17 draws (we brought 30 for simulclimbing)
2 60 m ropes
|The trailhead is about 1 hour from Seattle. To get there, leave I-90 at Exit 34 (East of North Bend) and turn East on Edgewick Road. Follow this road 0.4 miles to a stop sign, then turn right on SE Middle Fork Road, which becomes Forest Service Road no. 56. Drive 12.3 miles to the Middle Fork-Taylor River road junction which is just after the Taylor River bridge. Turn Right onto no. 5620 and drive 1 mile to a 5-car pulloff. The trailhead is 100-200 yds further down the road on the left. Hike steeply uphill to the base of the route, 30 minutes if fast. Now, just look for bolts....|
With my final final exam of the year over and a good forecast for the next day, I thought it'd be fun to climb Infinite Bliss, a 23 pitch bolted climb (crux 10c) on Mt. Garfield's West Peak. This impressively long route climbs roughly 2600 vertical feet, and is claimed to be the longest "sport" climb in North America (although I would call the route "bolt-protected" rather than "sport", since it is not a sport climb in the typical sense of the word). This climb has been a topic of contention among alpine climbers. I certainly do not want bolts to become a norm on North Cascades peaks, but this was not going to keep me from climbing a route that sounded like a lot of fun!
The main crux of Infinite Bliss would be finding a partner on only 10 hours notice. Fortunately, my friend Tom was easily convinced. Thanks Tom!
Since we were organizing gear and printing topos until 1am, we got a somewhat leisurely start. At 8am, I picked up Tom and we left Seattle for North Bend. A bridge washout on Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road about a mile before the trailhead put a slight hitch in our schedule, but we shimmied down a convenient tree and were at the base of Infinite Bliss an hour later. A line of bolts stretched out in front of us. With our 30 quick draws, we simulclimbed much of the route (besides around 6 pitches of 5.9 to 5.10c). The harder pitches were fun and well-bolted. From the base to the summit took us 5.5 hours. Just under 15 minutes per pitch, not bad!
We made good time on this route, and had a fun climb. Here are some photos and brief descriptions for this trip report.
8:00am - Leave Seattle.
9:00am - Park car at washed-out bridge on Middle Fork Road just before Taylor River Bridge.
10:00am - Arrive at base of route (extra mile from bridge washout to trailhead).
10:20am - Start climbing!
3:50pm - Arrive at summit 5.5 hours later (~ 15 min/pitch).
4:10pm - Start rappelling.
6:50pm - Get to bottom of route just over 2.5 hours later.
8:00pm - Arrive back at car.
9:30pm - Back in Seattle.