Here are some pictures of the trip Mike and I took in mid-August to climb a rock named Blackhorse Point...  The plan was to meet at Mike's around 5:00 pm on Friday, drive to a campground near the trailhead and camp there, and hit the trail early on Saturday.  We would then find a camp site by noon time, rest, and head up and do a 4 pitch route named Archer.  Then on Sunday, we would do an 8 pitch route, come down and head out.  Needless to say, we did have to change our plans...read on for the specifics.

We drove out Friday night, and camped at a campground about 10 minutes down the road from the "trailhead". We packed up around 7:15 on Saturday morning and drove up to the parking area along highway 20.  I think we were lucky Willow Creek was still running by where we camped, so we had water. Further up the slope, we would have been less fortunate. The area is very dry right now.

The hike in... - The book says "...The approach is a straightforward line almost directly from the highway to the base of the buttress by open cross-country terrain." Yeah right, we were constantly scraping our legs going through the brush, or dragging the top of our packs in the limbs. The route back was better, but there is NO trail. Both of us scraped our legs up pretty good going in and coming out. I wore gators going in, Mike didn't. He did coming out though.  As we got in sight of our goal, Mike took this shot of me as the brush thinned a bit.

Mike as we bush-wacked through the trees...

The Wine Spires... - Once at the base of the point, we were rewarded with awesome views of the Wine Spires, and Silver Star mountains.  Mike took this shot of the Wine Spires in the late afternoon...

The Wine Spires from the base of Blackhorse Point...

The approach... - The approach should be rated 4 skulls!  It has a chute with an arch at the top, on the left in this picture... From a distance, the approach gully looks beautiful, with an arch at the top. When we first saw it, the sun was shining through to make it look almost gold in color. A 10 minute boulder field got us to the base of the gully. Inside, it was filled with loose rock, flake and scree. It seemed like breathing hard would send rock coming down, but Mike did a great job ascending without knocking pieces my way. The gully was about 250 feet vertical, and took about 20 minutes.  Mike took this shot of me as we got to the arch section of the chute.

Blackhorse Point showing the chute to Archer...

The arch... - When we got to the arch at the top of the gully, the reflections inside put it aglow.  Mike took this shot of near the exit of the chute, directly under the arch.  Note all of the loose rock - each should have a skull and cross bones stamped on them!
Mike took this picture of the arch as we approached...  The route is up the chute, double back to the left and cross the arch.  The entrance to Archer is on the right...
Mike took this shot of the Wine Spires framed by the arch...
I took this shot of Mike as we rested on top of the arch, with the Wine Spires and Silver Star in the background...
Mike took this reciprocal shot of me...

The arch at the base of Archer, looking back down...

The first pitch... - Mike made three awesome leads, the last I should have led, but chickened out on... After some picture taking, we got ready for our climbs. The pitches according to the guide book are 5.7, 5.7, 5.8 and then a class 4/5 scramble to the summit. Going in, we figured I'd lead at least one of the 5.7 pitches. The first pitch started on top of the arch, but very close to overhanging the gully - somewhat exposed right off the bat. So Mike went ahead and led. 
Here, I approach the crux move - Mike offers a "lead" belay, I decline!
Past the crux, I'm all smiles - great gear Mike!

Upon reflection, we think he got off-route while navigating around a bush - and ended up on a sustained 5.9 - 5.10 pitch for about 25 feet. It was one of the best leads I've seen him do. When I got to it, I was amazed. He placed great gear, no falls. What was more amazing was that I was able to do it clean (with one rest)! But still, it took some oomph out of Mike.

Tom pulling a 5.9 move on the first pitch of Archer...

The second pitch... - The second pitch looked short (remember, we're off route now), and looked like there was one tricky move, so Mike went ahead and led that one also. It went much better, but I'm sure it was sustained 5.7, with a couple 5.8 moves. I basically ran up!  I took this shot of Mike as he crests the top of the pitch.

Mike leading the second pitch of Archer...

