American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Oregon Section

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

Oregon Section. During the summer a project was undertaken on Mt. Hood to search for highly adapted anaerobic organisms known as extremophiles. These sulfur-based bacteria thrive within boiling geothermal geysers and deep inside rocks. The study centered on the hydro-steam and sulfur percolating in the Coalman Glacier’s terminal moraine, which produces steaming fumarole vents in the Devil’s Kitchen in the Crater Rock area of Mt. Hood. The research was conducted by Ruth Hennebuger, a Ph. D. student from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and biologist Dana Rogoff from NASA Ames and the SETI Institute. AAC members Tom Bennett and Robert McGown with Dr. Steve Boyer acted as sherpas/research assistants.

The Madrone Wall Preservation Committee (MWPC) , headed by Keith Dallenbach, continues to play an important role in advancing the cause for the proposed rock climbing park at the Madrone Wall in Clackamas County. The Committee launched a letter-writing campaign to the county commissioners, and Keith has written numerous articles for the local newspapers. A joint AAC-Access Fund presentation was given at the Climb Max climbing shop. The Vancouver Climbing Club, the Ptarmigans, constructed a 3-D topographical relief model of the Madrone Wall for display at presentations. Check out the Web site www.savemadrone.org. Because of the MWPC’s efforts, Clackamas County is not planning to conduct any blasting or quarry development at the Madrone Wall site. However, its status as a park is still in doubt, and technically Madrone Wall remains off limits to climbers. The Section donated funds to the MWPC in support of its continuing efforts to open access at the wall to climbers.

The Section was one of several climbing organizations asked to set up a booth at the Smith Rock Climber’s Carnival over the Labor Day weekend. Matt Brewster joined me to staff the booth. This first annual Carnival featured vendors and climbing shops from throughout the Western States. The well-organized event was situated next to Smith Rock State Park on private land. Portland’s Climb Max, Mad Rock, and Climbing magazine were the main sponsors. Jim Bridwell and Brian McCray were two of the guest climbers. Jim shared stories about celestial navigation and his father. Jim, Brian, Heidi Wirtz, Timy Fairfield, Mike Volk, and Cartel Productions presented various slide shows. Throughout the event there were activities to display athletic abilities, such as climbing competitions, a tug-of-war (AAC vs the Access Fund), volleyball, arm wrestling, and pull-ups. The climbing competition featured climbing on three walls and slack lines of varying heights. A slack line was set from Panorama Point at the mouth of Monkey Face Pinnacle on which the best ropewalkers displayed their talents

Also at Smith Rock, the Monkey Face litter project was an interesting and successful one organized by Richard Bence, Matt Brewster, Robert McGown, Robert Speik, park ranger Thad Fitzpatrick, and Kellie Rice, western coordinator of the Access Fund. With advance planning and prefabbing, the project came together in a day. See photos at www.ors.alpineclub.org.

The work of Neale Creamer and the Friends of Silcox Hut (FOSH) was again noteworthy. In the fall the Friends assisted by Timberline Lodge continued to perform difficult maintenance on the Silcox Hut. The efforts of FOSH are appreciated by the climbing community for winter access to the 1933 WPA structure at 7,000 feet on Mt. Hood. The hut provides an excellent base camp for a southside emergency rescue location.

Another Section activity was a fund-raising multimedia program by speed climber Hans Florine. He presented an excellent program called “20 Classics in 20 Days.” He also included an inspirational talk about his speed climbing ascents of the Nose of El Capitan. The Section hosts two slide/film presentations a year to provide funds for our activities, such as trail maintenance and support of local climbing organizations.

Section member and AAJ editor John Harlin completed a new line on the south side of Mont Blanc in the Alps in late September. “From Dawn To Decadence” (French alpine grade TD) was initially attempted by Harlin and Mark Jenkins in August 2003. After ascending the standard Innominata Ridge to 14,000 ft., the pair succeeded in climbing the crux pitches on a spectacular virgin 250 ft. dihedral (5.11-); the highlight was Jenkins removing a 10 ft. icicle on lead. A major storm blocked further progress. Harlin returned to the route last September with Julie-Ann Clyma (NZ) and Roger Payne (UK). The team climbed the dihedral and a further two buttresses, which included a bivouac and a 150 ft. (5.10-) corner crack near 15,000 ft. A few more pitches on ice, snow, and rock reached the Brouillard Ridge and the long traverse to the summit (15,702 ft.) and endless traversing across various Mont Blanc sub-summits to the French Cosmique hut, followed the next day by a spectacular gondola ride across the Vallée Blanche back to Italy, thereby completing a 4.5-day round-trip. For Harlin it was particularly meaningful, as his father had climbed two new routes nearby in the early 1960s, one with Tom Frost and the other with Chris Bonington.

Robert McGown, Chair

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