I have wanted to get out with J.R. and we have both
wanted to climb the Finger of Fate for a while, so the
trip was set. I must be getting old, because this was
more of a tourist pace than the usual frantic "get in, get
out" climbers pace.
We got to Stanley about dinner time, so it was a leisurely
burger and listen to a local band until dusk, and then we drove
to the Hell Roaring Lake trailhead. A little 4 x 4 excursion up the
road and we pitched a tent for the night (J.R. had the sweet queen
sized air mattress, so this was car camping at its finest).
As we were getting into bed, good friends Rich and Jesse pulled in and they
were headed up to the Finger also, but they were on the fast schedule and were out of
camp before. We didn't hit the trail until 8 am.
After a leisurely hike to the lake, we got a little off route to start the day by not getting off
the main trail soon enough and were headed to Imogene Lake. After backtracking, we
were headed up the correct trail and were at the base of the climb about 11:45.
Since I had brought my "ropegun" (J.R.) he was eager to take the lead and I let him have
it. Pure rock climbs continue to bring out the "Demons" in my head, even after 15 years
of being accident free, but 1 nasty accident will scar you for life.
The climbing was very good and much more sustained than either of us had expected.
The 1st pitch went well and we were 1/2 way through the second pitch (1st crux pitch of
the route) when Rich and Jesse got back to the base and gave some words of
encouragement before heading home.
J.R. was wishing we had doubles of the big cams as he had to down climb to retrieve
gear. But he was up over the roof and at the second belay before too long. The third
pitch was a weird and awkward chimney with very sharp chockstones.
After scrambling to the final pitches, we saw the climbing ramped up a bit and the
exposure was breathtaking. The 5th pitch had a double crack system and if you could
spread eagle between the two, there were pretty good hand holds, but finally committing
to the right hand crack made you think twice about the 500 ft of air under your feet.
J.R. was eager to finish the last pitch so I let him have it and he was up under the
summit block in no time and on to the final move, which is one I probably would have
balked at on lead.
It is a very committing right hand 2 finger pocket and left hand side smear to allow you
to reach with your right hand and stretch to get a full hand undercling pocket. Then it is
"GO TIME", without hesitating, you have to move your L hand to the top of the rock and
smear while pulling up on the right hand and step onto a 1" sloping ledge with your R
foot. Then throw your L arm over the top of the rock for a full arm smear and step up
with your L foot to match on the small ledge. Then its "Trust the Feet" and let go of the
R hand undercling and do a second full arm smear on the top of the rock while you
slam your R foot into the pocket your hand just left. Take a deep breath as you stand
on a solid foothold, mantle your hands and step onto the top of the summit block and
go the next 15 feet to the anchors and look at the 600 feet of air to the north or the
1000 feet of air to the south.
After about 45 minutes on the summit we whipped down the 3 rappels heading for
home and it was nearly 7 pm when we got to our packs. We got back to the car at
about 9:30 and decided one more night out was in the plan, so after a freeze dried
dinner it was back to the air mattress and neither one of us hardly moved until we got
rolling back to Boise at about 9 am, but neither one of us were complaining about the