It was just too nice of a day to go in to work, so I took a day of vacation and agreed to meet up with my buddy Len to go explore the Peannacle on Mt. Washington at Exit 38. I'd been up the Mt. Washington trail several times before, and had seen the turn off to the Peannacle Point and Chainsaw Wall climbing areas, but I'd never taken the time to go over and check them out. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the fork in the trail and hang a left instead of a right, and a few minutes later we were walking out on a ramp below Chainsaw Wall. We kind of checked things out, but our destination was still a little above us at this point, so we retraced our steps and climbed up to the next higher bench which put us directly under the Peannacle. What a pretty place! At the base, you've just broken above the local treeline, and you're in an area of boulders and fallen logs, with really nice views, considering how close to Seattle and North Bend you are. It really does have an alipine-y feel to it, much more so than any of the other Exit 32 or 38 climbing areas I've been to. It'd be a nice destsination just for a picnic, even if you're not a climber!
Len started out by leading "Never Was a Cowgirl", a 5.9 that more or less follows the north arete of the Peannacle. The first few bolts of climbing are fun, and then you arrive at the crux. Here things get a bit trickier, but in usual Burdo fashion, there's bolt immediately above the crux, the hard move is very well protected. I actually found the bolt to be a bit of a pain while following, since I cleared it before making the crux move, leaving me open to an unpleasant looking pendulum should I blow it. Fortunately, I found the sequence, and was soon being lowered to the base of the east face. The east face isn't bolted, but looks quite enticing. Len and I each took a couple of turns on top rope working various lines up it. It's pretty steep, and the lines we followed were all on very thin holds - maybe 10a? Anyway, it was fun, in the sun, and in a great position - who could ever complain about that!
Next, I tried leading "Peanut Brittle". One place in the guide claims this is a 5.6/7, so I was expecting a fun and easy romp. No chance! I had to make the first clip from a one-armed lock off, then some tricky moves to get within striking distance of the second bolt, and after the third I immediately escaped back to the top of the arete that "...Cowgirl" follows. I was pretty frustrated, and really wondered how bad of a climber I was. When I got down, I saw that in another place in the guide book the climb is rated 5.8. Well, I thought it was hard even for an 8, but since I was expecting a 5.6ish kind of climb that could have influenced my attitude. I'll have to go back and do it again now that I know it's harder than a 6, and see if I can flail less!
It was starting to get warm by now, so we moved over to the shady west side of the Peannacle. Although the guide book only notes one climb over there, there are several new bolted lines that have been placed. Based on some information I had been sent, the line just left of "Awannaduya" goes at 5.10a, so we gave that a try. Hard moves right off the deck lead to a stem off the Peannacle (is that cheating?), and huge juggy holds over the overhang to the slab at the top - very nice route! We then moved over to "Awannaduya", a 5.9, and started with a very low traverse to the start of the route proper. Climbing that was very similar to the 10a we'd just done, and there's a few moves of excellent exposure that turn out to be easier than you'd think that allow you access to the upper slab. Where the angle mellowed significantly, I traversed over to the right and finished the top couple of bolts of what I think is a 5.11, although the ground here is probably just pleasant 5.8. It provided a nice, if somewhat more challenging, finish to a great 5.9.
Unfortunately, other responsibilities called at this point, and that was the last climb of the day for us. This is a really pretty place to climb, and there's lots more moderate routes to tick off up here. Unless you get off work very early, it's probably a bit too long of a hike to do and get a reasonable amount of climbing after work, but if you can take a day off or head up on a weekend, I'd highly recommend it as a really nice alternative to climbing at the trestle area, or any of the other areas along the Mt. Washington trail!