Burgers and Fries
During dry periods between rain showers, we’d head to the Smoke Bluffs for a few pitches of climbing. Many of the cliffs at the Smoke Bluffs face south and the combined action of wind and sun dry the rock quickly. After a particularly heavy rain, we headed to Burgers and Fries. This cliff showed promise due to a very short approach and collection of easy routes.
Everyone else had the same idea: head to a nearby cliff with easy route, so when we arrived ropes, runners, and people festooned most of the climbs. I’d thought to try the eponymous Burgers and Fries, a 5.7 crack that’s highly recommended. I figured, even if damp, it wouldn’t be too difficult and would get me a feel for the rock. With several climbers on it and the neighboring routes, Tristan decided to lead the one crack with no toprope on it – Catch Me Quick, a finger crack, rated 5.10b, with the crux about 20′ up.
He started up and placed a cam about 12 feet up. At this point, the crack pinched down to a shallow, flaring groove, so that he could place no more gear. He proceeded up and surmounted the crux about 20 feet up, looking at a nasty ground fall if he had not succeeded at his on sight attempt.
I decided to lead the discontinuous 5.7 crack to the left. I placed a few nuts and cams as I climbed up cracks and flakes. Then, right where it got hard, I had to traverse right to a lieback flake. I traversed to the flake, began liebacking up, and got a cam in after several feet. I wouldn’t want to lead this climb if I were comfortable leading 5.7 maximum. I’d lead some 5.9s and one 5.10 crack on the Apron where I felt as safe, because I was able to place gear when I wanted it, close to a difficult move, and I was not facing a ground fall.
I’m beginning to understand why everyone topropes most of the routes at Burgers and Fries!