August '04



Warming Up on the Mountaineer's Route



       Having climbed the Mountaineer's Route route twice before, it was not at the top of my tick list. However, this was Brad and Paul's fist trip to the Elephant's Perch, and we needed a warm up route. It was the obvious choice. It also came with an added benefit; I would get a free toprope all day long as Brad and Paul swung leads.

      As is normal for our team, we climbed the route with double ropes, allowing both seconds to climb at the same time. In addition to moving faster, this meant that Paul could be selective about which pieces of protection he clipped to my rope. Since I had directionals only where I needed them for safety, I was able to climb to the left or the right of the route for most of the day. The result was that I felt like I climbed a whole different route.  :)

     The crux pitch was the hardest thing he had led in the mountains and he fired right up it. He had improved since the last time we were together in Yosemite and it was fun to watch him climb confidently 800 feet off the deck. It was one of those moments where you know that someone is testing their limits and you get to watch them pull it off with room to spare. Then you get to see the instant and genuine satisfaction that comes when you've met or exceeded your self expectations.

     Paul had a great experience on the route as well soon we were down the descent gully and rapping on some old, 8mm lines someone had fixed. Safely back in camp by mid afternoon, we spent the rest of the day relaxing and eating and deciding what to climb next. The eventually consensus was that we would go for the The Sunrise Book in the morning.

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Paul crossing Redfish creek en route to the Elephant's Perch. This can be a dicey crossing with a heavy pack.

A shot of the Perch in the evening on our first day. I took this for the beautiful reflection in the water.

Brad on his way to the Mountaineer's Route where he and Paul swung leads to the top. I got to sit back and goof off all day. :)
Paul on his way to his first route on the Perch.

Paul on the second pitch of the M. Route.

Getting into the hand crack on pitch two.
Brad works on his jamming technique on the second pitch.

A happy Brad arrives at the third belay.

This climb was great! I got to climb all around the normal M. Route on rock I had never touched before.  I was on toprope all day.

Having fun on a crack that I would never lead due to it's 5.10 rating and difficult protection.

Paul starting the third pitch with the Triple Roofs looming above.

Paul passing the Triple Roofs.

Paul on pitch four at the bottom of the giant diamond that is a hallmark of the Perch.

Having a blast out on the steep, airy slabs of the fourth pitch.

This really is a great climb. Not every pitch is fantastic, but all of the upper ones are and the vistas are amazing.

Stepping around the corner on the fourth pitch. This may be the most exposed spot on this route.

Paul and I arriving at the base of the crux pitch.

Brad sets off on his hardest alpine lead yet with two sections of 5.9.

The upper crux is steep and leans to the left just enough to make it quite awkward

Here is a close up of the previous shot for those of you who want to know what you're getting into.

Paul on the first 5.9 section of the final pitch.

A shot of me that looks down the drainage. Redfish Lake is visible behind me.

The view across the Saddleback Lakes valley from the top of the M. Route. The peaks on the right are the Chipmunk, Goat, and Eagle Perches.
A reflective shot from the edge of our valley.

The Perch in evening light from near our camp.

Brad and Paul back at camp getting ready for diner.

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