It’s kinda like Project American Fork… but not as cool. After an intro into the Dierkes climbing scene last fall, I wanted to set a goal to challenge myself at our winter crag and decided to try to climb every route in the Alcove from Warm n’ Fuzzy (5.10b) on the left to Shotgun Wedding (5.10c) at the far right, a total of 33 routes many of which check in at solid 5.12. We soon realized that we would need to go to other sectors as well, usually to warm-up, before heading to The Alcove for the afternoon. Not one to like to do the same climb over and over while other new lines await exploring we started hopping around from crag to crag, sampling the various sectors. Before too long we had climbed quite a few, and began to enjoy checking into the hidden and harder-to-get-to crags.
As the thaw began last spring we found ourselves again headed to Dierkes for the weekends. Anxious to get back into shape after a cold January and early February we spent several days getting mileage in. We climbed anything and everything: short, tall, mixed, sport, trad, slab and choss. As the routes went down we hatched a new plan. Why stop at the Alcove? A new goal was born to climb every route. Dierkes has (from my rough count) 119 routes spread across 11 sectors. Add in the ~200 boulder problems and there are over 300 fun climbs here; short and tall, V0 to V-Hard.
The season at Dierkes this year was a bit sporadic for us, and we never quite got there as many times as we wanted to. Nonetheless we still managed to tick several more routes before a hamstring injury and a move to Colorado for the winter cut us short. All said we climbed 114 of the 119 routes in the last year. Not bad! The only routes that remain are three moderate gear lines at the Tall Wall, a bouldery 5.13a called Circus Trick at the North Shore and a 5.12c I have yet to try called Evil D in the Alcove. As for bouldering, we haven’t kept track quite as closely, but there are certainly some harder problems to turn our attention to once the roped climbs dry up. With Robyn’s family in Rupert, it’s only a matter of time until we return to get our chance to close out the crag.
Dierkes, although most well known for the Alcove, actually has several sectors with a nice variety of angles and rock. The routes at The Prow are blocky, long and adventurous. The Alcove is thuggy and featured on steep three-dimensional rock. The Skunk Crag has some amazing hueco features while the Hidden Cliff has possibly the best quality rock. Here are some highlights from the year:
Biggest Challenge: Soloflex (5.12c), The Alcove. Soloflex presented quite a challenge last fall and I barely squeaked it out before a cold snap. With an overhang crux down low and then a powerful sequence involving an undercling and desperate ring lock up high, this route, of all the routes at Dierkes took me the most work. Oh, and don’t fall after pulling the crux, that would be absolutely terrifying.
Most Bolts: 51 (5.10b), The Prow. A great route, but borrow your friends draws. And his friends draws..
Scariest: Orangutan (5.10a, Gear), The North Shore. This is likely because I am a sissy when it comes to gear lines, but you only get a behind-the-head and blind placed small cam before pulling a slippery crux only 10 feet off the deck. And then there is no anchor.. Soooo yeah.
Dirtiest: Where God Changed His Oil (5.11b), The Alcove. Here are the notes from my guidebook on that day. “F*#&ing crazy. Dirt and choss.”
Most Potential: Thighmaster (5.11d), The Alcove. Although this route is still super dirty, there are some awesome moves and cool pockets. Just prepare to be really pumped since all the holds you grab are covered in sand.
Classics at the Grade: Bonnie Bionic (5.13a), Pink Slip (5.12c), Ziplock (5.11b), Hexology (5.10a Gear), Dude (5.9), Over the Falls #1 (5.8).
Poopiest: Bonnie Bionic (5.13a), The Alcove. You crawl into what could only have be the nest of a pterodactyl. I never want to meet the bird that created that pile. Fun route though..
Under-rated: Gorilla Man (5.11d), Tall Cliffs. This climb is awesome!! I had hardly ever heard of people climbing at the Tall Cliffs at all, so it was a huge surprise that Gorilla Man would be as excellent as it is. Super sequential slapping up a huge protruding noodle. Great challenge.
Check out this cool video our friend Ian put together from a couple climbs we did this last weekend!
Dierkes Lake will always hold a special spot in our climbing history. After being diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes two years ago, it was a month later at Dierkes during a Christmas visit to Rupert that I first had enough strength to touch rock again. Dierkes was the crag that I climbed my first 5.13, and the crag that Robyn took home 1st at the Clean and Crank! While Dierkes isn’t known as the prettiest crag, we were always surprised by it’s subtle beauty. If you haven’t seen the sun go down from the Tall Cliffs, do yourself a favor and get out there. In the end we didn’t quite get to all the routes, but I sure am glad we have an excuse to return.