I was reminded last week of an old geology friend, Chuck Ziegler. I assisted Chuck during his graduate school work in the Northwest Cascades. The reminder came while I was traversing up a fairly classic slope that is common on many of the Salish Sea coastal bluffs - cliffy on the bottom where waves had eroded and under cut the slope, steep mid slope with slopes of 45 to 60 degrees covered with trees and thick brush on up to a vertical cap underlain by glacial till.
With the very top of the bluff capped with concrete like glacial till, my route to the top of the bluff was blocked. I moved laterally along the base of the vertical obstruction looking for a way up and hoping I would find one before some obstruction would force me down the bluff or worse force a complete back track across difficult terrain I had already traversed.
A well located western red cedar, though small, combined with a few other hand and foot holds saved me from a long nasty slog through the steep woods. As I wrapped my hand around the thin branch I remembered Chuck saying, "Cedars are our friends". The strong fibrous wood of the western red cedar makes a good natural trusty rope when available.
My hand hold before pulling myself up
Glacial till cap on a woodsy shoreline bluff