Monday, September 30, 2013

Three Corner Falls. Off trail all the way.

Almost my whole life I have loved hiking but it was not till the last 10 years of so that I started taking an interest in off trail hiking and exploring. Some of the waterfalls that are off trail in the gorge are more incredible in my opinion than the ones on the trail.
Upper Bridalveil Falls
This recent trip was so good that I just had to write about it. Three Corner Creek comes down a steep drainage into Rock Creek way up on Red Bluff Road north of Stevenson Washington. The drainage has five waterfalls in a little less than half of a mile.
Three Corner Creek Drainage
After a 1 hour drive our adventure started with trying to find the right place to drop down into the drainage below. This effort took three tries as when we got to the bottom of the drainage we found the wrong two drainage's to go up and the brush in the bottom is to thick for exploring in.
Dense brush and supper steep banks.
This process involved dropping 800 feet to the bottom while holding onto vine maple branches. Then look around and cross the creek. Find out this is the wrong side creek and head back up. We did see some cool things while in the bottom.
God's mossy cave of green

It was now noon and we were wondering if we would find it at all. One more try we thought and drove up the steep road a little more to a different parking spot. This time the down hill was even stepper than before but we got to the bottom and saw that there was a lot of water in this side creek which meant that we had found the right drainage!
My dad in the bottom.
Quickly finding a spot to cross the creek we headed up what we thought was the side drainage but was really the main creek. Turning the corner into the new drainage we were met with a view in the distance.
Lower falls
The falls was close and our spirit was renewed. Heading down into the creek to avoid and brush we soon got a clear view of the falls as it fell over a tall dam of basalt rock. Old growth fir, large ferns, and lots of moss made for quite the seen.
Lower falls from afar.

Up close

Such a sense of serenity was amazing. We absorbed it all for a short while then our thoughts were consumed by how to get around it. As we headed up the right slope pulling on tall ferns for help I could not help but smile and want for more.
Looking back at the lower falls
Falls number two turned out to be in a bowl just above falls number one. A small break in the cliff line allowed us to scramble into the bowl of the falls a get a look up close and personal. Overhanging basalt rock in the shape of a horse shoe with the creek smashing into a small shelf of rock at the bottom.
Note the small arch carved by the water at the bottom.
Re-tracing our steps out of the bowl we headed on up the slope until we met up with a ridge of moss covered basalt. Slipping around it's left flank and into the steep woods we traversed onward until we could see what we thought was the final falls. The large basalt cirque spread out before us and what I saw I had never seen before.
Two 80 foot waterfalls into the same creek.
It turns out that this spot was were two separate drainage's meet. The waterfalls fell into separate polls separated by a small island of rock and then joined up about 25 feet down the creek. What an incredible view. Old growth firs and large maple. Big ferns and moss every ware. And then there were the two waterfalls.
The base of the left falls with the right falls in the background.
The right falls.
Both polls and the right falls.
The left falls like silk caressing the cliff as it falls into it quite poll.
Time passed as we took it all in. I was so glad to have had this adventure with my dad but time was ticking by and it had taken two and a half hours to get in hear. We decided to take a slightly different route out to minimize the brush. This change gave us one more surprise.
Falls number 5
This last falls would be huge and loud at high water. Cutting up the slope from hear we found the ridge and headed down it's spine. At the end we ended up doing some 4th class moss down climbing to get off the ridge but it was steep clear woods all the way back to the bottom of the creek. We crossed were we had before and then looked up. Pulling on lots of ferns and vine maple for 800 vertical brought us back up flatter ground and a short walk to the car. Six hours in the woods with 4000 vertical gain and loss finished by only traveling a mile and a half total on the day. I would do it again in a hart beat but I think there might be an easier way in next time.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Autumn Splendor, Revisited

