Energizer Bunny, September 2001
On Labor Day weekend 2001, we--John (JF), John (JR), Craig and Greg-- started
out from the Grandjean trailhead to climb the East Face/Ridge of Warbonnet Peak.
The weather had been nasty 2 weeks before, but was beautiful the day we
headed out and not wanting to be slowed down, we traveled "light and fast" with
an 8 mile approach and 4000+ feet of climbing ahead of us for a long day.
As we climbed higher it became very apparent that the snow from 2 weeks earlier
was going to be much more of a problem than anticipated, but we were all
experienced and had made this approach several times.
We should have stopped at the first steep bouldery section of frozen ground, but
our tennis shoes were holding well in the snow and the valley eased up until the
final couloir below the East Ridge--at least that was our justification. Besides, we
were moving pretty fast.
Well, the moving fast ended when we started up the talus slopes toward the East
Ridge, in ankle to knee deep snow, over boulders and talus.
After a couple of hours flailing up the snow slopes we just tried to salvage the day
and hung out in the sun, eating lunch, bouldering and doing short problems on
the cliffs below the North Face of Warbonnet Peak. We were starting to get bored
and thinking about heading home (about 2 pm), when I told everyone I had spied
a sweet line on a spire earlier that year--so of course we all had to have a look,
and the REAL adventure began.
We all looked at it and then decided it was too late to start an unknown multi-pitch
route that late in the day (3:30 pm), but the demons began rationalizing--it's only
afternoon--we could always just climb a pitch and bail--we had all the gear..........
So we rigged quickly and started up the route. JF and Craig headed for a
chimney/hand crack and JR and Greg headed for a blocky ramp section that met
in the same place about a pitch or so up the face...and the adventure began.
I won rock/paper/scissors for the first pitch and headed up the first pitch on some
sweet granite blocks and hand jams. At the end of the rope at exactly 60 meters,
there was a tree just built for a perfect belay station--our luck was getting better!
The next pitch eased somewhat and we were having a great day out in the
mountains. JF and Craig had bailed on their line and were following our lead, so it
was a party of 4 now.
We got to the top of the 4th pitch at about 6pm (the sun went down about
7:30-8pm). JF and Craig started thinking about bailing, but JR and Greg (myself)
thought we could still make it with enough time to bail and get back to the trail, so
they went down and we continued up.
The climbing steepened, but was one of the best pitches I have led in years, a full
pitch of continuous 5.8-9 hand and elbow jams up this crack that just begged to
be climbed, the pro was bomber and before too long, I was standing just below the
summit pinnacle. I belayed JR up the pitch and he scrambled to the top which was
just big enough for 1 person to sit at a time and it dropped 1500-2000 feet off all
sides. What a great end to a beautiful day.
Well, it was the end of the day because the sun was below the horizon as we
started down the backside of the ridge to what we thought was a scramble down a
scree gully back to our packs--well, it was except for the 300 ft cliff to get to the