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LE PETIT CHEVAL Northwest Face Paul Revere II+ 5.9+
FA: Mark Allen, Ben Mitchell October 23, 2006
Trip Report: Mark Allen
It is hard to drive down the 20 without noticing it. As one travels over the pass it is staged in front of the Silverstar Massif and under the Shadow of the Liberty Bell Group. The three almost triplet flatiron features have caught the eye of many. The group form the three “Chevals” making the Western and Northwestern base of the Big Kangaroo Massif. Being the main paleoglacial valley these walls have over steepened and exposed solid granite for the taking. Little exploration has been done here. The faces have been subtly documented first in the Red Fred as the “Pale Horse Rock” and the “White Horse Rock” on the Washington Pass overview map
(p.292 ). The next time they are mentioned would be by Bryan Burdos North Cascades Rock guide showcasing the Black Horse Point Buttress. Burdo references the Chevals by calling them the “Buttress that faces the highway” in the Black horse figure. After reviewing the references it would seem that we have more names than features. I reckon that Black Horse Point Buttress and White Horse Rock to be the same feature. This is the North facing long lichen-black buttress in the Willow drainage (best seen from the approach to the Wine Spires on the Burgundy Creek trail) and white it is not. The Pale Horse Rock seems to be the right (southern most) and highest of the three Chevals. The 2000ft of 2nd and 3rd class approach to this feature extinguishes any desire to climb the grade II face. The central Cheval has a similar approach but looks to yield far better climbing. The left Cheval (northern most Cheval and southwest of the Black Horse) is the closest and has an approach that is quite tangible. The first time any of these features were climbed and named was not until Larry Goldie and Scott Johnston in June of 2004.
Their account mentioned driving to climb the East Buttress of SEWS and caught the Southern arete of this feature and turned the car around and sent it. They named the feature the Le Petit Cheval sticking to the horse theme and their route appropriately named Spontaneity Arete II+ 5.7. A farmed guide-route that has received several ascents and mixed reviews some love some maso manos. Exploratory and noteworthy for now climbers simply refer to these three-like features as the Chevals.
On October 22, 2006 Ben Mitchell and I would no longer drive past the Northwest face of the Le Petit Cheval. For years I was curious about its character. To be honest I am surprised nobody has ever bothered. So many times I have stared up at it. So many times I have just climbed something else just like everyone else. Its close proximity to 20 and its relatively short stature looked like a last good fall project for the closing short days.
Ben and I made it to the base in 1.5 hrs. Instead of parking at the Mile post 165 for Spontaneity Arete we chose the next northern pullout directly in front of the NW face. We drooped directly into the forest and headed across the creek to the drainage climbers left of the walls center. To say that it was chill would be a bold faced lie, but very do-able. 75% was rather quick and uneventful. The later 25% would have 3rd to 4th sections
covered in moss and needles. The green belay was helpful.
5th class bush whacking. Finally we made it to the landing just below the center of the face at 10:30am.
We both had an uneasy feeling. The face was not riddled with obvious cracks or fantastic weaknesses but rather crackless dihedral, impossible cracks to nowhere, or unfeatured slabs. Yet, the wall did have a main weakness looking like an easy 5th class scramble. Both freezing we settled on starting the wall simul climbing to gain better terrain. Pitch 1.After 200ft Ben established a belay on a good ledge with a tree. We had a few interesting options. We switched to pitching.
Pitch 2 I cast out trending right into a super fun hand to finger crack. I got to fingers and was getting schooled. I still had a rope in my pack …clipped it and pulled a stiff 5.9 finger crux on solid rock through a small tricky bulge and set up the belay at 70ft to deal with the pack.
Pitch 3 I told Ben that since my pitch was so short I would take the next pitch also. Now set up for success I left the belay with doubles and up a fun short dihedral. After gaining a small ledge I saw the remainder of the weakness to the near summit looking to be easy fifth class again. I climbed 15ft and passed twin hand cracks splitting the upper shield of the feature for the next 350ft. “Oh my…” I would have to be mad not to try. I stepped in and for the next 70ft would be pure 5.9 crack bliss. I would not say that I styled it. I had a lot on my mind. The cold, my pack, my pump, my last shitty piece, not having any gear that I needed to ease my mind in this sustained size. “Thank-God” jams finally! The pain was over and I could see a stance. I pounded a knife blade, set up my belay. Ben wondering what the hell is taking so long since my last report of chill 5th to the top. Dink, dink, dink, ping, ping, ping! His patients is admirable. Once Ben climbed the cracks himself he was happy with the new deviation that launched us into classic cracks. Ben reached my perch. He looked cold.
Pitch 4: I tried to take as much of the hard climbing to not sand bag him on his lead but it was stiff right off the anchor and definitely the routes crux. Ben launched into a hard 5.9+ lay-back off width and cruised into the rest of his relatively sustained pitch. Hand cracks, jugs, dihedrals, fingers…this 130ft pitch was full value and fantastic climbing. Ben did had an amazingly cool head and just hypnotically climbed it. At my belay I had time to admire the steepness that the wall took on. I had a fantastic view of the East faces of the Liberty Bell group and Tower. I knew now that the wall was going to fall to this ascent and I felt the pressure instantly release. Now my focus turned to fun. Ben was jazzed and got chatty once he reached the belay.
Pitch 5 It was time to jam now it was 3:30 and Finlay made high enough on the wall to be in the sun. Moral was getting much better. The climbing let up and I streacthed out the last 200ft of 5.6 crack and block climbing pulling a final 5.8 move before the lines end.
Ben came up and we celebrated and I was warm for the first time since leaving my house. Much rejoicing. We scramble to the summit and topped out at 4:30pm. 7 hours from the car. Knowing darkness at 6:30 we waisted little time and jammed down the Spontaneity Arete raps
and deviated into the gully for the down scramble after the 5th raps. Grabbed the fixed lines and
out. Car at 6:30 beer by 7.
It was the first time Ben and I have climbed together. We had a great time and look forward to it again. The line is alpine dirty and will not need much cleaning to be classically fun. The simul-climbing we did in the beginning could be potently avoided and replaced with a much classier crack pitch to the left. This would yield 4 really nice 5.9 pitches in a row taking a central line up the face. Adventure climbing is a constant theme in the approach and stays with you all day!
Paul Revere II+ 5.9+ Pitches: 5 (5 new)
Pitch style: free
Date/Time: Oct 22, 2006: 8 ½ hrs total car-to-car
Trad anchors: one KB (still remains)
Rack: Cams: 0.3”-4”
Doubles sizes: 0.5-3”
Triples sizes: .75” and 1.0”
Nuts: Single set
A few with slings
1X 60M Rope
Paul Revere (January 1, 1735 – May 10, 1818) was an American silversmith and patriot in the American Revolution. Because he was immortalized after his death for his role as a messenger in the battles of Lexington and Concord, Revere's name and his "Midnight Ride" are well-known in the United States as a patriotic symbol. Revere later served as an officer in one of the most disastrous campaigns of the American Revolutionary War, a role for which he was later exonerated. After the war, he was early to recognize the potential for large-scale manufacturing of metal goods and is considered by some historians to be the prototype of the American industrialist. Later he would help write one of the Beasty Boys most renown tracks.
Labels: Rock Climbing