Panther Gorge-Paws Off on Haystack 2018 June 9

Panther Gorge-Paws Off on Haystack 2018 June 9

Page Type: Trip Report
Lat/Lon: 44.11170°N / 73.90556°W
Date Climbed/Hiked: Jun 9, 2018
Activities: Trad Climbing
Season: Spring

Partner: Steven St. Pierre
Route: Paws Off (5.8/400')
Duration: 4:30 AM-12:30 AM
Distance: 18 mi.
Temperature: 50’s-60's Fahrenheit
Photoshttps://photos.app.goo.gl/TVgM75y6pHCUoy6A7

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While every Panther Gorge trip is an exploratory journey to some degree, some trips are more densely packed with learning. The more one visits a cliff, the more familiar it feels—common sense. This outing was to a wall that we’ve only walked along once since 2014. My memory was a bit fuzzy regarding the layout of the features along its base, and no beta exists regarding the features of the cliff itself except photos taken from the opposite side of the Gorge. Was it broken with deep cracks or simply shallow flaring seams? Was it vertical or of lower angle? I had a few educated guesses in mind, but that doesn’t always translate into something useful. Those questions stoked my curiosity a couple of years ago, but I didn’t have time to act on it until this trip.

Steven St. Pierre was interested in heading over as well. We knew it would involve a bushwhack across the central drainage—loaded with big pieces of talus—and some gnarly bushwhacking up 75-degree, treed-in slopes. Adam Crofoot and I scrambled up this before putting up All Things Holy on the V Wall to the south. I surmised that Steven and I could pull off a climb or two and turn the day around in 16-18 hours…less than the usual 20-21 hour trips that Steven was involved in last year. I’m trying to avoid such long days, really!

As usual, we were walking by 4:30 AM. The temperature was a nice 50ish degrees as we trekked up the trail from the Garden and reached the Marcy/Haystack col at around 8:15. The requisite bushwhack south to Marcy’s cliffs found the grass in the glades at mid-shin level. Bluets decorated a few areas before we dove into the real bushwhacking. Like a few years before, we started via a drainage stream at the base of the Feline Wall and used line-of-sight navigation to intersect the drainage stream below an obvious slab on Haystack. The dark rock was a welcome sight after threading through the talus.

Has anyone bushwhacked up a 75-degree slope with a full pack of metal, rope, layers, etc.? Hopefully not since it feels as heinous as it sounds. In all seriousness, we carefully crawled up through the adjacent woods on some of the steepest non-technical terrain I’ve experienced. We reached the narrow glade below the broken cliffs of No Man’s Land—a name I felt was appropriate given its location. Some six hours after leaving the trailhead, we arrived to prepare for the climb (or a nap).

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STEVEN ON PITCH 1

This was when the learning took place. It took about 20 minutes to orient myself with the location of the proposed routes by comparing my beta photo with the features of the cliff. A distinct white mark about 20’ high was the most distinguishing feature. It was a matter of counting cracks to the left and to the right to establish context. Once we had a mental map of the lower wall, we got down to business.

The temperature was cool, and a light wind kept us from getting hot, not to mention that Marcy was in the sun while our aspect was somewhat shaded. Steven chose to start via a large corner with a dominant crack. It was 10:30 AM when he placed the first piece of gear in the wet mossy corner. We hoped it would be better above the start, but that was not to be, so I lowered him, and we moved on to other, drier options.

The aforementioned white mark from a rockfall served as the next starting point. Steven tried another line, a hard line up the center before moving to the right. In the end, he took a break and offered the lead to me. Happy to have the exercise, I led the first pitch up an obvious corner with good cracks until the protection got thin. There was plenty of traction, but the obvious holds were awkward below a small roof. Things got more difficult as I moved right and up onto lower angled stone between opposing corners (what is called an open book). I wanted to see Steven while climbed, so I set up a belay. In hindsight, it would have been just as efficient to belay after another 30 vertical feet at a small wall. Fifteen minutes and several grunts and groans later, he appeared in the cozy belay station before leading up to the short wall.

