Land of the Earth-born Spirit
THE VALLEY MASSIF
According to nearly everyone who has climbed here, it is well worth the journey, sometimes battling swarming mosquitos and slogging through swampy bogs, and many return time after time. The Valley Massif is an incredibly aesthetic formation, a silent ‘refuge’ away from the main area with quality climbs to meet the skill level and expectations of almost all climbers. There are routes on the SOUTH FACE, the NORTH FACE and in a new addition called ‘The Northwest ANNEX‘. All three are presented below.
This favorite outback area can be reached by one of several ways. Perhaps the easiest is by taking the Turtle Rock Trail from the West Trailhead, proceeding past Holy Saturday, Jurassic Park and perhaps 1/3 mile further until the trail takes a decidedly right and uphill trend. Although there are beaver dams all along this trail on the left (west), the easiest to cross is found at this point. Cross the dam and proceed as indicated in the photo below. You will not be disappointed.
THE SOUTH FACE
….. is the sunny side and can be climbed almost throughout the year. It is composed of large slabs filigreed with cracks of all widths and grades as well as many other exciting challenges. ‘Hooker’ (10c), ‘Dreaming of Babylon’ (10c), ‘Quits’ (9+) and ‘Bill Steal’ (5.6) are some of the most unique and popular climbs found here. Views from the top of the crag are quite stunning, and you may also be entertained by busy beavers in the ponds below, as well as several moose grazing amongst the willows.
**More route detail upcoming…………
15.) Ladder 7 Three ‘vertical’ cracks are seen on the left end of the formation. Ladder takes the first of the three, ie the leftmost. 2 pitches of about 5.3, then a headwall crack that goes about 7+. Rap off on the North side. (Sutherland et al., ‘late ’60’s)
16.) Social Security Ran Out 8 It does run out, TWICE, but continue on runouts to find more pro above. Quite exciting at the grade. (Harper and Kelman, ’93)
17.) Reverse Q Mark 7 Kind of wierd. Leave the protection of ‘social security’ for an INSECURE runout going up and right on a clean slab. (Stevenson, et al., ’68)
19.) Dreaming of Babylon 10c Super climb, crux is steep fingers and then backs off, but it needs gardening at least once per year. (Scarpelli and Lindsey, ’84)
20.) Quits 9+ Great adventure. Ususally done as three pitches, starting in a wide trough to an overhanging hand/finger crack and then hand cracks to the top blocks. **NOTE: Top pitch (in the top blocks) slants left with little friction on your left. (Hurley and Hurley, ’68)
21.) Falcon’s Lair 7 Alt start to #20. (Fowler, ’70)
22.) Hollerith Exit 8 Alt last pitch to #20 (on large boulders up top), slightly to the right and goes straight up, hands. (Kopischka and Kelman, ’80)
NOT SHOWN: Unseemly 9+R An alternate start to Falcon’s Lair is a seam in the unprotected slab directly below ‘the Lair’. (Bagdonas, 2000)
23.) Bill Steal 6 Superb jamming at the grade – it doesn’t get better that this at the grade! Start off of large triangular boulder at it’s base. Ramma jamma Dude! Usually belay slings at top. The shot is of Mat Allshouse finding textbook jams and protection on his first lead! See the photo at top of V. Massif page. (Hauk, Fowler, Sublett and Stiller, early ’70’s)
24.) Klarren 7 A climb on the large boulders up top, it’s RIGHT around a corner from #22. (Kelman and Warren, late ’70’s)
25.) Hooker 10c The classic Hooker dihedral. Very thin, steep and tricky at the start (see shot above of Stacy Bender just after the super thin crux) and wide at the top. Traverses L into Bill Steal. Gotta have pro from the smallest (’00’ rp) to quite large (#4 Friend or equivalent).
26.) Sunny Day 5 A scramble and grovel. It startson easy face and ascends a right facing dihedral with lots of obstacles. Not particularly ‘sunny’. (Fowler and Sublett, early ’70’s)
27.) My Blue Heaven (aka Cyber-way) 11a (** This rating may have gone up due to missing/weathered edges!) Find a thin right slanting ramp of shallow inclusions/corbels with three bolts. Crux is after the third bolt, goes straight up to anchors on very fine edges. Rap the route. (Brown, ’89)
28.) Bittersweet 9 Find a significant right slanting ramp about 30 feet right (E) of #27, go up and traverse back left across thin territory, protected by a bolt, to find a beautiful hand crack. (NOTE: missing bolt on traverse HAS been replaced – JwH, ’06 – NOTE: see photo to the right. (green line = Bittersweet, b = bolt.)
29.) Powder Puff 5 Crack at the top of the ramp in # 28. Nice, and may be a couple of moves harder than 5. Follows red line in photo above. Some prefer to start it ‘head on’, straight up. (Fowler and Sublett, early ’70’s)
DESCENTS: Either rap the route, or if not feasible, walk off to the east and circle back around west.
THE NORTH FACE
….. is surrounded by a pleasant aspen grove which confers a semblance of privacy as well as providing shade during the hot days of July and August. The face itself doesn’t see much sun except in the afternoon. It could be called ‘CRACK CITY’ as there is a concentrated collection of cracks of all grades found here, some of which are ‘long’, two pitch climbs. There are also some exceptional and hair raising face climbs that will challenge the best of climbers, such as ‘Bachelor Party’ (11c), ‘Best Man’ (10d) and the not soon forgotten ‘Whaling on Napalm’ (11c). Get after it….. test yourself!!
