Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Worthwhile Pile - Joshua Tree - November 5, 2010

Anja was still in LA for her conference but lots of my friends showed up in Joshua Tree for the weekend so we all went out for a group climbing top rope day.
Chris was happy to findout there is cell service in Sheep's Pass campground
Sheep's Pass group campsite
We headed over to Worthwhile Pile in Real Hidden Valley.  I felt really good from the success the day before but a little tired.
Since I'd been here before I knew this 5.5 was a really great easy traditional climb lead.  I was encouraging anyone in the group to do there first lead on this climb and got Paul (a friend of a friend) to do his first lead.  He wasn't sure about the anchor but I just said put in a bunch of cams at the top and I'll be fine.
He really enjoyed it and was excited to lead. Ali said she wanted to lead but didn't want to place gear so I left the gear Paul had placed, added a little more, and built a bomber anchor. Ali led on the preplaced gear and had so much fun that Megan wanted in on the action too.

After this Eric, Chris, Paul, and I headed over to Mel's Dinner to Left and Right Mel crack both were about 5.10b and I top roped them easy.  Doing a second lap on each before leaving.  It's good to be strong.  :) 

That evening Anja and Ram showed up in camp along with a whole bunch of other friends from So Cal.  It was great to see everyone.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Illusion Dweller PART 2 - Joshua Tree - November 4, 2010


They were done and just needed to rappel so I'd had enough waiting and headed up the route.  The start wasn't bad and I was quickly heading up the middle of the route without too much trouble.
Me cruising through some nice hand sized crack with good rests to place gear.
They were just rapping down and you can see their rope to the right of me.  I could see the next section got a little wide and might be a little unpleasant.  However, since I had brought the #4 camalot my gear would be bomber.
I was pulling through the wide section and the gear was great but I felt very insecure and right about that moment the party before started to pull their rap line.  I yelled out "what the F! is wrong with you!" fearing the rope might come down and hit me and ruin my onsight attempt.  They stopped and I pulled through the wide section and got to a good stance where they could pull there rope with out fear.
I had made it to the roof and was excited and took a good rest there on a great stance.
It was clearly a hard pull on an amazing finger crack through the roof so I jumped on it.
It was hard so I stepped back down to be sure I would get the movement right and to put in a second yellow alien to protect the move.
I started into the roof a second time and again stepped back down not finding the footholds of handhold I wanted.
Then it was time to go for it.  I had two great pieces, time to suck it up buttercup.
Pulling thru the roof was surprisingly easy but then as I reached high there was little to no handholds so I slapped and sloper in the flared crack and pulled.
I got just enough pull to be able to reach higher and get a flake to finish out the climb.
Ali followed the route and through she fell a couple times got it done without too much struggle.  Web chose not to try it preferring an easier route to start the day on.  Since they had been so pacent with me I said we should go do Sail Away 5.8- just across the valley.  It is another classic of Joshua Tree only 3 grades easier.
I cruised up the led.
Web belayed.
Then Web followed.
It was one of his first climbs outdoors.  I belayed on top.
Nice views.
Success for Web, Ali also followed up and joined us on the little pinnacle.

I wanted to keep the classics going so we headed over to Old Woman and climbed Double Cross a 5 start 5.7+. Then Ali wanted to climb a route right next to double cross she liked, we learned it was called Sexy Grandma 5.7+. Then as if that wasn't enough of a day we headed over to the Headstone 5.6. It was getting dark so we grabbed headlamps. I'd never done Headstone so even though it is only 5.6 it was an exciting led in the dark by headlamp. It went without much trouble. In all this was one of the best days of climbing I've ever had. Onsighting Illusion Dweller will always be one of the highlights of this trip for me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Illusion Dweller PART 1 - Joshua Tree - November 4, 2010


When woke up in Joshua Tree Ali an old friend from San Luis Obispo was there along with her friend Web from Santa Cruz. They were looking to climb and I was there rope gun for the day and I was happy to oblige. We got talking about routes and I really wanted a crack at Illusion Dweller.

Illusion Dweller is a five out of five star 5.10b crack climb. It has been featured on the cover of Climbing Magazine multiple times in the past decades. To say it is a classic of Joshua Tree is an understatement. I've wanted to climb it for years but it is always busy, 5.10b has always been very had for me, and most of all a classic of this level deserves to onsighted. Onsighting basically means to walk up to a climb, flake the rope, led and send the climb with no hangs or falls. Because of these reasons I'd been saving trying to onsight Illusion Dweller for decades.

