Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday Action

Seven climbers were at Mill on Friday. Eric, Brian, Hobbs, Dane and Ken arrived at the rock around 8:30 a.m. We started on the Tiger Stripe's Tiger by the Tail and Shere Khan. Eric and Hobbs dispatched quickly with on-sights of both climbs. Brian opted for toprope burns, claiming that he's out of shape, only to walk Shere Khan without pausing even once --impressive endurance on what is becoming a notoriously pumpy route.

Eric had to head back to town by noon. The rest of us turned attention to the main project of the moment: QED. We have all the bolts in, and the opening third's gear placements cleaned and sussed. The development is complete. All that remains is to climb the thing. The links are getting longer, but the climb is burly and very sustained with a ton of beta to refine and execute. We sessioned for most of the afternoon, with each of us getting spit off at least a few times.

Late afternoon Cole and Ben arrived at the Tick Farm. This was their first visit. Cole fired several leads with Ben following. As we hiked out at 6 p.m., they were setting up for the Tick Farm's hardest, Witness the Tickness.

Here are some images from the day:

Dane - Shere Khan

QED "Staircase" Feature. The Roof Comes Next.

Hobbs - QED Roof. 70 feet Climbed, 40 to Go.

Brian Lowering from QED Anchors

. . .

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sick, Phat and Ticktastic

Tick Sightings: None!!

Undeterred by a weather forecast of 90-plus temperatures, Michael, accompanied by Olin Martin, headed to the North Rim around 8 a.m. Saturday. Much to everyone's surprise, and thanks to a pretty stiff breeze, they were able to climb throughout the day and didn't leave until 6:30 p.m.

The day's objective was to bolt Ticktastic, the line Michael and Tim sussed out a week earlier. The line is located beneath the central obvious roof, right of No Dick Tick and sharing its anchors. From Michael's email report of the day,

We climbed the route several times, and ultimately decided at the top that we would put a bolt in the middle of what might be a couple of possible finishes. One, to the right, is probably 10b, but the other is harder than that, so our tentative rating for the route is 10b/c. It's a sweet route. It has 7 bolts and finishes at the No Dick Tick anchors.

First ascent credits go to Michael, Tim Karst and Olin. To read more about the day, check out Michael's graceful post about new routes, climbing and friendship at the Montana Adventurer blog.

Olin Martin at Work on Ticktastic (photo: Michael Moore)

The Tick Farm wall now has 8 bolted routes ranging from 5.8 to 5.11 and averaging about 50 feet in length. Worth noting are the 3 pairs that allow you to ascend an easier line and work a harder one from the same set of anchors. This is always a great combination for pushing your ability to new levels. The routes are:

Tick Man (5.8+) - Ticked Off (5.10c)
No Dick Tick (5.8) - Ticktastic (5.10b/c)
Birthday Tick (5.10a) - Witness the Tickness (5.11a)

In each case, the right hand line is the harder.

Two other climbers also hiked up on Saturday. Gunnar Cornwath and Brian French visited the area for the first time. According to Michael, "they pronounced it both 'sick' and 'phat.'" The pair climbed several Tick Farm routes, plus did the Tiger Stripe wall's Sabertooth. We're always happy when people top out the Tick Farm and establish on the ledge beneath the Tiger Stripe. The ledge is a great place to hang out and the Tiger Stripe routes, Sabertooth (5.10b), Tiger by the Tail (5.10d) and Shere Khan (5.11b) are some of the best sport routes anywhere in our region. The Tick Farm is great climbing, but the easily-accessible Tiger Stripe routes just shouldn't be missed!

For those looking for them, No Dick Tick, Ticktastic and Sabertooth are all too new to be in the guide, so here's a quick drawing showing their locations,

1-Shere Khan
2-Tiger by the Tail
4-No Dick Tick

Finally, here's a shot I found from last year that gives a good look at Kurt's Give and Take crack line. The crux involves strenuous moves out the horizontal portion of the crack. Initial efforts report it at around 10d. Kurt needs another visit or two to finish cleaning it up before it's ready for lead ascents.

Keith beneath Give and Take

Monday, July 12, 2010

Full Sun

With the Saturday temps for Hamilton forecast at 90 degrees, we left Missoula at 6:30am to maximize our climbing time, arriving at the rock before 8:30am. Ken and Dane went straight to QED, while Tim and Michael set up on the Tick Farm to clean and mark bolt placements on a new line right of No Dick Tick. It was interesting to watch the shade pattern as the morning progressed. The Tick Farm stayed fairly comfortable until around noon. The new cracks, Li'l Crack and Give and Take, down and right, were cool the entire morning. The upper half of QED was also in the shade until 11:00am, much later than we had anticipated.

