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Panther Gorge-Haystack-Psalm 23 and Windjammer-2017 September 17

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  • Panther Gorge-Haystack-Psalm 23 and Windjammer-2017 September 17

    ...and yes I put 2017 in the title by mistake...should obviously be 2016...


    4:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. / 17 hrs.
    Partners: John Pikus & Jaryn DeShane
    Approach: Garden to Marcy/Haystack col, follow cliffs to Feline Wall and bushwhack through talus to Marcy Brook where terrain levels, bushwhack up V Wall drainage/talus

    Prior Trips to Panther Gorge:
    1. Grand Central Slide (w/Mark Lowell)
    2. Grand Central Slide Descent, up the Margin Slide & Skylight Bushwhack (w/Greg Kadlecik)
    3. Marcy to Haystack Bushwhack with Great Range Traverse-Great DeRanged Traverse(w/Greg Kadlecik)
    4. Marcy East Face Circumnavigation (w/Ranger Scott van Laer)-2013 Aug 24
    5. Marcy (East Face) Ranger on the Rock-East Face Slab (w/Anthony Seidita)-2013 Sep 6
    6. Haystack Slides and Haycrack Route-Day 3 of 4 days in the gorge (w/Anthony Seidita)-2014 May 1
    7. Haystack (V Wall) All Things Holy (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Jul 12
    8. Marcy (Agharta Wall) & Haystack (Free-Standing Pillar) Wreck of the Lichen Fitzgerald & For Whom the Lichen Tolls (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Aug 16
    9. Marcy (Agharta Wall) CrazyDog’s Halo & Watery Grave (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Sep 27
    10. A Snowy Panther Gorge Bushwhack (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Dec
    11. Marcy: A New Ice Route – Pi Day (w/Adam Crofoot & Anthony Seidita)-2015 Mar 14
    12. Haystack: 3 New Routes in a New Area (the Ramp Wall) (w/Allison Rooney and Adam Crofoot)-2015 May 30
    13. Marcy (Panther Den) Cat on a Wet Tin Roof (w/Bill Schneider)-2015 Jun 14
    14. Rumours of War: Opening a New Area—the Huge Scoop (w/Hunter Lombardi)-2015 Jul 11
    15. Marcy (Feline Wall) Kitten's Got Claws (w/Justin Thalheimer)-2015 Aug 1
    16. Not Every Trip to the Gorge is Perfect –No Route, but a Good Day (w/Bill Schneider)-2015 Aug 16
    17. Marcy (Huge Scoop) The Pride (w/Bill Schneider and Adam Crofoot)-2015 Aug 30
    18. Marcy (Feline Wall) Promised Land (w/Dan Plumley)-2015 Sept 19
    19. Tour de Gorge (w/Adam Crofoot & Allison Rooney)-2015 Nov 21
    20. Marcy (Panther Den) Ice Route: By Tooth and Claw (WI4) (w/Bill Schneider & Devin Farkas)-2016 Jan 30
    21. Haystack Ice Climbs-Orson's Tower (WI3+) and Fly By (WI3) (w/Nolan Huther)-2016 March 5
    22. Marcy (Agharta & Panther Den Walls)-Pioneer Anomaly & Belshazzar's Fate (w/Adam Crofoot & Alan Wechsler)-2016 May 28
    23. Marcy (Huge Scoop)-Predatory Instincts (w/Bill Schneider & Nolan Huther)-2016 June 4
    24. Marcy (Feline Wall)-Galaxy of Tears (w/Dustin Ulrich)-2016 June 17
    25. Marcy (Panther Den)-One for the Boys (w/Bill Schneider, Adam Crofoot & Allison Rooney) 2016 June 25
    26. Marcy (Agharta Wall)-Tail of Redemption (w/Bill Schneider & John Pikus) 2016 July 30
    27. Marcy (Panther Den Wall)-Climb After Slime & You Moss Be Kidding Me! (w/Alan Wechsler) 2016 August 6
    28. Marcy (East Face)-Revelations (w/Nolan Huther & Loren Swears) 2016 August 27

    It seemed like the weather might play along with our goals on September 17th after spoiling plans to venture into the gorge the prior weekend. Showers were supposed to hold off until the evening. The target was on Mt. Haystack—the V Wall on which Adam Crofoot and I put up a route called All Things Holy a couple years ago. That satisfied my curiosity for a time, but studying my photographs lit the flame this past winter. I wanted to see what was up the center and along the left side of the V shaped wall (formed by twin trap dikes that draw together at the base). The left side looked particularly enticing with a series of corners and cracks. I also wanted to find a more direct route from Marcy.

    Jaryn DeShane and John Pikus (who joined once before) opted in for the outing. This was Jaryn’s first time into the Gorge though we talked about it at length the week before while climbing a couple slides on Giant. The first words out of his mouth upon seeing the walls were, “I understand now...” One needs to see the area to comprehend its draw for us.

    We’d set a good pace from the Garden to the col where we arrived a little after 8:00 a.m. I knew that we’d need the extra time for the bushwhack across to Haystack. The last time Adam and I went to the V Wall, we took a comparatively long route across the talus to the base of a large slab on Haystack that we unofficially named the Panther’s Shield. We then followed the base of the cliffs which involved some vertical bushwhacking and precarious maneuvers over the various contours of the mountain.

