Monday, October 24, 2011

J-Tree - 10/22/2011

On Friday the 21st of October as I was waiting for the world to end (google Harold camping if you don't know what I'm talking about), I got a text from my friend Bennett wondering if we wanted to join him, his wife and his baby to do some climbing at J-Tree the next day. I told him that I'd love to as long as both myself and J-Tree were still around the next day. We made plans to meet at his house at 9:00 AM to head out.

Amazingly enough, we woke up in our apartment which was still on the earth Saturday morning and got ready to head out to J-Tree. We did pretty good and ended up getting to Bennett's house at about 10 after nine even with getting the 2 kids ready for the day. We decided to go to a remote area of the park called the Towers of Uncertainty which is off of the Geology Tour Road.

We arrived at the park and located the parking area for the Towers of Uncertainty, but we found that when they grade the geology tour road, it looks like they just push all of the loose sand into a 2 foot tall pile blocking the pullout. We tried to back into the pullout so that we could get off the road, but there was no way that our low clearance 2 wheel drive cars were going to make it, so we ended up just parking on the road.

We hiked the long .3 miles out to the climbing and found some really good looking cracks. We tried to determine where we were by using the map in the book, but it was completely confusing as it showed the trail going north and south when the trail actually goes east and west. Luckily there was a couple who had just finished one of the cracks we were looking at who was able to tell us that the formation we were at was called "Crow's Nest".

We started by climbing Trench Connection which was a really fun 5.5 face climb that used the crack for protection. I lead it onsight, and the most difficult part of the climb was placing pro due to the irregular nature of the crack. Hexes would have worked perfectly but I had left mine at home. After I lead it I rapped off and cleaned the gear so that Bennett could lead it as well. He also had no problem and we set up a TR for the girls to climb. Amy and Gwen both TR'd it and we moved on to try something else.

I had been eyeing a face between two of the main cracks that looked fun, seemed to have some thin cracks that could be used for pro, and wasn't in the book, so I decided to give it a go. I started up it and found it to be a jug haul for the first 20 feet or so, but then it hit the steeper section with the thin cracks. I got a good nut in at the start of the thin cracks and started to climb above it but I was having a hard time finding anything for pro. About 8 feet above the nut I placed a 0 TCU in a horizontal pocket that didn't look like it would even hold body weight, but it was all I could find since the thin cracks I had seen from the ground had no constrictions and were to small for any of my cams. I finally decided to just run it out above that horrible looking TCU and just ran it out to the top from there. I thought it felt about 5.8 but looking at mountain project once we got home it looks like it is a 5.7 called "Caws and Effect", the nerves of thinking I had no decent pro probably made it feel harder to me. I set up an anchor so that the others could TR the route, and as I lowered off, I decided to check the TCU that I was so worried about to see how it would have done. Surprisingly, I was able to do some pretty intense bounce testing on a dyneema sling and was unable to get it to budge, I guess it might have held a fall after all!

Bennett leading the first part of Yeah Baby

As I was leading Caws and Effect, Bennett had lead another face between two of the main cracks that followed some discontinuous cracks for the first 2/3 of the wall, then joined one of the main cracks for the rest of the route. It looks like the route was a linkup of "Yeah Baby" for the first 2/3 to "No Strings Attached" for the last 1/3 of the wall. Bennett is a fairly new trad climber so he wanted me to check out his gear for him. I also wanted to lead the route so we pulled the rope and I lead it while checking his gear but not using it so that I could place my own and still get the redpoint.

Bennett Joining No Strings Attached

Amy about to join No Strings Attached

The girls wanted to lead something, but they didn't want to place gear, so as I lowered off I checked all the gear and made sure that it was bomber, then both Gwen and Amy lead the route on the preplaced gear each getting the pinkpoint.

Amy Starting up Yeah Baby

Amy with the 2 pieces of stuck gear

Bennett, Gwen and Amy each took turns TRing Caws and Effect, and it was getting a little late, so we decided to call it a day. The only problem was that Amy had been unable to clean 2 pieces of gear on the upper section of No Strings Attached, and we still had Anchors on top of two of the routes. I wanted to lead No Strings Attached, but everyone else was done climbing so I decided to basically free solo No Strings Attached to clean the two pieces of pro, then clean the two anchors and walk off. I say basically free solo because I did have Bennett belay me, and I did place pro next to the two pieces of pro that Amy couldn't clean so that I wouldn't have to worry about slipping and falling to my death as I tried to clean the stuck gear, but after I removed the stuck gear, I also removed the pro that I placed next to it so that the route would be cleaned when I reached the top. This worked out well, and neither of the "stuck" pieces were very hard to clean at all, so we packed up and headed home after a fun day of climbing in J-Tree.

