My first time on El Cap’s “The Nose” was short and painful. I made The Speed Injury Record on The Nose by taking a 20 foot fall onto a ledge on the first pitch. Im extremely embarrassed by how quickly and low on the route I fell. But theres nothing I can do about it besides find a silver lining and let my ankle heal.
Doug and I have been training for a few months in preparation for this Yosemite season. We were gonna do a trial run on The Nose up to Texas Flake and rap down just to get our feet in the cracks on the granite giant. We woke up in our usual El Portal spot at 5am, made coffee, a quick bathroom stop and were on the trail by 6am. About 15 minutes later, I started up Pine Line as a quick warm and clipped the tree at the top. Doug quickly followed, we flaked our ropes and within a couple minutes I was running up the 4th class scramble to the ledge at Pitch 1 intermediate anchors After clipping them, moving through the bolts, I placed my first cam of the day. I mantled up to a slab sloping section at the base of the cracks (about 5 feet over my piece). Placed another cam, pulled and bounce tested it and it seemed “bomber”. Clipped it, stood up on the aid ladder and was reaching for the piton where I found I was just a tad short of clipping it. I sat back in daisy chain and then a second later, I hear the dreaded sound of a cam popping.
I fell down about 5 feet and saw the slab go by, then about another 15 feet saw the intermediate anchors and finally the ledge. I think the rope caught about 2 feet off the ground so it barley slowed my fall (not enough to make a huge difference but something is better than nothing). I fell directly on my feet and my right ankle took the force of the fall. I collapsed as I hit the ledge and my vision blurred for a quick second. I felt my ankle burning but other than that I felt okay. Doug yelled up asking how I was and I replied “Okay, but my ankle is fucked.” Doug lowed me down and after a quickly assessing the injury, I tried aiding back up but my ankle couldn’t bare any weight. We decided to bail, not even up the first pitch of El Cap. Doug lead the rest of the pitch, cleaned it and then helped me abseil down. After a shameful & painful decent paired with very generous groups of climbers asking if I needed help, we made it back to the car. My ankle was about twice its size and throbbing, but I did set the Speed Record for the fastest El Cap injury.
We woke up in our usual bivy spot in El Portal and cruised into the valley right around 5:30am. I entered the Valley Loop eventually turning off to Wawona Road and another quick turn into Bridalveil Fall parking area. I dropped Doug off along with all of our gear at the bathrooms and crossed the road to park my truck on the side of it. So far we were pretty on track to start the approach by 6am, get to Ahwahnee ledge, drop the bag and fix the next couple of pitches for the following day. Our plan soon went to shit.
I cruised through the bolts and get to the roof on the first pitch. Clipped the fixed head at the corner of the roof and quickly realized I am in need of a cam. The next section consist of a perfect offset crack, a blown out head and 10 feet to the next clip able head. With the gear on me, I threw a cam hook in the only spot I figured it would work. I weight the cam hook and step on to it on the roof. I go to top step and the hook adjust and pops. I blow the fixed head and fall to the next bolt about 12 feet below. I yell down to Doug to tie the offset cams to the haul line and he does. I pull the cams up and get situated at the bolt directly below the roof. I had just blown the first fixed head making the distance to the next one about 15 feet. I use the beaks and get up onto the head wall of the roof. Throw the offset cam in where I had previously placed a shitty cam hook and made another beak move up into the next fixed head.
Fortunately I had the haul bag containing the water and snacks. As the sun grew lower, the wall finally got sunshine making it more shitty hanging out at this belay. Again, I had the water and snacks so I couldn’t complain. Finally Doug made it to the anchors and hauled up from Ahwahnee. I jugged up and met up with him at the ledge.
While all of this was going on, a crazy foreign Husband/Wife duo was crushing their way up to Ahwahnee. The husband had previously solo’d this route in a day and was looking to top out of Wet Denim Daydream 5.7 C3. (Check out his video of soloing a few walls in Yosemite https://vimeo.com/78812123) The get to Ahwahnee and quickly realized the ledge is full of noobs and they decide to set up their portaledge a little bit under Ahwahnee.
Before we went to sleep, Doug and I decided that we were too slow and after everything said and done, get back to the Bay Area at like 12-1am Monday. That wouldn’t be an issue but Doug had to be in San Francisco at 6am. We decided to play it safe and called it. We would bail in the morning.
