My Moms Muscle Shirt
Trad, 900 ft, 8 pitches, Grade IV,
Avg: 4 from 22
FA: FA: Mark Everingham and Tom Ballard, 1971 FFA: Tom Ballard and Alex Lowe, 1979
> Northwest Region
> Blodgett Canyon
> Flathead Buttress
Also known as the South Face Route. An all around excellent line in an amazing location. A Blodgett testpiece.
Start at rock pile on large grassy ledge.
P1: Climb less than ideal rock for a short ways, veering right, then ascend excellent large left facing dihedral, reaching a nice ledge with 2 bolts. (5.10a, 100')
P2: Climb through overhang on right side of ledge, then up chimney. From good stance on top of the chimney, follow thin, flaring crack, past a bolt up high to large ledge and traverse left on ledge to 2 bolt anchor. Small/Micro nuts useful. (5.10a, 120')
P3: Traverse left along ledge for 60', past 1/4" bolt, and then down large chimney to stance with a 2 bolt anchor. (5.4, 85').
P4: Move right and up from belay, then left along ledge, which slopes down, to a large horizontal flake. Hand traverse up and left to excellent vertical finger crack. From ledge at top of finger crack, follow easy, slightly winding terrain and make belay (1 rusty pin available) near the base of the large sloping OW. (5.10a, 100')
P5: Climb long, easy dihedral with 4.5" OW crack on left (Some might want a #5 Camalot for added comfort on this pitch, but it isn't totally necessary - you can get lots of supplemental gear in cracks against the left wall and there is at least one chockstone that can be slung. Both times I've lead this pitch I didn't place anything bigger than a #3). Make belay on nice, small ledge below roofs, above small dead tree (which may not be around much longer). (5.9, 180')
P6: Start up and left through easy roof with excellent hand jams and great feet below. Continue up through more strenuous 2nd roof (big hand jams), and tricky section just above (past a 1/4" bolt). Continue over more moderate ground to small belay ledge below left leaning crack and dihedral. (5.10+, 110').
P7: From belay, start up left facing dihedral and then move left into tricky left slanting crack. Continue up, and then move right when difficulty eases up. (NOTE: From here there are many possible variations on how to finish P7 & P8. The way I did was by going about 120' on P7 and belaying on a large ledge 20' left and around a corner from a large, healthy pine tree) (5.10c, 120')
P8: Again many ways to do this, I traversed right to the pine tree, then up easy ground to summit (not quite true summit), topping out just right of a very large but dead tree. (5.9-, 85')
Hike about 1.9 miles down the main trail from the parking lot. Cross the creek on 2 large trees that are visible from the trail, in front of Shoshone Buttress, where the main trail veers slightly left and starts going uphill. From here, hike up scree, past a waterfall, and traverse the base of Shoshone, passing directly underneath the start of the South Face of Shoshone route. Keep skirting the west face of Shoshone for another 100 yards and then cut left across the gully, and up a small talus field towards Flathead. Watch for a small cairn indicating the trail that goes left up the SE shoulder of Flathead, to the main ledge at the base. A small rock pile (hardly a cairn) marks the start of the route.
On the descent, go back and to the right (NW corner of the top out ledge, about 50' below and 100' E of main summit) and double rope rappel off the large tree. There are many rappel routes from here, all utilizing trees. Make 3-4 raps to a very large flat area. (If you want to put new webbing on all the raps, you'll probably want 25+ feet). Continue by walking/scrambling down some scree and small ledges (you'll want real shoes), until you reenter the scree field with the cairn used on the approach.
Alternate descent: It is possible to rap down the middle of the face using anchors from the Pierce Route/Space Cat/Afterbuner. There are anchors on P8 up and right from the healthy pine tree. From those anchors make 5 or so double rope rappels (some of them angle west significantly) back to the start of the route. Bring new webbing and a knife to remove the old tat.
We took a double rack, from Purple TCUs to #3 Camalots, 1 #4 Camalot, nuts, micro nuts, and about 8 shoulder length slings and 2 double length slings. (Some may want a larger cam, see P5 details)
With one 70+ meter rope, you might be able to Macgyver your way down, but I wouldn't count on it. Bring 2 ropes for the rappels.
Photo Route Overlay: My Moms Muscle Shirt.
Rap 1 (3 raps with double ropes).
Pitch 8. Choose your own adventure. This is the way I went.
Tricky left-trending crack on Pitch 7.
Start of Pitch 6.
Flathead in winter, the route mainly follows the large weakness in the center right of the buttress.
Photo Route Overlay: My Moms Muscle Shirt.
The first three pitches have bolted anchors. After that, it's all gear anchors.
Flaring cracks on Pitch 2.
Chimney on Pitch 2.