West Face Variation
Trad 3 Pitch
I did the West Face Variation and linked it with the last two pitches of the Pioneer Route to get up Monkey Face. I hired a guide, Larry, the owner of Inclimb for this as this was my first major forray into anything higher than three pitches. It was also Monkey Face, not terribly hard technically, but a lot of exposure and some aid climbing which I hadn't even done prior to this climb.
We started early in the cool of a mid-august morning in 2003. I had been trying to get myself ready for this climb. This wasn't going to be just physically demanding, it was going to be very mentally taxing to me because of the height and exposure.
Linda went with us and took some early pictures before hiking up to the summit and watching the rest of the climb from the spring-board area across from the Monkey Face mouth. She had a nice day of sunning and pictures taking the day off to be with me while I did the climb.
I remember it was cool that morning and my stomach was in knots. I had wanted to do this climb ever since I saw it first at Smith Rock on a hike with my father, Tanis and our dogs.
The pitches were fun and easy to clean. Larry was a bit rusty on the route saying he hadn't done this route for about four years. I think he just wanted me to feel good because I am sure I looked as nervous as I felt.
To do the rappel off of Monkey Face, you need two ropes, and since I wasn't leading, I got to carry the extra rope. It definitely adds to the physical strenuousness of the climb.
There is a section on the second pitch where you get into a bit of a chimney. Normally, you can just lay your back against the side of the chimney and do a nice layback.
It's not so easy with the pack. The pack is just big enough to not allow you to stem it. Basically, you grovel up the chimney with 2-3 inch moves at a time. It's only about a fifteen foot section, but it seemed to take a lot out of me to do it.
We linked the top of the West Face Variation to the third pitch of the Pioneer Route. We stepped across the saddle and onto the ledge to belay for the last two pitches of the climb.