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North Bend is more fun than I remembered.

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
3 min read

I continued my recent trend of being irresponsible and went rock climbing this weekend. Friday after work, I headed out with one of my newer climbing partners, The Don, to meet up with my climbing-life-partner Kari, Other Alex and Candace and my little sister Megan (aka, “Hot Sister,” who hates it when I call her that, but it’s true) at North Bend. The plan was to camp somewhere and then climb on Saturday. Friday evening was lovely out, and the timing was just right to get in a couple of pitches at Deception on our way up, so Don and I paid a visit to We Did rock and then met up with Kari, Other Alex and Candace at a surprisingly quiet site at Tinkham Road.

We got a leisurely start on Saturday morning, then started the day at Substation at Deception Crags (Exit 38). We met up with more friends, and climbed about half the routes at Substation.

Candace did her first outside lead, and Megan did her first outside climb ever and then promptly hopped on a 5.9 and thus started the “you disgust me” comments that continued all day because she is just such a natural.

Megan is, quite truly, the most adorable rock climber girl I have ever seen. She somehow managed to rock a climbing harness in dark blue jeans and a cute t-shirt… this girl was born to be a climber girl. Not only does she have a rock climber girl back and rock climber girl arms despite the fact that she works a desk job, is currently “between gyms,” and has rock climbed all of four or five times… but her footwork is so naturally good that I tell new climbers to watch her feet to learn what good footwork looks like. Apparently she got the good genes, *and* the natural rock climbing talent. I’m actually not bitter, though… it means that if she climbs just a few times a year, she’ll probably outpace me in a short time and then I’ll have another ropegun to add to the list. Score!

We wrapped it up at Exit 38 and then headed for Exit 32, with the plan of getting Megan on Reptiles and Amphetamines, a classic 5.9 at World Wall I. Our friends stopped off at Blackstone and we met up there… I don’t have the Exit 32 book and my “Rock Climbing Washington” doesn’t have all the routes in it, so I’m short on beta. But, Kari did a STUBBORN lead on Human Foot (5.8) complete with one clipping stance that her belayer (yours truly) was extremely nervous about! I guess I owe her a few nervous belays, given that she’s been belaying me on gear now for weeks.

The guys got on the long, meandering 5.9 to the left of Human Foot, and then Colin lead what he said was a 10a further to the left (not in my book) which turned out to be the highlight of the day for me. I climbed it on toprope and fell in love… it’s got everything I look for in a rock climb. It’s nice and long, with underclings, footwork, balance-y moves, flakes, crimps, a critical finger lock, some small fingertip cracks… I get all dreamy faced just thinking about it. It’s one of the most perfect 10s I’ve climbed. Most of our crew took turns on it until Colin needed to get going… I eagerly volunteered to do a speed ascent to swap out his gear so that we could keep playing on it. After the second time up it going for speed, now I have to lead it. So that and Son of Jesus should be my goals for the next time I’m at 32. I do believe I could spend all day on that climb and be perfectly content, so I’m looking forward to getting to visit it again soon.

We climbed late into the evening then headed for burgers at XXX in Issaquah. We didn’t even make it to World Wall, so we’ll just have to go back… I can’t wait to see Megan on Reptiles, so that we can have another “you disgust me” fest.

I don’t generally think with fondness of Exit 38; I much prefer 32. But, we had a great crowd, so it was just a great day of rock climbing… at both locations.

I don’t know yet what next weekend might hold… perhaps, responsibility will kick in and I’ll stay home.

But only if it’s raining.

Sara Lingafelter

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