Check Your Head

Tags: Posted on December 01, 2012

A photo of me taken by Joshua Lavigne on nearing the top of the second pitch. (Yes, we goofed around with camera gear, did some filming and photo work.  The beauty of climbing as a team of three!)

Check Your Head  M6+R, WI 5+ 180m;  FA:Jason Kruk, Joshua Lavigne, Jon Walsh  November 25th, 2012

This mixed adventure is well worth the long approach.  Skis are recommended.  You can see the upper half of the route from highway 93, and it lies at the right end of of the first main wall at the Storm Creek Headwall.  The rock is excellent and belays are mostly bolted, and at good stances.  For the most part, the drytooling is very positive in good cracks, and protects well with natural gear.   The best place to park is at the Stanley Headwall parking, approximately .8 km south of the Storm Creek Headwall fire break approach slope, which has a "no stopping avalanche zone" sign on the highway right below it.  The route itself lies in a big avalanche path, so stable snow conditions are needed to climb it.

Ski up the fire break, take the road to the left at the top of it to the creek.  Follow the creek up the drainage to headwall.  Ascend the fan to the base of the route, 2.5 - 3 hours.    

Approach pitch: solo 30 meters of very thin WI2 (no pro), to an ice belay in a cave.

Pitch 1:  M6, 32 meters  - Start up a couple short ice flows and gain a left facing corner with good gear.  A couple delicate slab moves gain a short right facing corner.  Follow it for a couple body lengths to a left facing corner that leads to a snow ledge and a two bolt belay. 

Pitch 2: M6+ R, 35 meters  - Take the groove straight up from the left edge of the ledge.  Move leftwards past  two pitons (only fixed pro on route).  The second is a very good lost arrow.  Once it's clipped, traverse left on small edges and continue trending up and left until another crack can be reached.   Follow it straight up and eventually becomes a shallow right facing corner,  that ends at a snow ledge, a two bolt belay, and the lower angle halfway "ledge".  The second half of the traverse is a little bit run-out, but not the hardest part of the pitch.  

Pitch 3: M5 25 meters  -  Head up from the belay, and then take a hard left where it's easiest.  A two bolt anchor is found just before the ice.

Pitch 4: WI 5+ 40 meters  -  The left side of the ice was thicker and offered the most protectable line.  Small rock gear was useful to protect the initial moves onto the thin curtain at the bottom.  We belayed at a protected stance from ice screws on the right hand side, before the final steep pillar.

Pitch 5: WI 4+ 25 meters  -  Straight forward high quality ice climbing to an ice anchor at the top. 

Rappel notes:  It's a 57-meter rappel from the top of the ice to the highest bolted anchor.   Then a 45-50-meter rappel straight down to a 2-nut station at a hanging stance (drill battery died).   Then a 20 meter free hanging rappel to the ground.

Rack: 2 60-meter ropes; 1 set of nuts, 1 set of micro cams, 2 sets of cams from .3 camelot to #3 camelot.  8-10 ice screws.  Pitons optional (we placed 2 and left them fixed).

Two different angles of the climb, showing the belays and rappel stations