20 years from now, Sam and I will say we were there, there at the birth of a classic… I’d be lying if I claimed that thought was going through my head as I down-climbed towards the middle of pitch two after an ill conceived foray and subsequent fall in lichen laden territory on the Cutthroat Wall. As Sam belayed from above, and I placed gear on our retreat, the team next door was rapping after two pitches on Perfect Crime (5.9). Was Easy Getaway (5.9) an instant classic?
To answer this question, I must draw upon my extensive knowledge of Washington multi-pitch alpine routes of the grade. To be frank, I’ve climbed one other, Outer Space, which is an indisputable classic of West Coast rock. After the classic, I know what it takes. Sustained, steep, splitter. I’ve been on it. Case closed, right?
Easy Getaway is none of these things, not to be confused with nothing at all. It is dirty and wild and broken in a way that engenders intimacy. You can see the line up Outer Space from a mile away. On Easy Getaway, you can’t see the line for the lichen, ahem trees, when it’s six inches from your face. Crystals stud the rock in the afternoon sun while water rushes over a granite bench in the distance. Go for the rock quality, the setting and the adventure, but don’t expect a straight shot to the top.
Park at the Cutthroat Lake Trailhead a few miles east of Washington Pass. There are free campsites on the creek side, if you need a place to crash. Follow an overgrown road bed climbers left of the main trail. Cruise this for longer than you think but no further than the creek. Bushwhack up left along the path of least resistance. Trend right. The base of the wall is level with a set of broad waterfalls. The base is characterized by a large granite bench.
Disclaimer: Sam and I were off route for portions of this climb. Some of our pitches were shorter, some of them were longer than described elsewhere. Let it be a warning and an example of the merits of the route.
Head up and left from the granite patio to a corner that takes pro. Cruise this towards the small roof, which is easy to send in a move over to the right. Climb up slab/crack. We belayed from a horizontal crack at the base of block. Probably could have ended earlier.
Lead up and right from the belay into a clean orange corner. Beware, the corner continues with nice, albeit filled in, cracks to the base of a block above. Don’t go that way. Head right out of the corner shortly after you enter it.
We overshot the corner and had to down climb back to the top of P2.
Really nice layback crack on this one.
Up and right to the small overhang (1 or 2 moves). Ride the corner all the way to where it dead ends in the overhang. Undercling and step out along horizontal cracks that lead out of the corner. We belayed at a small tree right at the exit.
Sam climbs towards the first root, headed into the Zebra Corner.
Sam took a burly lead through dirty slab up and right from the belay. I’m pretty sure we were off route here, but he did a great job. Great hand cracks up to a tree belay.
More fun and engaging climbing up through a deep blocky crack. I managed to squirm my way up the left crack. Sam found face features just left of the block system that got him through. Easy climbing as high as rope length/drag will allow.
Scramble up and to the right from the top of your last pitch if it’s not too hairy. Contour around until the head of a gully with a rap station. Rap. Sam found an old rope jammed in the chockstone at the end of the first bench. Our 60m rope didn’t get us all the way. We rapped again from cordellette and an old biner at the second bench.
The scramble down from here is steep and loose. It funnels into a bedrock gully where it’s quite easy to release rocks. I wouldn’t want to do this with people above or below. Pinball alley.