One climb 5.5 or harder in each of the following areas. __ Tahquitz __ Sierra’s __ Lovers Leap __ Suicide __ Yosemite Valley __ San Bernardino Mntns __ Joshua Tree __ Tuolumne Meadows __ Sequioia Needles __ Red Rocks
Past Recipients: Nathan Fitzhugh, Sheila Romane, Jennifer Hopper, Alan Bartlett, Todd Gordon, Cindy Bransford, Julia Cronk, Bob Cable, Brad Singer, Mike Rigney, Connie Rigney, Eric Tipton, Kenn Kenaga, Joel Koury, Linda Hall, Adam Brennan, Jeff Brennan, Lori Brennan, Pat Brennan, Bruce Binder, Craig Britton, Daniel Thiele, John Cardmon, Mike Itnyre, Eric Odenthal, Kevin Graves, Lee Clark, Jim Reeves, Noelle Ladd, Agina Sedler, Ryan Crochiere…Who’s Next ?
Great Trip Report from Eric Odenthal; owner of Windgate Adventures in Moab, Utah; climbing, canyoneering and photography guide extraordinaire. More pics to come. http://windgateadventures.com.
DREAM OF WILD TURKEYS BLACK VELVET CANYON, 5.10a, 7 pitches and rap or head up another 4-6 pitches to top out and hike down; tons of commentary on mountainproject.com regarding additional pitches. Kenn Kenaga and David Honeywell last known ROWCC members to top this route out. Long day similar to Epi if done this way.
After just working the 13th annual Mountain Gear Red Rock Rendezvous, which I have photographed, taught clinics or worked with Five Ten. This was my 12th year at the event and it was just as good as ever. Perfect weather and amazing clinics and fun people.
When I arrived at Spring Mountain Ranch I asked around to see if anyone knew of a partner I could climb with on Monday. Immediately I was told that I should climb with Denise.
On Sunday Night I was totally destroyed after big days at the event and hiking all over the place. I was wavering on just bailing, but thought, how often to do I have a chance to climb in Red Rocks these days. I found Denise and made a plan the next day to climb Dream of Wild Turkeys.
We borrowed an 8mm 80 meter static line from a friend which would help with the descent.
Hearing how solid she was from everyone led me to believe she was capable of the 7 pitch route. She mentioned on the drive she had not done many mulit-pitch climb before and wasn’t into leading any of the pitches. Being the lead hog that I am, I was psyched!
On the drive I followed my instinct and after that led us down the wrong road I pulled out the phone and looked on the map to see that the road connected to the correct one. We followed the blown out roads until I could see the parking area with a load of vehicles scattered on the road. If that route wasn’t open our other option was Sour Mash, the same length and just up canyon.
On the hike into the giant sandstone wall we saw two people hiking out saying there were 5 or 6 parties on Frogland. Geez! That’s a good one, but there are so many others of the same or greater quality. We kept hiking in and passed incredible fields of choila cactus, blooming cactus and oak trees covered in gnats. Two dudes passed us on the hike in on their way to Triassic Sands, an ultra classic route I climbed with Johnson years ago. We topped it out and I highly recommend doing this.
Denise stopped to get a drink of water as I hiked to the ridge, waiting for her. After 5 minutes I wondered where she was, yelling her name and not getting a response. She was quite, but playing marco polo in the trees wasn’t that fun. She had found a spur trail and hiked up to the main wall, but after back tracking was on her way.
On the wall I could see one party on Prince of Darkness (POD), they were on the second pitch. Two parties were on Dream of Wild Turkeys just starting pitch 3. We arrived to the base to see another party casually walk up the stream bed and I’m thinking, great, they are totally heading to that route. They actually were climbing Sour Mash.
We racked up and I was off on the first 5.6 pitch. The sandstone in red rocks is some of the most solid sandstone on the planet. It was an enjoyable pitch filled with holds and minimal gear around 100′ or so to the anchor. This is when I realized the 80 meter static was going to be burly. I had to pull it to the anchors and flake it out for the next lead. The static definitely weighs more than a dynamic. We had a stance that I gave to Denise when I headed up the next 150′ second pitch. This pitch was wild.
When I was packing my gear I realized that could either bring a new pair of anasazi velcros, totally stiff or bring my 10 year old resoled verde’s. I chose the old shoes with no support and minimal rubber. I’m telling you, I was super tired.
As I climbed the right angling crack/slab my feet began to burn as I stood on those small edges, looking for gear placements every so often. I would look down and see that the pitch was angling about 80′ across the wall in the distance of the pitch. I became a little gripped because she was new to this and a fall down the blank wall below could create a problem. I held it together and made it to the anchor and quickly pulled my shoes off to let my feet breath. Denise says to me, complaining and can’t handle the pain, you know, the usual, giving Jedi shit. ha!