Around midday, we were psyched to see other parties arrive, including a strong team comprised of Deanna and UM route setters Hobbs and Daithi. Deanna quickly walked No Dick Tick. From the vantage of QED higher up and to the side, it was great to see how steep and impressive the route looked with a climber on it. As stated before, this will surely become a Tick Farm classic.

Dave Hobbs above QED crux beginning The Bulge

Progress and ever-longer links on QED are happening. Ken managed to get the roof first try, while Dane has totally dialed the route's 12a crux. But once the crux is behind you, there's still 60 feet of sustained climbing above, including the Bulge, the Stairsteps, the Roof, the Standup and the Headwall. The key will be patience, strategy and a boatload of power-endurance. We continue to clean up the few remaining chossy sections and work out the gear placements on the lower half. The route is evolving into a high-quality testpiece. It's great to feel we're reeling it ever closer to the send.

The afternoon turned out to be climbable thanks to intermittent cloud bands, a good breeze, and a brief rain shower. Hobbs gave QED a mid-afternoon first try and made an impressive showing by reaching the anchors with only a few hangs. He, Deanna and Daithi then went off to climb Pie for Strength, rapping in from the third pitch anchors located at the west end of the Upper Tier. We look forward to hearing how they liked the route, and will profile "Pie" in its own post soon.

Other highlights of the day: Michael sussed a moderate slab line left of Li'l Crack, and, climbing in one of the other parties, Joe nabbed his first lead ever, climbing Tick Magnet, thin inobvious crux and all. Congrats!

A day's worth of 5.12

Friday, July 9, 2010

Links Added

Just added some links to the blog. Worth mentioning are those of local and regional climbers listed in the Locals section. No doubt there are a lot more out there. If you know of any to include, please send them to millcreeknorthrim at Gmail, or leave them in a comment here.

Here's a summary of local blogs so far:

Chris Gibisch
Non-stop gravity- and x-sport adventures. Excellent photographs.

Levi Parchen
Updates on all things Lolo bouldering, and more.

Montana Adventurer
Award-winning journalist Michael Moore.

Climbing, free verse and hapless mice.

And also in the Links section:

Bitterroot Climbers' Coalition
Protecting and promoting your right to climb in the Bitterroot Valley. Support them!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Holiday Activity

(photo: Q.E.D. - Steep!)

Nine climbers took advantage of the holiday Monday to hike up to the North Rim. The tick count was near zero (!) and we were all digging out jackets and fleece in cool conditions.

Five of us came to work new routes. Two other parties arrived during the day to climb on the Tick Farm.

Michael and Brett, with assistance from Kurt, bolted a new line that Michael had top-roped with his daughter, Kate. It finishes at anchors beneath the roof right of Ticked Off. Chalking up one for women climbers, Kate christened it "No Dick Tick." The climb follows 7 bolts at solid 5.8. It's a great looking, direct line up a nice piece of rock and promises to be a Tick Farm favorite.

Kurt took his trad skills down and right of Witness the Tickness to the nearby west-facing wall featuring a couple of gear lines he and Tim have been working. He led Tim's 5.7 gear line (prepped a week ago) for its first ascent, then placed one bolt to protect some dicey climbing on his own route, Give and Take (working name), which ascends the obvious, striking crack that starts wide and climbs to a clean roof. The roof bears resemblence to Kootenai's Arms Race, but those who have done it on t.r. report it's climbed as a strenuous layback/undercling. So far it's looking like 5.10d with one bolt and the rest gear. The route is still being cleaned, so we'll get word out when Kurt says it's ready for ascents.

Dane and Ken spent the entire day cleaning and bolting Q.E.D. located on the long wall right of Proof of Concept. This will not only be the hardest line to date at the North Rim, but has also been the most challenging to open due to the overall steepness including a roof and several bulges. The crux is around 12a/b, with numerous 5.11/11+ sub-cruxes above. Somehow Dane summoned enough energy at the end of the day to head up on top rope and confirm that the whole thing goes. We have some more cleaning and at least one more bolt to place before the redpoint attempts begin.

Above the Roof, 80 feet up. 4th Crux, Q.E.D.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Welcome to the Blog

Mill Creek North Rim - Upper Tier

Welcome to the Mill Creek Report blog. Following the interest generated by Michael Moore’s excellent Missoulian article covering climbing at the North Rim, we thought it would be helpful to provide updates and reports on the area. The number of climbers and ascents increases weekly. And thanks to the efforts of a core group of first ascentionists, so does the route count.

This blog will focus primarily on new route activity, ascents, climber sightings, trip reports, trail status, and last but not least, the state of the tick population.

And from there, who knows. We’ll see where it all leads...

Tiger Stripe Wall, Tick Farm Sector

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