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Archive for June, 2010

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Take a closer look at the Gulf Disaster by watching TOXIC: Gulf an important documentary series by the folks over at VBS. Not your usual take on things. Susan Shaw has some disturbing information about the toxic result of oil+ dispersant infiltrating the vast coastal marshland. While your there check out some of their other TOXIC episodes.

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A sobering look at history of man and the influence our most precious resource has had and will continue to have on forming our civilization. An excellent perspective on history and how to move forward to minimize water scarcity in our future. I learned so much about something so important that is neglected in formal education. An excellent read that I recommend to anybody remotely interested in water, history, or resource management.

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There isn’t too much information out there about the climbing along Big Sur Coast. There is a fair number of boulders out there and even some solid granite veins in otherwise crumbling cliffs. There is the info compiled by Larry Arthur in 1988, info on Granite Creek in SuperTopos Bay Area Bouldering, some videos of problems in Carmel and Garrapata, and talk of gems up in gulleys toward the south of the Los Padres. Over the next few months I’ll be trying to explore and photo some of the boulders I find. If anyone has any info on any worthwhile boulder/route info, feel free to pass it along. I’m looking for things to climb. I won’t bother talking about things shown in Bay Area Bouldering since those are well documented an easily found.

Yesterday I explored around Granite Creek to see what I could find. All these boulders are within 100 feet of the main cliff. I describe their location further, and give my impressions of the problems under each photo.

Boulder #1

At the end of the approach trail, take a left and curve down right as if you were walking to the main cliff area. You’ll see a tide pool, and this concave feature. Going up the middle, loosly following a crack goes near V1, and the arete on the left a bit harder, V1+. Short and fun.

Walk left out of the trail past the retaining wall. You’ll see this in front of you. An overhang that goes at about 5.6 up jugs. A bit crumbly, but solid enough. Fun.

Boulder #2

From Boulder #1 walk behind the main cliffs toward the ocean. You’ll see some easy faces and then this overhanging block. Two sit start mantles. The arete goes at maybe v0, but direct start on a small ledge goes slightly harder.

Boulder #3

Another sit start to the left of Boulder #2, V1

Boulder #4

To the right of Boulder #2 is this gem. Sit start, up to a ledge below the prow and top out over. Fun and scary due to poor landing. Probably V1+.

Boulder #4

Also on Boulder #4, just the opposite face. Fun face climbing, probably V1.

Boulder #5

Probably the best two problems I did in this circuit. This boulder is on the end of the main cliff gully. If facing the ocean, its the right side of the gully. Two problems, both sit start. Directly up, following the arete line goes at about V1+ and the right face shown in the next photo.

Boulder #5

Sit Start, up right to a pair of sidepull face holds and then up to the seam in the top right of the picture. Pull over the bulge. This goes at close to V2.

Boulder #6

Facing Boulder #5, a alcove is to the left. on the left side of the alcove, facing the road is this face. The middle arete goes at V1 standing, or V2+ sit start.

Next time out I plan to explore the Garrapata beach area, or the Carmel beach area

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Summary:

Saturday May 29, 2010

  • A bit of bouldering and valley exploration.

Sunday May 30, 2010

Monday May 31, 2010

Details:

While waiting for my partner to arrive to the Valley, I took the opportunity to explore the section of the Valley Loop Trail from the trailhead at the backpackers camp near North Pines campground to the base of El Capitan. This was my second trip to the Valley, the first being a somewhat failed trip the season before. With guidebook in hand I explored the Arches Terrace Area, visited the base of the Royal Arches Route, explored Devils Bathtub Area, Serenity Crack Area, and Church Bowl. I became familiar with Washington Column, Yosemite Falls including the Lost Arrow Spire Three Brothers, and the base of El Capitan. I became familiar with the features across the valley such as Half Dome, Glaciar Point Apron, Sentinal Rock, and the Cathedrals. Along the way I stopped and did some bouldering. One particular boulder sitting on the horse trail at the base of Royal Arches took my interest. Yosemite granite, nice landing, tricky footwork and sustained effort. I don’t know the name of the problem, or the boulder, but it hardly matters. My mind was on the day to come and the routes looming above.

Here is a video of the problem I tried near the base of Royal Arches on the Horse Trail. Let me know if you know what its called. I didn’t finish it, but made enough progress to know I’ll send it next visit.