Riverside Quarry - 10/15/2011

On Saturday the fifteenth of October, we wanted to go climbing, but Amy had fallen and hurt her knee a week before so she wasn't feeling like climbing anything hard. She also wanted to lead so we decided to head to Schoolhouse Rock at the Riverside Quarry since it has lots of very easy sport routes (even if they aren't very high quality).

We arrived at Schoolhouse Rock and started by climbing the route called Schoolhouse Rock. This route is a 5.8 that has 3 small roofs between slabby sections. Amy wanted me to hang the draws for her so I ran up the route and hung the draws. She then proceeded to redpoint it without any problems except for her knee hurting her.

Because of her knee she decided that she didn't want to lead any other routes that day, so I decided to run up a 5.9 called Tyrannosaurus Debt. This is a fun route for Schoolhouse Rock and consists of a 5.9 friction slab followed by a little 5.9 roof and ending with about 20 feet of 4th class to the anchors. I started up the route, but fell off on the 5.9 friction move so I lowered off, pulled the rope and went up again for a redpoint. Amy then TR'd the route and we decided that we only had time for one more quick route since it was getting so hot.

The final route we climbed was a 5.6 called I'm Just a bill that is mostly just friction slab with a 4 foot finger crack thrown in for good measure. I thought it'd be fun to lead it in chacos so I ran up it and got a redpoint in chacos which at least made it a little more interesting for a 5.6. Amy then TRd it and we started packing up to go.

As we packed up I noticed that the belayer in a group of climbers right next to us had no clue how to use a grigri (luckily they were climbinga 5.0 with bolts every 2 feet and the leader was only at the first bolt which is about 6 feet off the ground). I quickly offered to show him how to use the grigri and they asked me to belay the leader so that the new belayer could see how it's done. I belayed their leader and explained how the grigri works and how to belay so that hopefully they have a better idea now.

After that we headed out because it was way to hot to still be climbing in the sun.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Red Rock NV - 10/08/2011 - 10/10/2011

One of the benefits of being employed by the federal government is that you get all kinds of random holidays off that most people outside of elementary school don't even remember exist. October 10th is one of those holidays (Columbus Day), and since I am a government employee we decided to head to Vegas to do some climbing at Red Rocks.

Luckily for us, Amy's brother and his wife (Michael and Kim) were planning on going to Vegas that weekend to visit some friends, so we decided to split the cost of a condo for the weekend so that we wouldn't have to camp with the kidos.

We drove out to Vegas on Friday night and after staying up late catching up with Michael and Kim we went to bed hoping for a good nights sleep so that we would be well rested for climbing the next day.

Well, the good nights sleep thing didn't happen since Danny decided that 4:00 AM was when he wanted to wake up and wouldn't even think of going back to bed. Since we were feeling tired we just kind of lounged around until about 10:00 AM and finally decided to go do some climbing. Since we weren't feeling all that perky we decided to climb at the Jagged Edges area since it has several single pitch easy trad climbs and also has a fairly short approach.

We had a fun hike out to the crag as Danny insisted on climbing up every little rock on the approach and wouldn't let us help him at all (it was hilarious). When we got to the crag we started by climbing "Go Ahead and Jump", an easy 5.5 face climb that follows a crack for protection ending in a very easy chimney.



After that we climbed "OK, OK, OK" which is a much better route in my opinion. It's a 5.6 crack that actually has a couple of crack moves on it instead of just pure face climbing, and it's a little bit longer as well. I lead the route, belayed Amy up, and we moved on to the main Jagged Edges face.



Since we had the kids and only one rope we decided to just do the first pitch of Jagged Edges to the bolted belay station about 60 feet up. I lead the route (which consists of face climbing with the crack for pro for the first 50 feet and ends with about 10 feet of very slick varnished 5.8 hand crack guarding the anchors) cleanly then Amy TR'd it cleanly as well.





