Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Takakkaw Falls 2013

Sat June 29th - Takakkaw Falls 5.7

Synopsis: 4 out of 5 stars.  A great day out, especially if done from the Tak Falls campground.  Not a lot of climbing at the grade but the rock is good when it is and the cave is a riot!

It was a bit of a siege as Brian, Shannon, Andrew, Brenda, Deanna and I all camped at Tak Falls for the night and hit the climb en mass in two ropes of 3. In spite of camping at the base we didn't make it to the end of the path until 9 am and by the time we scrambled up to the base of the route and geared up it was close to 10.

I won the rock paper scissors and headed up the rock at the right hand side of the bench at the top of the scree pile. There was a visible bolt 3 metres up that was a clue. While gearing up a goat stuck it's head out just to the left of us, as we watched several others came around to check out the two legged climbers. They likely got a real kick out of the ropes and gear.

I put the first two pitches together easily with 60 metre ropes. The second pitch had some real climbing and clean rock - all bolted, no gear required. Once Deanna and Brenda were up we headed along the traverse using running belays on the bolts and stations so we could all move at once.

Once around a corner I could see the so called 4th belay station on a traverse up and right. Some kind soul had flagged it with surveyors tape, making it easy to spot.

Once there I misread the map, congratulated everyone on making it up 5 pitches in 1 1/2 hours and headed straight up. I was partially sucked in by a stuck nut however it was soon obvious I was off route. I mistakenly thought I was to the right of the correct line and carried on looking for a place to go left.

Right about then Brian, who had climbed the route before, arrived at the station and pointed right. One quick look high and right into the large left facing corner and I could see a station. Crap, lost pole position and left a piece of gear to the rock climbing gods. I down climbed and we figured out that I was actually at an intermediate anchor had done 4 1/2 pitches in 2 hours. At that rate I was worried we didn't have overnight gear with us!

Having said that our route finding concerns were at an end as team B had managed to leap frog us and we were now following. Another 1/2 pitch of traversing and we finally got to the real climbing. The first two pitches up the left facing corner could have been combined, hindsight is wonderful, and contained some entertaining climbing.

It was great to pop out at the top of pitch 6 and have the falls immediately to our right. Quite a sight, needless to say hearing was a bit impaired.

Pitch 7 was the crux pitch however well bolted and you could actually go around the hardest bit. Great fun, in the whole climb I think I placed 6 pieces of gear from medium nuts to a blue metolius cam.

The next two pitches we combined up to the cave, a little scrappy and run out however the position is spectacular. We arrived at the cave at 1:30 pm and stopped for a snack at the entrance. Given the size of our group and the weather that seemed to be moving in we left our gear at the cave opening and crawled through with cameras for a look see.

The cave is fairly long and dark in the middle, headlamps and gloves really helped. At one point in the middle I had to crawl on my belly, however it opens up to a crawl further on. Spectacular views of the falls at the end of the cave.

You can carry on for one pitch and walk around on top, however as mentioned we headed down. We crawled back to our gear and started rapping at 2:30. Rappelling with a group of 6 is a long affair however we managed to get down without incident. 

We made it down the corner in 3 raps and then retraced the traverse using running belays.  Then rappelled the final gully to the climbers left from the anchors at the top of pitch 2 however the party behind us went straight down the face from an intermediate anchor just before and benefited from less rock fall.

That's it, we arrived at the parking lot at 6 pm just before a great storm moved in. After hanging out in the back of Deanna's CRV for 45 minutes it passed and the we enjoyed a sunny evening at the campsite.

Great day out!