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Memorial Weekend bouldering, Leavenworth, WA

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
7 min read

Me, warming up

The holiday weekend took me to Leavenworth, WA for a mostly-bouldering adventure. Proving, yet again, that there is PLENTY of moderate bouldering in Leavenworth, we hit up the Beach and Swiftwater areas at Tumwater Canyon, and had a kinda short session at the Fridge Boulder in Icicle Canyon, along with some good time on Classic Crack and the surrounding routes. This time around, I’ll emphasize the pictures for once!

First stop, as usual, was Leavenworth Mountain Sports (aka, Der Mountain Hausen). Randy, Bounder and Zin all needed shoes. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Support Leavenworth Mountain Sports. Their sale racks are kick butt, their womens’ apparel selection is completely out of this world, and they’re stocked with essentials for camping and climbing. Shouts out to Kate and Cherly, who put up with our herd of boys cracking dirty jokes each morning while we picked up out last minute “must have’s.” You ladies rock, and your impeccable taste is matched only by the circumference of your biceps and your tolerance for dirty jokes.

We started out at Tumwater Canyon, the Beach Area, at Leavenworth, WA. It was here that Gear Rescuer (aka, GR) began his tear it up weekend. After sending a tougher variation of The Fin (V2) as a warm up, he made short work of a number of V3s. Here’s Jumper (V3).

More leavenworth bouldering

And, Randy taking a turn…

More leavenworth bouldering

And then next up was the Wonderkid (aka, Zin, or Zen, or Boo, or apparently his real name might be Mike). He’s only climbed a couple of times, and I think this was his first day in his own rock shoes. He was a TOTAL natural, and got a lot of encouragement from us old crusties to stick with it.

More leavenworth bouldering

From there, we worked around the boulder, with a send by GR of U2, another V3; and then the guys and I worked (and some sent, but I didn’t yet) “F*ck the Crystal,” a V3 with delightful body tension and footwork required down low, to a slanting rail, with a dyno to the top. Here’s GR set up for what was ultimately a successful dyno and topout.

More leavenworth bouldering

Day two took us to the Fridge boulder to start, in Icicle canyon. I have a V3 project on the Fridge that I still haven’t gotten — I seriously need to work my dynamic movement to someday get Cellar Door done. The guys took turns on Fridge Center (V4) and Fridge Right (V4). GR had a great flash on Fridge Center, and the boys all worked Fridge Right.

Leavenworth, WA bouldering

We had a pretty quiet morning, which is unusual at the Fridge, where you can always count on running into other boulderers. Sure enough, the quiet didn’t last… a bunch of folks from Portland and Eugene rolled in, as well as some friends of friends from Seattle, so after awhile it was a total scene. Every inch of ground was padded, which made for some pretty bold attempts and sends.

Leavenworth, WA bouldering

After awhile, though, we opted for a more quiet location, and headed for the Classic Crack area, which was busy but not swarmed. Made some new (to me) friends there, running into three of GR’s old friends. Randy finished our lead on Classic Crack and since there wasn’t a lineup behind us, we all took turns getting to know the route in detail; the most by GR who has a date with her on lead next trip. I took a number of laps, trying to get the crux worked out reliably enough that I can confidently get on, on lead. It’s the hardest “5.8” I’ve ever climbed, but we visit it just about every time I go to Leavenworth, and I’m definitely improving my crack technique (especially for wider hands and fists) each time. I look forward to someday getting on that route on lead.

We were all pretty well thrashed, but before bed perked up enough to decide to head out to the Swiftwater area in the morning for a few more boulders before heading for home.

During a gas stop, Randy and Bounder (aka John) met Sarah and Mary, who weren’t sure if their climbing party was going to show or not. We traded introductions and beta on getting to Swiftwater just in case, and then we headed out. We got to Swiftwater and started warming up, and Mary and Sarah and their friends came out to join us. We had a nice, chill day at Swiftwater. We warmed up on the Prey / Schisthead boulder, with Prey, a fun V0 seeing a lot of traffic. Here’s me, warming up on the middle of the boulder.

Me, warming up

With tons of spotters and a well padded floor, our attention turned to Schisthead (a V2 up the center of the boulder) and its V3 variation (starting from the left). GR sent the V3 onsight, and Randy very nearly topped out, but then his mantled heel slipped on moss and he took a big fall from the top. He was okay, minus a few fingertips, and we kept at it. I flashed the V2, which was really exciting for me.

I usually don’t get really sketched by topouts, and even highball topouts… unlike in roped climbing, where I’m a total head case, in bouldering I tend to just know what I have to do and execute. This time, I worked through the route smoothly and with confidence; I got in position for the big push to the top,

Me, warming up

and then worked my feet up high. I pushed for the lip and couldn’t reach it; I worked my fingers and feet up delicately and reached the lip. I looked at my options for moving my feet up and didn’t like what I saw, so the thought “I have to downclimb” flashed through my head. I think my fear of heights actually kicked in to make my brain and body override the instinct to downclimb or come off, since I snapped myself out o
f it, matched hands on the lip to move my feet up, then carefully pulled the mantle. It was a heart pumper — definitely the highest and least secure topout I’ve pulled — but it was FUN. Shaking with adrenaline, I walked off and was pleased with finishing the problem.

Bounder worked the V3, which added a slightly technical traverse to the start. I’d like to to that link up, too, but after topping out I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that mantel again that day!

Bounder

After we’d bouldered out those routes, we headed down to the Cave. There aren’t any rated problems in the book, but there are two lines out to the lip that were tons of fun. I actually did respectably on the right line — despite being super steep, it played to my footwork and body tension strengths. We worked on it for some time, then the boys’ attention switched to the line on the left. GR came close to linking it all up…

GR

and Randy’s beta was incredibly productive. Bounder took a few turns, despite bleeding feet from breaking in new shoes…

Bounder

And GR worked it until he was so tired he had no option but to take a good rest.

GR

After that, we crossed the street with Mary and Sarah and Ian to visit Royal Flush, a stunning roof crack rated V2. With careful padding and spotting, GR and Randy worked it, with some solid attempts. I had a hard time getting off the ground — the guys were starting with jams loose enough they could move off of them to make progress on the start; I’d get in fist jams good enough to hold my body weight to get off the ground, and then I couldn’t get them loose to move on the route! It was a really inspiring line, and one I’d like to come back to, but the landing was scary even with pads and unbelievable spots. GR and Randy worked the unlikely looking Sleeve Ace (V3) which I tried a few times, but couldn’t figure out the starting footwork on. I think I was also just plain hosed. My forearms and triceps took turns burning and saying “ouch,” and my attempts on Royal Flush had about done in my hands. We were all completely exhausted, so decided to call it a day.

Yet again, it was another fantastic weekend in Leavenworth, and I made a bunch of new friends. Between my bicep tendon which I’m still rehabbing (but thankfully, am cleared to climb on) and the workout from this weekend, I’m EXHAUSTED. I’m looking forward to taking it a bit easy this week, and working endurance in the gym to balance out all the bouldering I’ve been doing lately!

How was your Memorial weekend?

Trip Reports

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.