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Friday, December 16, 2011

Olympic Outings - Various, July/Sept/Oct 2011

When not out gallivanting in the mountains, many a summer weekend this year was spent relaxing at Michelle’s lovely cabin on Mats Mats Bay near Port Ludlow. With a strategic base camp such as this on The Peninsula, Agata and I seized the opportunity to explore some of the more scenic coastal areas of Puget Sound and the northern Olympic Coast. After all, summer in the Northwest isn’t truly complete without the heart-stopping slap of 50-degree saltwater across the face, sun-baked seaweed caught between the toes or the sounds of the Pacific crashing against a wild and desolate coastline.

Mats-Mats Bay and vicinity:

Shi Shi Beach:

Dungeness Spit:

Ozette Triangle:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dragontail Peak - Serpentine Arete, September 2011

Tod and I teamed-up to take care of some unfinished business and what for me would be the end-of-season finale. Dragontail Peak is a relatively large mountain (by Cascades standards) with good year-round access, better weather and boasting a variety of quality snow, ice and rock routes. As an alpine rock climb, it is the ideal venue for a 1 – 2 day outing particularly when wet weather threatens the west slopes.

Of the two more popular rock climbs on the North Face of Dragontail Peak, Serpentine Aręte is a well-documented and well-traveled route with the harder climbing bookended by longer scrambling sections. The two ~5.8 crux pitches come roughly in the middle of the climb and feature a little bit of everything from crack, dihedral and face climbing. There’s a pitch or two of 5.6 – 5.7 climbing before the cruxes that felt a tad more difficult that I was expecting. We also encountered a few tricky moves in a flaring crack directly up from the belay immediately following the cruxes. Finally, we chose to finish the climb with the optional ~5.7 pitch, which to me surprise-surprise once again felt considerably more difficult than 5.7.

In the end, Tod got the opportunity to hone his guiding skills while I assumed the role of tourist. With a bivy down in the morane the night before the climb, it wound-up being an enjoyably casual outing that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone in search of moderate climbing with short-lived difficulties.

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