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Colchuck Balanced Rock, Let it Burn

Colchuck Balanced Rock, tucked between the river valleys and high glacier plateaus of the Stuart Range, has become firmly established as one of Washington state’s premier alpine free-climbing zones. Max Hasson and I were thrilled to add a new route to this inspiring chunk of stone in late August and early September, working ground up, without fixed lines, between work stints in Leavenworth.

The route closely parallels the relatively popular West Face route, sharing the approach and first pitch of that route, before splitting left and following a fairly obvious thin crack system. Every pitch of the line is sustained and challenging, with a 130' 5.12a providing the crux. Like many of the Enchantments new lines, wild knobs just barely connect incredible crack systems. Though the stone was next to perfect there were some exciting large features to trundle, with the belayer usually a sitting duck underneath. Very little loose rock exists on the route now. We named Let It Burn (IV 5.12a) after a forest fire we watched smolder for weeks in a neighboring valley, adding a spark of flavor to the already stunning views.

Jens Holsten, AAC