Frenchman Coulee

For our August long weekend, we drove over to Vantage, Washington to do some climbing in the Frenchman Coulee. Technically, we climbed at the Echo Basin but I am not one for technicalities.

David, Thomas, M , and I all hopped into my little VW Golf jammed pack with camping gear. After a five hour night drive, we reached the primitive campground at midnight and promptly crashed.

Early next morning, I woke up at 6:30am stiffed by the morning heat. I should mention Frenchman Coulee is located in the middle of the desert , the only vegetation being shrubs. However, waking up to the sight of the “Fingers” is a marvelous sight.

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We spent most of the day climbing Fingers. By noon however, the midday sun had made the North side of the rocks to be unbearable. I actually stripped into my sports bra and short shorts. We decided to chill, have lunch at, and go to the nearby Columbia River too cool down. The river would have been too cold any other time of the year to swim in, but in the heat it was a perfect way to cool down.

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At around 6pm, we headed to the Sunshine Wall. After 1.5hours of wandering, we found the trail… It is basically through the rocks where you have to squeeze yourself through the cracks (no more than 60cm wide) to reach the area. The sunset was quite pretty. Of course by the time we found the climbs, the sun was setting. Our friend David decided to lead climb a 5.10a? In the dark with a headlamp.

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The next day, it was even hotter. The weatherman said it was 40c. It felt hotter. We decided to spend the morning doing more of the Feathers climb. I found this path through two rocks that was so tight, you could only walk through it sidewards. Even my straw hat couldn’t fit though it! When I looked up, I saw bolts and decided I had to climb it. It was a very easy climb but most entertaining. Thomas decided to climb it with no hands, he even tried a chin hook!

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By 2pm, the heat had become unbearable. The rocks were too hot to touch when they were in the sunlight. Even in the shade, the winds blowing through was just hot air. Driving 100km/h also gave us no relief, only hot hot air. David and Tomas decided to Climb at the sunshine wall, while M and I decided to relax by the river instead as the guidebook had described the sunshine wall to be an ‘inferno’. I am inclined to believe we got the better end of the deal since when we met up with them later, they said it was too hot to climb. Duh!

And thus ended our weekend getaway in the desert. My ankle swelled up like an old elderly person but it was totally worth it. However, I don’t think I will climb at the Frenchman coulee again because:

All the climbs have similar holds, no underlings, cracks, etc.
The rocks are quite suspect. I was not comfortable crimping at all due to the fact that the rocks were moving!
It is too hot.
Too many racist Canadians ( yes, I was in USA). No one should use the N word. I was quite mortified they were Canadians.

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