Over the winter of 2008-2009, Kelly Franz, Seth Adams, Katy Holm, Jacqui Hudson, and I (Jeremy Frimer) retro-ed the Upper Black Dyke. Next time you get to Bellygood, you're not done yet. The summit rim lies within reach!
Sean Easton had spearheaded retro work on the route in 1998. Our retro updated his work by (a) releasing loose rock (including about 20 blocks the size of a small fridge) on pitches 1, 3, and 4; (b) cleaning and bolting the dyke itself on pitch 2. Sean's pitch 2 leaves the dyke out right and climbs an unlikely set of thin features for a classic, albeit runout 5.10c pitch. The on-dyke pitch 2 is juggy and about 5.9 with well-protected cruxes; and (c) cleaning up Bellygood Ledge (cutting branches, tossing loose rock throughout) to avoid future accidents from falling rock.
The climbing on the dyke is unusual for Squamish in several ways.
- First, it's juggy. Given that the rock is basalt and not granite, it has very different features: namely jugs everywhere.
- Second, it has short, well-protected cruxes with somewhat run-out rambling (usually in the 5.6 range) in between.
- Third, while we did our best to remove all the loose rock, the nature of the stone means that some loose rock is a permanent feature of the route. Given that Exasperator is directly below, climbers are asked to climb with caution.
Upper Black Dyke - 4p, 5.10b (all grades require reconfirmation). Bring a single set of cams, and draws.
From Bellygood Ledge, find the dyke.
p1. Climb up then left to a steepening wall. Gain the top of the wall to find a bolted belay on the right (35m, 6 bolts, 5.10a/b?)
p2. Move up the right edge of the dyke. At the second bolt, the route diverges. For the standard route, move up and left to stay on the dyke (45m, 9 bolts, 5.9?). For the bold, 5.10c variation, launch right onto a quartzite dyke. Belay (bolts) below a roof, to the right of the dyke.
p3. Pull over the roof (crux) to gain a ledge. Ramble up and left to skirt an overlap, then wander back right to skirt another. Gain a belay ledge with a bolted belay below a tree on the left. (40m, 7 bolts, 5.10b?)
p4. Ramble up the left side of the dyke before pulling through a tricky overlap (crux) just before gaining the summit rim. (30m, 5 bolts, 5.10b?)
The climbing on P1 and P2 is a bit gritty at the moment. But a little rain and wind should wash away all the dust.
P1. Traverse left on Bellygood 30m from the last pitch of Millenium Falcon (or from where Bellygood ends), and find belay bolts near a fir tree. This pitch features 25m of high-quality face climbing on interesting holds and enough bolts to keep it safe.
P2. Mantel moves off the belay lead up to several bolts and into a left-trending flake and crack system. Eventually step right around a small roof, and back left to the belay. 5.10c
You are now on another narrow ledge. These last two pitches are #11/#12 of Millenium Falcon.
P3: Move slightly to the right along this ledge A bolted arching corner leading to a long rightward step-across. 5.10b.
P4: From far right edge of belay ledge - Up the long sustained finger crack. Somewhat licheny, but a very good pitch. 5.10c
I think P4 is called the Universal Key.
I climbed the grand to belly good a few days ago and took a look at the upper black dyke. (Still wet obviously)
Have you finished cleaning the route yet or just bolted it and cleaned off the loose rock? The reason I ask is that it is filthy dirty and either since you finished cleaning it has become filthy again or is it still a work in progress.
Pitch 1 got cleaned while it was still soaking and hasn't had a winter of rain to clean off all the loose grit. Pitches 2, 3, and 4 are much cleaner. Once it's super dry, I may go up there with a brush and dust it off. There's also an issue on Pitch 1, where we pulled off loose jugs in a steep, runout spot. We may decide to relocate bolt.
Here's a detailed topo
And some more photos. Leading the first pitch off of Bellygood. It looks pretty intimidating but once you get on it, the climbing is solid and juggy. Mind the beta on the topo... from the second bolt, go up then left... not left then up.
The new P2 on-dyke. Same beta exactly. From the second bolt, go up then left, not left then up. This is the spot where you come back left. Easy pitch for 5.8. Could be 5.7 to be honest.
Pitch 3 starts with an intimidating roof that turns out to be all jugs. Look at me. Do I look nervous?!
The final pitch, heading for the forest. Crux move of the whole route is at the end of the pitch... not obvious what to do at first. But see the topo for beta. It's not hard once you figure out what to do.
Walk up the Backside Trail, aiming for the first summit. About 2 minutes after the turn-off for the Third Peak, look for a fixed rope on your left (near a fallen cedar). Yard up the fixed rope and follow the trail (some fixed rope)... no need for a rope here. It's all easy walking or low angle, non-exposed slabs with fixed ropes. The trail eventually curls around to the west face of the Chief. No exposure yet. Eventually, it begins to get a little exposed (still easy forest walking).
At a fairly obvious shoulder (where Bellygood Ledge proper starts), rope up. There are bolts every now and then. So simulclimbing/ (simulwalking) works well. The first few meters are awkward but not difficult (4th class). Most of the rest of it is just walking. It's only exposed now and then. Most of it is wide and flat. There are bolts to belay at for the Upper Black Dyke about 40m before the most exciting and famous part of Bellygood... so you don't have to cross that part.
Enjoy! And let me know what you think of the route!
There is still a bit of dirt, and I imagine a good rain would help a lot. There are loose rocks here and there, but it was obviously a LOT worse before. It's a bit run out in places, but that kind of adds to the excitement. There always seemed to be a bolt when I really wanted one.
On the third pitch, pulling over the roof, I broke a jug off before clipping the bolt and had a bit of a thrill. Managed to stay on thankfully, but I dropped the rock. Hopefully I didn't kill anyone on Exasperator.
Thanks for all the work. It's a cool route. Very un-Squamish.
FWIW, we approached the route by climbing the Bullethead connection - I think it was Women in Comfortable Shoes - Xenolith Dance - Land and Freedom - Moonwatcher + a fair bit of walking. Made for a nice day out, and no gear needed.
The hope is that the UBD becomes like Smith: popular not because, but in spite of, the rock. There's no way around the fact that the rock is inherently fractured. Hopefully there aren't too many "thrills" like yours in the future.
Regarding the run-outs. Sean wanted the climbing to have the exciting feel to it. I added a total of 4 bolts to his pitches... in places where I thought that exciting was becoming more like dangerous. I'm glad that you had bolts where you needed them. Yeah, you have to pay attention on the route. But if you can climb the cruxes clean, the rest of the pitch should be fine.
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