V. and I drove up to Darrington for Labor Day weekend. We climbed Silent Running and Big Tree 1. SR was scary as usual until we warmed up to friction climbing. I backed off pitch 2, and even V. had some trouble but got up. By pitch 3 I had warmed up and V. commented that “Mark, you got your mojo back!” After that it was all gravy. On pitch two, it’s helpful to go up the flakes on the right. There are 2 cams up there before the step left. And after that it’s bolt protected by two close bolts. Pitch 3 was lovely as always, close bolts with a few cams up to a yellow at the top.
Pitch 4 is runnout maybe 50 feet max, but the climbing is 5.4 jugs, so nothing to get worked up about. The chickenheads are delightful, similar to Double Dip at jtree, but easier. I think I could lead the entire thing now. But it’s important to warm up on the routes under the great arch. No reason to head up a 6 pitch route of friction if you are rusty. Under the Boardwalk, left of Cornucopia looks like a super fun 5.9. We scoped it out while rappelling down from Big Tree 1. Looks quite nice for at least 2 pitches. There are a few runs, but only on easy stuff. Bolts are where they are needed.
Darrington is a unique climbing area. It has a distinct learning curve, but once mastered, the joy of flowing effortlessly up steep featureless slab is magical.