FA Day: Firecamp

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I made it home from work early Friday, so rather than go with the original plan – rush home, carry just the necessities, hustle up the trail to meet Bruce at the target area, etc – I was ahead of Bruce, so I changed the plan. I loaded myself like an expedition packmule, with plenty of extra gear, including giant cams, and lumbered like a geriatric ox up to Crane’s summit. It took me an hour and a half to lug that pack up there; stopping frequently for rest, once even to refill my water bottle, before finally I stood at the Firecamp.
I established a top anchor for our intended routes, two short diagonal cracks on the right side of the wall, then placed my rope on the rappel anchor and descended, perusing, scrubbing a bit here and there, gauging pro placements, and such, before hitting the dirt and setting up a belay anchor I could hang from while Bruce climbed. Taking pictures and belaying requires a stance that can be shifted without losing stability or control.

Bruce hollered just as I completed this task, having arrived just in time, so soon we were both standing at the base of our first intended route.
With two entire racks, augmented by gargantuan cams, Bruce could thoroughly load himself down for the assault of the upper crack, all 45′ of it. Near its top, there’s a wide spot where our biggest mechanism would go, but we were laughably over-geared for the task at hand.

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The crack fades before hitting the gully, so it’s a tricky step up and left to gain the first real pro, probably the crux of the route. Bruce made the move without hesitation, then continued up and left and clinched good gear. Moving from feet in the crack to hands, he continued up, smoothly working along the line, banging in the one big cam and going over a corner out of sight. Minutes after starting, he called “Off Belay!” and it was my turn.
The first moves probably are the most difficult, but the passage near the widest part of the crack is also challenging, and the exposure hits rapidly: from being tucked among balsams in the gully to standing above the tops of trees 40′ below. It’s a pretty little climb.

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Without hesitation, we rapped back down and set up for the second crack line. This is a little longer, begins a bit steeper, then eases off awhile before passing through the same steep corner, just below our first route.
Bruce chose to forego much of the burden this time, but was still well-endowed with gear as he set out. Pro came quickly and often, the climbing, while not hard, was interesting and scenic. He methodically placed gear and stepped confidently across the face. Again, minutes after he started, he was out of sight, and moments later, anchored and ready to bring me up.

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Again, there’s that sudden exposure feeling along the route: a good jam and small face holds below the crack quickly got me out of the gully and onto rock. The crack offered solid, secure holds, and the feet were decent, so the going was easy enough, if exhilirating. Cruise Crack, as Bruce dubbed it, is a wonderful, three-star route.
Once again, we were together at the top in a few minute’s time. We had time for one more exploratory route, and we did indeed spend that time exploring. I won’t go into details about the heinous discovery I made doing that last FA, suffice to say it wasn’t the highlight of the day. The only thing going for that route is that it tops out near the “Dartmouth” carving. I suppose there’s some historical value in that!

We topped out of the debacle I dubbed Dartmouth Notch as the sun set. Bruce named his routes: Cruise Crack, already mentioned, and Nervy. They both go around 5.5. Cruise Crack would be a good learning-to-lead route. As DN, well, it’s 5.8 and… just stay away from it.

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One Response to “FA Day: Firecamp”

  1. treeowner1 says:

    would like to see some more of the view !

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