    Instead Jaryn, John and I followed the “herdpath” down to Marcy’s Feline Wall and descended into the talus fields via a small dry drainage streambed. Watch THIS video to understand what navigating the talus can entail. Once down the flank of Marcy we were funneled into the center and down-climbed through extensive talus while navigating around a large wooded buttress of Haystack. The terrain eventually flattened as Marcy Brook became more pronounced. It was bone dry and I was counting on the brook to replenish our water supply. We had to follow the streambed down a couple hundred feet past the pronounced drainage from the V Wall (near a large glacial erratic).


    With 2 or 3 liters each safely tucked in our packs, we ascended the V Wall drainage stream avoiding talus and deadfall when possible. It was an arduous, but safer approach than threading the Haystack cliffs. It was 10:30 a.m. when we arrived at the base of the wall above the wooded intersection of the dual trap dikes. We re-nourished and watched the clouds gently drift by Marcy. They were low enough to obscure most of its East Face and the main climbing walls.

    The sides of the V Wall are vertical, but the base of the “V” is rather blocky with cedars growing nearby—where our new route would begin. Small ledges broken by grassy bands led to a small flat area where John set up to belay me.

    I knew this wouldn’t be a multi-pitch route and thus hoped it would be the first of a couple climbs. I started up and stepped back down. Jaryn dryly proclaimed, “You’re off route...” Yup, his sarcasm meshed well with mine. Sharp stone, dozens of cracks, small ledges and pockets made climbing the first 100 feet easy. It then became a sloped terrace below a short vertical section. Above led to more cracks and the crux where John yelled, “You’ve got about 20 feet of rope left (of 200).”



    "That should work fine", I thought. I studied two cracks. An option to my right was wet and vertical, but the one above was overhung and looked enticing if not a little dirty. I’d set 8 pieces of protection to this point and added another to protect a fall if my hand slid out of the somewhat moist crack. The last 15 feet took me about 1/3 as long as the rest of the climb. The crack ended in a fist sized crevasse, with near vertical blueberry bushes above. I jammed my arm in and groped around for a fistful of bushes and tugged—yup, somewhat secure. A short crawl upward led to small ash trees where I belayed John then Jayrn.

    They simultaneously climbed about 75 feet apart while I scanned the gorge. The clouds had lifted about 1,000 feet and it was obviously windy—except in our protected alcove which was quite pleasant. John reached the crux and the rope went slightly snug as he yelled, “Rock!” to Jaryn. He hadn’t fallen, but his foot broke a hold free. John was soon up the crux and photographed Jaryn as he climbed. The entire affair took slightly more than an hour. It was just after noon so we had time to rappel over the northern side of the wall and explore the cracks.

    John set up the rappel from a stout tamarack tree and descended down a gully. He passed over the crux and said it looked like a fun climb though it was a little wet—what I expected on both counts. Once at the base we enjoyed the aesthetic geometry of the trap dike...imagine Colden’s Trap Dike in miniature on both sides of the V Wall. Perched up to our left was a broken fin of rock precariously perched on a narrow wall of stone.

    John had mentioned wanting to lead a route in the gorge and jumped at the opportunity to lead this line. We chose the most dominant (and driest) line in the opposing corners—a crack that followed the left-facing corner (right side). This crack was continuous and led to the gully above. He worked his way up the intermittently wet line with good hand jams and jugs. The obvious crux was over a vertical wall where the crack widened and contained a chock-stone. I was tall enough to place a foot on either wall and work my way up and over though shorter people might have a more difficult time.

    The angle laid above the chock-stone before ascending the gully. A little fun climbing led back to our rappel station at the tamarack. Fast forward to our hike out for a moment—hours of discussion and bouncing names back eventually led to the name “Windjammer”—a perfect name given the techniques used and conditions of the day. Our first route assumed the name “Psalm 23”.



    During my climb of Windjammer, Jaryn was bouldering around on the opposing wall of the dike and found what would have been a fun line if it was longer. By the time we’d each climbed the route and rappelled it was 2:30 p.m. We then walked to the other side where All Things Holy began and scouted another line. The only appealing option was wet. We were also getting tired and had a long bushwhack across the talus ahead of us. We packed and left the wall around 3:30 pm.

    Jaryn led the way down and side-sloped the wooded buttress that we skirted on the approach. This worked well and seemed like a more direct route back to Marcy though it included the risk of running into small ledges. Once across the buttress I decided that we should aim for the Agharta Wall rather than the more northern Feline Wall of Marcy from which we descended. Remarkably we found a nice corridor between the central talus and the talus below Agharta. We broke out of the woods at the glen below Agharta and felt the first drops of rain.

    Another 15 minutes found us at the Panther Den shooting video of the clouds whipping north out of the pass. Foul weather had found us and I briefly thought of Alfred B. Street’s words in The Indian Pass. He attributed an ominous presence to the gorge. With the climbing over, the dramatic cloud-play was a nice counterpoint to the beautiful weather we’ve enjoyed on many of our trips. It added a deeper sense of adventure to the day.

    A nice French-Canadian offered us couscous as we took a break at Johns Brook Lodge. Otherwise the walk was without note and we arrived back at the Garden at 9:30 p.m.

    Last edited by mudrat; 09-24-2016, 09:01 PM.
    May you always be a student of the journey. God Bless.