After Jagged Edges (since we already had the TR set up) we decided to TR the first pitch of "Plan F", a .10a finger crack that shares the first pitch anchors with Jagged Edges. We both TR'd it cleanly and it actually felt nice to get a little bit of a workout after the super easy routes that we had done earlier.



After the four routes we decided to call it a day and met up with Michael and Kim for dinner.

Sunday we just went to church and hung out with Michael and Kim but planned on a full day of climbing on Monday.

Sunday night we all got some good sleep so we decided to do some harder sport climbing on Monday. We headed to the Black Corridor which has a bunch of .10s and .11s and is shaded all day long. We started by climbing "The Cell", one of the three 5.9 warmups in the corridor. It gave us no trouble so we were about to move onto some of the mid .10s when the kids went crazy. They both started crying and throwing tantrums and since there were a bunch of other climbers we decided to leave the area.

We thought about heading to a less crowded area, but the kids were obviously tired and didn't want to be outside anymore, so we ended up just calling it a day and they both napped for the entire drive home.

Riverside Quarry - 09/30/2011

On Friday the 30th of September I had the day off, so we decided to do a little bit of sport climbing in the morning before it got too hot. We headed to Riverside Quarry because it is close by and is a pretty fun place to climb even if it isn't all that beautiful. We decided to climb at Slab City since it has a bunch of moderates, isn't a long or steep hike, and is nice and flat for the kids to hang out and play.

When we got there we met a couple of guys who were filling up there pickup truck with trash. They said that every time they go to the quary they haul out a pickup load of trash which is pretty cool in my opinion. The worst part about the quarry is that it really is just a big junk yard where people dump all of their garbage, I wish I had a truck so that I could do more about cleaning up the area like they were doing.

We started out by climbing Shattered Dreams which is a fun .10c that follows a juggy, jagged crack up a slightly overhanging face. Whenever we climb at Slab City we have to do this route because Amy wants to get it with no hangs and is working on doing that. I ran up it and got the redpoint (for like the 10th time now), then Amy TR'd it and did better then she has done before (though she did have to hang at the crux).





After Shattered Dreams we climbed a .10d called Cling Thing. This route starts out up an overhanging juggy roof with long reaches, then climbs a nice hand crack for about 10 feet, and finishes up a thin slab. I lead it up with no problems, but I did have to hang once because the crux bolt is placed a bit high for clipping the draw into it (it is perfect if you have the draw pre-placed). After I lead it, Amy gave it a go. She wasn't able to complete the climb, but she did have a fun time doing one of the dynos on the crux section.







After Amy's unsuccessful attempt I ran up the route on TR to clean the gear and we called it a day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Trashcan Rock at J-Tree

One of the places we like to climb in J-tree is trashcan rock due to the non-existant approach, good picnick areas for the kid to play at, short routes (better for if the kids get fussy), and the wide variety of easy to moderate climbs.

I've had the itch to get out to J-tree for the last month and a half, but due to the heat, this wasn't all that feasible. On Friday the 16th of September it finally fealt like it was cool enough to head out there. Amy wasn't really feeling like climbing that day so we decided to hit up trashcan rock so that we could get out there but she wouldn't have to climb anything difficult.

I was thinking that this would be a great day for Amy to lead a couple of trad routes since she doesn't lead trad much at all, and trashcan rock has three great crack climbs that are all rated 5.3 or under (B-1, B-2, and B-3). We got to the crag and Amy wanted to second something first so I decided to run up B-2 since it's the "hardest" of the 3 routes. I ran up the route, set up an anchor and lowered, then Amy TR'd it, cleaned the anchor and walked off the rock.

Amy still wasn't feeling the climbing, but she agreed to try to lead B-3. She started up the route, but really just wasn't feeling like clibing at all, so she placed a cam and lowered off. I ran up and grabbed the cam that she had lowered off of then decided that since she wasn't feeling like climbing I would try something a bit harder.

There is this 5.11c called Butterfly Crack that I have been eyeing for a while so I decided to give it a go (even though I know it is above my current abilities). The first 15 feet of the route contain a bouldery move to a tips crack , but then it mellows out to a juggy 5.9 hand crack for the rest of the route.

