Snow Creek Wall - Orbit 5.8
So Leavenworth was having decent weather in April while the rest of western Washington was dripping in one of the wettest April months in history. Ryan had done Outer Space a couple weeks prior and said the route was dry so Jacob and I decided to give Orbit a go. It is located on the left side of the Snow Creek Wall a couple hundred feet further up valley than the ultra classic Outer Space route. The approach hike up the Snow Creek trail was quick and painless however I had forgotten my approach shoes at home so I had to make the hike in in my flip flops. Wasn't a big deal since I have dome class 3 and 4 scrambling barefooted before! We made the base of the route about the same time another pair did and due to some scrambling up the beginning of the route we shouldn't have done unroped, we let them go first. I was stuck in an awkward spot trying to hold my pack with the rope and rack in place while putting my rock shoes on so I could comfortably down-climb the slab I was stuck on!
Anyways, we made it down 20 feet to the start of the first pitch at a large tree and I led the first pitch. It appeared there are many ways to do this pitch but I just followed the route the two ahead of us did which went which started up an easy slab, then up a thin arete slab and up to a tree with lots of webbing around it. I decided to continue past this tree since only half the rope was used at that point. Looking back I probably should have belayed Jacob up as the rope drag got very bad just above. I continued up blocky terrain and up a short handcrack before getting to the base of an awkward chimney with smooth slab on the left side and nothing but a right hand jam to pull yourself up on. The next belay ledge was just above this spot but the rack was getting in the way and the rope drag was so much that while trying to make the move up the tight chimney my left foot slipped (it was on a nubbin) and I fell about 10 feet on the 0.5 cam I had just placed in the crack deep within the chimney. I decided to belay Jacob up from there so he could give it a shot so I put a couple more pieces in for an anchor and belayed him up the nearly full 70 meter pitch. It took him a couple tries to make it through but he eventually made it and continued up the easy 5.6 second pitch to a ledge right before the left ward traverse. I had to follow that dumb chimney with the pack but luckily since I was on top-rope I was able to climb to the left, outside the chimney on the thin featured slab that I wasn't able to get to on lead. I easily climbed up to the top of the 30 meter second pitch. We both agreed this 10 foot chimney was the crux of our climb.
Jacob started the leftward traverse around and to the base of a double finger crack which is stated to be the technical crux of the route. After the traverse he was out of view and I never heard him say off belay so he was pulling the rope through while I was still on belay and I through t he was running up a long easy section! The pitch was actually short (maybe 30 meters) and I began following. The traverse across wasn't hard and I started up the right finger crack with good feet but when I got to the point the right crack ended I wasn't sure where to go next. I didn't see the second crack to the left and tried climbing featureless slab above and fell. As I swung slightly I arrived at another crack and realized I needed to step left to the left crack. At this point I was only 8 feet below Jacob and I finished the climb to the ledge where a huge flake and a small bush was the anchor. I wish I knew I had to step left on this pitch lol. So Jacob started up the 4th pitch which began as a thin 65 degree slab heading to the right without much pro. A lone bolt is placed near the top of the slab and once past that a step over a very exposed arete takes you to more slab climbing and up a right trending mantle crack and past a couple fixed bolts to a hanging belay station. This is regarded as the mental crux of the climb since there is only small cracks for pro and it's mainly slab climbing. I followed slowly but steadily not liking this type of climbing. I made it up without falling though and got ready to lead the fifth pitch.
This pitch started up a dihedral crack that was an unexpected 5.8 section. I was able to pull through but took one rest on a cam. Above the first 30 feet the sea of chicken-heads began and I had fun running the rest of the 30 meter pitch out to a huge ledge with a nice chalkstone to anchor from. I belayed Jacob up and he led the final pitch top the top consisting of more chicken-heads. Once on top we scrambled up to the left to reach the true summit of the Snow Creek Wall and was greeted by about 8 mountain goats. They probably wanted salt and was eyeing our gear as we re-organized everything. I changed back into my sandals and we started descending down the gully. Thankfully it was all melted out and I didn't have any problems scrambling down. We made it back to our packs what seemed like days after we started and made the hike out. We reached the car just before dark and upon meeting Ryan at the campsite he told us we were the talk of the town. Apparently the fall I made on the first pitch was visible to many, many people climbing around the area!