Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Deep Creek Spokane

Submitted by Ken

A couple of weeks ago I had to take Otis-the-dog to a speciality vet in Spokane to have his eyes looked at. After the appointment I had time to drive out for a quick non-climbing tour of Deep Creek. Like many Missoula climbers, I've been hearing about this area located just outside Spokane, including its selection of bonafide 5.14s (not that I can do much more than look at those). Deep Creek's allure was further increased in June of 2010 when Jonathan "JStar" Siegrist paid a visit (here, here and here) and was seriously tested by the 5.14c "Problem Child." In other words, climbs of world-class difficulty exist barely three hours from Missoula.

So, although I didn't climb at Deep Creek, here are my impressions along with some low-quality cell phone pics.

Using the Mountain Gear store as a "convenient" starting point, and armed with the free Dr. Topo guide for directions, it took me about 25 minutes to drive to the trailhead.

The Main wall seemed the most logical destination, and in 15 minutes walking I arrived at its base. It was about 4pm and the temperature at the trailhead was scorching. In fact the forest looked so dry it seemed a single spark would have in seconds sent all of eastern Washington up in flames. But down in the (dry) creek bed, where the Main wall is located, it was shady and felt reasonably climbable, even at this time of day.

Top of the Main wall as approaching from the south

Main Wall

Though it's hard to get a sense of scale from my pictures, the Main wall is about 70 feet tall. If you click and expand the photos, you can see a number of fixed draws. The best comparison we have to the rock is Alberton Gorge. It's slick, polished basalt, and very blocky in nature, though I did find a number of positive crimps and edges in the first few feet of several of the routes. The angle is perfect sport climbing steepness, around 5 to 10 degrees overhanging. There's a great concentration of enticing looking 11s and 12s on the Main wall and it was definitely hard to leave with little more than a quick check of some starting holds as my sandy Chacos skated off the basalt.

Starting hold of 5.12b "Under the Influence" (I think)

Continuing down creek, in another few minutes I walked beneath the trestle of a public trail system and arrived at the Spokane river. From there I was able to rejoin the main approach path. Ten minutes later I was back at the car.

While no world-class destination, Deep Creek is certainly a regional gem. It would make for a great diversion for a weekend, or a layover stop during a longer trip. But be warned: the nature of the rock --that slick basalt-- will likely mean you aren't going to jump on and easily crank off some quick sends. It's obviously an acquired style that needs some time investment for best results. If I were planning to climb at Deep Creek, I'd likely get in 2 or 3 sessions at Alberton beforehand. I think that would increase my chances of getting the most out of my visit. Deep Creek would certainly be an amazing place to get power-endurance workouts. What I'd give to have that Main wall overhanging the Kim Williams trail! Furthermore, if you're a Missoula climber gunning for legit, high-quality 13s and 14s, it is certainly a viable area with numerous projects to choose from.

Deep Creek is definitely a place I want to climb at. I look forward to returning soon with shoes and rope.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lost Gear Sunday 9-25

Draws on 2 anchors and a couple of directionals on the Tick Farm left Sunday when a rain storm came in. See comment left on Cracktrilogy post for more details.

Please leave a comment or send email to millcreeknorthrim at gmail if you happened upon this gear. Thanks!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Following his August ascent of Because This One Is Also There, Kurt returned twice to the east side of the main amphitheatre and ticked off the remaining two wide cracks, completing his Cracktrilogy with an ascent of Because You Can't Ask For More this past Saturday.

As Kurt indicates below, there is evidence that at least one of the cracks has been climbed. If anyone has information about the original ascents please let us know. Until that time, we'll give Kurt credit and go with his route names.

Descriptions and embelishments courtesy of Kurt Krueger. Routes are listed in the order Kurt climbed them.

1. Because This One Is Also There, 5.9-. Gear. August 2011.

Description here.

2. Didn’t See It But It’s There, 5.9. Gear. September 2011.

Looking at the Aug 2011 blog entry: More New Routes - I discovered a large crack in the corner (to the left of Because This One is Also There).Large enough to get inside for a squeeze chimney (this might detour Ken from his mission of climbing all the routes at Mill Creek - as any good guide book author does).

I immediately called the climb, "Didn’t See It But It’s There."

