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.