Orange Wall: Warren Route
Rating: 5.7+ III 1100'
Pitches: 8 or 9
Deep in the Wind River Range, up the relatively inaccessible Grasshopper Creek we setup camp. We were on some sort of NOLS seminar.
Over dinner the first night Riley Rice, Henry Haro, and I discussed wanting to climb the Warren Route (5.7+ III, 1100') so we got gear together.
The next morning was clear and crisp. The approach to the base was up a series of exposed and ridiculous grassy ledges. We didn't talk about the exposure, but just pushed on unroped through some 5.1 R climbing and to the base of the climb.
Riley led the first pitch, which was the crux of the route. The 5.7+ move here still might be the most awkward move I've ever made climbing. The rock was granite and mostly horrible with moments of brilliance. We stood at the first belay and didn't talk about the weather. Riley led the next pitch and then the third. At the third belay we didn't talk about the weather.
Henry took the next few pitches where the wall started to get steeper and sustained and most solid. We smiled at the end of each cruiser 5.6 pitch and didn't talk about the weather at all. At the top of Pitch 6 we turned to look at the sky to the West. It was a classic Winds scene that looked like death.
Thunder sounded. It started to graupel on us, then true snow, then rain. The wall began to melt as we began to bail. Being that I hadn't had the opportunity to take any leads and that this was technically a "professional development day", I took the reigns on the descent.
There were some old rap slings from a party ages ago. I only used webbing for the first and second rap anchors, but then on the first had to break into the rack: a #2 cam and some nuts. By the time we found ourselves at the top of the last rap we were all at least mildly hypothermic. It was difficult for any of us to squeeze the cam triggers hard enough to get purchase. On top of that, the final rap was down a gully with a large watershed on the wall. It was essentially a waterfall of mixed water and soil and rock. God, we had to get down.
I threw the rope and saw that it was pretty messed up. I started down anyway. At an intermediate ledge I found both ends of the rope wet and tangled and miserable. I tried pick up the ropes with my cold hands and could barely feel anything. I watched as some baseball-sized rocks flew within a few feet of me before moving slowly with the ropes draped over my arms a bit further out of the shooting gallery. Fuckers! Go slow to go fast. Act with trust, not fear. These are the moments where these actually matter. I managed to use my hands more as little spikes at the ends of my arms than proper hands and within a few minutes had untangled and tossed the ropes further. After rappelling directly through the waterfall quickly I was on the ground and happy to be grounded and hypothermic.
I watched the other two descend. We left the rope to grab later. Fuck it. And went back to camp down the same sketchy and wet and grassy exposed 5.2 that we'd ascended earlier. When we got to camp the skies broke and it was sunny.