Saturday the 28th was a beautiful day here in Redlands, CA so we decided to take advantage of that and head to J-Tree to do some climbing. I had been eyeing a route on MountainProject.com in the Steve Canyon area and wanted to give it a try. The route is a 5.9 called Super Roof and as you can imagine, it follows a roof crack that looks really cool. Amy had some things to do in the morning, so I got the gear and the kids ready while she was out, then we left around 11:00 and arrived in the parking area for Steve Canyon at around 12:30. The weather looked beautiful, so we were a bit surprised when we opened the car doors and felt an icy cold wind hit us in the face. Amy and I were just wearing shorts and t-shirts and hadn't brought any jackets or anything, but luckily, we at least brought jackets and blankets for the kids. We decided to walk over to Steve Canyon to see if it was any more sheltered from the wind so that we could climb without freezing to death. Luckily for us, the rocks did shelter us from the wind, but it was still rather chilly so we wanted to at least climb in the sun so that we would stay warm, and unfortunately, Super Roof was in the shade so it was out for the day.
As we arrived at Steve Canyon Amy spotted a crack that she wanted to climb and it was in the sun so we decided to give it a go. It looked easy enough from the ground (I guessed 5.4 when I saw it) so we got the kids situated, racked up, and I started up the route. The route started up a thin hands crack until it widened to an offwidth for a few feet, then closed back down to perfect hands for the rest of the way to a slabby section with a couple of steep steps before reaching the summit. I climbed the route without any problems, but I did find it to be quite a bit harder than 5.4. I thought that the route was super fun, and it felt like the crux was in the offwidth section and I guessed at 5.9. Amy then went up the route on TR and had some trouble with the offwidth section, but overall did pretty good with the route. The formation we were climbing on didn't have a walk-off, but there was a pair of anchors above another route, so Amy cleaned the anchor, and lowered off the anchors at the top. At this point I wanted to see how hard the route was actually rated so I pulled out the guidebook and found that we had climbed "Grand Theft Avocado" which is rated 5.7. When we saw that I decided that maybe this wasn't my best day of climbing if a 5.7 felt like a 5.9.
By this time, the route had gone into the shade, so we decided to pull the rope and head somewhere else where we could again be in the sun. Because the anchors that Amy lowered off of were above another route, I couldn't see the other end of the rope when I started pulling it (which is never a good thing), and sure enough, the rope stopped pulling all of the sudden. I immediately realized what had happened, but I double checked by asking Amy if she had untied her figure 8 from the rope, and as I had expected, she had not. This meant that we would have to climb back up on the other side of the rope so that we could retrieve the rope from the anchors. I figured that if we had to climb back up, we might as well do another route, so I found another crack that looked fun and started up it.
The route started up a thin vertical crack in a groove with good finger locks to a little steep section before a ledge, and then finished up a lower angled off-width. I ran up the route without any problems, but I did have to stand for a bit on the ledge half way up to warm my fingers up since the rock was so cold. I made it to the top, set up an anchor, and belayed Amy up. Before Amy started up she asked me how hard the route was and I told her that if the first route was a 5.7 then this one must be a 5.6 because if felt slightly easier, but in reality, it felt like another 5.9. Amy climbed the route and the only problem she had was trying to get out the number 5 Camalot that I had placed too deeply in the crack for her to reach with her shorter arms. She was finally able to squeeze herself far enough into the crack to get the cam, and arrived on the summit shortly thereafter. We cleaned the anchor, rapped off the top, and decided to call it a day since the kids were getting cranky and it was just so cold. Before we left I decided to look at the book and check what the second route we climbed was. We found that the second route was "The Orc" and is rated 5.10a.
Thinking about it now and comparing the first route we did with other 5.7 off-width routes that I have climbed, I think it really is a 5.7, I just really suck at climbing off-widths which is why the route felt so hard. The second route we did felt easier because the hard section was a finger crack which I am much better at climbing (all though I still do feel that 5.9 would be a more accurate rating for The Orc). We headed home after only 2 routes, but at least we learned a couple of valuable lessons, one, always check the weather before going somewhere even if it is perfect in Redlands, and two, always check the rope for knots before pulling it even if it means having to walk 10 feet to where you can see it;)
Once again, sorry for the lack of photos in this post, but we lost the remote to our camera a couple of weeks ago in New Jack City, and the replacement hasn't arrived yet.