Washington Column. In August, Stewart Irving and I climbed a new 8-pitch section on the east face of Washington Column between Mideast Crisis and the Great Slab routes, which we call Saddam Hussein (V, 5.9, A4). After a 5.5 pitch, we climbed steep but moderate aid (A3-) over a ledge leading to an intricate section (5.7, A2), involving some loose flakes. We then started out on a ramp to a rubble-covered ledge system and a blocky tower. This Irving climbed on a loose pile of “refrigerator doors.” The fourth pitch was the crux. We ascended from the ledge to an awkward overhanging A2 flared bomb-bay roof and then to 30 feet of hooks on loose flakes, drilled holds and poor rivets (A4). Here we joined the Great Slab route for less than a pitch (5.7). We then followed a prominent dihedral to the right of the Great Slab. The “Weed-eater” pitch was followed by the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” (A3 and A4). We headed for the big, clean roof above the Great Slab, which we found was blank. We considered drilling up the wall after climbing the roof, but because this would take so much time, we rappelled off four-fifths of the way up the face. We did climb under the roof all the way to the left to easy penduluming distance of the Great Slab-Mideast Crisis junction, making our climb an alternative to the lower ten pitches of either route.
Eric M. Brand