Things got underway quickly in the morning and after a 30 minute approach (are you kidding? aren't we in the mountains?) we were at the base. We decided to rope up for the 5.4 chossy, loose, sandy, ramp system that leads up to the "real" first pitch, which follows a nice left leaning 10a hand and finger crack up to an old 1/4" bolt below a roof. A little on the scruffy side but not too bad.
This pitch starts with a tricky 5.10 face move to gain the finger crack then launches into 50 or so feet of sustained fingers and tight hands before you can stem out to the corner on the right and de-pump. There aren't really any hard moves but it is very steep, leans to the right, and is still a little grainy. After the stem rest more tight hands leads to a small pod then a beautiful perfect hands corner. Overall this pitch is super pumpy and quite a harsh warm-up considering it's the first difficult climbing on the route. It's also one of the best pitches I've seen in the mountains.
A super short (but still fun) 5.8 pitch leads up to the base of a large pillar. The crux pitch starts by climbing the left side at about 5.10 then you are able to rest up on a nice ledge and contemplate the 5.12- face climbing above. Sol and Jens had given this pitch an R rating and had mentioned a green brassie on the topo as the pro. I was able to stand up on my tip-toes and slot in a bomber green alien. Actually, I didn't know it was bomber until I pulled off a side pull while feeling out the crux sequence and wipped. Due to the hold breaking, the general grainieness of the rock, and my complete lack of courage (mostly) I decided to aid through with the plan of rapping back down to TR the pitch and clean things up if need be. After pulling through and setting up an anchor Ty made a valiant effort to flash the pitch while following. He came close but took one fall in the corner just past the face section. After he cruised the rest I fixed the rope off the anchor and started to rap back down. Not twenty feet into the rap I was maneuvering around a large boulder and the rope slipped across a super sharp edge. After checking out the damage we had to cut off the last fifteen feet of the rope. It had been cut completely through the sheath and into the core. Yikes! After this I decided to bail on the TR idea and we continued on.
The last three pitches climb up the overhanging white headwall that looms over the entire climb. The first pitch goes at a mellow 5.10- but is one of the dirtier pitches on the route. It was a little nerve-wracking pulling on licheny hand jams and some large hollow flakes. I just hoped that Sol and Jens had pulled off everything that was ready to go. After climbing up a little too far I set up a cramped belay under the daunting double roofs that split the headwall.
After nearly slipping off grainy rock and landing on my head and the belay Ty made a proud onsight of the the double roofs, while I had to tuck my head down due to the constant rain of grit. This is quite a burly pitch. Funky, grainy, and horrifying pulling around into a exposed leaning flared hand crack. Although pretty short this pitch felt just as hard as the second (5.11b?)... Nice work Ty!
After following I was pretty worked and didn't have much left in me for the last pitch. We hung out at the super exposed belay for a while and watched a helicopter circle around several times above the lake and up towards Stuart. We weren't sure what they were doing but I found out later there had been an accident on Stuart. It always makes me nervous seeing helicopters in the mountains because you know something bad has probably happend. Luckily the guy was ok.
To make a long story short I climbed up about 20 feet and feeling absolutely exhausted started aiding. I free climbed a few sections of this pitch but overall pulled on many pieces. I was amazed had how quickly I had gone from feeling pretty good to totally bonking. Ty followed this pitch and besides having to hang to get out some stuck pieces was able to do it clean (he called it mid 5.11). This pitch (and the headwall in general) is still pretty dirty but hopefully will clean up with more traffic.
The lower section of the climb ends on a large ledge where we hung out and ate some food. I was feeling pretty worked from the last two pitches but we still had a long ways to go!
I'm not sure how long this took (3-4 hours?) but eventually we made it to the NE summit. Our path started on the ridge but at some point we ended up on the lake side and followed a ramp system that traversed maybe 100' below the actual ridge.
A few short raps (one 60m, errr.. 55m, rope is ok) and some downclimbing put us in the basin behind the peak and nice short stroll took us over to the top of Asguard pass. The descent went quickly and we were back to camp well before dark.
Overall I would have to say this was one of my favorite routes that I've done in the moutains (or anywhere). With some more cleaning it will definitely turn into an area classic.