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Trip Report    

Le Petit Cheval/Spontaneity Arête

Perfect weather day, great time on a fun route with lots of opportunities to practice different alpine rock skills.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Dry, clean and suitable tat on the sling trees/boulders.  Slings are probably going to be good for the rest of 2022 unless someone damages them.

One of my friends from work had been wanting to get into climbing for a while so I had been teaching him rope skills at the office.  During a work trip in Japan over the winder we had gotten to do some snow climbing and mountaineering practice, but until this trip I had only only been able to go over rock climbing in theory and do mock transitions in the office.  We finally had a window the weekend of AUG 12-14 to actually get out onto some rock.  I had been mulling over wanted to climb Spontaneity Arete all spring and summer so we decided we would go up to WA Pass and see how it went.


We drove up to WA Pass Friday afternoon from Tacoma, the usual miserable traffic on I-5.  Got to WA Pass around 730pm and Lone Fir was full, Early Winters was full, but we got a site at Klipchuck.  Saturday we headed out early to Phun Rock.  This was my friends first ever time rock climbing, so we did a few laps on some of the 5.6-5.8 routes to give him a chance to do some movement on rock, practiced rappelling and did two mock multi-pitches to go over the transitions at the anchor and transition to rappel. 

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Things went well so I decided we would commit to Spontaneity Arete the next day!  I knew it would be a long day, and since this would be my hardest alpine rock climb lead along with his second day of rock climbing/first ever alpine climb I assumed we would be on the long-end of the times stated in the guidebook.  We were up at 330am and on the approach by 5am.  Along the way we got some beautiful sunrise scenery.

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The handlines were acceptable but seeing the large number of knotted off breaks/coreshots didn't make me super happy with them.  Thankfully the scrambles were straightforward and the scramble-y approach was fun.

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Above the handlines the sun finally came over and started hitting the Liberty Bell group, pretty awesome! 

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WA Pass Climbing-[_ND10874]-Aug-14-2022-Edit.jpgAt the start we topped off 2L of water each to put in our climbing packs, stashed another 2.5L each at the base of P1 and started the climb.  At the top of P1 I pulled a super klutzy move and sent my ATC off the mountain....huge bummer, so I had to munter-hitch everything for the rest of the day.  In the end I didn't miss having the ATC, aside from a little rope-twisting.

P1 and P2 both had some fun cruxes that required a bit of problem solving and commitment, but I never felt stuck despite the fact that I hadn't really pushed beyond 5.4 in the alpine before.

The scramble section went quickly, fairly easy to follow the climbers trail.  The short problem between the end of the scramble and the true start of P4 had an awkward corner move, and probably isn't worth protecting; all it did was create a ton of rope drag.

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The Supertopo guidebook lists the start of P4 as the crux, but I honestly didn't see it.  I think that P1-2 had trickier problems than P4.  Above the "crux" of P4 (above picture) there are plentiful cracks and ledges that allow for a well protected climb up to P5.  Don't stop too early, I think I should have gone further on P4, until I could clearly see the base of the P5 slab/crack system.  We had to do a short simul-climb which would have been faster if I had kept going 20-30 more feet.

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Around the corner to the traverse

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Short rest before the slabby moves

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Getting the fingers in to finish the sequence

Pitch 5 (photos above) has a corner on climbers left and a crack system on climbers right with a traverse to get back to the corner.  I took the crack system; probably the harder of the two options but I thought it looked easier from the bottom.  The traverse (friend doing the move sequence in pictures above) is the only slab section we encountered, with a decent placement to protect it and fingers to go for off to climbers left.

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P6 is a fun crack system (above, my friends picture of me leading the pitch)

After P6, we were running really close to our turnaround time and so close to the summit....We decided we would just take the P7 scramble instead of the Goldie Crack....maybe next time.

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The rest of the scramble up was fun, did a little short roping and terrain belays to keep it secure to the top, made it up at 1:09 PM - our turnaround was 1pm so I was pretty happy with our early wake up and start at that moment!

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 Summit snack break

We rappelled to the top of the scramble section above P2.  Our descent took much longer than I had planned.  We didn't have any real complications, aside from a 20 minute wait for other parties on the way up to clear a rap anchor, but it is a complex descent and given that my friend went from never having climbed a real rock to being on the summit of Spontaneity Arete within 36 hours our pace down climbing and rappelling was deliberate and cautious.  While I originally wanted to avoid the gully completely, nearing the top of P2 I made the call to take the skiers left rap into the gully and downclimb around P2 and P1 to the base of the climb.  Surprisingly, the gully was not as loose as I thought, no worse than cascadian on Stuart for example.  I scrambled up to the base of P1 to get our water, which we were very eager to have after using up our 2L each on the route.

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We made it to back to the car 13hrs 36min after stepping off on the approach.  Sadly the Mazama store was close by this time so we had to survive on pack snacks until we got more towards Mt. Vernon to get some well-earned fast food to fuel the easy drive back to Tacoma.