle board.

Jeff and I decided to warm-up at a place called Barney’s Rubble.  We started off on a v0 and v1+(that’s what the guidebook says), that were definitely 3 star.

We then headed over to a v2 highball slab that both Jeff and I backed off from about 1/2 way(This lack of cajones would show up later for me as well).  So we did a nice little short problem that was much harder than it should have been(another thing that would be apparent later).

After that we went to look at some of the roadside stuff and found a really tall arete called WAS.  This problem is beautiful and inspiring.  We worked this, and I kept getting higher and higher, taking quite a few good falls. Jeff wasn’t making quite as much progress, and eventually I realized I was doing worse each time, not better.  We decided to work a problem just to the right called IS. Although we should have been able to read the signs, the problems were so good we just kept going.  Finally, after not being able to hold onto a good two pad deep hold, we realized we were done for the day and headed back to Spokane.

I was really impressed by the quality of the bouldering in Leavenworth.  It felt like there was a good number of problems at every level, and of very high quality.  I would highly recommend checking out the boulders if you’re in the area.