Every classic climb list I've seen for Washington has included both Orbit and Outer Space, so, needless to say, they've both been on my to-do list since I moved out here. Leavenworth was a solid choice for the weekend, with enough warm days so far to melt most of the snow, but not good enough weather on the West side to climb a big volcano. Goran and I hit the road early on Saturday after a phenomenal night on the town in Seattle which left me slightly sleep-deprived and a bit hung over, but quite happy.
We drove straight to the Snow Creek Trailhead on Saturday and made the approach in under an hour, just passing a group of three before the base of Orbit. We soloed up the bit to the gnarled tree and started firing pitches from there. Pitch 1 would have been an exercise in painful rope drag if climbed per the guidebook beta, so we broke it into two parts, with Goran taking the awkward chimney move and me taking the finger crack. From there, the route went pretty smoothly and quickly. We had plenty of daylight left at the top, so we decided to carry over the wall and hike directly down to the Pearly Gates. It turned out to be a bit of a chossy, bushwhacking adventure, but we found a trail eventually and made it to the crag. We got on Pearly Gates (5.10b) and No Room for Squares (5.8) before calling it a day and hiking out.
All that approaching and heinous descending made me incredibly ravenous and desiring of fried chicken. Unfortunately, Safeway was out, so we picked up beers and a whole roasted chicken, then headed to the campsite which Peter and Susan had graciously offered to share. I must have been asleep within a half hour after finishing my dinner.
The sabbath saw a leisurely morning with coffee and danish, then an approach back to the Snow Creek Wall to hit up Outer Space. Goran had been on the route before, so we decided to forego the forgettable first two pitches in favor of a spicier link-up start using Remorse and RPM. I led the first pitch of Remorse and was surprised at a couple of the moves, which likely meant that I'd taken a slightly wrong turn, but eventually made it to the bolted belay below the roof. From there, Goran grabbed the rest of the gear and headed up the roof. We'd seen a party on the route earlier in the day and noticed that they pulled over the roof to the left, which seemed like a good alternative to going straight up the 10b crack. Goran took this left turn on his lead and I followed the incredibly fun pitch with great exposure.
We arrived at Two Tree Ledge to find a party of three just starting the third pitch of Outer Space. Bummer. For nearly two hours, we hung out on the ledge in the sun, waiting for the party to clear off that ledge and the next belay. I took the crux pitch lead and had a blast swinging around from the flakes. From there, Goran brought us up the runout knobs to the base of the classic crack pitch where we waited for the party of three again. Things were starting to get pretty chilly at this point and we were bundled up in puffies and winter hats. I did the ice climbing warm-up dance quickly before taking the lead. It was nothing short of awesome, with great feet on knobs nearly the entire way and awesome hand jams that I actually made use of a bunch of times (big news for me as a total sportie...I could hear Dale saying "don't be afraid of the crack").
By the time we finally summited, the sun was starting to settle below the far ridges, so we busted a move on the descent to make it to the car before dark. I was highly motivated to get back to the leftover beers, danish, and chips. Victory tasted incredibly sweet.