Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Golden Chasm

This past weekend Ben and I decided to check out somewhere that hadn't burned in a brush fire -- or at least, not recently -- so we headed out to Golden Chasm, which is this area near Upper Oso, off Paradise Rd. The approach to the crag was epic: hot, no path, bushwhacking, sandy soil, rocks that weren't. We decided to deviate from the destination to check out this other crack and that sapped more energy. Eventually we got to where the routes proper were supposed to be, only to find the rock super soft, and the bolts super rusted. We decided we weren't up for the risk, and turned back, for the epic de- or re-proach.

We rounded out the day with a phenomenal lunch at the Los Olivos Grocery Store, and a bike ride up Foxen Canyon to Fess Parker for some wine tasting.

Monday, November 17, 2008


This weekend we spent Saturday at Malibu Creek State Park, where we climbed four routes (and I led my fifth, Scarab, supposedly a 5.9). On Sunday we went back to Pine mountain for fooling around on boulders, which was incredibly fun. Smoke inhalation has been the name of the game...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Eureka & Bishop

This past Tuesday was a holiday for Ben, so he took Monday off, too, and we headed to the Eastern Sierra for a four day adventure. We took off on Friday afternoon and, after finding Red Rock Canyon full of people, decided to camp in the wilderness somewhere. We ended up in a dry wash off of 178 towards Isabella, next to a fence separating us from BLM land. It was a really pretty spot with a sweeping view of the valley below. Very cold night, but my new sleeping bag is something else!

On Saturday morning we proceeded towards the Eureka Valley Dunes, where we hung out until the afternoon. The dunes were gorgeous, but there were tons of people there, including a school bus full of teenagers. We continued on the South Eureka Valley Rd past the dunes, hoping to find a backcountry spot to camp in overnight, but there were spots in the road that were really fine sand, and the forecast called for rain overnight, so I was loathe to be caught on the other end of those. We headed back on Big Pine Rd, and stopped to climb on some boulders on the right of the road, on the first uphill section after the valley. We top-roped one route and then found a spot to camp off a dirt road nearby. There was an abandoned gravel sorting and loading type place nearby that we explored in the moonlight, and then we crashed. It rained and there was quite a bit of wind and lots of lightning overnight, and we woke up to snow on the surrounding mountains. We were just below the snow-line ourselves, and the views of un-snowed Eureka valley and snowy surrounding mountains were amazing! What a way to wake up! We gave the tent some time to dry out and headed out.

Back in Big Pine we decided to head up to the Glacier Lodge, which I'd never been to before. From there we hiked the South Big Pine Creek trail for a few miles, until the snow got too deep in the switchbacks towards the first lake and we had to give up, Ben being in his approach shoes and me in pants that didn't go down around my ankles, even though I was wearing backpacking boots. My Lowa backpacking boots need to be replaced, by the way. They're really uncomfortable. We then headed up to Bishop and checked out the Pit Campground that climbers usually get stuffed into. It was awful, so we headed up to the Pinion Site and camped in the Pinions. Dinner in Bishop and then a tour of the hot springs between Tom's place and Mammoth. Eventually we ended up in Wild Willy's, which was fantastic.

Monday and Tuesday were spent climbing the Upper Owen's River Gorge. We tried going down the Trinity rappel, but the approach to the rappel station was a pain in the ass, so we backed up and walked down the approach a little to the North. First Ben led Crotalulsley challenged, which I seconded, and then Step right up, which I also led and really enjoyed, despite the mind-game in one particular transition from the face to the arete. Ben then led Cinderella and It's the gaaazzz, both of which I seconded. I then led P.D. time, which had a couple long moves, and Ben toproped Pet trackers off the same anchor. Dinner in Bishop, at the wonderful The Petite Pantry, and then a further tour of the hot springs. This time we lucked out and the dude who'd been hanging out at the tub was leaving just as we got there, so we had it all to ourselves. It was a brilliant clear night with a near full moon and the view of snowy Mammoth mountain was unbearably gorgeous.