I showed her how to flake the rope and was off on pitch 3 which follows a crack to a 5 bolt traverse. Once I struggled from lack of slack to clip the first bolt of the traverse I looked down to see she had a cluster of a knot, which she just tossed off of her lap. Ahhh! What are you doing? This is something you do not do in red rocks. The rock with keep your rope, eat it and spit you out. I held onto those edges for a solid 10 minutes because I wanted to free climb this route. She worked it out and the next belay was an actual ledge which was much needed.
Pitch 4 worked 170′ up a wide crack to a vertical face/crack and onto the crux .10a slab just below the anchor. I clipped the tag into the last bolt to relieve me of weight before making those moves. It was totally Joshua Tree style, thoughtful. Denise cleaned the pitch and off to the left, the POD crew and one in front of us bailed due to foot pain. After getting to the fifth anchor I thought the same, but decided, hell no! I was there to climb it and with two more pitches left, it was go time.
Pitch 6 was an all time classic arching bolted face which took all of my draws I had and finished with a stellar short finger crack. At this time I think I was about ready to puke because of the foot pain. The views though were off the hook, wild and vast. The only people we shared the wall with were the team on Sour mash to the side and wayyyy up on Epinephrine 400′ higher.
The final pitch lay ahead, a solid 5.8 which may as well have been 5.10. We had been on the wall for about 5 or so hours and I knew the raps would take time if it all went smoothly. We made it to Turkey Ledge, took some summit shots and got ready to head down.
Our path for the rap was to rap to the top of pitch 6, over to the POD anchor, and follow that down 5 raps to the ground. I tied a knot in the end of one rope and as I was pulling it up, it stuck in a notch, I worked it and hoped it came out because rapping down to clean it and come back up would be brutal. It popped out and we cruised down with no problem.
A dream route finally done. I know that most of the climbing club has done this route, mostly in the 80’s and 90’s. I’m just trying to keep up to these amazing tick lists.
Johnson worked till 8pm Friday and then we took off for Big Pine. Renegaded a campground at 1:00am and up at 6am on Saturday. Packed in to Third Lake; ate a lunch of beef stick, cheese and cherries and took off for the base of Venusian Blind on Temple Crag. Of course, I couldn’t find John so I started climbing something harder than I should only to look down and see a trail up to a class 4 start where I was already climbing 5.7 to 5.8 and scaring myself half to death. I blamed having pneumonia last winter for my hugely labored breathing; but the thought occured that perhaps I was just fat and old. I thought, “if the whole day goes like this; I’ll be fried mentally and physically long before I finish”. So much for being psyched on the first 30 feet of the climb!
Finally I saw John on the true Arete putting on his harness and I climbed past him for several pitches up to pitch 4. Well, we never did take the rope off my back and finished after some scary headwalls up the arete (5.7 and one section of 5.8) and along the ridge with drops of 1,000 feet down on either side. We passed a pair of young dudes from Oregon. As we did; they just stared wide eyed at us as they pitched it out; especially Johnson with his torn and ripped approach shoes that have seen more time on construction sites than ridges. They didn’t say anything but the vibe was clearly, “Who are these two old, fat guys running past us with no rope, no shoes and useless harnesses?
We finished the route (14 pitches in 2.5 hours) quickly but it seemed much longer somehow. We were going to kiss off the summit since we’d been there before when some local Bishop Chica overheard us and yelled back, “Oh, you HAVE to bag the summit.” It was like Brennan channeling a pretty, hot, young Bishop thing; disconcerting and not just a little weird! We finally got up there, sat and caught our breath and worked our way down to the OLD descent path.
As we rapped down to the downside of Contact Pass; Deja Vu struck. I wondered to myself; hadn’t we done this before? Isn’t there a rap that goes right to the TOP of the pass? Wasn’t the hike UP Contact Pass a real drag last time? Yes, Yes and Yes! As my feet slid down half a step in the sand with each effort and my heart beat at 165 bpm, I heard fairer voices ahead.
Yet I knew the two Bishop gals were way behind us tagging the summit. Nope. I heard John ahead of me, “there’s the rap we missed last time.” And THIS time too, I thought. A torturous way down sand, VW beetle sized sliding talus and finally we hiked across a path and the dam; and found our campsite. After a relaxed dinner of pasta, canned chicken and a few sips of whiskey (Yukon Jack or as John called it; white cough syrup); we found spots semi-protected from the howling wind that night and slept the sleep of old satisfied fat men.
A nice hike out, feet in the river and a cold beer at Glacier Lodge completed the weekend.