Ali said she was in to belay me and try to follow the route so today I was off to try Illusion Dweller! I was really excited and on the drive over to Real Hidden Valley I even taped my hands for crack climbing. Normally I don't tape my hands but sometimes it lets me climb harder so I did today.

When we got over to the base of the route, even though it was 10 am on a Thursday another party had beat us to the route.  I talked to the leader, a UCSD student, briefly and he seemed solid so we waited and watched.  The photo series was taken by Ali's friend Web.

These are photo's of the party ahead of us:
The start of the route.
About 2/3rd done, the crux is right at the end on the little roof.  He had not made the route sound easy and seem to be struggling a lot.
I watch anxiously, I had thought lower section of the climb was 5.9 so I was feeling very unispired but how hard he was making it sound but he had been leading the route in good style.
He got to the roof placed a piece of protection very low and fired into the roof.
He got into the roof and clearly was struggling.  Web was ready with the rapid fire.
He's still falling.
The rope catches.
He slides to a stop.
After rope stretch and his belayer it looks as though he went around 30 ft on the fall.  Oh that's a little scary!!  And I'm next!  I must be a moron.
Well he got back on it.  This time he put at piece at the base of the roof.
And fell he again.

This time it was a shorter fall with the higher piece of protection.
Back on.
Back off.

Finally, he got on and got his body postion right to grunt and moan his way to the top.
Me sitting waiting at the base of the route for there second to follow and for them to rap off.  How nervous do you think I was after watching that?  Part 2: My Turn tomorrow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

UCLA - November 3, 2010

In the morning we got up and said hi to Kevin, Lauren had already headed off to work, and headed up to UCLA. Anja got up there up time without too much pain and suffering at the hands of LA traffic. Anja had a reception she wanted me to join her at in the evening and I was unexcited about driving the van on the freeways in LA traffic alone so I hungout at UCLA for the day.

It was a beautiful day but it just kept getting hotter and hotter and by mid-day I think it was almost 100 degrees. It was November, this is ridiculous! How are we ever going to handle being in Vermont at the end of the month if we are in 100 degree heat. I still managed to wonder around campus and grabbed a shot of my favorite building Royce Hall, also the location of Anja's graduation.

That night we went to the reception and then grabbed dinner with Ram, Eric, and Jenny. I then headed out to Joshua Tree National Park to meet some friends and left Anja at hotel near UCLA.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black Corridor - Red Rocks - November 2, 2010

Rolling on to LA from the St George, UT area we made a stop at Red Rocks N.M. outside Las Vegas.  Since we didn't have much time we went sport climbing and parked at the Second Pullout to head an area we knew well called the Black Corridor.  The Black Corridor is a narrow canyon about 80' deep and only 10' across at the bottom.  I lead up a nice 5.9 that seemed like it had just been bolted.
Then Anja lead up a 5.10c she had done before.
The climb is really fun working up large hueco features to the crux, which is big roof move large hueco with poor footholds.
I took a lap on top rope and then Anja took a lap and we hit the road again.
That evening we drove on to Venice, CA. We got to our friends Kevin and Lauren's house late so we crashed in the van on the street. Plus crashing in the van made me feel better about our bikes on the back of the van and all the stuff inside.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Drive to LA - November 1, 2010

Before we hit the road I cleaned out the van and did one quick repair. Two weeks before on the dirt road from Topaz Mountain to Dugway I had noticed a funny sound from the van, when I got out and looked at the van I found the generator exhaust pipe had broken off and was just dangling from one strap.  Since we don't use the generator much I just pulled the broken pipe free threw it in the van and headed on. 

On further inspection I found the pipe had broken before and detached piece had just separated at a coupler from a previous repair, however a exhaust pipe hanger was still broken.  I used some galvanized steel hanger strap to repair the broken hanger and shoved the pipe back in place and called it all good.

That evening we headed toward LA, somewhere around Beaver, UT the van rolled over the 100,000 mile mark.  We've really had some great luck with our van over the past 18,000 miles.
Beaver, Utah's Dairy Queen gas station.
We pulled up for the night outside St. George, Utah up a dirt road on Forest Service Land.  It was a pretty nice spot.