Wine, choss and sending (mostly choss). Those are the three things you'll be getting when you climb at Mt. Saint Helena (specifically Table Rock). Its a well known fact that ST. Helena holds some of the chossiest climbing in the bay area. Its also a well known fact that its home to the longest multipitch in the bay area, Aloha Patrol.
On Sunday, Mitch, Danny and I hit the two mile approach to Table Rock looking to red point Aloha Patrol. Mitch just moved from New York to the Bay Area of California. Danny and I have been out to Aloha Patrol a couple times before and decided this four pitch climb would be a great introduction to Bay Area climbing.
Both Danny and I personal goal for the day was to work out and red point the crux third pitch. (5.11b). Mitch just wanted to send it and could care less.
The climb starts with a variation for the first pitch, either start on Standard Issue (a pumpy but juggy 5.10d) or White Flag (a crimpy more precise 5.11a). (White Flag is the better of the two) Danny jumped on White Flag and crushed it. It starts off slabby and then the crimps come out as soon as you hit the head wall. The rock was cold and our finger tips colder as the wall sat in the shade. Mitch and I were below freezing and taking turns running into the sun which was slowly making its way onto the route.
Danny then topped out on White Flag and went ahead onto the second pitch to save time. The second pitch is rated 5.10b which is a great let up after the crimpy first pitch. Danny set up the anchors and soon Mitch was climbing up the first pitch. He falls at the head wall on the crimps (definitely the crux of White Flag). After working out the problem for a minute or two he sends up it easily. As soon as there was enough space between him and I, I started my way up. I too fell at the head wall. It took me at least ten tries to work the sequence. You are on two crimps with your left foot under you and your right foot is high near your knee. You pull up on your right and for me (being shorter) its a little throw with your left to a juicy crimp. But the left side of the crimp is sloppy and I kept hitting the sloper portion of it. After working that sequence I eventually topped out on the second pitch with the rest of the crew. My moral was a little low after getting shut by the first pitch and my body was beat physically from the previous days at the gym, I was having doubts about this third money pitch.
Mitch was stoked and decided he was going to send the third pitch (5.11b). (Remember, Danny and I goal was to send this, Mitch was just trying to get on the wall and have a good time.) Mitch cruises up the first 1/3rd of the pitch then gets to the crux. Its a little traverse on decent crimps and horrible feet. Danny and I were below watching Mitch in anticipation as he crushes our project. Mitch cruises through the crux, rest on the fat undercling then sends the rest of the pitch. Danny and I below were cheering and crying that our homie crushed our project.
Danny was so motivated, he decided to lead the third pitch as well and not follow on top rope. Danny starts off crushing it, eases through the little crux traverse and gets to the undercling. (vital rest spot) He shakes out, then sends up the awkward head wall and is fighting his way. It looked like he had it in the bag until he fell getting over the slopping section. He took a nice 15ft fall and was devastated he fell on the top out. We boosted Danny up and he finished the pitch already planning to be lowered and hit the third pitch again. As Danny put me on belay I wasnt feeling the climb at all. It was hard to be stoked when your freezing and sore but I mustered it up and absolutely crushed the third pitch. I would be happier about it if it wasnt on top rope but I just wasnt feeling it that day.
Mitch tops out on pitch four and Danny and I lower down to the bottom of pitch three so Danny can have a second go on it. We get to the anchors and Danny is ready to send. He cruises through the crux traverse, rest on the under cling and gets to the spot where he fell previously. With enough grunting and yelling he tops out and sent his project. I lowered Danny while Mitch was repelling off the fourth pitch and met up with us on top of the second. We double roped rappelled to the base of the climb all cheerful every one sent the climb. Even though I didn't accomplish my goal I had in mind, my friends crushed theirs. It was great being in an environment where even if you had a shit climbing day, your homies crushed and sent their projects. I couldnt be mad at that, and the fact there was beer and pizza after.