Do you want prime rib in Mazama? You probably won’t find one to order unless it’s made of rock, i.e., a route on a rock wall. Goat Wall, located west of the Mazama Store on Lost River Road, is a glacially carved massif composed of meta-pyroclastics. That’s a mouthful if you are not a rock climber or a geologist. Near as my limited knowledge can tell, Goat Wall is considered a massif rather than a peak because it has multiple peaks that are bunched together in such a way that they can’t be identified as separate mountains. In fact, Goat Wall is over a mile wide and 1,500 feet tall. The rock itself was created by an explosive volcanic eruption (as opposed to a slower moving lava flow).
Goat Wall was first developed by two local Czech climbers, Eli Holmes and Karen Zikan, as an ice and mixed climb beginning in 1987. By 1989, the wall was repurposed for summer rock climbing. According to Mountain Project website — a common go-to site for climbers — today Goat Wall has long been forgotten as a venue that offers ice and mixed climbs and is now focused on developing long, equipped sport climbs of which Prime Rib is one.
If you find yourself near Fun Rock on Lost River Road, whether on a bicycle, walking, or driving, you will most likely cross paths with rock climbers as I did recently while on a bike ride. Chase and Kelley, both from Seattle, had just finished climbing Prime Rib. Enthusiastic, Chase explained that it is a route with 11 pitches. Kelley, noticing my doe-in-the-headlights look asked, “Do you know what that means?” Uh, no.
According to these two climbers, a pitch is the length of a climb that can be protected by one rope length. On Prime Rib, the lead climber reaches the first bolted anchor on a large ledge next to a large fir. In this case, Chase, followed by Kelley. After that the route description leaves me in the dust: Shift the belay to below a left-facing dihedral. Up the dihedral, you will pass a rappel anchor. Continue up to the anchor on the ledge with large blocks. And so on.
Although Prime Rib is described as an incredibly cool and easy-to-moderate sport climb overlooking Methow Valley, there are still 5.9 cruxes on the climb — a crux being the most difficult section of a route or the place where the greatest danger exists. Rock climbing is inherently dangerous, but climbers are exuberant with the views they can witness and the thrill of reaching their heightened goals.
Across the country, New York has taken the ignoble claim to fame of having the worst air quality in the entire world due to wildfire smoke from Canada. Remember when our little town of Winthrop held that dishonor in 2021? Looks like we’re in with the big boys now.
California poppies are prolific in, well, California. We don’t see them here that often. Just past the Weeman Bridge, there is a bed of them lining Highway 20. They are such bright, cheery flowers, it’s a pleasure to see them on my numerous trips back and forth “to town.” Thank you to whoever planted them!