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Le Grande Bleu

5.11c, Trad, TR, 100 ft,  Avg: 2 from 2 votes
FA: Anagnostou, Ramier, Todorovich
Washington > Central-W Casca… > Skykomish Valley > Index > Lower Town Wall > Main Wall, left side


Climb Model worker then move left into Frog Prince when it is possible to do so. Finish on Frog Prince.


Starts on Model Worker


a few draws and runners and a handful of trinkets

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Bleu, si trés bleue
[Hide Photo] Bleu, si trés bleue

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Thomas Ramier
[Hide Comment] I went rock climbing today with a friend. "Free climbing" to be exact by most folks definition. "New routing" as some of my older friends still call it, a locution that was common before the focus on "the first" ascensionist and therefore(presumably) the only individual of importance, made it's incipient and now pervasive inroad into the wonky jargon that only other rock climbing hobbyist can understand.

We climbed an amalgamation of two established routes to make what I suppose would be termed a new climb and in our hobby we did what is known as the First Free Ascent or FFA of this "new" line. The climb starts on an oddity called Model Worker then after passing a bafflingly low anchor on that route it cuts left half way up what is referred to as Model Worker Full. Nevermind that Model Worker(to the upper and low anchor) might more accurately be referred to as "Model Worker" and "Model Worker Half" respectively. Perhaps the upper half would get the travel it deserves if this were the case. Like I said nevermind...wonky.

Anyway, this is a story about a "new" route. The only new terrain being a short section of rock that links Model Worker...Full... to Frog Prince, an adjacent route that is in itself a variation of another route, Princely Ambitions, further to it's left.

We climbed Model Worker cleanly without falls along with the relatively easy new link up terrain. After a quick fall on the crux of Frog Prince and a brief rest we proceeded free climbing to just below the top of the pitch where lacking a quick draw to clip a fixed pin under a small roof we used a hitch to attach a single carabiner to the fixed line that was still hanging in place from the cleaning and bolting activities earlier that day. With the lead rope clipped through the carabiner the final moves were executed and that was that. A fine morning of free climbing was enjoyed by all.

The only other things worth mentioning are the following:
1) bolts were added to replace the old ones.
2) the old bolts were not removed due to lack of appropriate wrench size and or laziness.
3) the addition of more bolts and the removal of the lower anchor was discussed.
4) no first ascensionist were contacted or consulted. Present company not withstanding. Aug 31, 2016
Jon Nelson
Redmond, WA
[Hide Comment] Definitely a free FA in my book.

Thanks for the explanation and history.

Did you place any 'trinkets' when going from Model Worker to Frog Prince?

Or are all trinkets for the Model Worker and Frog Prince sections/ Aug 31, 2016
Stig .
[Hide Comment] No trinkets. In fact, there's a healthy and easy run-out from model worker to frog prince. Rope drag can be horrendous so just about everything needs to be extended. Aug 31, 2016
Thomas Ramier
[Hide Comment] I'm equally baffled by the nonsensical low anchor on Model Worker. It's not like the climbing above that is harder than the cruxes below - it's just probably better and less shoulder-wrenching.

Only ask: if you DO go to chop the low anchor, also chop the old bolts you replaced.

I would expect SOMEONE to voice strong disapproval if you did remove that anchor, but WTF, SOMEONE voices disapproval any time ANYONE does ANYTHING. I also feel the low anchor on Ironhorse makes zero sense. The slot is the most classic part of that pitch, and easier than the low cruxes, and even if you don't like slot climbing, why NOT finish on the perfect handcrack of Sag?

To up the ante on controversial anchor removal, the low anchor on JG would raise some serious eyebrows if chopped. And yet, it's not a bad idea at all. That's an absurd choice for a 5.9 climber when so many other options exist that aren't just the 2 star bottom halves of 4 star routes. Sep 19, 2016
Jon Nelson
Redmond, WA
[Hide Comment] So, as I remember it, the low anchor on Model W- is a holdover from the FA.