Tips: Don’t park at the official trail head; park at Glacier Lodge and hike across the river and up the switchbacks to stay out of the baking sun. Stop at the Ranger’s Cabin (Lon Chaney’s old place) and sit on the deck and admire the view of the creek. Bring a six pack (cans) and tie them up outside of the cabin or where you parked so you have cold beer without worrying about ice chests. Camp at the outlet between 2nd lake and 3rd lake and save yourself another mile hike in to 3rd lake. On the descent; work your way toward the north and find the rap that goes to the top of Contact Pass; don’t get fooled in to following the trail that lowers you down to the back side of the pass. Slow down enough to look around and enjoy one of the nicest Peaks in the Sierras!
Black Bluff Climbing Report: Jonathan Ball, Matt Ingle, Jon Ledesma
(A Marine should never listen to a civilian when navigating a broken trail)
The approach: We returned to park next to the smelliest pit toilet in the San Bernardino Mountains and I knew that we were only about a short, 1.5 mile hike from the crag. Then we stepped off. Knowing that we had veered too far off course to the south only a couple of weeks prior, I still did the same thing. Our approach went from a quick and easy 1.5 miles to a long and arduous 3 miles. Oops. However, we got to the Black Bluff section of routes.
I told Jon Ledesma about “After the Fire” (5.9D **** at least!), the unprotected top (after me running out of gear early), and we decided it was his turn to lead it. Jon Ledesma’s foot got stuck in the crack. He tried to wrestle it out, but took a pretty bad fall out of the start while placing his first piece. He cut up his leg a bit, but ultimately landed in a good spot with his feet down. Matt and I had him spotted and all was well. Jon Ledesma said that the adrenaline rush gave him the push he needed for the start. He punched through, over-protected the hell out of the route, and made it in a record time of 3 days total (estimated, but not verified). All in all, it was a solid climb, a great lead, and he set us up for success to follow and clean.
Matt Ingle attempted the follow-on. Mind you, this is Matt’s 4th climb ever. Talk about a naturally ape-armed lump of lumberjack bad ass to be attempting full lie backs, forearm deep fish jams, and learning how to torque his feet to jam properly. Matt pushed through the start and finished the hardest section of the climb before he gassed out and needed dirt. He didn’t finish the route, but it sure was impressive to see a brand new climber crank through the sadistically unforgiving granite against fresh skin.
I followed and cleaned. The route calls for a veer left at the top towards the anchors, but I found that it’s pretty fun to turn the wide crack at the top into an off-balance off width. It makes for a little extra work to finish- and it’s easy to brave anything with the safety net of a top rope.
Jon Ball’s turn to lead. I decided to do my first chimney lead. I can’t find any info on the route, but it’s the chimney to the left of “After the Fire” and to the left of the 5.7 hand crack. I can’t pretend it was the bravest of climbs. I set a cam every 3 feet into the hand crack just hoping it would keep me from pin-balling down if I slipped out. I made it up, set my last piece of pro, gave out a good “Whoo”, and I suddenly re-tasted the apple I had just eaten. That was it. Full body flex without rest turned out to be too much for an out-of-shape smoker and I let loose. Luckily it was on the shelf and no one had to enjoy all that I had to share as I screamed at the ground.
I lowered off and Matt Ingle sprinted up the route with a blend of hand crack, chimney, and dihedral climbing. Not even sure he even broke a sweat on the route that had just killed me. Then Jon Ledesma did the same thing. Up to the top in zero time at all.
It was still daylight, but I knew we had to compensate for the broken trail back. It’s too easy to wander the bluff before finding the next cairn, so we punched out.About halfway back, we found a series of cairns that were ultimately set in every single direction. We had a general idea of which way to go, but we stepped off in the wrong direction before coming across some hikers.
Jon Ledesma asked, “Hey, will this trail take us back to the Bluff Mesa Group Site?”
The guy in the super outdoorsy neck-cover hat and cute hiking boots said “Sure. Follow this trail and hang a left at the wood chips.” What he should have said is, “You,know…I have no F***ing clue. Go back to the last cairn you saw and go the way you know.”
We followed his advice and about 2 miles into the trail; w see we are pointed in the wrong direction. Lucky for us (right around mile 3) we came up to a camp site. The campers showed us their site map. We had somehow ended up on the wrong side of Bluff Lake.
Exhausted, out of water, and out of foot we swallowed our pride and accepted a ride back to the Bluff Mesa Group Site. It was a 20 minute drive right as the sun was going down. The campers at the Bluff Mesa Group Site had a good laugh at our expense, but we assured them there was no need to call S&R as previously determined (in the event we didn’t return by dark).
I’d like to go back in time just to throw rocks at that pretend alpha male hiker who couldn’t just admit that he had no clue where we were. I hope his girlfriend was really impressed with his navigational directions. If there is a just and loving God, that guy will at least end up with a tic on something really uncomfortable.
Cairns are more than just a pile of rocks! Place them on one side of the trail only and make sure that you can see the next cairn from the last.
It might not be the worst idea for us to get out there and really do some trail work just so no one gets lost among all the randomly placed cairns from the multitude of lost wanderers throughout the bluff.