Sunday, June 24, 2012

Michael Climbing Essay Missoula Mag

The Sunday, June 24 issue of Missoula Magazine features a wonderful essay by Michael Moore. "Climb the Sublime" is Michael's exploration into climbing community and the rewards he's experienced as a central figure in the development of Mill's North Rim.

This is an eloquent and insightful piece well worth your time. Read it here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Guide Posted

A preview edition of the new North Rim guide is now available! We're calling it the "topo preview edition." This edition includes topo, description, grade and quality rating for 44 routes in the the main area. View and download here: Guide 3rd Edition Preview.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Freestone and Mill Article

Last week's Missoula Independent included the annual summer Explorer insert. The insert contains a nice feature article about new climbing opportunities in the Missoula area that covers Freestone Climbing gym and the North Rim at Mill Creek.

You can read the Explorer online here. The article begins on page 6 with a full-spread picture of Dane on Birthday Tick taken by the route's namesake, Keith Bosak.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Big Science Sent

Submitted by Dane

Last Memorial Day, Ken and I started aiding up the big, atmospheric and intimidating overhangs on Big Science. It was raining, but the route was dry as water dripped off the large visor above, landing 30 feet from the wall. We placed knife blades, RPs and 1/4 inch replaceable bolts as we worked our way up roof after roof.
For the next several weeks we returned to place the permanent bolts and do the obligatory North Rim industrial cleaning of the route. Ken knocked off a small pickup load of rubble from the first ledge.
In late June, Eric and Hobbs joined us on an early attempt to work the climb. Being young and strong (in Eric’s case, more strong than young [ooooh, burn! –ed]), they opted for a horrendous V6 bouldering move at the first roof that required abs of steel to hold a swing from small crimps over the lip. With at least 20 to 30 more years of beer drinking on these guys [don't even try to catch up –ed, again], Ken and I looked for an alternative sequence. Luckily, we figured out a less core-intensive way through the roof that lowered it to V4/5. However, most of the remainder of our summer and fall was devoted to other projects along with a couple of trips to Ten Sleep, and we didn’t seem to find the time for Big Science.

This winter, we decided to use cold weather to put up Scary Math, the harder and longer route just to the right of Big Science. We emerged from the gym this spring excited about these projects and were anxious to redpoint them. In late April we spent a couple days on both routes and were able to figure out the moves. It was time to get serious.

Ken was out of action this Memorial Day weekend; he was taking it easy after a week at Ten Sleep. Even though Ken was poised to send Big Science**, he knew I was chomping at the bit and encouraged me to enlist another partner. Hobbs, who is always ready and willing when you can get him down from his high lines, was the obvious choice.
Hobbs and I went up the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to give it a go, but it was de ja vue from the year before, and we were met with cold, wet weather and gusting winds. However, we put the dreary day to good use and played around on the climb, blowing on fingers and getting more familiar with the route. Luckily, by Memorial Day the weather improved. Hobbs and I each managed to red point Big Science on our first attempt. (Thanks to the support of the always positive Freestone ace, Chris Ferguson, who joined us on Monday, belaying and taking photos.)
The route is fun, challenging and waiting for more ascents. Have at it!

** With Dane belaying and shouting up a well-timed "Get it!" during the crux sequence, Ken managed to redpoint the route Friday, June 08.

The following includes the route description and topo from the upcoming new edition of the guide. Climbing Big Science feels about the same in intensity and commitment as climbing Kootenai's BRIK.

18. Big Science 5.12b. 12 bolts. V4/5 roof crux then jugs, heel hooks and grins to top. Ends at anchors above last roof. One more bolt protects pumpy ext. to Scary Math anchors, but don’t clean or toprope Big Science from there due to rope-cutting edge!
19. Scary Math. To be continued...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Highline Bolts Vandalized

Last July we blogged about the installation and send of the first highline at the North Rim. Sadly, we must now report that the bolts and hangers for the line have been vandalized. A group of highliners showed up there a few days ago to discover the placements at both ends were covered with rocks. Removing the rocks revealed that all hangers had been hammered flat.

This is likely no random event. When Hobbs installed the bolts, he made sure to cover them with stones to hide them. But each time he returned, he'd find the stones removed. This has occurred regularly since last July. It would seem the perpetrator has been sending a message, one made more symbolic when they re-covered the bolts after vandalizing them.

The holes will be redrilled and the bolts will be replaced. But until then, the highline is temporarily out of service.

We can only speculate about the individual(s) behind this. But it does seem a good guess it's the same person who, for the past three years, has repeatedly removed the cairn marking the beginning of the approach off the main trail, and who often places branches across the approach. As recently as a week ago, we discovered branches and limbs obstructing the path for nearly a half mile up the ridge. These were easily kicked out of the way, but it is interesting to note the branches stopped at the point where the extended approach up the ridge (to the highline) begins.

It seems the best thing we can all do right now is keep a watch for anyone in the area who is obviously not there participating in adventure sports. Climbers are now up at the crag every day of the week, so that's a lot of sets of eyes available to spot something going on. This shouldn't become a witch hunt, but noting activity can help us determine who's attempting to prevent us from exercising our right to recreate on public land. Finally, it's worth knowing there is legal precedence to prosecute individuals who willfully vandalize bolts, as is well documented by this western Massachusetts climbing coalition site:

Let's hope it never comes to that.

Please send reports of any suspicious activity to millcreeknorthrim at gmail.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Big Creek Rockfall

Rockfall that probably occurred over the winter has impacted three routes in the First Buttress area of Big Creek/McCalla Ridge. The event dropped tons and tons of rocks into the belay area beneath the climbs, and also struck about a half-dozen hangers on the routes.The hangers are mashed flat to the rock and are unusable. Kurt Krueger and Michael Moore tried to pry the hangers up, but failed. The structural integrity of the hangers would be in question, regardless.

photo: Michael Moore

The route Jimmy the Toe, which is just left of the main arete near the end of the buttress was hit, as were other routes -- the names of which we don't know -- to the left. The hard route on the arete was unaffected.

The smashed hangers need replacing and the climbs can't be done safely other than on toprope. The ledge above the climbs is littered with hundreds of pounds of loose rock, which will likely come off with more rain. Kurt and Michael cleaned a path to the anchors, but there's still a lot of rock loose on the ledge.