August 3, 2008

Located just off Quartz Creek Road about 15 miles above Finn Rock, “Flagstone” is the climbers’ name for the rock summit of what the Willamette National Forest Map calls “Sardine Butte.” To quote Greg Orton’s Oregon Rock Climbing, “Flagstone is a dome-like formation formed from an andesitic lava flow... Flagstone offers some of the finest slab and face climbing in Oregon.” The rock at Flag is unusually solid by Oregon standards, a Cascade climber’s dream come true. However, “slab” in the climbers’ lingo usually means virtually featureless and smooth. A very challenging style of rock to ascend. Some climbers really don't like it much! A fairly small area, and close to the road, Flagstone offers a great variety of bolted sport climbs, from some pretty easy and well protected beginner routes to lines much more difficult than our group cared to attempt. The trees immediately adjacent to the rock have never been logged, leaving a small island of remnant “old-growth” surrounding the summit. There were still a few rhododendron blooms and other wild flowers around. It makes for a very pretty place to climb.

The day was fine and warm, and we were glad that we had gotten an early start. There were five in our group, all fairly experienced at sport climbing except one member who had not done much climbing outside the gym. Everyone did a great job! We all practiced new skills or put up routes we had not previously climbed or lead.

We started on the north side. The two Sues and I practiced “multi-pitch” skills and climbing in a group of three on a two pitch climb rated 5.8, with Sue C. doing much of the work; leading the first pitch, setting up the belay station and doing most of the belaying. Meanwhile Scott and Juli hooted and hollered while they had too much fun on a three pitch 5.9 that goes all the way to the summit. After lunch we move around to the south side and Scott and I were both able to put up a couple of 5.9s that we had not previously lead.

It was a bit late by the time we loaded back up and made the drive down to town. I think we were all just about “climbed out” but the chatter in the car was animated and happy. Once again, a good time was had by all. Thanks to my friends for sharing another fine day on the rock.

Climbers were: Sue Carey, Scot Hunt, Juli McGlinsky, Doug Nelson (leader) and Sue Zeni.

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