Condorphamine Addiction
June 28, 2001

Condorphamine Addiction is a great new multi-pitch route that was put up last spring on Condor Buttress. I heard about it sometime last summer, but it wasn't until I talked to one of the guys who put the route up, Leland Windham, that I got really psyched about giving it a try. The ratings say it's a 7 pitch 5.10b - that sounded pretty serious to me, and was just beyond anything I'd ever led before. Leland assured me that most of the route was close to 5.8-5.9, the pitches were fairly short, and the whole thing is bolted - all you need are a dozen quickdraws and a rope. He also assured me that the crux sections were bolted close enough together so that you could aid through them if you needed to. Armed with this knowledge, I talked one of my climbing partners, Annette, into heading over on a nice sunny weekday, avoiding the crowds that I heard were starting to form on weekends.

Condor Buttress is about 15 minutes above Bathtub Dome in the Icicle Creek valley. To get there, park at a pullout about .3 of a mile past the Bridge Creek campground. Walk back down the road a few dozen yards to Underwear Rock, and find the obvious trail heading up behind it, and on to Bathtub Dome. The trail is very obvious to the Dome, and then fairly obvious beyond that, although you should look for rock cairns to make sure you're following a trail, and not just water runoff. The trail doesn't mess around with switchbacks, and gains about 1500 feet, so you should be able to estimate your approach time from that.

So far, Condor Buttress only has three lines of bolts on it. From the left, the first line is called "Opus of the Condoprhian Kind" and is rated 5.10b/c. It joins up with the first set of anchor bolts for "Condorphamine Addication", which is the second line of bolts. The third line, "Condorfication", is a seperate climb which is rated 5.6. After flaking the rope out and pulling on our shoes we tossed a coin to see who got the first lead (Fortunately, there was a pile of three pennies at the base of the climb, since we'd forgotten to bring one!). Annette got the first lead, and after looking at the first pitch of C.A., and comparing it to the 5.10b/c slab, she decided she could lead the harder slab and started up. We never did get around to trying the true first pitch of C.A., but I think Annette's choice was excellent as "Opus" turned out to be a fun slab climb, never feeling harder than about 5.10a to us, and also being fairly short. The next lead was mine, and though the topo says it's 5.9, it felt close to 5.10a to both of us. Pitch 3 is mostly easy walking, with a few climbing moves thrown in. The topo says 5.4, and that's probably right. Pitch 4 was a fun and easy 5.8. Pitch 5 was the first of the serious pitches at 5.10b, and Annette did a superb job on lead. It starts out pretty easy, then moves into a difficult step up onto a slab with a bulge in the way. Fortunately, the crux is well protected by a bolt, but I was still impressed Annette had figured out the moves without a slip. I was happy to take all the beta she gave me as she sat at the belay 10 feet above me. I was hauling our pack on this pitch, and that little bit of extra weight made the transition over the bulge and onto the slab quite interesting! The next pitch, Pitch 6, was mine and was also rated at 5.10b. I never really felt like there was any single move that was as hard as the previous pitch's crux, but it was more sustained - maybe 5.10a for about 30 feet. Still, the bolts were plentiful and close, making the moves challenging and fun, rather than scary. The final pitch was another 5.4 romp to the top, and we were done. From the top, though, you are treated to nice views of Colchuck, Dragontail and Mt. Stuart.

Leland recommended rapping the route, and each anchor has three nice bolts to facillitate this, although you'd be rapping right down on top of any other parties who were climbing below you. On this day, we didn't see another person from the time we left the car until we returned, so we opted to do the rappel. If the route is crowded, it looks quite feasible to rap into the gully behind Condor Buttress and then descend the scree chute. You'd probably want boots, or at least appraoch shoes and scree cuffs to do this - it didn't look pleasant to do in climbing shoes.

I thought this route was great fun, and nicely bolted. You could certainly aid through the crux sections if they proved a bit too stiff for you, allowing for this to be a pleasant romp for an aspiring 5.10b leader. It provides a nice alternative to R&D or the Tree Route for a casual multi-pitch route in the canyon, but at 5.10b, and with the 1500 foot elevation gain, it should see considerably fewer crowds, which might make it nice to keep in mind if you're heading over there on a nice weekend.


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