You will not be wowwed by the quality of this route. It doesn't protect well and it is not particularly aesthetic but it gets you to the top. You'll climb/scramble up some mossy ledges to loose flaky rock and into a chimney where you will squeeze through to the top. Don't take too much gear or you will have problems getting through the chimney. Pitons don't really work as the cracks just widen when you pound them in. This is more of a "hope" climb and be careful to push down on the rock more than pull out on it.
Have I sold you on it yet? Be careful if you do this, it was not pretty and junk choss.
The rating is a guess. First time I led it, it felt hard and loose and I was thinking 5.8-5.9 in the middle but Karl then said 5.6-5.7 when he followed. Second time was easier and we more or less agreed on 5.7. If anyone does this I would be interested to hear what you think of it -- easier? harder?
See the Getting There section on the main page for directions to the trailhead.
From the trailhead, take the trail up the ridge through fir and pine forests. The trail is in its initial stages and really is just a mowed area of beargrass. It weaves up the ridge onto an open rocky area, then right up onto the Cooling Tower formation. Continue from here through a beargrass meadow (stay on the left or north side) to where it enters the woods again. Continue through a "new" Old Growth section of trees until the trail ends on top of a rocky viewpoint looking at Tumble Rock. Then backtrack about twenty yards and head down left into the woods as you need to go along the ridge between the formation and Tumble Rock.
Arriving at Tumble Rock, skirt the right of it until you come to the top of a small scree field. Descend this to gain the ridge between Tumble Rock and Elephant Rock. Enter the woods on the left (north again) side of this ridge (you'll cliff out if you stick on the ridge or go right) and follow it down a couple hundred feet or so passing the unnamed fin of rock on its left until you get to the base of Elephant Rock. Yard up trees and bushes until you are at the base of the rock itself and then head left to where the "neck" of the Elephant would be. Here you will see a cedar tree at the base of an ugly-looking chimney.
Best anchor I found was the cedar tree. From here scramble/mantle up about 8 feet on mossy ledges. I slung a root and bush for protection on the right. Work your way up to the rock itself about 15 feet below the chimney where there appears to be two parallel cracks heading up to the chimney.
I protected this on the left side with an orange 1.5 Alien.
From here, you have about 15 feet of rotten rock to climb. Test the handholds and footholds. I used both sides of the crack (on two climbs) and the obvious large handhold in the center until I could work myself to the base of the chimney. I placed a green .75 Camalot and a red #1 camalot low in the chimney.
The base of the chimney is the widest point and there are nice handholds on the left. I grovelled, stemmed, frictioned my way up another 10 feet and placed a yellow #2 camalot on the left in a crack that I had to pull the moss out of. From here it gets narrower but easier and ends up being a mantle up out of the chimney. Once over the ridgetop, look right for a small cedar tree to build an anchor on. From here, we belayed unprotected up to the summit.
Route is about 50 feet high or so (plus another 20 after the chimney to the summit).
Don't try to rap from the cedar anchor up top. The rock is gritty enough with enough little edges that the rope did not move when pulled down from the other side (no matter if you rap the chimney or the blank face to its right in the photo). Instead, scramble the ridge towards the "head" of the Elephant until you get to the bushes on top of the head. There is nice new (as of 10/7/06) orange webbing and two rap rings (thank you very much) from me there. This affords a nice frictionless rope pull at the bottom. Be careful scrambling the ridge out to the rap station we set up, it is exposed and a fall would be deadly there. Mind the wind.
Small rack of cams from about 1" to 3", maybe some stoppers. In two climbs of this route (for rope retrieval purposes), I used:
Climb A) slung a root, #.75, 1 and 2 camalots and 1.5 Alien
Climb B) Orange 1.5 Alien and Yellow #2 camalot
Helmet, anchor-building gear x 2, webbing and rap rings.
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