Thursday, July 24, 2014

Maple Canyon, 2 September, 2013

For Labor Day we decided that we should head to Maple Canyon since we haven’t been there yet this summer.  We wanted to head to Maple Sunday evening, camp there, then climb all day Monday, but we knew that with It being Labor Day, there was no way that we were going to be able to get a campsite in Maple.  I decided to check in the guidebook to see if there was somewhere close by that we could camp, then just head into Maple the next morning.  Initially I was thinking of camping at Axehandle Canyon since the rock there looks pretty cool, and the guidebook mentions that there is a lot of undeveloped rock, but at the same time, it seemed pretty out of the way for climbing in Maple the next day.  Luckily, I didn’t give up my search for a better camping spot, because I stumbled upon the two pages in the guidebook that mention Log Canyon.

Log Canyon is located 8 miles to the North of Maple Canyon, so it is right on the way, and even offers some very easy climbing that I figured would be great for the kids.  We drove up Log Canyon Sunday evening, and ended up getting to a great camping spot just before it started getting dark outside.  We quickly set up camp, got the kids ready for bed, then hit the sack so that we would be well rested for the following day.

The next morning at 0dark30 we figured out what I believe to be the reason that Log Canyon isn’t a more popular camping spot as there was four wheeler after four wheeler that slowly made their way up the very well graded road through the canyon.  What they were doing at that time in the morning is completely mind boggling to me, but you would just start to fall back asleep when the next four wheeler would pass waking you up again.  Eventually I decided to just get up and start making breakfast once it started getting light outside.  I heated up some water and we had a nice breakfast of oatmeal and hot chocolate before packing up camp and heading over to Schoolhouse Rock to do some climbing.

Schoolhouse Rock is pretty much the only developed area in Log Canyon, although it appears that there is still quite a bit of virgin rock up there to put routes up on (I’ll have to bring the drill on a future trip).  This area consists of a low angled piece of rock right off the road that starts out really low angled on the right and gets progressively steeper as you head up canyon.  There are currently 5 bolted routes on the rock, one 5.0, two 5.7’s, one 5.10a and one 5.10b, and one unfinished project between the 5.7’s and the 5.10’s.  Since we wanted to let the kids climb, we decided to start with the 5.0 a route called Sea Monkeys.

As can be imagined, the 5.0 was quite easy.  To make it interesting though, there was a big loose flake about half way up the route, so I had Amy and the kids clear out of the way while I pulled the loose flake off so that the route would be safer for anyone else.  I lead the route and set up a TR so that Danny and Emily could each take turns climbing the route, then Amy lead the route to clean the anchors.

Next we decided to do the next route to the left of Sea Monkeys, a 5.7 called Log Jam.  Again, this route was very easy, but the rock was good, and it was a fun route overall.  I lead, then Danny TR’d the lower portion of the route, then Amy lead the route again to clean it.

We decided to do the other 5.7 (Horton Hears a Whowah) as well before heading to Maple Canyon.  This time Danny didn’t feel like climbing, so Amy and I each took turns climbing the route.  I didn’t find this route to be as fun as Log Jam, but I think it had to do with how closely bolted it was.  I felt like the whole route was make one move, clip a bolt, make another move, clip another bolt, but it would be a great route for someone to learn to lead on.

We then made the 10 minute drive over to Maple Canyon to get on some harder stuff.  As we expected, Maple was crowded.  I had initially been thinking of climbing at the Pipeline, but there was no parking anywhere until we got up to the parking lot for the right hand fork.  I figured that the Low Standard Cave was right there, so we could go do a few routes there.  It was lunch time, so we got some food for the kids, gathered up the gear, than made the long 30 second hike over to the Low Standard Cave.  I have to say that I think it’s kind of funny how little attention this cave gets.  There is basically no approach, lots of good routes, but I never see anyone else there.  This was no exception; we were the only people there even though it was Labor Day.

I wandered around the cave a little bit looking for something to climb, and at the back of the cave was a route that caught my eye (Low Standards).  It ascended up the right side of the back of the cave and ended right at the apex of the cave, so the route looked cool, but to top it all off, it was only rated 5.11c.  Thanks to the overhanging nature of the cave, coupled with the fact that the route was only four bolts long, I was able to hang all the draws with a stick clip, so I hung the draws, then roped up to try the climb.  The first three bolts were a cakewalk and I didn’t have any problems, but then at the fourth bolt the holds get much smaller, and I ended up falling off as I was about to clip the fourth bolt.  I ended up hanging on the third bolt to clip the fourth so that I could work the moves, but then between the fourth bolt and the anchors there was just nothing.  I was able to do a big reach out to what looked like it should have been the clipping hold for the anchors, but once there, the hold was just terrible and there was no way I could let go to clip the anchors.  Again, I ended up just hanging on the fourth bolt to reach up and clip the anchors.  I really don’t know if I was just reading the route wrong and missing holds, or if something has broken off the route, but the section from the fourth bolt to the anchors certainly felt a lot harder than 5.11c.
Amy said that she was done climbing for the day, so I just cleaned the route and decided to try out a 5.11b called Nipple Stud.  Nipple Stud ended up being a really fun route, it started out with very thin technical climbing on slightly overhanging rock and ended up with some easy jug hauling to the anchors.  Unfortunately, I blew the onsight right where the holds get big.  I made it through the hard technical portion of the route, but then I went for what I thought looked like the big jug I needed next only to find out that it wasn’t what I thought it was and I came off.  From hanging on the bolt I could easily see that I only needed to go like two inches higher to get the actual big hold that I thought I was going for and I finished the route easily.

At this point, Danny and Emily wanted to swing, so we let them have turns doing a big swing off the anchors of Nipple Stud while I rested a bit.  After that, Amy wanted to go since she was done climbing, but I wanted to try one more route before we left. 

I decided to just move one route to the right and give Sodomizing Satan (5.11d) a go.  Sodomizing Satan ended up being a great route.  It was just slightly overhung the whole time, and mostly consisted of big moves through good holds with a few crappier holds thrown in here and there.  I did have to hang a couple of times because I was tired, but overall the route went well and I didn’t have any problems.  I definitely want to go back and redpoint this route because it was way fun.

Well, that does it for our Labor Day climbing.  I really need to get down to Maple more often it is definitely one of my favorite places to climb.

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