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Great Northern Slab (5.6)

Index, WA

August 6, 2013

Now that I'm working on the eastside it was easy to drive up the road to Bothell after work to meet my nephew, Blake, and go climb at Index! What a great way to spend a summer evening!

I met Blake at the Bothell Park and Ride and we cruised up to Index after making a brief stop in Monroe for some dinner and the Index General Store for some barley pops. There were a few other cars in the parking lot when we arrived. We put on our harnesses, organized the rack, and stuffed the rappel rope in Blake's back pack then headed up the long, long, trail to the base of Great Northern Slab. On th drive in, I told Blake that this had to be the best approach, ever.

It was still sunny on the route when we changed into our rock shoes and tied into the rope. Another team had just pulled their rope before we started up. Blake gave me a solid belay as I made my way up the awkward start. It's only 20 feet or so, but it's exposed so I was happy for the security of the belay. I plugged in two cams and brought Blake up. He made the tricky moves with little trouble and we were soon exchanging gear and I was climbing up the flairing corner to the huge metal rings.

I opted to bypass the more direct start at the second pitch and instead deal with the potentially massive rope drag by climbing left and then right over the belay anchors. I had several long runners which I used on strategically placed protection so the rope drag was kept to a minumum and Blake was protected well on the traverse.

I had just enough runners to make it to the anchors at the end of of the slab. I called "off belay" to Blake and soon I was pulling up rope. This is a fun belay because it's kind of a semi-hanging belay with only a small alcove ledge to stand on. Blake did great on the traverse and enjoyed climbing the crack system that breaks up the slab. The feeling of exposure is pretty awesome too as you make your way up the ledges and then onto the face.

Soon we were both at the anchors and we decided that even though we were only one pitch from the top, we didn't have much daylight left so we chose to descend from there. I lowered Blake back down and tried to go slow as he went over several ledges and steep overhangs. He pendulumed on one ledge but kept his feet up with cat-like reflexes! I forgot how long a double rope rappel is and it took a little longer than I thought to lower Blake all the way to the bottom but eventually he called, "off rappel!". Blake had hauled our second rope up with him in his pack so I used it to make the double rope rappel back down. It was fairly dark by the time I reached the bottom.

Blake's wife, Caitlin, was flying in from Iowa that evening so we were hurrying to make it to the airport on time but while Blake was being lowered she called and left a message saying that her flight to Denver was late so she missed her connecting flight to Seattle and was going to have to stay the night in Denver. Suddenly we weren't in a hurry so we took time to coil the ropes, change back into our street shoes and even enjoy a well earned barley pop!

Thanks, Blake, for a great evneing of afterwork climbing at Index!