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Castle Rock, Midway (5.6)

Leavenworth, WA

July 20, 2013

We were in Leavenworth for the Chapman family reunion so why not do some rock climbing? Along with all my camping gear I also through in a bag with extra harnesses, helmets, and rock climbing shoes, just in case there was someone who was interested in doing some "high angle hiking"! With my family I knew I could drum up some willing souls! My nephew Blake and his wife, Caitlin, were already on board. I gave them a heads up so Blake brought his shoes and harness.

My nephew, Ian, was also excited to climb outdoors! We had climbed at Vertical World earlier this spring with his son, Cai, and his parents my brother Mark and his wife Penny. We had a great time indoors so I was really looking forward to getting them outside!

So Friday evening Ian, Blake and I made plans to climb the classic route, Midway, on Castle Rock the next morning. Mark and Penny had agreed to watch Cai but we promised to be back by 9am for breakfast, so that meant leaving the Leavenworth KOA at 6am!

Morning came early but the sunshine and the smell of pine trees created a sense of wonder for what the day would bring. Caitlin had decided that 6am was a little too early so Blake, Ian and I packed up quickly and drove out of camp as quietly as we could. It's always a dream come true to play in the great outdoors with my nieces and nephews!

We drove through town and were impressed by the number of people out walking and running. Leavenworth is such a great little outdoor hamlet! We hadn't driven too far out of town west on Highway 2 when we found the large turn out and pulled over and parked. We were the only ones there! We put on our harnesses and divided up the gear. Blake and I had packs so he carried the rack, I carried a rope and Ian carried a rope tied in a butterfly coil. Hiking up the trail I was nearly beside myself with the anticipation of climbing with Blake and Ian! I wish Black Diamond, Petzl, or any of the other hardware manufacturers would produce a belay device for 20 climbers so I could belay all my nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews at the same time!

We hiked up the trail to Logger's ledge and scrambled up to the start of the climb. We put our rock shoes on and tied in. Blake belayed me as I made my way up the steep corner. Everytime I climb this I am transported back to the first time I climbed this historic route with Jeff Witt and Kim! This was the first outdoor rock climb I had ever done and I was scared out of my gourd! I believe the original rating for this first pitch is 5.5 but most modern guide books put it at 5.6 or even 5.7! I carefully placed gear for both Ian and Blake's ropes although Blake's rope was the one I was being belayed on so it got the majority of the pieces of protectiion.

It's such a steep, straight, route that I really didn't need to put much gear in on Ian's rope but I didn't want him to be cheated out of the fun of trying to clean one of my welded stoppers so I placed 3 for him! At the top I called off belay and created an anchor so I could belay from the edge of the route for a better angle for pictures! Ian climbed first and Blake followed about 10 feet below him. Blake and I climbed the entire route last October while we were in town for Oktoberfest.

Ian did a great climbing the pitch and making great use of the sparse and obscure holds. Blake climbed up easily as well and I wanted to think it was because of my great coaching, but truth be told they are both great athletes than me! Blake was a pitcher in college and Ian was a starter for the Varsity soccer team in college also! Soon we were all sittin on top of Jello Tower and we had to make the tough decision to continue up the next two pitches or make a rappel so we could be back to camp in time for breakfast.

We all agreed that it wouldn't be good to keep wives and sons waiting so we set up one of the ropes for the rappel and soon were hiking back down the trail with thoughts of fresh coffee and Caitlin's crepes with fresh berries!

Thanks guys for a great morning climb in one of my favorite places in the world!

-Uncle Pete