The next day we'd planned to try to do Flailsafe, which the guide calls a 'trad adventure'. Ben had scored an additional #4, and a #5 cam the night before at Wilson's. We got to the base of the thing, which was next to the river, with literally five square feet of space to work with. There was an initial off-width section to get to the top of a boulder, and the real route would start after that. So we got up it, all prepped with pro and two ropes, only to decide that the real route had a few sections that would be a little too run out, given two #4s and one #5. So we wrapped a giant boulder and rapped back down. We'll have to revisit this in the future, I'm sure, and I'm not so sure I'm looking forward to it. It looked really hard. We then got on Nice jugs, Hole in the wall and C-4 yourself. I abandoned the second, because it looked like a pain in the ass to get into the hole, but had a really fun time with the initial slab on the latter. Of course I fell off the roof section, but it was fun falling. The drive back down 395 at dusk was incredibly beautiful. Then dinner at the High Sierra cafe and back in SB by 10:30.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Forgot to mention that I did my second lead at Crag full o' Dynamite a couple weeks ago. It wasn't The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (which I've toproped several times now), but rather the shorter, but, in my opinion, prettier route to the right of it. Left of Tuco and left of the super short one, I think. Anyway... Yesterday evening Ben and I went up to Fire Crag and I led the super easy 5.7 on the left. Two bolts. Sigh... Then I couldn't do the 5.10 that comes out of the cave to the right of the gully and left of Grib dat Hole. Double-sigh... My head wasn't in it. It was the most gorgeous sunset ever, though!

This weekend we're planning a trip to Bishop. We're going to try to stop at the Eureka Dunes for a day, or maybe overnight, and then head to Owen's River Gorge for some sport climbing. There's so much good stuff up there! I'm looking forward to hitting some hot springs, too!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yosemite and Joshua Tree

I spent last Tuesday-Friday at Yosemite, and Friday-Sunday at Joshua Tree, climbing with Ben and Dima.

I got to Yosemite on Tuesday night, via Tioga pass, possibly on the last or second-to-last day of the year when it was still possible. I'd wanted to leave the car near Tuolumne campground and head into the backcountry up there in the high alpine stuff, but they didn't want cars parked on the side of the road overnight, so that wasn't possible. Instead I went down to the valley and stayed at Camp 4 on Tuesday night. On Wednesday I headed up to Little Yosemite Valley, and camped there. On the way I had the most incredible encounter with a gray wolf, maybe a quarter mile before LYV. We stood there looking at each other for minutes... I was spellbound! Thursday morning I got up at daybreak and day-hiked up to the base of Half Dome. The weather was closing, and the cables were down, so I didn't go any higher. The same afternoon I backpacked back down to the valley, arriving at the bus stop at Happy Isles literally two minutes after it started pouring rain. I got my crap together and decided to drive back to the boat instead of staying another night just for the pleasure of getting my gear wet. The drive back from YV via 41 to Fresno in the rain and the gorgeous evening light was the most fun I've ever had driving, and the car got an incredible 29 mpg in that section.

Friday afternoon Ben picked me up and we headed to J-Tree. Dima had got a fantastic campsite at Belle Campground. The next morning Ben dragged our asses out of the sleeping bags at 6 so we could get a climb in before sunrise. We did 'Diagnostics' before breakfast, and 'Music Box' after. Actually, the latter spat me out and I cracked my shin. I was pissed and nauseated for the rest of the morning. We then went to Split Rock, where we did 'Invisibility Lessons', some other ugly 5.7 thing up a rock off to the right from it, and 'Continuum'. The next day we got on 'Touch-and-go', which spat me out where the crack got too wide for me to jam and I was too pumped to sit around and figure anything else out. Then we went to Hemingway buttress and did 'Feltonean Physics', which also had a nasty wide crack section in the bottom that one could avoid by going left. I had never climbed cracks before, so this was my big lesson in jamming. It went pretty well, I thought, though my hands were a bit sore a couple days later. I also learned there's nothing more miserable than seconding on too tight of a belay (which happened on Continuum), and seconding through a section where your leader chose to go through some giant crack because it was better protected than the rated route also sucks (this happened on Feltonean Physics). Note to self: first climb of the day needs to be a warmup, otherwise I end up injured and pissed.