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Snow Creek Wall
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Edge of Space T,S 
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Orbit T 
Outer Space T 

Orbit 

YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c PG13

   
Type:  Trad, 7 pitches, 800', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Becky, Davis 1962
Page Views: 6,840
Submitted By: ChrisJoosse on May 18, 2010

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Topping out on the last pitch of Orbit, as seen fr...

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Description 

Orbit is probably the second-most popular route on Snow Creek Wall, and is regarded to have a more airy, exposed feel. Although the climbing is technically more moderate than Outer Space, the combination of exposure, route-finding challenges, and the occasional runout section combine to provide a spicy feel beyond the grade.

With the exception of pitch 1, all pitches put your climber out of line-of-sight, and out of earshot.

Pitch 0: 5.6, 180 feet. Scramble up to the large tree slightly right of the Mary Jane dihedral. Move left and enter a 4th class gully. Follow this up toward the distinctive 'hanging' tree at the top. Sling the flake and/or the tree. (Some route descriptions omit this pitch, or call it the scramble to the first belay station.)

Pitch 1: 5.8+, 90 feet. Move right of the tree to the main ledge and proceed up corners and slabs to the crux of this pitch, an 'awkward' roof which can be negotiated via the slab on the left, or stemming high and pulling over the roof. Once past this, climb 30 easy feet to a small ledge directly below the Mary Jane dihedral.

Pitch 2: 5.8 - 5.9, 150 feet. Find the easy overhung traverse moving left and up at a diagonal. After 90 feet or so, you'll find yourself at the foot of a fantastic 5.9 finger crack system which presents the technical crux of the pitch, in the form of another 'awkward' transition leftward when the finger crack system peters out.
Set belay on the ramp with bushes above the finger crack, and chill in the slot behind the large flake. (an alternate to the crack system is to continue traversing left, then climb up low-fifth class blocks to the belay).

Pitch 3: 5.8+, 180 feet. Take an airy, exposed step up and right to a slab which progresses about 40 feet up to a roof. Clip the bolt, skip the buttonhead, and when the slab begins to roof out, move right around the arete.
If the fingercracks of the prior pitch are the technical crux of the route, the face climbing above the arÍte in this pitch are the mental crux. Proceed directly up the face (small cams for pro here) through some fun mantling moves to a dihedral with a small ledge and vertical and horizontal cracks. This will be your most-exposed feeling belay station.

Pitch 4: 5.8, 90 feet. From your belay, climb straight up the dihedral. When crack in the corner runs out, move up and to the right to gain the knobby face, and marvel at the beginning of a sea of chickenheads. Pull over an easy roof and continue up the 5.5 face to the large ledge with an overhanging roof and obvious right ramp. Belay from the ledge.

Pitch 5: 5.6, 200 feet. Move up the ramp on the right side of the ledge and marvel at the endless chickenheads in front of you. Pro is very sparse- sling the occasional chickenhead- and move generally left, following the easiest path. Climbing will become progressively easier from here, and eventually you'll reach 3rd-class jumbles of blocks- go as far as you have rope and set belay.

Pitch 6: low 5th, 150 feet. Climb generally up and left toward the top, then head right up one of the gullies to the sandy summit.

Descent: From the summit, move left to find the cairn-marked descent trail, which will lead you across the top of the gully at the base of the wall and onto the rib across from the wall. Take a moment to enjoy the view, and follow the cairn-trail down. Some of this will be 4th class scrambing but if done right will not require a rappel.
Near the bottom, enter a narrow gully and work left (back toward your packs). A short scramble (watch for the cairns!) over a fin ridge will gain you the flank at the foot of the wall- continue down and left until you reach your starting point. If you proceed too far, you'll be cliffed out.

Location 

Follow the climber's trail from the snow creek trail up to the base of Outer Space. From here (for reference you'll be roughly under the Shield), go left along the base of the wall for about 150 yards or until the base of the wall (and the trail) start going steeply downhill. Rack up here, stash your packs, and say hello to the goat welcoming committee. Scramble up and left over easy terrain toward a large evergreen below the prominent Mary Jane dihedral. Use the gully to looker's left of the hanging tree for easiest access. Some of this scrambling may warrant roping up, as the last moves up to the ledge are probably 5.6 and feel exposed.

Protection 

Gear to 3" with an emphasis on finger and small hand sizes, double set of nuts


Photos of Orbit Slideshow Add Photo
Approaching the crux of p1
Approaching the crux of p1
Dyan Padagas having a ball on pitch 4 of Orbit, Snow Creek Wall, Leavenworth WA.
Dyan Padagas having a ball on pitch 4 of Orbit, Sn...
Looking down from belay 2 at the delightful 5.9 finger crack system that begins after a leftward traverse.  You can also see the scramble gully (p0 in the route description) in the background.
Looking down from belay 2 at the delightful 5.9 fi...
Looking down at the second half of P3, which is deliciously airy and exposed feeling.  This part is sustained 5.8+ with really great movement.  Notice the old piton and the sketchy buttonhead bolt on route, neither of which looked as attractive as my own gear.
Looking down at the second half of P3, which is de...
Doug and Kristen following P2
Doug and Kristen following P2
Finger cracks
Finger cracks

Comments on Orbit Add Comment
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By Rafe
May 18, 2010
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

I'm pretty sure this route isn't over 1000ft long.
By ChrisJoosse
May 19, 2010

You're right, the sum of the pitches I put up adds up to 1020 feet- that is probably wrong. The numbers mentioned in pitch descriptions are estimates, based on my own memory and other accounts- but I think they're fairly reasonable. Also note: the first pitch I described is sometimes considered a part of the scramble/approach- without that the total is 840, which seems reasonable given an ~800' wall and some traversing?
Corrections are definitely welcome here- I just put this up because there wasn't an entry for it.
By Rafe
May 19, 2010
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Yeah Orbit should definetly be here, I'm surprised it wasn't already! Didn't mean to sound dickish if I did, that was just my first thought while reading the description.
By Cat Cahoon
From: Seattle, WA
Jul 4, 2011
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

This route is fun fun! It deserves it's reputation for being heady and exposed, but the climbing is so good. There are sections where all of the things you've heard are true. sometimes the gear is tricky, sometimes its a bit runout. but the climbing is so good.
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Jun 4, 2013
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

To take the edge off the start of this route, scramble up to the base of the 4th class gully and belay at that ledge. You can make the top of the first pitch as described from here (its about 58m from the base of the gully). This does require a couple of 5.easy moves (easy to short-rope your partner), but is a nice way to pitch the route out.

Really fun route. Good protection throughout (not sure where the PG13 part is on this), and clean falls at the cruxes (a rarity on 5.8!). I'd highly recommend this one for sure.
By Chris de Serres
Jun 23, 2014

On pitch 2, I wouldn't wait till right crack peters out before transferring to left crack. It gets harder to move left the higher you go up. You can traverse over fairly early.