Big 10-4 on the Panorama

Enjoying puffy warmth at the top of pitch one.

There are few things in this world that make me happier than an intermediate belay. For the uninitiated, an intermediate belay is the stop-over between pitches – you ascend a rope-length or gain a nice ledge (whichever comes first), plug in some gear to build an anchor, affix yourself to the wall, and relax. It’s a perfect place to get some water, eat a snack, wrap yourself in your favorite puffy jacket, slip into some heavy gloves, and enjoy the view.

The intermediate belay is a payoff several times over: you get to rest and recharge from the often stressful and strenuous climbing, you get to check out the scene from a place that few people ever stand, you get to solve complex anchor-building puzzles, and there’s often no one there to see the tears in your eyes as the warm blood refills your frozen fingers.

Over the years, I’ve stockpiled memories of my favorite belays – some noteworthy for the scenery, some for the relief, and some for the shenanigans – and the top of the first pitch of Hyalite’s Silken Falls ranks right up there with the [Read More]