He got to the (free-climbing) crux of the fourth pitch, a gnarly lock off on a shitty (aka non-existent) “sloper” to a “bomber" side pull. To sum it up, it was a fucked up move. His first attempt on it ended with him falling and sliding down the slab. He pulled back up to it, clipped the bolt directly under it and brushed the hell out of this “sloper”. He soon the easily passed this crux and clipped the anchors.
I eventually got down as well and Doug shuttled across the cat walk to drop the gear at the stash bag. He came back and helped with the ropes and help direct me across the cat walk. We traversed our way back on the cat walk and made it to the stash bag. We divided up gear and made the hike back to the car, this time only taking 30 minutes.
Even though we bailed off the wall and our climb was unsuccessful, we still had a fun time. Were gonna dedicate the off season of Yosemite climbing to get better at trad/aid and be fully prepared for the next go. West Face is a pretty do able route for a beginner climber who has their aiding system down and wants to try a big wall. For us, Doug didn’t have it down and we were just taking way too long. I highly recommended giving this route a go and fixing the line on the catwalk is a must. It offers great views and some interesting aid moves.
Leaving from the Bay Area, Donner Pass Road is about a three hour drive East towards Truckee. Once there, you drive around the lake up onto Donner Pass Road and once you start gaining elevation the crags come into view. The road is literally surrounded by climbing. You can park at any of the several pullouts and find something to climb. The great thing about climbing at Donner is that everything is super accessible. No crag is more than a 30 minute approach on well established trails.
We parked our cars right across the ravine from Snowshed Wall. (Snowshed along with Black Wall, holds the most routes at Donner) We made the quick walk across the dry creek to the wall and Ryan decided to warm up on Hair Shirt. A nice 5.8 Off width. Before I start, I have to explain Ryan. He’s a very strong climber and an even more controlled climber. He will crush 5.12 on sport but the moment he feels uncomfortable on trad, he won’t push it. So Ryan starts up the off width with a few small cams and a #4. About 40’ up he places his only #4 and then realizes he’s out of gear for the second half of the climb. Ryan lowers off and before I tie into lead it, I run over to a couple nice looking gentleman with a fantastic dog and borrow a large cam. I lead the rest of the climb. I run out about 20’ to place the second large cam and run it out some more to the anchors. I feel super secure running out on trad just because your jamming your feet and hands into the crack. With off width, you jam your whole body in. It feels even more secure, Id be more worried about getting suck in an off width than falling out of one.
I set up a top-rope and everyone enjoyed them selves on it. Akela has only been climbing for a couple months and she had a real interesting time figuring out the off width. It seems simple to jam your body in and move up but its an awkward thing to do. She had the idea down and after countless tries finally topped out on top-rope. It was pretty cool seeing how she managed to work up for not really knowing much about crack climbing.
I decided to lead it. I cruise through the first half just clipping the gear. I get to that section Ryan bailed from and move through it nicely. I placed a piece and gained the head wall. The last 1/3rd of the route is a nice finger crack with some decent feet. I cruised through the finger crack section feeling really good. I top out at the anchors and since it was a Friday with not many people, we had the luxury of setting up a couple top ropes.
Its an overhanging wall full of 5.12s-5.13s all on permanent draws. So you can try any route and easily pull your rope through if you decide its too much. Ryan (being the only capable 5.12 climber of the group) has been projecting Warp Factor 5.13a.
The first couple moves to clip the first bolt are pretty gnarly and you would definitely not wanna take a fall below the first clip. We all give a go trying to rodeo clip it but after numerous failed attempts Ryan decides to climb the route to the left Taste The Pain 5.13c and gets get to the second clip, lower and then clip the first bolt on Warp Factor. The first two clips of Taste The Pain are very doable and he gets situated on Warp Factor and lowers off.
We arrive at the Ahwahnee (sorry, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel) at around 9am. Jump out, sort the gear and start the light approach to the base. Already, we messed up. Instead of taking the first left with a sign signaling the climbers trail, we walked past that and took the second left. We started up a mix of 4th-5.5 scrambling up to the their pitch. From there, we were straightened our selves, getting back onto the route. The next few pitches went by and due to us not being roped up, felt like a long scramble of 5.5-5.7 “climbing” to pitch 7 where we finally decided to tie in.