With the usual group fighting for the opportunity to second the climb, Brent won the honor. I started up with the usual large rack but didn’t need anything bigger than a 4 Camalot (doubles of the 2 and 3, a 3-1/2 and the 4 should do you). I climbed the crack and enjoyed the chimney. There was a little loose stuff at the top so I exited to the left. Shock of shock, I found 2 bolts. My first thought was that Michael Moore had stolen the route. He knew I had been looking at it. He had been giving us a cover story that the bolt/hanger order had been "overdue" so how could he be putting up any anchors? Clever, clever cover story. Breaking into his house one night while he was at Leavenworth yielded no hardware. But the guy is clever (see previous sentence). He could certainly have stashed the gear at work. A forged search warrant to check Michael's office yielded an uppity employee yelling, "Freedom of the press!" and got me nowhere. Anyway, I guess we will just go with the First Ascent Report. Luckily, I think Michael is climbing in Washington again so I should be able to get the crack on the right before he gets back --- Unless he's not really in Washington . . .

3. Because You Can't Ask For More, 5.9. Gear to #5 Camalot. Gear anchor. Rap from Give and Take anchors or hike down. September 2011.

Heavy pack with a large rack, rope, bolting toys, a cold wind at the top belay, a nice bulge (hand jam) to make it into the wide part, bushes in the way, the second using chicken wing arm bars - what could be better? True Ken could have hiked to the top with refreshments for the successful team but then again he hasn't done it yet. A must climb for the Mill Creek hardman. This climb would yield to an Aid effort as long as the team would be willing to carry in 50 pounds of hardware.

Kurt visible in white at the top of
Because You Can't Ask For More

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gym Grand Opening Sept. 24


Here's a quick heads-up that the new Freestone Climbing center will host their grand opening this Saturday, Sept. 24th. Sounds like specials going on all day, with festivities including slide shows from local climbers beginning at 8pm. Mill Creek Report will be there showing some images from that last 3 years of development at the North Rim.

Come out and support our new local climbing gym!!

Information at:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Massacre Rocks Idaho Closure - Act Now!

Massacre Rocks is a climbing area located on basalt bands above the Snake River in south-central Idaho. The area offers hundreds of bolted sport routes ranging from 30 feet to over 200 feet in length. The climbing spans a wide range of grades, is surpisingly varied, and offers a great destination from late fall to spring when the higher elevations in our region are too cold. Furthermore, the access and camping are free, and the atmosphere is refreshingly relaxed, friendly and open.

Now all of this is threatened. The BLM is moving rapidly forward with plans to close access to most of Massacre's climbing. If ever there was a time to send an email or letter, THIS IS IT! Even if you've never climbed at Massacre, even if you are Canadian and/or live in New Zealand, help speak up for your rights as a climber. Add your voice to let the BLM know that climbing must be preserved at Massacre.

Email your comments to If you can send your email by Sept. 22, that would be great. But sending any message, any time, will help a lot. Your email can be as brief as "I oppose the closure of Massacre Rocks!"

Remember, the BLM may not know the number of climbers who travel to and enjoy Massacre. Let them know that you are one of the many who value your access to these public lands.

Missoula's Dave Jones, who participated in the major push of route development at Massacre, and who has been tracking the closure, has provided the following summary on the climbing area. Below that are links where you can learn more and express your concern.
What’s the Word on Massacre??

Climbing at Massacre Rocks in Southern Idaho started in the late ‘80’s when a group of locals mainly from Pocatello went looking for some new crags closer to home than The City of Rocks. The first trips to Massacre involved crossing the Snake River at Massacre Rocks State Park just off Interstate 86 about 30 miles west of Pocatello.  Later the lads figured out how to drive in from the north after crossing the river at the American Falls Dam.  This was a welcome change because it avoided having to carry heavy climbing packs in a canoe across a stretch of water that was could become fairly unruly when the winds blew up or down stream.  A guide book to the area was published in 1999 by Pat and Dan Spurlock of Pocatello with the Disclaimer: If you paid for this guide you got ripped off!  The guide was later taken over by Bruce Black of Pocatello and hosted on the Idaho State University Outdoor Program website to make sure it was free for anyone who wanted the information.

Access Fund Article:

Notice of Intent:

BLM info: post:

American Falls Chamber of Commerce
Tell the merchants of American Falls about the business they'll lose when climbers no longer shop in their stores and eat at their restaurants when traveling through their community on the way to the rocks.

Here are a few photos showing the climbing and environment at Massacre:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kurt's Tick Farm FAA*

*First Aid Ascent

Editor's Note

A couple of weeks ago, Dane opened the new, high-quality route Liger on the left side of the Tiger Stripe wall. That same day, Kurt and Olin did the first ascent of Because This One Is Also There. What wasn't reported is another "first" ascent Kurt worked into his morning. With a stop at the Tick Farm on his way up to assist Dane with Liger, Kurt showed what is possible by thinking outside the box of accepted norms. In so doing, he revealed the untapped potential not only on the Tick Farm, but everywhere that a sport climb exists, and where climbers have celebrated the heretofore coveted free ascent.

Here is the route description Kurt submitted for his ascent, which he superimposed on the existing free climb, Tick Man.

