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North America, United States, Washington, Colchuck Balanced Rock, The Tempest

Colchuck Balanced Rock, The Tempest. With a storm parked over most of the Cascades, I convinced Sol Werkin to change plans and head to the Enchantments, one of the driest spots in the range. Equipped with a full set of aid gear and extra clothing, we hauled our oversized packs to the small cirque tucked at the base of the peak Colchuck Balanced Rock. While on a climb of its classic West Face route, I noticed a system of cracks running through a black-streaked headwall off to the right. Sol and I began climbing on the afternoon of August 27, beginning below the largest section of the overhanging bulges. We fixed one pitch and went to sleep as rain and wind refused to abate. The next morning we jugged back up, and Sol aided out a 25' roof crack visible from below. From here a few easier free-climbing pitches led to the streaked headwall and several more aid pitches through small roofs, which will likely go free at 5.11. The angle of the wall eased off, and two short dihedrals and a chimney brought us to the ridge crest as stars emerged. We donned headlamps and simul-climbed two pitches before finding ourselves just below the summit on the standard walk-off descent. We’d both tagged the top recently, so we unroped and descended to the tent for midnight dinner. The Tempest (IV 5.10 A2). If freed, the route is a contender for one of the Cascades’ best and hardest alpine lines.

Blake Herrington, AAC