I then linked pitch 11 & 12. Pitch 11 offered an interesting hand crack on slab that felt more like climbing up a refrigerator with cracks on either side. I finished pitch 11 and then started up 12. In my opinion pitch 12 offers the most actual climbing on the route. You find the best way to enter this giant flake where I threw in fist and worked my way up. The giant flake only goes 5.7, but for me, this was the most fun pitch on the route. I scrambled up and out of the flake past the belay and about 100’ below the belay for 13, I found a manzanita bush I deemed appropriate for the anchor. Doug followed up and lead the remainder of pitch 13, about 100 feet or so. I scrambled up below him and linked pitches 14 & 15. Both were a ridicules scramble and I thought pitch 15 was the most interesting. After climbing pitch 14 (a long scramble up a face) you emerge onto a giant slab wall with some pretty good exposure. You traverse along the top of it to a three bolt belay. Since Doug & I were going to rap the route, our Royal Arches adventure ended here.
We packed up our gear and headed to get some thing to eat. By the time we got to the gear shop it had began to down poor. We were fortunate enough to grab a seat outside under an umbrella and enjoyed some burgers and fries. It wasn’t looking like the rain was going to stop anytime soon, so we hung around the gear shop for a while and decided to spend the rest of the evening at the bar in El Portal playing pool.
Fortunately all the approaches at The Emeralds are real easy and straight forward. With a brisk 10 minute walk I was already with my friends. We started climbing instantly, warming up on an easy 5.8 “Second Time Around”. After Dave and I ran our respective laps, we walked down a little ways and jumped on "Unknown" 5.10d. This was a real easy route with only two bolts. It was a two-move wonder route with an easy scramble to the first bolt then on the head wall was there crux. After I lead that, I climbed “White Riot” 5.11a.
We woke up feeling good, ready for another full day of climbing. After some coffee and a breakfast beer, we found our selves on our way to Bowman Lake for a day full of sport climbing.
The drive to Bowman is about 6 or so miles on a paved road and then goes into a dirt road. Mitch’s Subaru and my Tacoma handled it like a breeze. I saw a few basic sedans so if you have any sort of sedan, you can make the drive too. (It gets pretty rocky at some places) We drove down the whole road and parked our cars and made the hike out to Larry Land. Its a huge wall with a short 10 foot wide roof section and a slaby head wall. I tried warming up on “Yuba Blue” 5.10b and it was pretty wet. I was unable to even make it to the second bolt due to the water run off. I bailed off and Mitch tried climbing “Hot Rod” 5.11b. He made it about 1/4 of the way up and was quickly shut down to the water run off too. It ended up being all the routes within our climbing capability (sub 5.12) were wet. Mitch tried "Larry Land” 5.11c and got up to the third bolt and lowered off. Dave and I both top roped it up to the third bolt and I found the sequence to get onto the head wall and climb the slab. I lowered off and Mitch gave another run up it getting about 1/2 way up and was to tired. He ended up bailing too.
After all getting shut down by Larry Land, we decided to just swim in the nearby swimming holes and head back to the cars.
On our way back home, we stopped off at Deer Park Boulders in Rocklin. We had some fun times messing around on a gnarly V2 finger crack “Nemesis” Both Mitch and I sent it and ran some laps on it. Mitch ended up getting a V4 and a gnarly V3 mantle. After a quick session we started our drive back home.
Overall, I felt okay about my climbing this trip. I could of sent some harder things but I definitely felt sore the following day. It was a lot more fun just messing around and having a good time climbing than it was trying to send some hard serious climbs. Im excited to get stronger and better and head back to Larry Land.
PSA: There is a huge difference between leaving water jugs for people to stumble upon in emergencies and leaving them just to shed six pounds of weight off your load. 2-3 gallons in my opinion is enough, not seven or eight fucking gallons of water because at a certain point, your just trashing the route for future climbers. I emptied and carried out most of the water leaving 2 gallons. Please, if your going to leave water at least pack out the oldest looking water in exchange for your new water. Leave one, take one….
This time around, it was not us that chose to bust. Instead our haul line was the weak link. We used a 9.6mm haul line and tied it off to our haul bag mid line. I had forgotten ol' the plastic bottle over the knot trick and by the first haul was completed, we had a nice view of the rope's core….