When we first did Model W-, there was a tree in the corner, which was part of the Frog Pond route. So, we just aimed for the tree, wrapped our slings over the tree and rapped off, calling the route finished. Later, the route was extended and the tree removed. I suppose someone tried to remain true to the original route when they placed the bolts there.

Sometimes I think that later parties try too hard to remain true to the original route. Routes should change with the needs of the times.

For example, when the tiny pin finally pulled at the low crux of Model W-, a bolt was placed near its original location. But this made little sense physically. That original pin was placed just because the flake was there - it would have made more sense to move the new fixed piece higher. Oh well. Sep 19, 2016
[Hide Comment] The Model Worker middle point anchor seems a lot less nonsensical when you find your 70m rope doesn't get you to the ground.

The JG first anchor is even with the original first anchor.

Sagittarius used to have a fun 5.9 first pitch that I enjoyed as a new climber, but apparently folks wanting to keep away all the noobs chopped it... reducing the actual attempts on Sag' dramatically.

My vote, stop chopping anchors. Now excuse me while I go replace the Cry Baby anchors that were chopped unnecessarily. Sep 22, 2016
Jon Nelson
Redmond, WA
[Hide Comment] Good point, Douglas.

An intermediate anchor also makes sense for the case like Sagittarius where it provides an easier route.
I remember that anchor, and also the way people got to the anchor was different back then -- we would do a hairy undercling out left on that thin flake, known as the 'ringing flake', and then grab the top edge of the flake. Sep 22, 2016
Stig .
[Hide Comment] Doug, it would be possible to move the top anchor down in order for a 70M to reach, I think. That would be immensely helpful with or without the intermediate anchor. I'm not sold on the idea of removing the anchor but I do think it creates a conundrum; perhaps it encourages more people to try Model Worker, but discourages them from continuing to the top where they can access other classic routes. Tadpole, for instance, is an incredible pitch, but I ended up excavating a bunch of dirt and plants and scrubbing the entire thing because people simply don't climb up there. Model worker is, I think, the only reasonable way to access Tadpole.

This seems to be a theme at the lower wall- excellent routes with anchors interrupting them and in my mind, tempting the climber to be lazy, to stop when one should continue. Oct 10, 2016
[Hide Comment] This is a fun boulder problem on good holds! It adds a neat alternate option for Princely or Model Worker.

Stamati - another easy and reasonable way to access Tadpole is to climb Princely Ambitions and then belay a 10m 5.7 traverse to the right. With enough long slings on princely, you can do that as one pitch. Oct 11, 2016
Thomas Ramier
[Hide Comment] You'd think I would have learned from the old timers, growing up ice fishing on the bleu bleu lakes of Minnesota that if you never check your bait you'll never know if you caught a fish.

Hook. Line. Sinker... as the saying goes...

Oh boy! Yet another entertaining and public opportunity for all of us to try to wrap our minds around the nuanced and important issue of what free climbing is.

Here's a fun little challenge in prose form to help the debate. For extra credit, try it with a friend in Spanish!

"Hey Jim! How's it going?"

"It's going swell! I've been free climbing a whole bunch! How about you, Dick?"

"I'm great! What'cha been free climbing Jim?"

"Well Dick, I've been free climbing this fresh new route- Toots in da Poots"

"Gosh Jim, I hear that route is like, real hard. How did you do?"

"Yeah Dick, it's hard all right! I free climbed it with one fall yesterday. I'm super

"Nice work Jim!"

"Thanks, Dick. I'm waiting until I can free climb it with no falls to add it to my 8a ticks list"

"Sounds legit to me Jim"

Here's a neat little "how to" guide for clipping the "impossible" to clip piton on Frog Prince:
a) Have a carabiner
b) Turn the Carabiner upside down
c) Clip the piton
d) Pop! Fizzzzzz! Watch as your mind blows

I'm glad you Liked Le Grande Bleu.

Princely, Frog Prince, Le Grande Bleu, and Model Worker all lead to Tadpole. Zero excuses! Jul 18, 2017