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Billy and I climbed a few boulders in Lynn Woods yesterday. As a reference, check out Lynn Woods Bouldering.com. On the google guide we stopped at boulder N12 and N10. N12 has a sick face problem on it. Probably V1 or so. Sit start in a big crack, up to a notch with a jug, up and right to some ledges, a gaston to a jug to a fun top out. N10 has a couple great problems on it as well. Here is the location:

We took a video of the excellent face problem on N12. I think it’s worth the hike to get to this boulder just for this problem. The video doesn’t do it justice, but you can at least you can check it out. There are a couple variations as well.

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I went to do some more exploring at Gowdy Playground in Peabody on Saturday. I found a crag with some bolted routes and a bunch of surrounding boulders and a giant boulder perched atop a high point. The crag with the bolts had drilled holds and shiny new bolts. Somebody got a little drill happy then couldn’t climb the routes they set so drilled their own holds!!! Sad. I also explored some large boulders in the utility line zone. Huge boulders but lots of vegetation in the way. I took a few photos, but my phone battery died before I could snap shots of the giant boulder perched on the hill.

While out there I ran into a Lynn City Council member out for a walk with his son. He informed me that there is a subdivision planned for Gowdy Playground. Many of boulders will be lost during this development and if this place catches your interest at all, go climb! Here is a google map I put together showing some of the exploring I did. Keep in mind there is plenty more out there.

From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2

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If your a climber in Massachusetts and like to go bouldering you’ve no doubt heard of Lynn Woods. There’s been a lot of development there over the past few years and it continues today. I’ve been gone for two years and have no idea the current extent of the development besides what’s on Lynn Woods Bouldering .com, but I’m sure it’s been productive. That place is huge, and I’m sure more boulders will be found and more problems sent as time ticks by. Today I decided to explore an area in the same vein as Lynn Woods but just to the north called Gowdy Playground. Its actually located in Peabody but right on the Lynn line. A few years back I went in through Troy Street in Peabody and only found a few good sized boulders, but today I went in at Sunset Drive in Lynn and found a bunch. I spent about an hour bushwhacking through the woods all the way to the utility corridor that cuts through the middle of the area and looped back around. Below you’ll find photos of what I found. Keep in mind that the loop I did was relatively small compared to the area and there must be dozens upon dozens of boulders in there just waiting to be climbed on. I found some very faint trails, but most of these boulders don’t have any nearby trails. My plan is to head back after the leaves start falling and take some more pictures. Today I only had my crappy phone camera, but I think you’ll get the idea.

From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2
From Gowdy Playground Boulders_2

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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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Syrah and I went to Pinnacles National Monument on Sunday, February 28th to climb Old Original on Machete Ridge. Our friends Robin and Gerick came along but with intentions to hike one of the many fine trails Pinnacles has to offer. I brought along Brad Young’s 2007 guide book A Climber’s Guide to Pinnacles National Monument for reference. Neither of us had been on the route before, and only to the Monument itself a handful of times. We had climbed a few lines on Tourist Trap crag, and a few short lines on Split Boulders in weekends prior. I thought Old Original would be a fun, mini alpine adventure, and it was. I checked the Raptor Adviseries and weather. No birds, no clouds, no wind. We were a go.

To get to the climb, we decided to take Citadel Canyon trail directly abutting the third stream crossing on the Balconies Trail, up past Elephant Rock and taking a left up the slope at a wash that had seen some recent foot traffic. Young’s guide shows this trail on a sketch of Citadel Canyon on page 262 of his guide indicating “some brush to Machete Ridge, south face” I would imagine at some points during the year this would be true, but apparently the end of February is a major peak in growth for this summer desert landscape turning phrases like “some brush” into something like “thick, lettuce filled, brush maze”.

thick, lettuce filled, brush maze

The maze ended at the stream in the canyon abutting Machete Ridge at the southwest face. The remaining portion of the approach was steep, but maze and lettuce free. The lettuce I’m referring to is Miners Lettuce and is quite delicious:

Claytonia perfoliata (Miners Lettuce)

I’d like to share some photos of the other dank vegetation we encountered in the place now known as Lettuce Maze:

Immediately after crossing the stream onto its east bank the trail opens up again and its smooth sailing to the base of the climb. Young’s Guide is very useful at this point. His explanation to get to the base of Old Original is flawless. On the way up we passed a sweet smelling plant neither of us could recognize. Any ideas? Here are some photos:

At the base of the climb, we packed up, racked up, and tied in. The rack was six shoulder slings, one double length sling, two biners for each, and five lockers. I also brought along a couple cordelettes, frction knot loops, and four cams covering about half inch to 1.5 inches. A second rope would’ve been helpful, but we brought one 60m and it performed fine. I ended up using three cams to build a lowering anchor during the decent.

