Sunday, September 30, 2012

Holcomb Valley, 07/28/2012

On Saturday July 28th I was in the mood to go up in the mountains.  It was kind of funny because I wasn't even really in a climbing mood, but I just wanted to be away from the city and out in nature.  We drove up to Big Bear Lake, then decided to just drive around some of the dirt roads around Holcomb Valley Pinnacles to see if we could make it to some of the other parking areas.  One time last summer we had made it to the parking area on the backside of the central pinnacles (the one at the base of Motherload Rock), but subsiquent attempts have all failed, so we decided to try again.  We made it pretty far, and also drove down a few little side roads that branched off to check out where they went, but eventually we ran into some tree roots that my trusty Hyundai Elantra just couldn't make it over no matter what we tried.  Next we decided to check out some of the roads branching off of the jeep road that heads into the central pinnacles from near parking lot rock.  This time we made it pretty far down this one road to a point where there were several old mineshafts that looked pretty cool.  From here I could also see some bolts in a rock ahead of us, so we decided to check out the mines and do some climbing here.

Danny Checking out the old Mine Shaft

Looking down into a Mine Shaft

It turns out that we had driven into the western pinnacles, and the rock that I could see was The Ingot which has 4 routes on it.  The obvious route that initially caught my attention was a 5.10b called "All that Glitters".  It looked pretty cool because there was this quartz dike that went right through the center of the route and had some huge holds coming out from it.  We decided to make it our first route of the day.  I started up the route and didn't have any problems getting to the dike, but at that point you have to mantle up onto the dike.  Now the problem isn't necessarily the mantle, but the fact that you're high enough past the previous bolt that if you blow the mantle (especially with a light belayer like Amy) it's verry probable that you'll end up decking.  I hung on that dike for a while trying to get up the courage to commit to the mantle, and I finally did it without any problem, but it's certainly a bit scary.  After the mantle it's some steep slab climbing through the next two bolts with a slopey J-tree esque top-out.  Unfortunately, I ended up greasing off of the holds like a foot below the anchors and blew the onsight.  Amy then toproped the route without any problems.
Starting "All that Glitters" - 5.10b

Figuring out the Crux Mantle

While Amy and I had been climbing All that Glitters, Danny kept wanting to climb the boulder that was right next to the start of the route, but we kept telling him that he couldn't go too high without his harness, so when we were down we put on his harness and let him TR the boulder.  He had a blast, and then loved being lowered down the steeper side of the boulder.  We let him climb it and be lowered several times before moving onto our next route.

Danny TRing the Boulder

Hanging out on top of the Boulder

Practicing Lowering

Next up was a 5.11b called "The Melon Factor".  This route started out with a very bouldery crux between the first and second bolts (you can clip the first bolt from the ground).  The crux involved lieing back this horrible slopey seam with basically nothing for your feet until you can finally get the good jugs on the dike.  It took me several tries to figure out the moves, but I finally got the crux and then the route is cake from there.  After seeing how the crux looked Amy didn't even want to try the route, so we moved on to the 5.7 that shares the anchors with The Melon Factor.

Just past the crux of "The Melon Factor" - 5.11b

This route was called "Goldfinch" and was kind of a forgettable route.  It started with the crux right off the ground then just kept getting easier and easier through some grainey low quality rock.  I lead it, Amy TR'd it, then we packed up and went home.  I don't know how impressed I was with the rock in the western pinnacles as it seemed much more grainey, so I don't think we'll be heading back there, but it was fun to check out a new area anyway.

Starting "Goldfinch" - 5.7

Amy on Goldfinch

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