Climbing at Madrone

April 15, 2012.

I was so worried about posting this trip report that I waited until 2018 to make it visible online. Madrone Wall is presently open to climbing, but in 2012 it was most certainly not. That’s pretty much all I knew about it. But a friend really wanted to take me climbing there, and he assured me that people climbed at Madrone all the time.

I cringed as I walked past the “No Tresspassing” signs. I did not consider myself a rule-breaker. I didn’t understand why climbing was not allowed there, but I assumed there was a good reason. A couple other friends joined us after we got there, so it began to feel like just a normal thing that regular people did. These weren’t outlaws, just friendly, respectable climbing folks.

I took the first lead of the day to get it out of my system: Route Crafters. This was a fun, ledgy, 5.8 sport route that served as an excellent warm-up. Next I followed several trad routes: Cornick’s Corner, Tangerine Dream and Wild Blue Yonder. They were all enjoyable in their own way. I struggled on some tricky start moves on Tangerine Dream but once I got going I found my flow.

Solidly following in the tens, my friend encouraged me to lead a 5.10a: Rising Desperation. I’d never led a 5.10 on gear before, so I was pretty nervous but I trusted his judgment and knew I could always bail off gear. I had trouble placing gear in flaring, weird spots and while I was on lead I felt exasperated and unsafe at nearly every move. I hung on the rope a lot. And after topping out and coming down, I looked up at the way I’d sewn up the route. It was, ahem…very well-protected!

Super stoked to have led a 10 on gear, I was excited for the next climb. I belayed my buddy on one of his projects, then led the sport climb Pillow Talk, a 5.10b. Another climber in our group had bailed after the first bolt so I picked up where she left off. I survived by climbing bolt-to-bolt and hanging after each clip. It took me several tries to figure out the roof sequence before I nailed it. The climb was short but interesting and worthwhile.

I followed one more climb: Whatever Blows Your Skirt Up, a 5.10b. It was pumpy and overhanging, which made for a fun free-rappel at the end. An amazing day of climbing! This place is truly a gem.

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