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COLCHUCK Balanced Rock
Route: The Scoop (5.11c, 6+p, 900')

TR #: 261

Category: Washington (HWY 2)       Summit Elev: 8,200 ft       Rock Type: Granodiorite

Partner: Cindy Beavon

Not quite as much effort as the West Face, but The Scoop pitch is one of the best pitches of corner crack climbing in the Cascades.


I had climbed the West Face of Colchuck Balanced Rock the previous summer. The climbing was excellent, and made me want to check out more of the routes on the CBR's towering west side. So the next summer I returned with my friend Cindy to climb The Scoop. We were intrigued by "The Scoop" pitch, which features an 11c corner that is supposedly one of the best pure crack pitches in the range—it is the "big brother" of the long corner on the nearby West Face, featuring sustained moves and bomber protection. 

Cindy and I enjoyed this route. The signature corner was indeed a stellar pitch. While the lower part of the route getting to the corner was unremarkable and a bit dirty, the upper part of the route above the 11c corner featured some excellent 5.10 climbing with some nice stemming sequences, small roofs, and awesome knobs. We finished the route with a V1 boulder problem to surmount the balanced rock on the summit.

This page contains a trip report for a climb of the The Scoop with Cindy. Thanks Cindy for the awesome day of climbing!


Trailhead to where trail meets north end of Colchuck Lake: 1:50
North end of Colchuck Lake to basin below west face: 1:10
Basin to base of route: 0:15
Base to summit: 6:25
Summit block boulder problem: 0:20
Descent back to basin: 1:00
Basin to car: 3:00
Total car to car: 15 hours

(click image for 8.5x11 size for printing):


Pitch descriptions:
Photo descriptions:
3-4 hours
Trail to Colchuck Lake. From there two options:
(1) From the left/north: Cross outlet at north end of lake, follow climbers' path up and across timbered hillside to cirque below base of CBR.
(2) From the right/south: Follow trail cc around Colchuck Lake, scramble up obvious gully above Jaberwocky Tower into cirque below the base of CBR. 
a. Dragontail and Colchuck as seen from the outlet at the north end of Colchuck Lake. Cindy and I chose to approach CBR from the left/north via the climbers' trail that goes around the outlet at the north end of Colchuck Lake. This is the way I went when climbing the West Face and I think it is faster than going all the way around Colchuck Lake and approaching from the right/south.
b. View of Mt. Stuart in the distance, Colchuck Lake below. Haze is from the smoke from Canadian forest fires.
c. Cindy on the climbers' trail high above Colchuck Lake. This trail is pretty easy to follow and involves more 2nd class hiking than 3rd class brush-pulling as Cindy is doing in the photo.
d. View of the west side of CBR from the basin below (photo taken in afternoon after climb, when the lighting was a bit better than morning).
e. Resident mountain goats came bounding down the boulders when they saw us stop to take a break in the basin below. These guys have an amazing sense of pee-radar.
5.10a, 55m
Bouldery move off the ground to right-trending ramps.
1a. Looking up the start of the route, which follows the corner system for a couple of pitches.
1b. Cindy starting up Pitch 1.
5.10a, 50m
Continue up ramp system to "Launch Ledge."
2. It seemed natural and most direct to continue up the corner for Pitch 2. However, the first half of this pitch seemed rather dirty and the second half seemed much more travelled, and I never had to do the "face traverse left into corner" halfway though the pitch, so I am guessing (?) the first half of this pitch starts a bit further right of the corner system, for some reason (better climbing perhaps?). The climbing in this corner was not bad, just grungy.
5.11c, 45m
The Scoop. Steep and sustained finger and hand jams with good gear.
3. Cindy leading The Scoop. Because of the steep and strenuous nature of this pitch, this would be a very hard pitch to lead without at least one rest. Nice effort Cindy!
5.10b, 40m
Stemming dihedral with thin pro to small roof to belay ledge.
4a. Looking up Pitch 4. Pro is tricky and thin for the first 50 feet, but I managed to place a few very small cams and offset nuts. 
4b. Cindy in the corner.
4c. The small roof at the end of the pitch. You can get good hand jams along the top and there is a key knob for the foot out left.
5.10a, 50m
Step across on knobs left around large roof, climb crack in corner to easier ground. 
5. The roof at the start of Pitch 5. There is a really fun stem across on knobs to get to the roof and then a fun 5.9ish crack on the other side.
5.6, simul
Path of least resistance to the summit below balanced rock.
6a. Looking up at the final bit to the top. This is about 400 feet of 4th to 5.6 so we simulclimbed it.
6b. Cindy nearing the top.
V1, ~3m
Boulder problem to the top of the balanced rock.

7a. As John and I had done when we climbed the West Face, we threw a rope over the top of the summit block to give a toprope for the exposed V1 boulder problem to the top of the summit block.
7b. Cindy at the top, getting ready to tie in to climb the summit block. 
7c. View of Dragontail, Colchuck, and Stuart from the top of Colchuck Balanced Rock.

~45 min to 1hr to base
Make a 30m rappel to east from slung horn, then scramble down scree or snow rightward (clockwise around peak) and back to the base base of the climb.
a. Starting the descent down the scree and talus back around to the base below the west side of CBR.
b. Another view of Dragontail at head of descent gully.