A couple balance slab moves to a comfy ledge leading to a bomber, relatively new stainless steel bolt. Many of the bolts on this route were replaced in 1999 according to Clint Cummins over at Stanford. Young tells us this pitch has two bolts, but we only saw the first one at the left hand side of the ledge. The anchor was there, and the hangers looked as if a nuclear explosion wouldn’t move them:

anchor at top of first pitch

Young’s guide describes a bolt just after moving into the notch at the beginning of the second pitch. Neither Syrah nor I saw this bolt. It is not needed, and may be safer without it. The route soon moves to about 10 feet directly above the belay anchor. Having a bolt at the notch would only lengthen a fall from here and give you an incredible amount of rope drag. I would have passed on it if it was there. From this point the climb moves down the ridge which is mostly third class. All the rest of the bolts described are there. Here is a video view of the top of the first pitch and summit:

The third pitch involves a small amount of technical down climbing at what felt like 5.6 to me, but is 5.5 according to Young’s guide. It involves a sketchy looking foot hold with fantastic exposure and a looming bolt. Exiting and super fun! At the end of this pitch there is a pleasant grassy meadow with just enough room for a couple people to hang out and eat lunch. We didn’t eat lunch there, but next time we will.

The next three pitches are easier on the leader. They are down climbing pitches, and the fall hazard is greater for the follower. The fourth pitch is third class, but is atop a perfect ridge, so a stumble for the follower could be quite severe. The fifth pitch is a rap. If you only have one rope, use the lower intermediate rap anchor as well. The rap anchors used slings which should be upgraded to chains at some point. They were in good shape and safe. Here is a video of the rappel:

On the sixth pitch I took advantage of the rap ring installed on the bolt just through the notch and set a lower-down scenario for the follower (Syrah). This allowed both of us to be in a top-rope situation while descending the fourth class face.

We decided not to do the extension out to Middle Tower and North Tower. It was getting late and we needed to meet Robin and Gerick back at the car. We begun our decent from the Machete Decent anchor. After reading the description, looking at the photos, and checking out the maps I figured the decent was going to take us about two hours bringing us to the trail around 20 minutes before sunset. It ended up taking us 4.5 hours. We finally found the trail in the dark with our headlamps.

At the end of the rappel, we slipped and slid down a fourth class slimy mossy gully. It was absolutely treacherous! I wouldn’t dream of doing this un-roped, but apparently people do it. I would imagine its more practical to un-rope at other times of the year, and not soaking wet February. There was a slime on absolutely everything. There is also no good anchors at the top of the gully, so I lowered Syrah down the slip and slide while braced on slick rock. I was able to set a reasonable achor with he cams I brought along lower down, and the lower gully had some trees we could use. The gully leads to a meadow with a large tree adorned with rappel slings. Part of the decision to take one rope meant committing to the supposedly easier walking off option that involved an exposed traverse over a bush laden ledge with slime covered footholds. It wasn’t that tough, but it was truly exposed to a serious fall. I used the bushes as protection along the way. This ledge leads to another gully that drops into a boulder maze. Yes, that’s right another maze.

There is a lack of description in Young’s guide in reference to the “jumble of boulders” and “far right side of the gully”. First we attempted to stay to the “far right side of the gully”. this lead us to a steep mossy slope that I couldn’t imagine anybody walking down. Since this was supposed to be a “walk off” we assumed we took the wrong way and back tracked. This happened many times and before long it was dark and we had the headlamps on. Each time we went down to find a way, it ended at some sort of chasm, cliff, or void. I wasn’t about to do any spelunking to find the Balcony Cave trail I knew was down there because this was supposed to be a walk off! We finally ended up finding a decent spot to crawl down far enough where we could slide down a low angle face into the stream bed where we found the Balcony Cave trail and our way back to the car.

