Lost and Found

Ominous clouds above Willey’s Slide

Last Sunday Doug, Mickey Spades, and I attempted to climb Lost in the Sun, a seven pitch route up the side of Mount Webster.  However, our attempt ended almost as quickly as it started when we followed incorrect markings up Mount Webster, finding ourselves at the base of a still undetermined route.  Despite intermittent showers on our drive north and afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast, Doug and I prepared ourselves for another attempt at Lost in the Sun on Friday.

Clouds forming on the route’s upper pitches

We pulled into the Willey’s Slide parking lot as the clouds began to gather.  After a quick discussion of the weather, we agreed that regardless of the conditions we could at least decipher the climb’s approach today; the approach that had mystified us on our earlier attempt.  Optimistically we racked up at the car, beginning to think we may be lucky enough to at least climb a pitch or two before the rain…but we were careful not to be too optimistic and we both sneaked lightweight rain shells into our climbing packs.

Doug finding gear in a good flake

Using directions given to us from a couple of climbers we met on Sunday, we quickly found the trail and began the approach up Mount Webster’s side.  The trail was obvious and clearly marked and eventually led to a scree gully which brought us to the climb’s base.  This was bittersweet as we were both excited to so easily have found the trail and embarrassed for our confusion earlier in the week. 

Doug on his way up pitch two

The going felt slow as we were a party of two as opposed to our three on Sunday.  Mickey Spades had a date Friday and was unable to join us.  (His date later cancelled on him, but that is another story.)  Without Mickey Spades to share the burden, Doug and I split the load of the trad rack and two ropes.  Despite the additional weight to carry, we made quick work of the approach and were at the climb a little sooner than the guide book said it would take to get there.  This served as another clear indicator of how wrong we were on our previous attempt, when we had nearly doubled the suggested time of approach. 

Doug heading up into some bad looking weather

Finding the climbing enjoyable and within our abilities we quickly dispatched two pitches.  At the belay we looked above us and across the notch as the clouds grew angrier.  Nonetheless we forged upward, deciding that we would call it quits and begin rappelling when the rain finally decided to come.  Two more pitches of climbing came and went without a trace of rain.  Another two pitches were promptly dispatched and the excitement began to build with the possibility of finishing the route.  The final pitch put us in a cloud, where the air obviously moistened and the wind picked up.  Doug and I both found ourselves digging into our packs for our jackets to keep warm.       

Doug enjoying a pre-rappel snack
The final pitch went quickly as the climbing was easy, and only protected by two bolts.  We stopped for a quick snack and began rappelling the route fully prepared for the rain to start any minute.  Much like the climbing, the rappels went by quickly and the weather held.  We were soon back at the climb’s base, where we packed up and headed to the car.  We were psyched to make it to the car with the rain still holding off.  Taking advantage of the cooperative weather, we sorted gear in the parking lot feeling very lucky we were able to sneak a great day of climbing in and redeem ourselves on Lost in the Sun.