Lloyd and I awoke from our vehicles at 6am just outside of the park in El Portal. We gathered our gear while making breakfast then drove into the valley right around 7. We arrived at the base of Washington Column in great time compared to our first attempt.
I free climbed with a bit of cam-pulling here and there on the first pitch. As Lloyd arrived atop the ledge with the haul bag, thats when I quickly discovered our haul lines condition. With a party of two ahead of us we got a second or two of rest. We re-tied the knot to by-pass the broken core determined to get up to Dinner Ledge. As soon as the part ahead of us cleared the second pitch, Lloyd started aiding up it.
I arrived shortly after with the haul bag and we quickly changed leads. Starting up pitch 3 with a mix of aid/free again I was feeling good. I free climbed the first part but little did I know, I should of went right instead of left about half way up the pitch. The left looked easier in the moment (even though there was a gnarly little roof). I started aiding the roof, and my second placement (Yellow TCU) popped and I soon found my self hanging on my daisy chain. I quickly pulled up, threw in another piece and continued on. I finished the pitch off with some heinous rope drag and shitty hauling.
When Lloyd and I finally sat down atop dinner ledge, Pete (from the other group) started up pitch 4. Lloyd and I discussed our damaged rope and decided it would be safe to not climb any further. As far as I know, we needed two ropes to rappel down from the top and a haul line that isn't shot to haul our bag up if we were to top out and descend down the North Dome Gully. We decided if it would be best to just spend the night on the ledge and rappel down with our climbing line. I cut the line in the middle and fixed a new rope along the dinner ledge. We also cleared out all the excesses water (5 gallons in total).
After a good night of sleep, we awoke to Ryan and Pete (the other group) already jugging up their fixed line. Lloyd and I made a quick breakfast and started our rappel down. We ended up having to tie off the already cut haul line to the climbing line to make it down the route. The haul line barely reached the bolts below. When we got down, Lloyd was itching to get on Jo-Jo a 5.10b/c splitter crack.
Lloyd went up Jo-Jo jamming through the finger crack. As Lloyd went further up, the crack became wider and wider. Lloyd started throwing fist in and eventually it became to much. He took a few times working out the sequence but finally prevailed. I followed and cleaned the route. I had a rough time on the finger section, taking multiple falls. Once the crack opened it self up to use, I used a combination of lay-backs and hand jams to finish off my clean.
After we came down Jo-Jo, we headed back to our cars and Lloyd left the valley and I made my way into El Portal for my rest day. Overall, we accomplished what we wanted. We got our systems down and figured out how to communicate with each other without verbal signals. Even though we had to bail because of our haul rope, I still check this trip off as a successes.
Since Lloyd and I bailed off Washington Column, we were itching to perfect our aid climbing techniques at Sugar Loaf. The weather was gloomy and had a high chance of rain/snow so we decided against it. Where else could we spend a beautiful Sunday? Doing some of my favorite sport climbing at The Emeralds.
The Emeralds (even though public) is not a very popular crag. It sits right on the Yuba River and houses a variety short-very sustained sport climbing. All the walls are clean making whippers safe and fun. Every time I have been there, there has been no more than 3-5 groups in the area and the climbing is spread out for 1/2 a mile or so. All of the bolts and hangars are in great condition, there are mussies at the top of the majority of the climbs and the best part is, your surrounded by beautiful scenery.
Lloyd and I arrived at the entrance to the PG&E service road at about 10am. (The area is a mix of PG&E and forest service land) We made the easy and mild approach to the base of Kudos Cliff. Feeling bold, I decided to warm up on Into The Light 5.10c. I have climbed this route before and it was fairly easy, but boy was I wrong. As a warmup, it was fucking hard. I hadn’t climbed at all but once before this for about a two week period due to a pulled tendon. I eventually trashed my way up the climbed and topped out. Lloyd went up it as well and set up a top rope where we both ran a couple laps on it. By my second lap, I was feeling good. We cleaned the route and made the short walk over to Fast Food Wall.
