Thursday, October 27, 2016


Checking out the remains of the burned fire lookout on top of  the Magician.
After climbing the Chouinard-Herbert in the morning, Matt and I headed down to Visalia to meet up with Brad and food shop.  In the excitement of seeing Brad again and heading to a new climbing area we forgot to get directions to the Needles.  Google maps took us to the wrong spot, and by that time we were well out of cell service.  We drove around in the dark looking for signs to help us.  A dirt road appeared and not knowing where it lead, we took it. 4 miles later we were on another paved road and amazingly on the right track.  We made it to the TH parking lot late enough to wake everyone up as we were setting up our tent...sorry.
Matt climbing into the warmth.
There was a cold front coming though the area so we woke up to frost.  After a slow start we made it out of the parking lot and down the trail.  Without thinking Brad and I followed Matt up the stairs to the location of the old fire lookout.  Although it was a great view and cool to checkout, as we walked back down the stairs we wished we would have left all our ropes and gear at the bottom.

Brad resting after 'Thin Ice'.
With the cold temps we decided on 'Thin Ice' since it was in the sun.  Thanks to a 10 year old crusher we found the base and were assured it was a "fun route".  Matt dragged Brad and I up to the top of The Sorcerer and and then we rappelled to the base of The Charlatan.  We climbed 'Spooky' to exit, the top of which is one of the coolest sections of granite climbing I've gotten on.
Following 'Spooky'.
After the obligatory ascent of The Charlatan Spire we walked back to the notch to figure out what was next.  Brad was destroyed and said he was done.  Matt and I settled on 'Airy Interlude' and asked if Brad would help us carry some gear down.  Once at the base we talked him into climbing the first 5.8 pitch with the promise that he could just walk off from the top of the first.  There was no walk off and Brad continued to the top with the help of the occasional cam handhold.  

'Airy Interlude'
 The next morning after some breakfast Brad headed home and Matt and I headed for the VRG.  We made a quick stop to break up the drive and get a couple pitches in and then pushed on home.
Great Times!

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Elise, Matt and I crammed into my little Mazda and headed west.  There wasn't going to me much leg room on this trip.  Matt and I were heading on a California climbing trip and we were shuttling Elise back to Yosemite where Bill had been spending the season guiding.  To add to the cramped courters I was sick.  Think coughing up phlegm and body aches.  I had basically not left my house for the 5 days before we left hoping that I would get better but it didn't happen.  We stopped to sleep in the Chuckwalla Wall parking lot just outside of St. George.  While Matt and I each had two sleeping pads, Elise didn't have any.  She thought we were just sleeping in the dirt and thus proceeded to not say anything and just sleep straight on the dirt and gravel parking lot.  Burly. 
Elise on the crux of West Crack on DAFF Dome
The first day on Yosemite Matt dragged me up the West Face of El Cap.  I wouldn't be surprised if the next team to climb the route found it harder than .11c.  I'm sure all that phlegm I was hacking up must have made the route slick.  
The next day we headed up to Tuolomne to climb West Crack on DAFF(Dome Across From Fairview) Dome and hangout with Bill and Elise.  It was a great route and was nice to get out of the heat of the Valley.  
Top of DAFF Dome
On our third day in Yosemite Matt and I did Lurking Fear.  Matt had done it once years before but I'd never been up it.  We topped out in 10hrs 45min, which felt good since we weren't rushing.  Out of the 20 pitches I only lead 5.  I was feeling better but still wasn't 100%.  After hiking over El Cap's summit and down the East Ledges twice in 3 days we decided that was enough of that for the trip.
Pitch 14 on Lurking Fear
Day 4 was a rest day.  Afterwards I always regret rest days.  We should have done some climbing but we did laundry and ate instead.
Day 5 we climbed the Chouinard-Herbert on the Sentinel.  I'm not sure how the C-H and the West Face are the same rating.  Maybe its all the fixed pins but the C-H felt much easier.  After a quick shower we headed out of the Valley to meet up with Brad and then to the Needles....

Powell Plateau, Steamboat Mtn., and Boot Mesa

After a quick run down to see Amanda in Phoenix I met John on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.   I hopped in John's FJ and navigated as he drove the twisty dirt roads through patches of rain to Swamp Point.  With the moonlight we could make out Steamboat Mountain.  As I fell asleep under the FJ I hoped that the darkness was making Steamboat look farther away than it actually was.

NW corner of the Powell Plateau 
We woke a few hours before dawn and started down the N. Bass trail to a saddle where we veered off the N. Bass and continued to the Powell Plateau.  Once on top of the plateau we headed for the NW corner to find a way down through the cliffs to access the Steamboat-Powell saddle.  Unfortunately, we didn't choose correctly the first time and got cliffed out.  After hiking back up and traversing a bunch we were able to find a break in the cliff that we could descend.
Descending to the Steamboat-Powell Saddle
Luckily with the great view from the saddle Steamboat went smoothly.  Now we just had to put our heads down and reverse our steps all the way back to the TH as the the heat of the day intensified.    
Steamboat Mountain
Day 2 was supposed to be an attempt on Mt. Hayden but the road out to Imperial Point was closed so we headed to the Navajo Reservation to check out Boot Mesa.
Moki Steps
 John had his eye on Boot Mesa, last year I had looked at it for him to see if I thought we could get up it.  A bowl on west side looked promising.  Zig zagging back and forth we were able to climb up through 5-6  cliff bands.  Although the rock was soft, loose and often wasn't easily protectable the climbing was moderate probably topping out around 5.8.
John near the summit with Agathla Peak in the distance.
The top offered amazing views of Monument Valley, Agathla and the rest of the Navajo Reservation. Since we didn't have any bolts or pins the descent required a little trickery but with a little patience we figured it out.
Great climbing with you John!