Dark Rhythm is an excellent 11 pitch slab, crack, and flake climb taking a direct line up the rock immediately left of the West Buttress. This route was put up by David Whitelaw with help from Mark Hanna, Steven Packard, Chris Greyell, and Matt Perkins in 2002. The climb is well protected featuring a good combination of traditional and fixed protection. This route is a good one for those looking to push their grade in Darrington, since there are only 2 10C moves and they are both well protected.
See the description on the main page. Dark Rhythm starts about 100 feet to the left of the stump that marks the West Buttress. Look for an overlap system with a bolt on top. Belay from the ledge about 30 below here.
Route DescriptionPitch #1
- 5.8 – Climb up to the dirty overlap placing a cam about halfway to the first bolt. Pull over the overlaps, then follow some bolts up the 5.8 slab supplementing with cams where needed. Towards the top of this pitch you will see some blank slab and no chains. The chains are painted to blend in with the rock, and are tough to spot. Move up and to your right climbing over a small arch with good pro then work your way up the smooth slab with a grassy crack to your right. The anchor is just above you. 130 feet
- 5.10A – Climb up the dirty slab clipping numerous bolts. Towards the top the rock gets clean and features get smaller. Work your way side to side through 30 feet of nice 5.9 to 5.10A friction slab. Move up and to the right crossing a small overlap to reach the chains. 140 feet
- 5.10A - Now for the good stuff. Climb up some sustained 5.9 to 5.10A friction slab for 70 feet until encountering some cracks and flakes. Sidepull and jamb these nice features supplementing the bolts with cams. Traverse up and to the left to gain the belay. 130 feet
- 5.10C – This fantastic pitch is the crux, and offers 150 feet of sustained 5.10A slab and thin face climbing with a couple 5.10C sections. Move up the steeper face using knobs and edges as you go. About 75 feet up, traverse to your right and up onto the overlap. The slab is even steeper here requiring you to pull hard on nubbins with your right hand and sidepull off the arête with your left. Power up this sustained physical section for 70 feet to your belay. This pitch is well protected by 11 bolts. 150 feet
- 5.10A – Smear your way up some 5.9 to 5.10A slab for thirty feet until more edges appear and the climbing becomes easier (7ish). Move up to the base of the tips crack. Now jamb the SWEET fingertip crack using microcams for protection. After that lieback the left facing flake system using small to medium nuts to protect. The belay is up and to the left. 140 feet
- 5.9 – The climbing looks like it eases up here but looks can be deceiving. This pitch is not as steep but very thin offering 130 feet of sustained 5.9 slab before finally letting up in the last 20 feet. Protection is bolts supplemented with cams. 150 feet
- 5.8+ – Another easy looking pitch that is harder than you think offering many feet of sustained 5.8+ friction slab. Supplement bolts with cams where needed. 145 feet
- 5.7 – The angle of this pitch decreased significantly. Scramble up easy slabs and cracks with occasional 5.7 moves to reach the ledge on Blueberry Terrace. Belay from the chains or the tree just beyond that. 2 bolts plus gear. 155 feet
Traverse to climbers left over class 2 terrain with one short class 4 section until you can see around the corner. Keep traversing until the rock gets steeper. Look up about 20 feet above you and find a nice positive sloping ledge. Climb class 3+ rock up to the ledge. There is a good crack on the left and flake on the right for an anchor.
- 5.8 – Climb up some cracks with occasional brush in them to gain the slab above. Use every opportunity for pro as protection is limited on this pitch, no bolts. Climb slab and cracks directly up the crest of the buttress. Belay points are limited. We found a good gear belay at about 185 feet out.
- 5.6 – Continue moving up the buttress crest until you can traverse off to the left towards the ridgeline. Belay where feasible.
- Class 4 Bushwhack – Roped or unroped make your way up the north buttress crest finding a path through the bush. Gain the summit.
- 10 rappels (single and double) off the south side of the summit then down in line with the Westward Ho route will get you to the ground.
Another option is to rap pitches 9 and 10 using slung trees, then rappel either Jacob’s ladder, or Rainman. Do not rap Dark Rhythm as it will eat your ropes.
2 50 or 60 meter ropes
1 set of cams from tiny to 3”
1 each small to medium nuts
11 Draws or Slings
provided by Matt Perkins. This is an excellent topo, very accurate.
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