Syrah was scared, and I was pissed at Brad Young for not telling us about the crazy boulder maze we would encounter at the very end of our decent! The guide should be revised to say something like this:

After the ledge traverse, descend another gully into a maze of boulders. You’re probably going to get lost. There are many dead ends with large vertical drops. There is a way to walk off, but don’t expect to find it easily. Good luck. After lots of rain the entire decent route grows a thick layer of slimy vegetation turning the entire thing into a wet, muddy treacherous experience. More Good Luck.

If your planning to do this route after lots of rain, I recommend finding your way in the boulder maze with a mountaineering set up. Syrah and I had about fifteen feet of rope between us which seemed appropriate for the conditions. It would be terrible if someone slipped and tumbled into one of the many voids we encountered. I also recommend bringing a strong headlamp that has a flashlight beam. Also, an extra pair of socks and underwear because you will get wet.

Our friends did the right thing upon notice of our tardiness. They told the ranger at the station and they initiated a search. We met up with a ranger looking for us on the Balconies Trail while on the way out. I asked him if lots of folks got lost in those boulders, and his reply was “All the time!” In the next edition, I suggest some more description of the boulder maze area. Maybe a map would do the trick. It could be beyond words.

Happy Climbing!!!

UPDATE:

Robin and Gerick shared their photos from their hike and they got this great shot of Syrah and I up on Machete Ridge. You can get a feel for how excellent this climb really is:

Syrah and Tim atop Machete Ridge about to climb through the notch on South Tower

Its us!

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We waved goodbye to the beautiful mountain vistas in Salt Lake City on Easter morning, heading East to Colorado via Wyoming. The drive went smoothly given the holiday non-traffic and Gabi’s awesome “Under a Utah Sky” mix CD. We passed Park City, and were entertained by more cool rock formations, wind mills and big skies full of fluffy white clouds all around us.  Our Easter meal was a turkey and cheese footlong from Subway in Wamsutter, Wyoming (population 68).

Driving through Wyoming

Driving through Wyoming

Windmills in Wyoming

Windmills in Wyoming

More windmills in Wyoming... they are HUGE!

More windmills in Wyoming... they are HUGE!

We had a wonderful dinner at Uncle Chris & Aunt Dianne’s in Berthoud.  It was great to catch up with Toby (a real cowboy now!), Jenny & Matt.

We slept wonderfully!
We enjoyed the cool antique things around the house, including the beautiful quilt with all the state flowers embroidered all over it.

We started Monday with fresh coffee and Dianne’s nice fluffy pancakes (the opposite of Syrah’s pre-skiing pancakes on Saturday at Gabi’s!)

Uncle Chris took us for an awesome hike in Rocky Mtn National Park up to Cub Lake. We saw tons of elk (bucks and cows) and had a nice calm picnic.

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

elk-2-estes

In Rocky Mtn National Park

In Rocky Mtn National Park

View of Pikes Peak (?) in Rocky Mtn Natl Park

View of Longs Peak (?) in Rocky Mtn Natl Park

We met up with Jenny and Dianne for apres hike drinks at Henry’s in cute little Loveland. Then they sent us on our merry way.

We found Uncle Al in Greely and chowed down at Ambrosia Asian Bistro, mmmm.

We stayed the night with Ashley, Phenwa and Desmond in Boulder.

Desmond the dog!

Desmond the dog!

Climbing in Eldorado Springs

Beautiful rock at Eldorado Springs

Beautiful rock at Eldorado Springs

Timbo climbing at Eldorado Springs

Timbo climbing at Eldorado Springs

Ashley took us to get a tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory! Our favorite part was the MINT ROOM… very strong menthol in there feels like it penetrating your skin and burning your eyeballs!

Outside the Celestial Seasonings factory - not allowed to take pictures inside :(

Outside the Celestial Seasonings factory - not allowed to take pictures inside 😦

Ashley & Syrah in the gift shop after the tour, don't they look pretty with those hairnets on?!

Ashley & Syrah in the gift shop after the tour, don't they look pretty with those hairnets on?!

Dinner at Cuba Cuba in Denver with Ashley; Mat, Justin, Ryan, Eva Merkow; Lindsay; Jennifer & Julie Hong….

Cousin Eva

Cousin Eva

We stayed at Ashleys one more night and woke up early.  Destination: Long Lake Minnesota.  This chapter of the Road Trip is closed.  Next Chapter:  California!!!

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