Alpinism Home

Great Northern Slab (5.6)

Index, WA

June 11, 2011

Kim and I are preparing for a trip out to Jackson, Wyoming to visit our friends Jeff and Tracy so we decided to get outside for a little warm up climb. We wanted an easy multipitch climb so Great Northern Slab at Index fit the bill nicely.

Gray clouds covered the city as we headed out towards highway 2. A few sprinkles of rain hit the windshield as we crossed the Snohomish River on highway 522. We hoped the threatening clouds would limit the number of climbers since we knew it would be a busy Saturday.

We pulled into the parking lot and found many cars, oh well! As we were putting on our harnesses and getting our gear together two other climbers walked by and I recoginzed my friend Mike who I work with at Vertical World! He and his friend, Rob, had just gotten down off of GNS and were heading back up to the Toxic Shock area. We chatted for a little bit before heading off for our climbs.

Kim and I hiked up and over the railroad grade and into the forest. We could hear two climbers on Pisces, but we didn't see anyone on GNS. Good news! We flaked out the rope, put on our shoes and tied in. It had been sometime since Kim and I had rock climbed together, so this was a real treat. We belayed the first little scramble up to the big ledge. The lower part was a bit damp. At the belay I used an Alpine Equalizer for the belay. These are really handy for efficiently setting up equalized belay anchors. Kim didn't like the wet start and had to spend some time cleaning one of the nuts I placed so she was glad to have that pitch behind us.

On the next pitch I tried to place a variety of gear for practice. When Kim was climbing up she again had trouble cleaning a nut I had set too firmly. She tried all the usually tricks to get it out but had no luck. I had already donated three nuts to the Index climbing community several years ago when Michael and I were getting into aid climbing, and I did not wish to donate any more. So once Kim was up, I rappelled down to the stuck nut. It was pretty firmly set but it did wiggle a little so I was finally able to coax it out. While I was getting ready to climb back up, I was fussing with my belay carabiner and my Reverso fell to the ground! Nuts! I didn't want to donate my belay device either, and I really didn't want to do a carabiner break rappel with neutrino carabiners, so I had Kim continue to belay me as I downclimbed the route. Kim was using my Black Diamond ATC Guide belay device for the first time and did a great job of managing the tension. Thank you, Kim!

Once I reached the ground I retrieved my belay device and headed back up. It was fun re-climbing these pitches on top rope. Finally we were both back up at the huge belay anchors. We spent a few more minutes organizing the anchor and reflaking the rope. Our simple, easy, climb had turned into a much more complicated affair. Once we had the rope and anchor sorted, I lead the next pitch up onto the slab proper, past the fun slanting cracks to the belay chains. I got a few pictures of Kim as she climbed up this pitch and soon we were both at the anchors. It was 3:30pm at this point and we had planned to go the Sounders match that evening, so we decided to rappel from here. I pulled out my 8mm haul line and we set up a double rope rappel. The combination of my 8.9mm Serenity rope and the 8mm haul line made for an easy rappel with so little friction.

Kim went first on the rappel with me following a few minutes later and soon we were both safely back on the ground. That was a good warm up and I'm looking forward to several more climbs together before our trip to the Tetons!