From: Seattle, WA
Aug 4, 2014
Did this yesterday. I'm going to give the current conditions of the road, which will likely stay relevant through the next year of construction, and then some general comments.
The MF road is currently closed at the CCC trail trailhead, about 2.6 miles before the Taylor creek bridge. The closure meant that we biked in from the current closure point. The road is currently perfectly bikeable, but the planned roadwork over the coming weeks may interfere. We stashed bikes where the trail branches from the road. Parked car at 6:45am, climbing by 8:30am (including a bathroom break at the campground en route).
We thought we were being super clever by biking in and getting on this when the road is closed. Yesterday, Sunday, was actually our second attempt of the weekend after heading up there Saturday. On Saturday we got on the route at 8:30am (same approach times), only to find one party had slept at the base, who in turn thought they were super clever but another party had in fact slept at the top of P7. On Sunday we were alone on the route.
On Saturday the joke was on the top party, because when we reached the P10 anchors at around 10:30am, a series of massive thunderstorms started, with dime-size hail. We started bailing, as did the party that had slept at the base of the route (we had caught up to them at P10). Another storm bubbled up an hour later while descending. When we reached the base of the route we could see the top party was rapping around P14. On the bike ride out, another storm hit. Know that when a downpour comes through, the majority of the pitches turn into waterfalls, and much of the climbing is friction climbing, making it basically a game over.
Climbing this route with parties above/below is extremely unnerving. On Saturday we saw several golfball-to-softball sized shrapnel pieces come down, and on Sunday we couldn't avoid causing the same, especially over the P15-17 chossfest, both ascending and descending. These pitches are very different from other alpine choss I've climbed: it's a low angle continuous slab, with no blockiness or ledges to halt a major fall, and every hold is suspect, for at least these 400 feet.
Why there's no anchor other than the bush between the current P16 and P15 stations is beyond me, it's currently basically impossible to ascend or descend the route without unroping or "simuling with a death pact" -- no gear between. It's very psychologically taxing to climb these two pitches, both on the way up and down, and honestly felt like the crux of the route. Dealing with the double ropes on the chossy low angle rap was a lot of work at a very tired state.
The climbing is not that hard, and all the hard pitches, rated 10b, 10c, 10a, are tightly bolted enough that pulling on draws can easily get you up at a 5.9 A0 grade. Our ascent of the 10c pitch was definitely a case of reverting to 5.9 A0 after so much climbing. This route would be 4-stars if it wasn't for the P15-17 choss. The climbing on the rest of the route is fantastic!
The times I remember where: 5:45am leave Seattle, 6:45am park at CCC trailhead, 8:30am climb, 10:15am at top of P8, 7pm top out, 7:30pm start raps, 12:30am off route, 2:30am back at car, 3:30am home in Seattle. Basically a 16hr climb. We would have been faster overall if we weren't tired from the Saturday attempt through P10. We were also very slow through the P15-17, in both directions. It would be faster to simply unrope for the ascent/descent of the choss, and acknowledge that that's the level of sketch-commitment you have to be OK with to do this route. What made us want to do the approach twice in a weekend I still don't know, but hey, psych was high!
A monumental route, but because of the choss section I don't see myself ever doing it again.