Climbing at Mazama: Fun Rock
June 16-17, 1999

As part of Maren's birthday celebration this year we headed up to Mazama for a couple of days of sport climbing, leaving Bryden with Maren's folks. Not wanting to rough it, we made reservations at the Mazama Country Inn, and we were quite pleased with our stay there. The rooms in the new addition are quite pleasant and roomy, and the food at their restaurant is superb! Portions are quite large, so you may want to pace yourself accordingly if you want to save room for dessert. They have a nice wine and beer list as well, to complement their meals. If you let them know in advance, the kitchen also packs a heck of a good brown bag lunch - highly recommended!

Since my heels were still blistered and healing from my Prusik Peak fiasco, so we decided we wanted to crag someplace without a long approach. Fun Rock turned out to fit our wants perfectly - an approach of all of 50 yards, and plenty of nicely bolted routes (and a couple that are rather sparsely bolted) ranging from 5.5 to 5.too-hard-for-me (anything in the 5.11 and up range these days). Several routes can be easily top roped, so you can pretty much so choose what you want to do. The area was developed mostly by Bryan Burdo (if you're climbing here, you need a copy of his "North Cascades Rock Sport and Alpine Routes"), and the routes reflect his philosophy of providing fun and entertaining climbing, with a maximum of safety and a minimum (if any) of run out. It's easy here to chase either the sun or the shade depending on the time of the year and your temperature preferences, and, although we were her mid-week, the crowds were non-existent. On Wednesday we amused ourselves on Bolterheist (5.6/7) and the unnamed chimney next to it (5.5), then moved on down to the shady portion of the rock for Cream (5.7), an unnamed face climb (5.10c/d) and finished on Snakefingers (5.9/10a). We fortunately top roped Snakefingers - it's a funky crack that really doesn't take pro that well. I wouldn't recommend leading it unless you are a strong 5.10+ leader. The other routes were great, however, and it's easy to set a top rope on Snakefingers.

We decided we'd had enough climbing for one day and wandered through the rest of the local crags for the grand tour. We ran into Mr. Burdo himself, climbing with his new girlfriend Sarah, and had a chance to say hi. From one end of the climbing crag to the other takes hardly 15 minutes, and there's more than 50 climbs packed in here, with ample opportunities for bouldering and some fun traverses as well. That evening I tried the ribs at the Inn - if you're into ribs, don't miss them!

We were continuing on to La Conner Thursday afternoon, so we only had a couple of hours for climbing on Thursday morning. After another fabulous (and more than ample!) breakfast, we headed back to Fun Rock for a few more routes. We ticked off Boltergeist (5.7/8) and Plethora (5.10b), then top roped another great climb, 2 Bolts or not 10b (5.10b R or X). This final route is quite peculiar for a Burdo route, with only two bolts for the entire 80' climb. You basically free solo for the first third of the route, and if you were to blow the second clip it looks like you'd probably ground. Another 5.10 route that probably shouldn't be attempted by average 5.10 leaders, but it's easy to top rope, and Bryan said he was thinking about retrobolting the route.

Our introductory trip to this area was great - the rock was fun to climb on and the routes were never desperate. With the convenient location and pleasant accommodations of the Mazama Country Inn, there' no doubt in my mind that we'll be back! Besides, I hear there's a lot of new route activity going on at several new crags, and I want to check them all out as well!


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