The third pitch... - We took a break, trying to figure out the route. We had three options, and wanted to take an option that I could lead. Option one was a sustained 5.7/5.8 dihedral, that went around a roof. I thought there was a tricky traverse over to the entrance, and it didn't look like it got us back on route. Option two was a direct route up a face with some nubs, until it put you to an overhung crack. The face wasn't completely vertical, but the overhang looked sketchy for placing gear. Option three was a beautiful finger crack, that actually looked like it was on route. I wanted to do it, but I needed to traverse around a corner for an exposed entrance (the hazard being a pendulum). Again, that entrance spooked me, and Mike had to pick up the slack, and do the lead - it's after 4:00 now. He made the entrance, and got into the meat of the finger crack, but now he's really tired. He placed some bomber aliens, and was inching up. While trying to place a bigger piece, he fell! I caught him after only a couple feet, he had great gear (thankfully), and wasn't hurt. The piece he was trying to set cascaded to the bottom of the gully. A very scary moment! This was his first fall on lead since Norway, and the first time I've had to catch a lead. If the gear had zippered, it would have been about a 20 foot fall, with a possible pendulum of around 8 feet! Working on adrenalin alone (I think), he made his way to the rap station above. I had a problem cleaning one of his pieces - I worked on it for around 10 minutes (to no avail), but other than that, I was up pretty quickly - from my perspective, it was a dream layback crack! Also, the entrance turned out to be nothing. I've got to get over making a lead entrance over exposure - that's my wall right now.  Although it was late, I still enjoyed myself immensely, evident by the shot Mike took to the right...

Tom at the belay station on the 3rd pitch of Archer...

Heading down... - From where we stopped, it took 2 very airy repels to get down, the second a dead rope... It's after 5:00 pm now, so we decide to bail on the last pitches. I repel down first, and work on the stuck piece. After another 5 minutes, I get it free. At the second rappel station, there is only room for one person at a time. It is basically a 8 inch tree coming out of the wall! There was only one piece of webbing (as it was on the first one), so we donate another piece. The catch is, your not on-repel (under tension), until a foot under the tree. Plus the wind was in a constant updraft, any time you moved, needles and sand blew up into our faces. After a bit of consternation, I got off the station, and made the trip down. It was dead rope along the wall, and must have looked spectacular from a ways off! Mike was much better getting off the station, and we both were back on the arch very happy, but emotionally drained. After over 5 hours in our rock shoes (yeah what toes!), we got back into our boots for the decent. Can you say ahhhhhh!?!

Mike on the rap down from Archer...

Heading down the chute... - Descending the approach chute, it was almost lethal... Knowing the risk of the chute, we stayed real tight going down. It was nearly impossible to keep from kicking stuff loose. We managed to find the gear Mike dropped from his fall about half way down. While he was putting it away, and right after he took this shot, I heard a noise. Then once more. Without seeing it, I turned and yelled "Rock!", and put my back to the gully and hunched. A split second later, I caught sight of the rock in the corner of my eye. About the size of a Frisbee and flat, 1 to 2 inches thick, spinning madly, and it was traveling fast - I only heard two bounces, so I'm sure it flaked off from above. It missed me by several feet, but glanced off Mike's right wrist and hand. Make no mistake - this was a killer rock that would have broken a limb on a direct hit, or worse if it hit the chest or head. Aesthetics of the climbing aside, this gully is rated 4 SKULLS! I can't imagine what it would be like with multiple teams. After that, we hauled ass out staying to the sides, keeping a constant ear open for more trouble.

Tom on the way down the chute, the arch is above...

In summary... - We left camp at around 11:15 am, got in 3 pitches of what should have been 5 pitches, got back to camp after 7:00 pm... It was long day, but the views of Silver Star and the Wine Spires were stunning. The actual climbs (at least for me following) were great. You must be aware of flake, and test holds, but overall, if you could keep your shoes out of the pine needles on various ledges, the rock was pretty grippy. It's jammer and layback heaven! We were going to do an 8 pitch route on Sunday, but Mike's hand was hurting, the 7th pitch was a 5.8 (we believe the guide book under-rated some of the pitches), and we figured we'd return another day. 

Tom cooking with the Point in the background...

Heading out... - Prior to heading out, Mike got up to catch some excellent sunrise shots sillohoutted by the Wine Spires. We left camp around 9:15 Sunday morning, and got back to the car around 10:45...Where we happened on a stranded motorist, but that's another story!  Mike took this picture just as the log I stepped on shifted, giving me that uncomfortable feeling.  I was stepping down to cross Early Winters Creek...10 minutes from the car!

Tom hiking out, "Okay log, quit rockin!"

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