KURT'S  (IDEA GUY) VISION. 5.7 A0 OR A1 (Kurt and other) Climb Tick Man making ample use of existing bolts to avoid the tricky shelf move opening. Ascend the mid section of Tick Man at approxiimately 5.7. Avoid the final moves by tension traversing off an A1 Camalot to finish at the anchor. 

Kurt then offers this insight as to why he renamed the route following the ascent.

As is well known, it is common to rename a route if you do it in better style than the FA (first ascent). Without question doing (the former) Tick Man as an FAA (first aid ascent) is better than the FFA (first free ascent). To further advance standards, I hope next to do a sit start using a long clip stick. By clipping both aiders together, I estimate I will have enough length to make it to the first bolt, placing my feet only in the aider loops while avoiding standing on the ground. Please note that the name of my belayer, who I would like to add seconded the FAA ascent in his or her approach shoes, has not been listed to protect the innocent.

Editor's Note 2

Although Olin was reported in Kurt's company earlier in the day on the FA of Because This One Is Also There, his whereabouts are unknown during the middle part of the day when the FAA occurred. He does reappear later in Dane's company at the Liger, as confirmed by Dane. However, we did receive the following first person account from "Anonymous" that fills in some of the blanks and questions raised by the FAA. The account is reprinted as received.

Disclaimer: Most of this is true

Friday August 19, 2011 "My day at Mill Creek with Kurt" by Anonymous

Interaction #1

Kurt: "Will you carry this #5, the #4, and these #3.5's along with the rope... and maybe the draws?"
Anonymous: "Sure Kurt"

Interaction #2 (while putting up "Because This One is Also There")

Kurt: "Does it look like I should go right or left here?"
Anonymous: Left looks like some good face climbing, right looks like maybe some crack climbing but a few bushes in the way"
Kurt: "I will go right"

Interaction #3

Kurt: "Ok (anonymous) why don't you bring the rope down and we are going to aid climb this 5.8."
Anonymous: "?ok?"

Interaction #4 (once reaching the aid climb)

Kurt: "I forgot my other ladder, I will pay you a dollar if you go get the other one"
Anonymous: "ok"

Interaction #5

Kurt: "I'm going to aid climb this and then rename it. Then you can free climb it and name it again"
Anonymous: "???? I don't really understand Kurt because someone has already bolted and named this climb???"
Kurt: "Right, but I will be the first to aid the climb it and therefore have the right to rename it"
Anonymous: "Ok Kurt, but that doesn't really sound right to me"
Kurt: "Just trust me"

Interaction #6  (After Dane sends the first crux of "Liger" and declares that it is definitely 10b if not 10c)

Kurt: "Yeah, I agree Dane. What idiot thought that was 5.9?"
Anonymous: "I thought you said that Kurt?"
Kurt: "Who me? No way!"

Hope you enjoyed this summary of my day with Kurt Krueger.


Editor's Note 3

The potential controversy of this ascent warrants further commentary. We sought out those who regularly climb with Kurt. Here's what we came up with:

Dane was at work solo-bolting Liger, all the while wondering what was taking so long for Kurt and Olin to show up and lend a hand. He does recall hearing "quite a lot of commotion and discussion from somewhere in vicinity of Tick Man."

Michael, who has authored several routes on the Tick Farm wall, has been preoccupied with saunas and Bikram hot yoga classes in an attempt to purge his system of unkown toxins acquired in the chimney of Because It's There while following Kurt on the second ascent. He is awaiting lab results and was unavailable for comment.

Tim, who with Kurt and Dane opened Tick Man, was busy cleaning and checking the condition of his brand new #2 Camalot that, after being reported missing for several weeks, was found among the original Friends, prototype TCUs and duct tape on Kurt's gear sling. He declined comment.

Brian was last seen contemplating how to un-stretch his La Sportivas by about a size after Kurt, wearing socks, mistook them for his own and did a full pitch in them unaware of the suddenly tight fit. Brian was too polite to comment.

And Kurt's long time friend, Bob Siegrest, in Colorado, said he knew nothing of this incident.  He is, however, prepared to provide a notarized statement that Kurt, while climbing with him recently at Jon Siegrist's Wizards Gate area, did indeed discuss in person with Tommy Caldwell acts of reverse grade descrimination levied by the community against nine-fingered climbers. But, as they say, that's another story.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Local News - Festival and Gym

Here are two news items for our local climbing community you should know about.

Lost Horse Climbing Festival

Saturday, September 10th. This event keeps growing!  Check it out.

Bouldering Gym

The brand new Freestone Climbing Center is about to officially open. Fees and hours are set. It sounds like you can swing by for a bouldering sesh even now.

Montana Kaimin Article: (Aug 31, 2011)