My partner, Matt Upton, and I started the day at 5:15am to take advantage of every last drop of sunlight. Matt has been climbing here the last couple seasons and knew his way around. We set out for the Church Bowl to climb Bishops Terrace, a classic 5.8. I had lead this route in one pitch the season prior but didn’t recall since the trip was such an overall failure for me. Like many approaches in the Valley, it involves stepping out of your car and walking along a path for a few hundred yards to the base of the climb. Doesn’t get much easier than that! The route can be done in one pitch, but we opted for two. A smart move since the crux is 16o feet of the valley floor. Hauling almost an entire length of rope with drag from a bunch of pro at 6am through a stout 5.8 hand crack is no fun. I should know, I had done it less than a year before. The first pitch follows a series of 5.7 cracks and flakes up to a good stance at a small alcove about 80 feet up with excellent features to build a natural belay anchor. Matt took care of the leading, and savored the double crack system that lead directly to a much steeper hand crack. Pulling on hand jams as good as anchors brought him through the nearly vertical crux to the double bolt anchor a few more moves above. To protect this crux, a couple #2 BD camalots or similar is recommended. We finished by 9:30am and it was off to refill the water and drink some Degnans Deli coffee.

By 10am we were on Nutcracker at the Manure Pile Buttress near the base of El Capitan. There are many variations to the first pitch of this route. Matt had been on this climb before and wanted to try the 5.8 lieback that begins near a tree about 10 feet off the deck and to the left of the 5.9 crack start. This variation follows a left facing corner that gradually curves to the left. The crack in the corner begins as a lieback and pulls onto a ramp with secure hand and finger jams. Each move progressively harder until your feet are secure on the lip of the ramp leading to a large ledge. I planned on leaving the leading to Matt on this trip, but he insisted I lead the next pitch, a favorite of his. It didn’t take long for me to realize why. An exposed step out to a perfect, well protected 5.7 crack system momentarily separated with exposed face moves. A bit of slimy wetness in the last crack of the pitch added to the challenge. Matt took the lead on the next pitch through wild 5.8, gradually traversing face moves leading to more exiting crack climbing, a 5.8 bulge, and the double bolt belay at the base of the final pitch. I didn’t realize the final pitch was the crux pitch, and Matt easily convinced me to take the lead. Good thing he did, because it was absolutely spectacular! The one move crux is an exposed mantle starting in a near vertical dihedral. From dicey footholds, and a secure finger jam, a long reach to a jug sends the leader into a committing mantle to get secure on the slim ledge above. I tried a few different foot positions before finally committing. The move is well protected, but a fall from atop the thin ledge could send you slamming to the sloping face below, adding to the exhilaration of completing the move.  The next option for protection is a horizontal crack 10 feet higher to the right. Easy well protected 5.6 crack and face climbing lead to the top of the Manure Pile Buttress and the end of the route.

The proximity to the road, quality of climbing, and ample protection make this a popular climb especially on Memorial Day weekend. We were one of three parties on the route, so it took a little longer than expected. To finish the day we climbed the first pitch of After Six located a hundred feet or so to the left of the start of Nutcracker. The first pitch of After Six is the crux pitch, continuing with easy 5.5/5.6 climbing to the top of the buttress. Matt led and I followed the right facing dihedral system consisting of cracks, flakes, stems, face moves and jams to a roomy belay ledge with a double bolt anchor. Another steller, classic pitch! What a good way to end a day of climbing in the Yosemite Valley.

Monday morning we awoke early once again to maximize our time on the rock. We had to race against the clock since the group I came to Yosemite with was leaving at noon. We headed to the Southwest Base of El Capitan. Matt lead Little John, Left to large ledge and double bolt anchor. This pitch begins at ledges to the left of Little John, Center and follows a 5.7 hand crack to a polished 5.8 fist crack. Another stellar Yosemite pitch! From the large ledge atop this pitch begins a 5.10d finger crack called Hardly Pinnacle. Matt aided up the route and set up a top rope so we could tackle the crack in complete safety. This climb was the cherry on my Yosemite sundae. At a total of 80 feet it began with 40 feet of hard lieback and finger jamming up a thinning crack leading to a good rest before another 40 feet of slightly harder hand jams, lie-backs and wild face moves leading to a double bolt anchor. My favorite pitch of the weekend even though it was on top rope.

A successful weekend in Yosemite Valley that has wet my appetite for more of its stupendous granite crack climbing. I can’t wait until next time!

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