1.) Soft Touch 5 Classic at its grade. Two or three pitches. Bolted rap, 2 ropes to the ground. (Fowler and Hurley, early ’70’s)
** New bolted route here … ‘Bachelor Party’ 11c Traverses right out of Soft Touch, about 50 feet above first horizontal break and follows the LEFTMOST GREEN LINE in the topo. Find three bolts below the big bulge and then it goes vertical (4 bolts) to the top. Watch the runout crux after the third bolt! Bolted top anchors. * NOTE: Two 60’s to the ground. (Friedrichs, ’95)
2.) Tea Grinder 8 Both #2 and #3 start together, but have discretely different endings. TG bears left and there’s a short section of offwidth at the end. (Hurley and Sublett, ’68)
3.) Screw 7 See #2. Screw bears right and the first pitch ends near a headwall. The second pitch is nearly perfect 5.6 hands – shown in the photo. (Fowler and Dunwiddy, early ’70’s)
4.) Monkey Wrench 10a Just a few feet right of Screw, climb a 25′ offwidth to a shelf, then go up a right leaning crack to its top and belay. You can downclimb or go for the last pitch of #3. (Hollis and Heywood, ’74)
5.) Button 8+ The topo shows the close relationship of routes #5, 6, and 7. Button is the leftmost crack. (Hollis and Heywood, ’74)
6.) Snap 8 The middle of three cracks. (Hollis and Heywood, ’74)
7.) Zipper 8+ Bottom pitch is a wide (OW) groove to an unconventional ramble. The top pitch is perfect 5.7 hands. The Photo at the top of the page is Mat Schoeck on the first pitch. The shot below is That Romney grabbing for some help near the finish of the 2nd pitch. (Hurley and Fowler, ’71)
** A new bolted line is found LEFT of the top pitch of Zipper called ‘Best Man’ (10d). It follows the rightmost green line on the topo. Its a super, challenging line….. Belay on ledge above on gear. (Friedrichs, ’95)
** CAUTION: There’s a bolted line to the RIGHT of the top pitch of Zipper that has NOT been completed. Don’t get stuck.
8.) Hammer 8+ Offwidth with two bolted belays. (Hurley, Fowler and Sublett, early ’70’s)
9.) Tool or Die 9 Starts from the top of the first pitch of #8. Go slightly right and up to a nice handcrack. (Hollis and Heywood, ’74)
11.) Nail 7 Ascend the cracks in the depression and stay right. (Hurley and Sublett, mid ’60’s)
12.) Internal combustion 9 Stay on the underside of the giant flake, whether facing towards the rock or the other way. Follow the left facing dihedral to a roof, passing it using the thin crack on the right. Belay on Gear. (Heywood and hollis, ”74)
13.) Whaling on Napalm 11c A thin, bolted challenge on crystals and somewhat runout. Take a couple of small wires and the 2 smallest Camalots to sneak in when/if you can. The belay is on gear in a hand sized crack, so take extra pro to accommodate this. Superb, thin and steep!! (Keustner, ’89?)
14.) New Maps of Hell 12b One bolt protects the whipper(s) you’ll most likely take on this one. Make darned sure to clip it or risk facing the devil. (Scarpelli, 88)
THE Northwest ANNEX
Some moderate routes were developed during ’01 and ’02 on the west end of the Valley Massif on its north side at the ‘ANNEX’ (see the first topo above). Several are short, but three are longer (#1, 2, 7) and two in particular can get pretty testy (#1, 3). There’s a Fixe Ring anchor set at the top of #5 and a (new) sling – rigged anchor at the top of #3. If you make it to the top of #1, go right to the end of the formation, go left up a ramp and then hike back across the top (N) of the formation and use the raps down the North Face (“Hammer Raps”). The second photo shows detail of routes 1-4.
1.) Has Anyone Told You 10c Three pitches of challenging jamming. P1: start in the cleft separating the Annex from the main formation, go up a right leaning crack using big pro (10a). P2: take on a short, but stout wide crack ( ‘b’ on second shot above) that you’ll probably end up stacking (10c). P3: Go 20 feet left and find another crack ( ‘c’ on second shot above) to an off width trough (9+). Belays all on gear. (Harper and Thomas, ’02)
2.) Another One 9+ Similar to the first pitch of #1, just easier. * NOTE: WATCH OUT! You must do P2 of #1 from here to get off – using the rap indicated at the top of #3. Or do both top pitches of #1. (Harper and Thomas, ’01)
3.) Somebody’s Secret 11b Take on a bottomed out crack to the shelf above. Finish up a short water groove to the rap station. Its been done before, nobody told. (FFA anonymous)
4.) Fiddle Fingers 9 A short, but fine finger crack is found just around the corner from #3. Finish up the water groove of #3. (Thomas and Harper, ’02)
5.) Your Choice 9 Start below a large, wedged in boulder, climb either side and find a stellar little crack. There are two ways to finish the climb, left or right, and both go at the grade. Fixe Rings at the top. (Harper and Schmidt, 01)
6.) Thin But Fat 9+ Starts as a nice jam crack but thins out to nothing prior to a shelf. Then it continues as a wide fist and hand eater to the top. You can belay on the anchors on #5, or on gear. (Schmidt and Harper, ’01) *SEE shot at top.
7.) Wayward Journey 8 Most of the route goes at 7 or less. This wandering journey begins in a 10″ wide slot and continues up over two shelves. Go left, up and over a popcorn boulder into an off width following a wide groove with a move or two at 5.8. Belay up top on gear. (Harper and Butler, ’01)
SOLAR COLLECTOR Where is it? About half way around the Turtle Rock Trail, you will see Solar Collector about 100 yards to the north. The above shot is taken from the top of Glen Dome (VM = Valley Massif; SC = Solar Collector; TRT = Turtle...