Years ago I was hiking up a trail in the Columbia River George with my mother that I had hiked on many times before. This time was different though. Climbing for about 12 years at the time had given me eye's to see rock that I had not seen before. It was not like it was not there but just that I had not noticed it right in front of my eye's. To be honest it was my mother that pointed at a large boulder sitting on the trail and said "You can climb that one." with the tone of voice that meant the actual climbing was merely a formality. As I gazed up at the 18 foot high block, my mind said "Ya Right Mom!!!"
The blank face of  Autumn Splendor
She insisted that I could climb the line and so the seed was planted. Over the coarse of the next two years I climbed hundreds of lines all over the area. Some hard some easy but most incredible. The line in question seamed too elude me though. My mother would ask "Did you send it yet?" and the answer would always be not yet.
Indian Paint Brush
All this changed one day when I decided to get serious about the line and see if there really was a line of holds to the top of the boulder. With a brush I started cleaning the face and as I did so I noticed the smallest of holds. Not to many and not to few but just maybe enough. There was another problem as well and that was the fact that the size of these holds was similar to gluing two quarters to the wall and rounding the edges.
Could I use the holds I had found?
Mt Adams from near the top of the trail.
On the first days effort, I managed to get of the ground after about 20 tries. A lot of work for sure for one move but that was all my mind needed to take it all the way to the top. On the next trip out I found myself at the base again but this time I pieced together the moves to three quarters of the way up. Every move as hard as the last with the chance of a fall at any moment. At this point in the process is when I found out that the crux was a supper committing dyno on the worst feet imaginable two moves from the end. I found myself falling off at this point over and over knowing that I just was not committing one hundred percent to the move. Full commitment would be the only way to the top and I had to find the will to do it some ware. About a week later my mom decided to come out and watch me on the climb as well as hike to the end of the trail for the fall view.
Beautiful sub alpine.
On this day with my mom watching the conditions were cool and dry. I can remember powering through each move and thinking just plant the foot and go this time. When I arrived at the crux I through caution to the wind and drove my shoe into the rock like never before. A moment later I was pulling over the top wondering what just happened and think that I might have just climbed the hardest thing of my life. A couple weeks ago I took these photo's and revisited the boulder to see if it was as hard as I remembered. The truth is I could not do the crux this time and I think it might be harder than I remember. This is defiantly one of those moments I love in my climbing and going back was incredible. Enjoy the photo's of Autumn Splendor V8 (I think)
Off the ground
Match feet
High step
Super long hard pull
Keep Going
And Going
Almost there!
Got it
Bring up the left foot
Pull into the crux
Right foot to toe smear high and go big.
Thanks mom for be-leaving. It has been 8 years since the send and I hope to be strong enough one day to send it again. As always keep sending.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Eloit Boulders: What a day!

It was the winter of 2012-2013 and I was doing a lot of searching on Google Earth for boulders. one evening I got all excited and about what I had seen. I called my friend and said we must head out hear as soon as it is climbable. By late June conditions were good and we headed out.
Apple blossoms and Mt Hood
Beautiful does not begin to describe the day! Blue sky's and perfect temps. Wow everything was perfect except for one thing. My ankle was in full recovery mode and climbing was not an option. This first trip would be just to find the boulders if there were any climbable ones. We drove into the unknown with the hope of boulders on our minds. What we found was incredible and a return trip was scheduled instantly this is that trips story.
My dad on the hike in.
The excitement level was so high that I could not stop shaking as my dad and I left the car and headed up the valley toward the boulders I had found in June. I thought of climbing everything but new I would be week from the layoff and this would be just a fun day.
Mt Hood
The hike was short with lots of views of Mt Hood. Wild flowers had popped up every ware as well.

When we arrived at the first boulder I could not wait to climb so I set right to work on warming up. Supper clean rock and great edges made for instant fun and I set my sites on a little overhang.
A nice little power problem came out of it and the send day was started. Next was a big blank face with two opposing crimps on it. It looked supper thin but I thought it would go. The surprise came from the wicked mantal top out waiting for me at the end.

Razor blade
After this I sat on my pad with my dad and took a break while looking at the mountain and just taking it all in.
We decided to move on to the next boulder and started hiking further up the valley. The floor was covered in wildflowers of all colors.

As we arrived at the Eloit boulder there was a problem on the backside that I just could not wait to try. It all starts on two good holds and takes a big dino to a good hold over a bulge.
Eloit Ness

I tried lots of times but just did not have the strength to keep the hold on this day. Such a good problem on such a big boulder. I will be back for this one for sure. At this point my friend Rob showed up and set in to climbing as well. More sends on the Eliot boulder followed soon after.

As the sun was going down I was beat up from all the fun boulders. The day was supper good and the hike out brought more flowers.

I will be back with more power and more sending. There is so much to climb up there. Keep sending out there.