We walked around the rock to the base of the route to find a group of spectators just waiting to watch me flail my way up the route. I placed a small nut to protect the boulder move off the ground and started up the route. Unfortunately, starting up the route involved just about as much down as it did up as it took me 3 or 4 tries just to get to the first tips lock. Now since I was well aware that the route was above y abilities, and since it was too strenuous to place gear from the tips lock that I was in, I decided to hang on my first nut and place another as high as I could reach so that I wouldn't deck if I fell. I placed and clipped the piece (while holding onto the draw of course) then worked the moves up to that piece. Once I was there, I again took and placed another nut as high as I could reach and about this time, the spectators got board and left. I continued with this method of toproping until I had psced my fourth nut and reached the 5.9 section of the crack. By this time Amy had forgotten how to lead belay and was a bit confused when I told her that I needed slack because I was above the pro. Luckely, she quickly remembered and I dispatched the 5.9 section without incident.

I was pretty well beat from working the first 15 feet of the route, so we decided to call it a day and head home. Now I have to mention that we did bring the camera on this trip but didn't get any pictures. Why you might ask, well for 2 reasons: the first being that I forgot to set up the camera for the first route, and on the second route, Amy didn't think the pictures of me hanging on gear 6 feet off the ground would be that cool, and by the time I started actually climbing the camera had automatically shut off so the remote wouldn't work. Oh well, next time I'll have to set up a proper toprope and work the moves that way so we can get a few photos.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

8000' Crag (again)

So, I am of the age where myself and my friends are having babies. Now this in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it does mean that my wife has baby showers to attend. I don't know what it is with baby showers, but it seems that there is some universal rule that they must be held at the most inconvienient time of day possible. It seems like they are always held from 11am to 2pm, just early enough that you don't really have time to go climbing in the morning (and still have time for the wife to get ready for the shower), and they go just late enough that it also creates a very short time for climbing in the afternoon. Such was the case on Saturday the 10th of September.

Since we didn't have a lot of time, and since it was afternoon and hot, we decided to head back up to 8000" crag. The elevation and orientation of the rock ensured that the temperature would be cool, and it is only a little over 30 minutes drive from our appartment (plus the killer 10 second approach).

When we got to the crag we decided that my wife doesn't lead nearly enough so we would climb the 5.8 on the far left side of the crag. She didn't want to hang her own draws so I lead up first. As I mentioned in my last post about 8000' crag, the 5.8 is a little bit dirty, but it does have a couple of fun moves of good clean rock at the top of the route.

Here I am starting up the 5.8

And here I am on the fun moves at the top

So, I finished the route and put Amy on belay so that she could lead the route. Now Amy is still scared of leading, well I shouldn't say scared of leading, she does that just fine, really she's scared of falling since she's never taken a lead fall yet. I keep telling her that we need to find an overhung 5.9 with clean falls so that she can just take a whipper or two to see that it's not that bad, but so far she has refused. I only mention that because she was a bit nervous to lead the route since she has never lead anything harder than 5.8 before. To make a long story short, she roped up and cruised the thing. She did hang a couple of times, but again it was more out of fear than actually needing a rest. I think we are going to start working on her lead head a bit more.

Amy starting up the route

And here she is finishing it up

Once Amy got down I realized that something wasn't smelling right and after a little bit of investigation we found that Emily had had a blow out. Since we weren't planning to be gone for long we hadn't brought a change of clothes for her, so we had to change her diaper then just wrap her in a blanket with only a diaper on.

We decided to do one more route before we left (partially because we had left quickdraws on the anchors since we were planning to do another route that went to the same anchor prior to the blowout). We actually did a linkup of two different routes (started up Out of Sight and finished on Drift or Die) because the start of Drift or Die requires a stick clip (which we didn't have) and the start of Out of Sight is really fun.

I ran up the route, but unfortunately, I had to hang once on the last bolt after I got lured right on some good looking holds only to find out that they lead to a sloping ledge that I was unable to mantle onto due to the lack of holds. Heading streight up instead of following the obvious holds to the right ended up being the ticket and I arived at the anchors to be lowered off.

Starting up Out of Sight

Looking for a way to mantel on the sloping ledge

After I got down, Amy roped up and cruised the route on TR. Even though it was a short day of climbing we still had a good time and managed to get up two routes.

Amy on the fun section at the top of the route.

The right way to go at the top