Hatcher Pass – Back to the Project

Much like David, I find myself constantly checking weather forecasts.  Trying to predict what may or may not be coming.  Trying to figure where the weather may be good.  Trying to figure out how I can get out while the weather’s holding.  This last week had remarkably good weather Tuesday to Thursday, but there was no way for me to get out those days.  After an incredible day out on Monday and with the sun shining every day, I felt like a crack addict jonesing to get my next hit.  By Friday the pull became too strong to resist.  Despite having a draining week and only seeing my wife in passing for a short time on Wednesday (she went dipnetting Wednesday night and Thursday), I bolted out on Friday afternoon with Drew and Will up to Archangel.

Leaving town it was tough to tell what the weather was going to be.  A high haze of smoke from huge wildfires in Russia made it difficult to make out the rain clouds.  As we drove up Archangel road it became clear that there were some high clouds but they weren’t dropping anything yet.  We all had unfinished business on top of the monolith, so we headed that way to see if we could finish up our projects.

Will on a re-discovered problem

To warm up, we started off at a boulder I have  vague memories of climbing on about 12-13 years ago with Chris Terry.  It was pretty apparent from the amount of moss and lichen that nobody had been climbing on it since.  We recleaned it and ended up climbing 3 really nice lines. Right as we finished these three lines we started to feel the first drops of rain.

We headed straight over to our projects for the day.  I started off spending some time filming Drew and Will on The Hulk.  This problem is pretty much all distilled into the first move, a big left hand throw off two reasonable crimps in a seam with a terrible left foot to a high left facing sidepull crimp.  If you hit the hold with your body in the right position, you stick.  A quick right hand move to a good sloper, then a couple of short moves through a decent crimp lead to a high juggy topout.

Both of them were getting really close, but not quite latching the hold.  After a bit, I got the pads set up to start working on the Abomination Project while they kept working on The Hulk.  Drew finally managed to latch the first move on The Hulk, then popped off the second move, raking his knuckles down the rock in the process and sacrificing more blood to the boulder.  Shortly after, I also ripped off the first right hand crimp on the Abomination Project, gashing my knuckles and making my own blood sacrifice.

After a short rest Drew stepped up and dispatched the second ascent of The Hulk-v9, sticking each move clean and looking strong.  Will kept looking better and better on the first move, but could never quite hit the sidepull right. As Will continued to work on his project, Drew and I worked on the Abomination Project.

Project Hulk

Me trying the heelhook beta during a previous day on the Abomination Project

Last week, Drew and I had gotten the first move to the small right hand crimp pretty well figured out.  This was followed by a really tenuous foot move to a high left foothold.  Drew had a really good go last week trying to move straight up with his right hand into a high seam, but this move felt out of reach for me.  After a few goes getting frustrated with the current beta, I had a flash of inspiration and changed my beta for the opening move.  Instead of a tenuous heel hook and gnarly left foot highstep, I did a brutal cross through highstep with my right foot onto a small foothold.  It made the opening move much harder, but it made the next move feel like it would go…..

It had been sprinkling rain off and on as we worked these, and right about when I figured out the new beta it well and truly started to rain.  Drew had bloodied up his ankles even more and had thrown in the towel for the day, and I knew I would only get a couple of chances before we were rained out.  Thankfully the holds stayed dry enough to give it one last go.

I pulled on, stepped the foot through, made the quick righthand deadpoint, set the crimp, and made the throw out left to the good hold.  My fingers latched it solidly and as my body whipped out to the left, time slowed as the righthand crimp slowly peeled.  First the pinky popped, then the ring finger, then the middle finger. It was like time had slowed to a crawl.  Then time stopped, right when my body stopped swinging with just my index finger with my thumb wrapped in a crimp.  I had stuck the move. Then time went into overdrive. A quick adjustment back onto the right crimp, adjust on the good hold, bump right hand to a small crimp, adjust the left again, match, big move left to another jug, match, now keep it together for the tall easy top-out, reach up left again to the gaston, right foot up, right hand to a jug, left foot onto the rail, left to a jug, right to the crimp, left to the top, and it was done……

Then time returned to normal.

It continued to rain, so we decided to go explore a little bit.  We hiked over to the west side of the area behind the Monolith and checked out the boulders there.  We found quite a few lines that look to be fantastic, and of all grades and sizes.  We were pretty stoked to go back and spend some time cleaning.  I find it amazing that we continue to find stellar lines all over Archangel, even in areas we’ve walked by hundreds of times.    After about 1.5hrs of wandering through the talus fields, we called it a day and decided to head back to the car.

Heading back to the car in the rain

As we walked down, we noticed the how much less rain there was down near the road.  I convinced Drew and Will to let me go check out a new line Drew had put up a couple of weeks ago, so we ran over quickly and checked out Captain Obious-v9, which is a sit start to an old Tom Ellis line along the trail to the Niffleheim.  This was a pretty cool big dynamic move which felt pretty explosive until you get the foot just right, then you just seem to stall in midair.  A couple of goes and I felt the anti-gravity moment and stuck, then a nice v4 to the top.

Drew working on Drive By



Done with upper Archangel for the day and continuing to be chased by rain, we headed back to the car and down the road to an old familiar face.  Drew was finally going to try the sit start to Drive By.  Will had been out here earlier in the week and had figured out slightly better beta for the opening two moves, but the crux of the problem is still getting set for the throw on Drive By with enough gas left in the tank to make the throw.

Drew worked out the bottom and managed to get through to the throw once, but didn’t have enough left by then.  We all played on Rutted and Drive By.  I fiddled with the righthand sit into Drive By, but honestly have not idea how to put those moves together.  We finally decided we were done and made the drive back into town after a long solid day despite the rain.