Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Linea Alba

Someone has given the climbing community a great gift. This someones name is Bill Davies from Molt MT, and he has created an awesome 3 pitch sport climb in a beatiful alpine setting up Rock Creek Drainage west of Red Lodge, Montana. I mentioned the remote climb to my friend Drew Haman, who has recently moved back to town, and his eyes got wide. I knew I had found a capable partner, being that I have drug him up local multi-pitch stuff before and I know he is comfortable in the backwoods, due to his backcountry skiing/suffering resume.

We blasted out of town after I finished work and were on the road by 1:00. I figured about 7 hours round trip if all went well. The drive took an hour and forty five minutes and the hike another thirty minutes. We racked up and I set off up the bolt line not knowing how long the pitch was. The beginning was a little unnerving climbing over giant slabs of hollow rock to reach the first bolt which was up 40 feet or so. Once I got onto the more solid stone the climbing got better and I found a groove and just kept moving. The pitch was about 150 feet and seemed hardest going through the small roof at maybe 5.11-. It took me a long time to lead it, more than a half hour and Drew followed taking about the same amount of time. The second pitch is more sustained though slabby with a mid 5.11 crux section and is a little more than 100 feet total length. I led this pitch as well and it took only 15 minutes, drew followed pulling on quick draws to save time since it was getting late and cooling down. The final pitch is around 100 feet and goes through a larger roof on square cut jugs, it felt like 5.11-. Drew followed and we rapped with two 70 meter ropes down to the first anchor then to the ground.

Drew following the first pitch

The techy 2nd pitch

Looking up at the 3rd pitch with a big flake and then roof

Typical bomber anchor

This route is very well concieved, well protected and has modern bomber chain anchors. I would highly recommend trying it if you are confident leading 5.11. Two ropes are required since the first pitch is so long and 18 or more quickdraws worked well for us. Though overall a bit slabby there are several roof sections to get you good and pumped. The climbing is mostly on edges of varying sizes but occassionally you find great pockets. I believe the rock is granite though it tends to appear like limestone at times. Summer is the best time of year for this route and it gets morning sun. We were on it at 3 o'clock in early September on a perfect bluebird day and it was a bit chilly.

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