I had a really spectacular week following Wintu Dome. It was a short-cycle work week following Wintu and then I was back at it. Our friends who perennially run the Boston Marathon, were fortunately not there this year and visited on my first day off. We had lunch together and their son went to the Shasta Skate park and BMXed with his Gone Racin' crew from Klamabama. Stephen ran from our house to Bunny Flat - about a 16-20 mile run. No big deal right? Maria Lynn hung with the spouse. All these rad folks visiting but I thought that I should go up into the crags with a saw and clippers to work on my trail. I had scouted it mid summer last year to put up a multi-pitch moderate later. Well, later is the first part of May. So, I had to get to work on the trail before my buddy came and castigated me for making him do work rather than climb. It had been nearly a year since I had been there. No matter! I'm a MAN! I know where I'm going... Not... after a 45min session of manzineering up a north facing 25% slope in the crags, I finally looked over my shoulder to find my objective FURTHER away than when I started. BELOW: Gray Wall. I hope to put up a route on the right and tallest buttress. If I'm right, it will be pretty easy.
I worked on my new Crags project on the Northeast Side cutting chinquapin and moving rocks for the approach for about 4 hours. Fortunately the approach is short and maybe one of the shortest in the Crags - which is why I want to snag it soon. Most will think it's pretty skip-able as the rock quality looks a little dubious.
The following day, I took a rest and worked on the back yard. Caleb and I toiled together and we ran lots of errands. Preparing the house for the Summer landscape project is big news for us. I thought we did a pretty good job, except with the paint matching. The boss says that I have do it again. But hey check out that custom gate and lattice work. Totally pro.
I thought I had plans to climb in the Crags on the following day, but because I'm "Calendar Challenged" as my wife would say, I mixed-up the coming day's climbing schedule. It was fortunate that I did, because my forearms were so burnt from the fighting the manzo and chinquapin two days before, I took yet another rest day and worked on the backyard again. The day was lazy as I spent 45minutes of painting time chatting-up my buddy from YOSAR. In retrospect, I can see why it didn't match.
The following day I met my internet date, Donald Alarie a climber/photographer from Grants Pass, OR. He's a hell of a guy. We got to know each other pretty good on the walk up to the Ogre. He told me that he and another guy climbed about two-and-a-half pitches up a detached ice pillar on Beck's Tower this Winter. I almost sh!t my pants listening to his harrowing tale of ice and adventure. They had climbed about 2 pitches until Donald, on the sharp end, discovered that the pillar was detached. He still went up another several moves or so! Exercising good mountain judgment, they bailed. BUT, they bailed off a cord wrapped around the ice pillar and a back up pin. I think I threw-up a little in my mouth when he told me that. The jaunt up to Cosmic was nice. He hadn't climbed it in 7 years and was stoked to be back. The climb was just as spectacular as ever. The winds were extremely high that day and didn't allow us to talk while climbing much. Don got a little lost on the fourth pitch and had to down-climb about 40 feet to the belay. Oops. We summited in good style and pretty quick considering we were both out of shape. On the summit when I was taking pics, I found a #1 brassie nut. It was so friggin' small I wouldn't even aid on that thing. I don't know why anyone in their right mind would bring it to Mt Hubris of all places, but I will add it to my El Cap aid rack. I just hope I never have to use it. BELOW: Me stealing the last pitch and Donald striking a pose on the summit.
I had already made plans with my buddy Jason to return to the crags for a third time this week to climb the North West Ridge of Castle Dome. So I cached all the climbing gear and the liter of water I didn't even take a sip from. The NWRoCD was first climbed in 1964 by Bob Rears (MSARC pg 156-159). I still haven't discovered much more of its history than that, but I suspect someone will inform me sooner or later. JK arrived that night. We had many laughs and reminisced about last month's trip to El Potrero Chico. After a few too many we drug our carcasses to bed. Not surprisingly, we set off the following day with a good "Siskiyou Alpine Start." For the uninitiated, you set the alarm unreasonably early. Then you hit the snooze until your wife threatens serious bodily harm since you wake her up every 10 minutes. The gentle kiss awakens you. SNOOZE. Next it's a nudge. SNOOZE. Then a real push. SNOOZE. Then the threats begin. With that you're awake and make breakfast for everyone. Sip coffee. Poop. Sip more coffee. Watch the news. Talk about climbing. Ultimately you are finally "guilted" into leaving by nonparticipants anxious for you to get out of their hair so they can be productive with what little remains of their morning.
We hit the trail probably by 10:00am. I had been experimenting with trekking poles and was pretty sure I'd be able to keep up with Kamperman for my 4th trip into the Crags in less than 2 weeks. I was wrong. He is such a hammer-head I could barely keep up my normal non-stop chatter on the approach. By the time we got to the top of the CDT I was drenched in sweat. We retrieved the gear from where I stashed it the day before and descended the thankfully less-than-full gully to the start of the first pitch. BELOW: Kamperman negotiating the snowy gully.
I had originally tried this route with Jason last year. It ended in failure in the first 15'. The first pitch is really terrifying. You start from a block that is a tumble away from a 500 footer into the abyss of Upper Root Creek. What's more, the is NO PROTECTION for the first 15 feet of climbing and the holds all point the wrong way. The week after we failed last year I went up and shot my rope gun (Sean Malee) up it and we climbed it no problem. I had vowed to Jason that we'd come back to take our revenge! On the first time with Sean, I led pitches 2, 4, and 6. This time I was determined to lead all of Sean's. I dilly-dallied with some spicy pro at the start and then shot off. It was much easier than I remembered. Kamperman bounded up the slabs of P2 without a problem and I slid by on the easily reversible "No Reverse Traverse." JK dispatched the "Potato Chip Flake." I had built the crux up in my mind into something hard, but that day I felt that all Jason's leads were more complex and physical. I was surprised the 5th pitch was over. The belay station is pretty dismal there, and I was less than enthused about my 2 Cam, 1 nut anchor. Jason was nonplussed. He walked up the last pitch. It was one of the best days in the Crags for me in my memory. BELOW LEFT: The fat kid trying not to sh!t his britches. Don't be fooled by that first piece. It's worthless. You must anchor the belayer, because if the leader botches the first pitch you both will take a 300 foot vertical ride down to Root Creek. BELOW RIGHT: "Kampy" on top of P1.
The day following was supposed to be a rest day, but Kaylee was visiting and has been crushing CrossFit in Klamabama. No rest for the weary, I guess. Too bad Caleb missed this one. I did a benchmark girl "Cindy." It's AMRAP for 20min 5-Pullups, 10-Pushups, 15-Squats. I did 13 rounds + 5 pullups and 5 pushups. That totaled 195 squats, 135 pushups, and 80 pullups on my "rest day." Boooo! The girls worked hard on their own WOD. I finished nearly before they started and was able to snap some shots. BELOW: No more cheating you two! You're too strong for that now! In all fairness they had already gone for a run and this was their last round.
The last day following was cruiser town loop bike ride, capped with finishing the game of Axis and Allies with Dave, and a delicious BBQ with Caleb, Kaylee and the ever lovely - Stacy.
What a great week. Thanks to all of you!