Fast Food Wall hosts some of my favorite climbs in The Emeralds. You walk to the base of the wall and then scramble 10 or so feet up easy 5.5 to a very long 2-3 foot wide ledge. The climbs go above the ledge and the belayer belays exposed on the ledge. (Don’t worry, there are bolts to belay from) The wall has a bunch of climbs varying from 5.10c-5.11d. My previous trips, I have attempted Please Pull Forward 5.10d and have fallen in the middle every time. For months if not years, it has been eating away at me and finally I came back to finish it off. I started up the route and felt strong and clear minded. I made my way through the middle and took a good rest and shook out. I knew what was next, the crux for me. I looked up, planned out my next few moves and executed them perfectly. I topped out at the mussies and was so stoked. Ive never really had a project outside before, so accomplishing this climb was a great feeling. It reminded me that climbing is about accomplishing these goals you set for your self. Lloyd climbed the route next and cruised through it too. I was stoked we both just crushed this climb. Once he lowered off, I decided to throw my self on All Beef Patty 5.11b.
Ive never done a 5.11b outside before so it was something new for me. I know I preach about how climbing isn’t about the grade, but lets be honest, without the grade how are we to distinguish difficulty of climbs from one to another? Its a great system to benchmark your ability and just to know what difficulty the route is. Climbing shouldn’t be all about who climbs the hardest grade, it should be about the feeling you get when you walk away from the route. Sorry for the rant, back to the climbing,
So I start up All Beef Patty and instantly realize this is gonna be challenging. I make it past the second bolt to a gnarly knee bar and barley clip the third. I tried to work my back to the left to a side pull and crimp/nub thing but fell. I was just stoked to have made it to the third bolt, but I wasn’t going to give up so I took a quick rest and pushed forward. I cruised through the remainder of the climb and as I was lowering off, I realized I could totally send this route today. I got down and Lloyd started to make his way up. He couldn’t figure out the sequence after the second bolt and his shoulder was giving him trouble, he decided to lower off. With quickdraws still on the route, I had to climb it to clean it. I was psyched to have another chance on this route. I fell getting to the third bolt a couple times and decided to lower off each time to start clean. On the third try, I stuck the knee bar and went to clip the third bolt when I missed the clip and went to clip again with a bunch of slack when the knee bar slipped and I came with in inches of decking. After that little fall, I took a quick rest, gave it another chance and fell again after clipping the third bolt. I eventually topped out and lowered off. I was a little bummed I didn’t get the send but I have a new project to work for!
I was pretty burnt after my runs of All Beef Patty, I decided to call it a day. Lloyd had some gas left in the tank and burnt out on Wheres The Beef 5.10c. He rappelled down and I packed up my gear. We headed off back to the car both feeling satisfied with our climbing. Our climbing session at The Emeralds reminded me of why I love climbing. The walk back to the car, wanting to turn back to try one more time but knowing your body will fail. The thoughts that run through your head as you walk back, planning your next trip.
It took about an hour or so for the approach and it was heinous with our heavy haul bag. (We only hauled to pitch 3, so we decided to splurge a little) We get to the base of the climb and there was another group starting. We scramble our way to a ledge to wait while their first climber started up. It took a little longer than we expected but by noon, they finally cleared the first pitch.
I jumped on the 10b to aid it and it took me longer than id like to admit. Granted it was my first time aiding on gear (not much trad experience either), but I tried my best to go as fast as I could. I eventually topped out and had an easy haul up the pitch. Lloyd jugged up ready for the third pitch. Lloyd free climbed the third pitch pretty easily and I jugged up after maneuvering the haul bag through the pitch. (Kind of slabby but the haul bag gets stuck pretty easily on this pitch) We walked around dinner ledge, looking for our spots to sleep for the night. We took a quick water/snack break and I started up pitch 4.
It was absolutely beautiful. By the time Lloyd made it to the anchors, the sun has already set. Our original plan was to fix pitches 4 & 5 and jug up them in the morning but decided against climbing 5. We fixed our rope at the top of four and did a crazy rappel in to the dark down in complete openness. At a certain point you were just floating in the dark watching the rope bend over the corner of the roof. It was a little unsettling to watch your rope bend over a corner like that when you can’t see anything below you and your just watching it, knowing nothing is going to happen but waiting for something to.
