Feb 21, 2009, 9:29 PM
Post #1 of 1
Registered: May 31, 2008
So after scoping Sumallo Bluffs out after climbing in Box Canyon last weekend Don and I were looking forward to heading up this weekend. When Jesse and Graham climbed 'Anthrax Ripple' and 'Landmark' and posted their photos I could hardly focus in class, I just stared at the clock every day wathcing it tick towards the weekend second by second.
I had Friday off school so my girlfriend, Tamara, and I headed into the Chehalis Valley to climb some quality sport routes. I managed to get my mind of the Sumallo Bluffs for a while as I pumped my way through the overhanging crux of Pneumonic, the best sport route in the Fraser Valley, but as soon as I got home I got on the phone and gave Don a call to plan for Saturday.
My alarm started schreeching loudly at 4:45 AM and although I felt inclined to either throw the clock or shoot myself I took control of my anger at being so rudely awakened and simply flicked the 'off' on the alarm. Don showed up at 5:00 and we headed out to the Bluffs, stopping to grease up at McDonalds on the way, and arrived at 6AM on the dot.
We left the car at 6:20, crossed the mighty Sumallo River on a downed tree and hiked into the base of Landmark gully, ariving at the ice at 6:10. The first pitch did not look difficult so we pulled out the tools and started soloing. The ice was a bit funky on the first step in places but never too bad. We tromped up the gully on frozen snow and some ice then soloed another WI3 step to the base of the 'big flow' leading up the curtain.
We pulled out the ropes and I started up the spectacular flow consisting of nearly perfect ice. This 60 meter pitch had two distinct steep sections which were highly featured, providing many natural footholds and easy tool placements with minimal swinging. The pitch verged on WI4 in the steep section but also had some nice rest stances after every steep section where one could easily rest the calves and put in a screw. Let's say, 60m WI4-.
Don followed the pitch and climbed past my belay up a 35 meter flow of easy grade 2 ice to the base of the spectacular upper curtain. I quickly rambled up to the belay below the curtain, had a drink and a sandwich and gave all the hardware to Don. He racked up and started climbing the ramp behind the curtain until he reached a gap and pulled around the corner onto the face of the curtain. I listened as Don swung his ice tools into the front of the curtain but could not see him climbing as my belay was located behind the curtain. I payed out the rope until I heard Don yell 'secure' with only 5 meters of rope to spare; another long pitch!
I started up the ramp in behind the curtain and noticed that the roped were dripping water onto my legs, when I pulled out of the gap onto the front of the curtainI could see the reason for this. The left side of the curtain was spitting water everywhere! I felt like someone had turned the tap on above me as I quickly climbed the steep curtain trying to avoid getting soaked as much as possible. I climbed up to where the angle eased back and sure enough, there was a small hole in the ice with water gushing out of it like a shower nozzle. The rest of the final pitch was lower angled but the ice plated in a couple spots and was a bit funky in other spots, but overall still nice climbing.
We had both expected to curtain to be much harder but the ice was easy to get placements in and there were spots to stem on to get some weight of the arms so in the end it wasn't bad at all. Instead of being the WI5 we were expecting it was more like a solid WI4, maybe 4+ but certainly not a 5.
Jesse and Graham had rapped the route on Abalakovs and we used the in-situ anchors and cruised down the route with 6 rappels. The hike out the the car was nice and easy, crossing the river on the same log we came in on. Hopefully the log doesn't get washed away as it makes access much simpler.
After drving around a bit and taking pictures of the other routes for future reference we drove back to Agassiz and showed up at my place at 5:00, 12 hours after leaving.
Overall the route was excellent and the ice was very good. The curtain was like climbing vertical ice in the shower bit it wasn't too bad and all worth getting a bit wet in the end. The ice might stick around for a while if it doesn't get 'too' warm or rain on it a lot. Lets keep out fingers crossed!
P1: 30m WI3 (soloed)
P2: 25m frozen snow/easy ice (soloed)
P3: 30m WI3 (soloed)
P4: 60m WI4-
P5: 35m WI2
P6: 55m WI4/4+
Landmark (left) Busowski/Kippan (right)
Don Approaching the Ice
Don Soloing the second WI3 Step
Don Starting up the 'Big Flow' Pitch
Don finishing up the 'big flow' Pitch
Don heading up towards the Curtain
View from my Belay
Daggers Hanging off the Upper Curtain
Rappeling the Route
Rappeling the Route
Leave the Waders at Home!