Hatcher Pass Bouldering – Drew’s Last Day

Chalk on a Stick

Last Sunday (Sept 2nd), I met up with David Funatake for my final day (or so I had thought) at Hatcher Pass this summer.  We headed out feeling unsure but trying to stay optimistic about the weather.  Often times even if it’s rainy in town and it looks marginal out in Palmer you can get lucky and have a great day in Hatcher Pass.  You just have to willing to gamble, and most days this summer gambling has paid off.  As we drove up Archangel Road it was dry enough to climb, but we knew that could change at any moment.

After a moderate hike we made it to the Hulk boulder which sits right next to the path if you take the right side trail to get behind the monolith.  I had my sights set on a problem called The Abomination – V10/11, which climbs up small crimps on a beautiful prow right next to the trail.  I had spent several days previously on the problem with little to show other than bloody hands and ankles, but with some new beta from Todd I was able to dispatch it quickly today.  At this point we could tell that rain was coming our way, so we quickly packed and hurried back to the next destination for the day.


Drew through the crux and on better holds on Abomination – v10/11

If you continue hiking on the trail it takes you back into Lane Valley, which has some fantastic bouldering and lots of potential for new problems.  About fifteen minutes farther up the path from the Hulk boulder is the Waterfall Wall, easily visible from the trail.  It’s an incredible location, and the wall has some amazing problems.  There is something unique about the rock that creates very thin but solid flakes that are nothing like the rest of Hatcher Pass.  My brother Will and I had spent some time cleaning and climbing several lines earlier in the year, and I was excited to show David the area.  There are probably six or seven climbs on the wall, four of which we have done.  The rightmost lines have not been done yet but should be clean and ready to go for anyone willing to finish up the very easy but very highball topouts.

The Waterfall Boulder

The established lines are all on the shorter left part of the wall, from the right side going left they are:

  • Very Ginger – V7  Stand start reaching to a very incut thin flake for the left and the right hand pasted anywhere you can find a hold.  Reach to an edge with a crazy cool thumb pocket and make your way to the top.  Sadly the sit start broke and now looks impossible.
  • Mainstream – V9  Sit Start on a good but low left hand edge and a very poor right hand three finger pocket.  Climb straight up to the top, you get to use the amazing ear hold, unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  After looking at it again on Sunday there might be a better start hold for the right hand that I had overlooked previously.  This might make it a bit easier…
  • Wet and Wild – V8  Squat start with the left hand on a pinch and the right hand on the low left starting hold of Mainstream, or just stand start from the obvious crimps at head height if you feel like it.  Figure out how to climb straight up to the top.
  • Chasing Waterfalls – V7  Same start as Wet and Wild, but take the path of least resistance by traversing left on incut flakes before making your way to the top.  Try not to fall in the creek!

On Chasing Waterfalls, David pulled past the crimps to reach the top on his first try but slipped off the damp topout for a very wet landing.  A few tries later he topped it out, just as the clouds began to shower us with sleet and hail.  At this point we knew that further climbing would be impossible, so we packed up and made our way back to the car.

The Waterfall Wall is just one of the areas back in Lane Valley that Will and I have been climbing at this year.  We have spent some time cleaning and exploring farther up the valley at the base of a giant talus field, which will have a ton of problems when it is developed.  There are also several great boulders right next to the Lane hut, some of which will have some very difficult and very tall problems.   We have also spent a few days cleaning and climbing at a very dense spot we called the 007 area, which is right above the Lane hut on the hillside.  It is easily reachable by hiking up the left side of the hill if you start from the hut, where there is a very faint trail to follow.  So far there are nearly 20 established moderates, with the very funky and reachy Moonraker – V9 as the standout difficult problem.  There are still probably 10 to 15 more problems to do, most of which are highballs or need more pads than we had when we were there, some of which could be quite difficult.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the area.

On Tuesday, I decided to drive back to Hatcher Pass to make a quick tactical strike on a problem called Clan of the Cave Trolls – V10 before rushing back to work, but I was unsuccessful.  And with that my Alaskan summer is over.  Right now I am in the process of moving back down to Santa Barbara to reconnect with some old friends.  I can’t wait to come back for next summer!