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A COZY BELAY FROM WHICH TO START THE TRAVERSE

He tried another line directly above but was turned back by wet stone. The driest lines dictated the direction of the route though we ended up following my original vision (one of several obvious options). The crux was over, so I relaxed to enjoy the views. This hard-earned position boasted spectacular views of Marcy’s largest cliffs. They were lit in all their splendor as the sun finally cut through the haze that characterized the first few hours of climbing.

I looked up at a partially wet wall then south along a curving, overhanging cliff. Areas like this make exploring fun and draw me time and again. The landscape was more dramatic than I imagined. Steven paid out the rope as I ran out the line to the south on easy terrain. It got steeper as I rounded the curve and climbed on dimpled rock toward a chossy gully with overhangs and a balancing block to my right. I set up a belay after 150’, and Steven came up behind.

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BEAUTIFUL VIEW ALONG THE TRAVERSE

He then tried leading a gully directly overhead, but we decided that it wasn’t a good choice on account of loose rock and poor gear. He then walked behind the balancing block (really three distinct blocks when viewed from behind) and disappeared around the corner. He found a nice vertical corner that led to low angle slab with few areas to place gear. I soon heard a distance, “On belay…!”

I looked up from the top of the crack and saw the rope disappeared up another small ledge after the runout section. Steven was nowhere to be seen, but the trees moved from his tight alcove. We then rappelled along the southern side over vertical walls and moderately angled sections of slab. One could climb some short easy lines in this area if one had the interest. A second rappel placed us back at our packs at 5:00 PM.

With the multiple starts and route finding issues, our climb lasted 6.5 hours. With the route behind us, it was time to pack, eat, and contemplate the bushwhack back to Marcy. I tallied the hours in my head and knew we were in for a long day.

We reached the Marcy walls at around 6:30 PM and the Phelps Trail around 7:00 where we ran into a large group of scouts en route to Slant Rock. We scampered by them after a quick chat and reached the great glacial erratic as darkness crept over the land. The low hiss of the stove and a warm of a meal (and coffee) revived us for the haul back to the Garden.
It was 12:45 AM when the parking lot fell underfoot. I tallied the average for the trips with Steven over the last two years: 20.5 hours. Someday we’ll enjoy a day of fewer than 20 hours. When? I don’t know, but hopefully soon.

This wrapped up the exploration of one of the last major walls in the Gorge that has drawn my attention. We spied other lines, but the area now has a moderately familiar feel. The new route, Paws Off (5.8 YDS) was the perfect first addition and demonstrated that it is a harder wall than I first thought. We learn a lesson about the area or, more importantly, about ourselves new during every trip.

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BALANCING BLOCK AND COOL VIEW SOUTH

safely. The weather was warmer than forecast—nicely in the 20’s or 30’s with full sun and a light wind. This is how I want to end every ice climbing season!
Prior Trips to Panther Gorge