We both made it down and the group that let us pass earlier was there to accompany us. We wasted no time in dumping our gear, taking off our harnesses, rolling out our sleeping bags and starting dinner. We had some dehydrated meals and some Jamerson to wash it down. I traded some whisky for some gummy bears and they were some damn good gummy bears. I laid awake in my sleeping bag looking at the hundreds of visible stars and the lights on the valley floor reflecting on my day. I was pretty stoked to have sent Kor roof and happy I was on a big wall finally.
At the middle of the crack, I see the anchors and look further I see which way I should of went and I kicked my self. Well fuck, Im on the wrong crack and its gonna be a little dicy to get back over. I get to the end of the crack and theres a fixed nut in another crack system way up there. I place a green alien in the crack and it is way under cammed AND the crack was wet. I topped step off that and reached out to the wire on the nut and couldn’t clip it. It was such a far reach, I came back down, breathed and tried super hard and barely clipped it. The nose of my carabiner got in and I pushed it through. Nice, Im not totally fucked. I reach over the ledge and feel jugs on jugs on jugs. I pull my self over and scramble down to the anchors. Finally, I finished the pitch. It took a lot longer than expected. Lloyd eventually made his was up.
It was about 2pm on top of pitch 6, Lloyd and I decided to bail. We came to a conclusion that we were going to slow and would have to make a rappel and descent in the dark. We weren’t that prepared for it and decided it would be better if we just bailed now. We lowered down an got to the anchors of pitch 5. The group below us was almost done cleaning, but they shared the anchors with us and we bullshitted for a bit. They were a super sick group of guys that eventually got our rope unstuck. We lowered off pitch 5 to the anchors, gathered our things and made another couple of rappels down to the base. We hiked back to the car feeling satisfied with our experience. Even though we didn’t send our climb, we got within 4 pitches of the top, but we still felt satisfied. It wasn’t really about topping out, it was just fun being on the wall, hundreds of feet up with the exposure and just doing your thing, climbing. It was an amazing experience.
With all that being said, Lloyd and I are already planning another attempt on the wall. Were coming back with a stronger game plan and more time.
I met up with Alex Lloyd, Alex Lotti and Diane. We jumped in the the gigantic Suburban and drove out to Table Mountain. Lloyds Suburban cruised through the dirt road and dropped us promptly at the main trail head of Table Mountain. We did a quick assortment of gear, gathered our belongings and embarked down the trail. We eventually turned left up a climbers trail and followed it as it snaked through the hillside.The trail spat us out into a field of small boulders. Upon crossing it, your atop The Pit. The Pit contains some very interesting sport climbs while hosting many aesthetic, beautiful cracks.
Our group scrambled down to an almost empty Pit and instantly jumped on some nice 5.8 & 5.9 warmups. Lotti and I (Alec) jumped on Bandito (5.8) for a warm up climb while Lloyd and Diane cruised up Granted (5.9) After Lotti finished his nice lead, we lowered off our warm ups and hopped on some other routes. Diane and Lloyd climbed up Go With The Flow (5.9) and I started up AC Devil Dog (5.10d sport). Lloyd topped out and lowered then Diane was cruising back up to clean and rap off. I was getting thrown off AC Devil Dog slipping off the first sequence to the second bolt. (Ive done this route before but there are some hidden holds that are vital.) Once I topped out after a couple falls I lowered off and sat down and rested.
Lloyd jumped on Raw Hide (5.10d) while i belayed him. Lloyd absolutely cruised through Rawhide. He confidently placed every cam with ease and smoothly worked his way up. As he was lowering off through the mussys, a huge group came in from Planet Granite out in San Francisco. They instantly rolled up and started climbing. I got psyched by everyone climbing and crushing, I sent AC Devil Dog on my second go. It went super smooth and even had time to slam a beer on the no hands rest. I lowered off and Diane decided to go climb Cowboy Up (5.9R sport) and she crushed it. She lowered off and a nice gentleman from the Planet Granite crew belayed me on Color Coded Quick Draws (5.10b sport). Through pumpy moves and sloppy holds, the short 30 foot route was soaked on the top. With wet feet, I lowered off and ate my lunch.
