Sunday, April 14, 2013

Wintu Dome Exploration

This a quick first post to my new blog. I will use it just mainly for an online document that I may refer back to for dates of my activities and to share it with whomever is interested. Right now I'm waiting to get the first 1000 copies of my big project, Mt Shasta Area Rock Climbing. I have been working on this guidebook for nearly 2 years now. I should have all of the first edition by the end of the month. I am very stoked to say the least! Maybe I'll figure out how to link to the Amazon site where it can be found or sell it out of my garage. Local retailers will also have a few copies (I hope).

Saturday, April 13, 2013: Wintu Dome Exploration.

Ryan Galbraith, Steve Webber and myself got a fairly late start from the house. We knew it was going to be a long hike in and rarely done. None of us had ever been to the base, so it was a true Castle Crags adventure.

Our goal was "Batman Returns." (MSARC: pages 166-167). This route was originally put up by Charles "Rokchuk" Porter over about 6 months in 2003-2004. It is a 4 pitch grade III SPORT climb. That's right. I know of no other multi-pitch sport climb in the Crags. I can say with some authority that there are none. What's more and much to Rokchuk's credit, the entire route was hand drilled. According to Rokchuk, he hand drilled every bolt. The bolts aren't chintzy or shallow either. They all have well camouflaged and thick hangers. All 3/8". Anchor bolts are beefy 1/2"ers!!! I'm surprised he didn't have carpal tunnel syndrome afterwards.

It took a bit of Google-Earth and negotiation between the three of us to decide on an approach. We decided to go up the CDT until after the achieving the Castle Dome plateau. I had camped several times on southern flank of the plateau at a semi-permanent rock fire ring, 100 yards left of the CDT. From here it was mainly Grade 1 Manzineering (MZ-1) with an occasional MZ-2 move. It was mostly easy traversing up and down but there were the occasional steep degenerating granite slabs that had to be negotiated. Ryan was nursing an ankle overuse injury. As always I am nursing my weak knee and the ever enlarging waist-line.

After some hemming and hawing about which gully to descend, I finally decided on the middle of three. I chose well. The gully starts fairly low angle and brushy with no significant exposure. Then, on descender's right a steep and deep chasm opens up just next to what I suspect is an elderly, blue, fixed-rope. Sheath was exposed and it needs replacing. I have some candidate ropes if someone wants to go do it. Pack out the old ropes though. The descent was easy but slick and moist, with lots of loose moss. The rope was welcomed. Not sure if it would have held a fall, but fortunately none of us tested it.

We made it to the base at about 1:15pm taking about 2 or more hours.

The first pitch is 5.11+ or 5.10+A0. The crux of the whole route is really the first 6 bolts. They are closely spaced and if you have a cheater stick, you could comfortably go bolt to bolt until the climbing eases at mid pitch. Webber was basically off-the-couch, but thankfully led P1. He hung a few times in the crux but polished it off with ease. I elected to use a prussic and my gri-gri. I jugged the entire pitch in this fashion, making sure I tied back-up knots. BELOW: Webber at the top of P1.

The second pitch was originally going to be mine at 5.9. Unfortunately, I was taken aback at the relative blankness of the granite slab and the sea of nothingness around us. We were already pretty exposed and my enlarging belly seems to be inversely related to the size of my balls. So I gave it up to Ryan. He dispatched it easily. I had to hang, of course. Very embarrassing. The holds were really good. I think if this got climbed a little more the "sugar-cookie" feel of this wall would turn into more of a Yosemite hardness. BELOW: Ryan launching off onto P2. Not wanting to tell a lie, I did tilt the camera in Ryan's favor on this one! Sorry Ryan.

The next pitch, three, was supposed to be Ryan's, but Webber and he haggled. I must say that although I hung on this pitch, and I would have been pretty scared to lead it, that it was the "money-pitch." The bolts were reasonably close. The crimps were reasonably positive and there was a definite mid-pitch crux that offered a little closer protection. This went at 10a/b, but being un-easy on granite and slabs in general I cursed more than my fair share. Slabs.... grrrr. The start of the pitch is what first caught my eye several years ago when I was scouting the Battle Mountain approach. Looking South East across Wintu Canyon from the base of the "Plumb Line," this dome definitely attracts your attention. It seems speckled with golf-ball like dimples. I thought then that I would come back for that to put a first ascent right through them. Little did I know that I was beaten to the punch by two other parties nearly 10 years before. Such is the Crags. BELOW: The fat kid, belaying Ryan before the good holds run out. The belay is just above the obvious roof. The crux is below that on that blank headwall. Great lead Ryan!!!
I was able to snag the last lead on P4. It was an embarrassingly easy 5.5 that still had me panting like an old dog in August. The summit was picturesque and in the fading sunlight I was able to get some pretty nice pics of Ryan. What did I learn today? I need to lose 20lbs and work on granite slabs (slabs in general). They have always seemed the domain of Zen Masters and I have always preferred the cracks and weakness. Maybe it's because I hang on gear too much. What a great day. Thanks gentlemen. Again you are the reason I climb. Steve thanks for sharing with me. Much love to you. Ryan, you have become such a bad-ass, it's pissing me off! BELOW: Ryan... Illuminated.

1 comment:

  1. You crack me up... I lol'ed a few times. Haha, great post. Keep 'em coming!