June 18-19, 2011.

Cracks and more cracks

After a really long drive, setting up camp and eating a big breakfast, I met up with Tom to do some granite cragging. We futzed around a bit finding the Planet of the Eights climbing area and then surveyed our three options. First we took turns leading Surveillance of Assailants (5.8), mixed trad climb. The top was pretty slabby with teeny ledges, which mad the first climb less of a warm up and more of a heart-racer.

Next we took turns leading Small Change (5.8) This began easily, with ledges and angled jams, ultimately leading to a narrow, angled ledge that I used for my feet and smooth, rounded slab that my palms were gently resting on for balance. I had to step my left foot across, between my right foot and the wall, when I lost my balance and took a pendulum fall onto a #1 Camalot in a pocket. I screamed “falling!” and remember looking back at that cam, feeling good that it would hold my fall. It did, and it was gentle enough that a minor scrape on my wrist is all that happened. I was shaken up and Tom recommended that I cheat left like he did. That was the ticket!

We kept the rope through the anchor and toproped Make Mine a Bold One (5.8+), a mixed climb. I thought the bottom was the crux; the climbing eased for most of the rest of the climb, with the exception of some friction moves at the top.

We walked down the trail a bit and I boldly jumped on Poison Ivy Crack (5.9). The bottom is a longish friction slab with no opportunity for pro until you reach the base of the crack. Mind over matter on this one…

The crack itself was flaring, making trusting my gear difficulty. But I did a lot of resting on cams, so I learned to trust them! A lot of the feet were friction smears, with the occasional small ledge on the right. The crack opened up to hand size at the top beneath the roof, which gave me a chance to catch my breath. I rested one last time at the roof, searched around for holds a but, and finally figured out the last sequence to the anchors. I t wasn’t pretty, but I finished it.

We moved on…back to the car for a short ride to another approach trail to Surf City. People were actually climbing at this area. We saw a rattlesnake on the approach. It was just a little guy. Then Tom led Paydirt (5.6), a crappy little crack/slab with an easy walk off I was about halfway up the crack when I reached my hand into the crack and heard something squeaking at me. I yanked my hand out and looked inside. It was a BAT! I took about a hundred pictures of it and stared into its angry bat face. It was wedged into the crack, its hands just beneath its chin. The back of its head was pressed against the other side of the crack. I could see its wings folded up, and it was baring its bright white teeth. I don’t remember much about the route, since the bat was just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

We packed up and headed back to camp. For one last climb we took a short walk up to XY crag. There were three climbable “cracks” there. The two to the left were okay, although I really sewed up the one to the far left. The cracks were wide and flaring. I didn’t have tape on my hands, which made the jams painful. I complained about the painful foot jams too. Clearly I need more practice with this style of climbing. I hope tomorrow I can climb past some of my fears.

A plan, and a backup plan

Today turned out to be an adventure of a different sort. We left early with the intention of getting the most out of our half-day before we had to head back. We set out to find Warrior Wall, which turned out to be a long, steep and involved scramble up to the based of a cold, wet and mossy rock face. We decided we didn’t want to climb it and very carefully retraced our steps to some other crags that Tom was familiar with. We checked out Dirty Dome, but that was mostly sport. Tom wanted to climb trad. So we walked a little further to Keen Acres.

Here, I racked up and led Kilt Twister (5.8) on the left edge of the slab. It had some bolts and some crappy gear in the flaring cracks I’ve started to come to expect. I grabbed a draw at one point to allow me to scooch my feet over on tiny ledges and check out my next sequence. It was tough for me, but good. The start and finish were fun.

Then, Tom and I shared leads on Snakes! (5.9). He led most of it, stopping to belay me from a tree growing out of the crack. From there I stepped left into the slanting off-width and thrahsed through a few big moves to get to a sweet hand and fist crack that led to the upper anchors. It was a really fun climb. Even though Tom could have led through to the top I’m glad he gave me a shot at a lead. There’s something just way cooler about multi-pitch climbing.

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