Lloyd and Lotti were on Go With The Flow (5.9). Lotti crushed his lead while Lloyd followed. While Lotti was climbing it again, i snagged some of their gear and cruised up Bandito (5.8) again so Diane could practice leading with pre placed gear. I climbed up placing 3 pieces of protection so as I was lowering, I stitched up the climb with nuts so Diane could get a good lead in. She was slowly working up to her first lead on gear (actually placing the cams/nuts) and not just climbing on fixed gear. As she was leading Bandito, Lloyd gave a run Snakebite (5.11a). It was sick watching Lloyd get down and send some serious crack. Even though he fell and took a couple times, Lloyd killed it. Once Diane lowered off I ran up Table Manners on a top rope solo to swing around and get some pictures of Lloyd on the climb. None of them turned out that cool but in the moment I thought it was sick.
Thursday night at 7pm we departed from the Bay Area on our 8 1/2 hour drive down to Joshua Tree. I had just gotten done working 10 hours so I took the first half of the drive down. We stopped for food and switched and I instantly passed out. I soon woke up in the town of Joshua Tree eager to climb. We rolled into the park at about 4am due to food, gas and bathroom stops. I have a sleeping set up in the back of my truck so we had the luxury of pulling over at Hidden Valley Campground to sleep in the truck.
We woke up at 8am very weary from our drive down. We made some breakfast burritos and jumped on our first route of the day, North Overhang. The first pitch is an alright 5.7 warm up. The actual climbing is just easy crack climbing serving no real warm up but at least something to get you going. I set up my anchor in the cave and Doug followed me up. Doug took the 5.9 second pitch. The real climbing is in the second pitch. You walk up the cave to a ledge and from there you can clip the first two bolts. I recommend using an alpine draw for the second bolt. Once you clip those you then work your way out of the cave to the left and once you reach out there is a hidden hand jam that is bomber. You throw the hand jam in, place a .75 and from there,you send to the top. Doug and I topped out, rappelled down Intersection Rock and found our selves in the parking lot minutes later. With one of the most classic climbs now under our belt we were feeling pretty good.
We hung-out at the car for a bit and eventually made our way to The Real Hidden Valley (directly across the road from Hidden Valley). There, we decided to climb Tumbling Rainbow. From the trail head, the rock formation looks wild. It is a giant crack that sits high and mighty upon the valley. We scrambled our way to the base and Doug took the lead. The crack starts out big and soon you find your right arm and leg in the crack while your left hand and leg are looking for something to hold onto. You awkwardly make your way up the diagonal crack to where it becomes vertical. Your then able to work your way up the vertical crack with hand jams and stemming your legs between the corner. We both topped out and began our rappel down.
We both felt exhausted from our lack of sleep and the awkward climbing we just did. We decided to head over to Gunsmoke. Probably the most classic boulder problem in J-Tree. Its a 75 foot traverse that goes V3. No move is harder than V1 and at the highest point in the problem, your no more than 3 feet of the ground. So the low commitment factor and sheer fun of this problem makes it a great place to burn out at the end of the day. Plus you have a beautiful view for the sunset. Doug crushed the problem on his third try while I kept getting shut down at tbe crux half way through the problem. We left Gunsmoke after an hour sesh and headed back to camp for the night.
Doug and I woke up Saturday feeling like a million bucks. My full size mattress in the back of my truck gave us the perfect night of sleep to send the following day. Doug and I drank some climbers coffee put on by Access Fund and the lovely rangers of Joshua Tree. We eventually made our way to Conan’s Corridor at Jumbo Rocks. We decided to hop of Colorado Crack (5.9) and a shit storm ensued. I lead the crack and through countless takes i made it half way and just got frustrated and decided to lower off to let Doug give it a try. Half way up the crack completely flares out and we couldn’t figure out the style needed to send it. We both can climb 5.10a on gear but our inexperience of the varieties of styles got the better of us. After Doug took a 10 foot fall on a .75,we both got frustrated we couldn’t figure out how to climb this thing. We resorted on pulling on gear through the crux so we could at least top out.
At the start of Gunsmoke, there is a V5 called High Noon. It starts with a big move to a jug then you throw a hand in the crack and top out. Simple enough, but the crack proves real heady and the top out doesn’t help much either. We messed around on that for a bit, each bailing at the crack. Soon the sun was setting and we burned out on a V2 and that was that. We finished our final night off at Joshua Tree with Jamerson and a run through the Chasms of Doom (no beta allowed).