  1. Grand Central Slide (w/Mark Lowell)
  2. Grand Central Slide Descent, up the Margin Slide & Skylight Bushwhack (w/Greg Kadlecik)
  3. Marcy to Haystack Bushwhack with Great Range Traverse-Great DeRanged Traverse(w/Greg Kadlecik)
  4. Marcy East Face Circumnavigation (w/Ranger Scott van Laer)-2013 Aug 24
  5. Marcy (East Face) Ranger on the Rock-East Face Slab (w/Anthony Seidita)-2013 Sep 6
  6. Haystack Slides and Haycrack Route-Day 3 of 4 days in the gorge (w/Anthony Seidita)-2014 May 1
  7. Haystack (V Wall) All Things Holy (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Jul 12
  8. Marcy (Agharta Wall) & Haystack (Free-Standing Pillar) Wreck of the Lichen Fitzgerald & For Whom the Lichen Tolls (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Aug 16
  9. Marcy (Agharta Wall) CrazyDog’s Halo & Watery Grave (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Sep 27
  10. A Snowy Panther Gorge Bushwhack (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Dec
  11. Marcy: A New Ice Route – Pi Day (w/Adam Crofoot & Anthony Seidita)-2015 Mar 14
  12. Haystack: 3 New Routes in a New Area (the Ramp Wall) (w/Allison Rooney and Adam Crofoot)-2015 May 30
  13. Marcy (Panther Den) Cat on a Wet Tin Roof (w/Bill Schneider)-2015 Jun 14
  14. Rumours of War: Opening a New Area—the Huge Scoop (w/Hunter Lombardi)-2015 Jul 11
  15. Marcy (Feline Wall) Kitten's Got Claws (w/Justin Thalheimer)-2015 Aug 1
  16. Not Every Trip to the Gorge is Perfect –No Route, but a Good Day (w/Bill Schneider)-2015 Aug 16
  17. Marcy (Huge Scoop) The Pride (w/Bill Schneider and Adam Crofoot)-2015 Aug 30
  18. Marcy (Feline Wall) Promised Land (w/Dan Plumley)-2015 Sept 19
  19. Tour de Gorge (w/Adam Crofoot & Allison Rooney)-2015 Nov 21
  20. Marcy (Panther Den) Ice Route: By Tooth and Claw (WI4) (w/Bill Schneider & Devin Farkas)-2016 Jan 30
  21. Haystack Ice Climbs-Orson's Tower (WI3+) and Fly By (WI3) (w/Nolan Huther)-2016 March 5
  22. Marcy (Agharta & Panther Den Walls)-Pioneer Anomaly & Belshazzar's Fate (w/Adam Crofoot & Alan Wechsler)-2016 May 28
  23. Marcy (Huge Scoop)-Predatory Instincts (w/Bill Schneider & Nolan Huther)-2016 June 4
  24. Marcy (Feline Wall)-Galaxy of Tears (w/Dustin Ulrich)-2016 June 17
  25. Marcy (Panther Den)-One for the Boys (w/Bill Schneider, Adam Crofoot & Allison Rooney) 2016 June 25
  26. Marcy (Agharta Wall)-Tail of Redemption (w/Bill Schneider & John Pikus) 2016 July 30
  27. Marcy (Panther Den Wall)-Climb After Slime & You Moss Be Kidding Me! (w/Alan Wechsler) 2016 August 6
  28. Marcy (East Face)-Revelations (w/Nolan Huther & Loren Swears) 2016 August 27
  29. Haystack (V Wall)-Psalm 23 & Windjammer (w/John Pikus & Jaryn DeShane) 2016 September 17.
  30. Haystack (North End)-Kitty Cake (WI2) & 2nd ascent of By Tooth and Claw (Marcy) (w/Doug Ferguson & Walker Wolf Bockley) 2017 January 14.
  31. Marcy (Feline Wall)-Chimaera (WI3-) (w/Matt Dobbs & Jace Mullen) 2017 February 18.
  32. Haystack (North End)-Ride the Lightning (WI5-) & Skip the Lightning (WI3-) (w/Alan Wechsler) 2017 March 10.
  33. Marcy (Chimney Wall)-Slacker Cracker (5.9) (w/Adam Crofoot & Jaryn DeShane) 2017 June 3.
  34. Marcy (Chimney Wall)-Marcy's Great Chimney (aka Empty Tomb) (5.8) and All Ryled Up (5.7) (w/Jaryn DeShane) 2017 June 15.
  35. Marcy (East Face)-Anorthofright (5.9-) (w/Steven St. Pierre) 2017 August 27.
  36. Marcy (Chimney Wall)-Panther's Pinnacle (5.9) (w/Steven St. Pierre) 2017 September 16.
  37. Marcy (Chimney Wall Area)-Spiritus Draconis (WI4+) (w/Jaryn DeShane) 2018 February 1.
  38. Marcy (Huge Scoop)-Charybdis (WI4) & Scylla (WI4) (w/Laura Duncan & Brent Elliott) 2018 February 17.
  39. Haystack (V Wall)-John 3:16 (WI4) & PG-13 (WI4) (w/Loren Swears) 2018 March 24

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