Peshastin Pinnacles, Leavenworth, 4-2008

Christine, Austin, me and Eric

The Peshastin Pinnacles East of Leavenworth have a bad reputation, but I'm here to tell you not to believe it. There is some awesome climbing there, both sport and trad. Yes the rock is sandstone, and it can be crumbly in places but those places are easily avoided. The Pinnacles are an awesome place to learn friction climbing. If you have ever done the 5.9 Bliss route at exit 38 at Gun Show wall, the Pinnacles is just like that: very smooth, leaning over friction based slab climbing.

There are many routes under 5.9, enough for a couple full weekends of climbing, which is what I've been doing the last couple weekends...working on my friction technique. Friction climbing is completely different from steep face climbing, or crack climbing. Having your toes jammed into a shoe 2 sizes too small will not help. You need your shoe to be able to smear on the ball of your feet.

Imagine standing on a very smooth leaning over slab of rock, there are absolutely no foot or handholds, all you have is the friction under the ball of your foot, and you are 5 feet (or more) above the last bolt. That's the Pinnacles.
It's true that many of the routes have long run outs...but guess what, so does the Yosemite Apron, so does the Squamish Apron and many other places. Many of Victors routes up the Icicle have similar run outs.

The Pinnacles has run outs on 5.4 climbs, which are so easy that you won't fall, but you will begin to get comfortable with climbing high above a bolt while keeping your cool.

There are also routes at the Pinnacles that are so closely bolted it's almost ridiculous (Potholes  5.7, West Face Grand central tower 5.8).  Many of these bolted routes will also take cams to reduce the run outs (windward direct 5.8, Potholes 5.7, Martian Direct 5.7, Sunset Slab 5.4 to 5.9). All the bolts have been upgraded to modern 3/8 inch or larger.

There are some very cool trad routes that take bomber pro and are very moderate (porpoise 5.6, tunnel route 5.6, catacombs 5.7, vertigo 5.8). In short, don't skip the Pinnacles. Because of their undeserved reputation amongst the young sport crowd, they are usually deserted. I saw 2 other climbers on a recent weekend, and I heard Vantage was crowded. No waits, excellent climbing, what's not to like?

These are pictures from a recent trip with Christine, Austin and Eric. Christine has a lot of experience with friction climbing back east and led a sweet climb called Gray Whale (5.8 old school)...glad we had a stick clip! It only had 2 bolts in 60 feet, but believe it or not, it's quite safe with a stick clip. The bolts are where you need them, but you do need to warm up your friction skills  on easy stuff before jumping on certain routes. You can also easily top rope many of the harder climbs (Austian slab, Potholes direct, West face grand central).

This is Christine topping out on the two pitch 5.6 called Martian Diagonal. This climb can be traversed onto to avoid the run out start. The runout 5.4 section on the "sidewalk" can be made safe with some small cams. I bought a red #1 c3 camalot specifically for this climb and it was bomber.

This is Christine topping out on Potholes 5.7. Bring some half inch to 3 inch cams, especially a gold 2 camalot for the exit chimney move. I even placed a tricam in a one inch flaring pin scar, though there is a bolt ten feet below.

Christine and Austin at the rap, off Gully and A Crack.

Gotta' love that short approach hike.

Austin and Eric hamming it up at the base of Catacombs and Austin's hard 10c face climb.

They were pretty funny, posing as the thinker

Austin coming to grips with 5.8 friction climbing.

me finishing out Windward, 5.6

Eric following Austin's lead up Windward Direct 5.8

Christine following Windward

Hamming for the camera. It's runnout for 60 feet along the ridge, but as long as you keep your cool, it's not dangerous as the ridge is a 4th class horse ride.

Ouch, Ouch, this horse needs a better saddle!

Safety at last.