Outer Space, Snow Creek Wall

May 22, 2003

Dave Svilar, Matt Alford


The grand finale for our road trip was to climb Outer Space, one of Washington's premier rock climbs.  For me, it was to be a final exam showcasing all my new found rock climbing skills.  I failed miserably and pouted like a baby all the way back to the car, so I'd rather not talk too much about this outing.

The first pitch is mostly scrambling with a 5.7 move to a ledge with two bolts for a belay anchor.  The second pitch mostly involves walking across 'two tree ledge' to where the real climbing begins.  Supposedly there is a more direct start involving some 5.8 and 5.9, but we just wanted to get up the face.  We sat and waited on the ledge for almost 45 minutes waiting for parties above us while clouds in the canyon threatened to sprinkle the rock.  Matt led up the third and most difficult pitch without falling.  My problems started with what looked to be an easy 5.8+ lieback.  I fell three times, and each time almost 10 feet all the way back to the ledge (due to rope drag).  By the time I reached the 'hard' 5.9 finger traverse my forearms were shot.  I think all the moves on the traverse were there, but it could have been a 5.3 traverse and I would have struggled.  By the time I reached the belay I couldn't make a fist, and was in no shape to swing the lead.  This was when my pouting began. 

Matt waiting at the fourth belay.  Matt's big smile is in anticipation for the final two crack pitches.

The fourth pitch ducked around a corner, moved onto a face, and finished with a left-facing corner (5.8) and onto a long ledge featuring a small tree.  The highlight of the route is the upper two pitches that follow a crack that looks like it was cut by a laser beam.  A climber on this part of the route (5.8) has the choice of perfect karate-chop hand jams or palming large knobs called 'chickenheads.'  Either way it is a joy to climb.  Starting the sixth pitch Matt chose to temporarily avoid the crack (and harder moves) by climbing a short corner off the belay.  The sixth pitch is another classic rating only slightly behind the fifth pitch.

Dave chooses hand jams over chickenheads at the end of the fifth pitch.


Taking off our harnesses and rock shoes for the last time on the trip.  Top of Snow Creek Wall.

Care was taken to follow the rock cairns on the descent mostly staying to the far end of the wide gully then cutting back towards the wall near the bottom.  Even following the cairns we were forced to rappel.  Neither of us wanted to put our harnesses back on for such a short rappel, so we dusted out an old mountaineering trick - the dulfersitz.  For anyone who isn't familiar with this method of descent, it simply involves wrapping the rope around your body to create friction.  One unfortunate side effect is a most excruciatingly painful 'wedgie.'  Worse than anything you may have received in junior high.

Where did the rope go?  Dave's crack suffers on the descent.

On the way back to the car I purposely lagged behind Matt, so I could pout in private.  I'm not a high maintenance friend, but Matt could tell I was upset and knew just how to provide support.  "Dave, we're only two hours away from your mom's cookies."  Indeed.  How could I have forgotten?  Matt had pestered me for the last week to call home and 'put in an order.'  My sour mood lifted as the smell of my mom's cookies was already wafting into my nose. 

- written July 2003

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