- Distance: ~2.5 miles for the approach and descent
- Elevation gain: 1600′ gain on approach, 700′ on the climb
- Weather: 60’s, sunny, and windy
- What did I eat: Shot blocks, half a turkey sandwich, two bratwursts from Munchenhaus, and a scoop of gelato
- Suffer Factor (out of 10): 7 – approach was tough, climbing was tough, sandwich was meh, but it was a great outing with good friends and awesome brauts.
Our original plan for this weekend was to climb the North Ridge of Baker, which has been on my list for two years now. Sadly, the weather has been less than cooperative, and we decided to cancel when forecasts called for 12+ inches of new snow, wind up to 35 mph, and temperatures reaching single digits (with wind chill). Instead, we decided to take a one day trip out over the crest to enjoy the warm granite of Leavenworth.
We left our cars around 0915 to begin the 1500′ approach to Condor Buttress. I’ll admit, the last few weeks of running training have made me a much better runner….but a lousy climber. The heavy pack, steep climbers trail, and the speed at which we were going at left me stopping every few minutes to catch my breath and wondering why I climb. We were trying to reach the buttress before many more climbing parties got a head of us. Luckily, we reached the base of the route in 55 minutes with 1 team starting the climb and another team topping out of the 1st pitch.
Speaking of pitches, the route is notorious for being “overbolted”. There were occasionally a few bolts I thought might have been excessive…but this was a friction slab climb basically the entire way up, and I definitely appreciated the extra protection. We ended up climbing pitch 1/2 and 3/4 as a single pitch, and pitched out the remaining pitches.
Man, I am a terrible, terrible slab climber. The first two pitches were 5.8/5.9, respectively, but they might as well have been glass. I was definitely at the edge of my comfort zone. Some of the moves had tricky feet, but good hands, while others hand good feet but terrible hands. Pitch 3 and 4 were relatively easy, but maybe that’s because I was on top rope. Pitch 5 was the first 10.b pitch and it definitely shut me down. I ended up pulling myself up on a few draws to get to the belay ledge. That weird friction step move definitely is not my style of climbing. Pitch 6 was the a bit of sustained 5.10, and while I top roped it, I had to again pull on draws to haul myself up the route. Not sure if I was just tired at this point or it was really outside my climbing ability. Serves me right for running 12 miles the day before.
We finally topped out around 1400 to enjoy our lunches and enjoy the breeze. We could see Dragontail and Colchuck in the distance, along with Cashmere. One short rappel later we were in the dirty descent gully, where we proceed to slide and kick rocks at each other for 20 minutes. Once we grabbed our other bags, we were down to the cars in an hour and off to eat delicious brauts at Munchenhuas.