Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nothing like a bit of choss to kick my booty

A year later and we returned. The heat wasn't so bad as last time, but the crowds were. I was thankful, though, that the man who had put up many of the routes was there to show me around.

It was a weekend off, but I wanted to get out. An evening fundraiser kept me from playing too hard, but an early start would suffice. We drove until the road narrowed, and then we drove some more until the speed slowed. We thought we had missed the new parking lot, but it was farther down.

I'm not sure why I brought my trad gear. I've always wanted to trad climb here but I've never been able to pull myself away from the bolts. The bolts led the way up too many nice lines. Sigh, they would have to do.

We chatted with a few friends and took a ride up an easy warm up. I'd done the route before but my partners were fresh meat. They lapped the horizontal ridge lines like a dog does with water from a bowl, and rightfully ignored the irrelevant mess on the floor after their first foray onto the grey and golden rock. It was busy over here, so we moved on.

The cave up the hill was cool, dark, and damp. I felt the nip of the air just as I approached the opening, and I slipped in. My eyes had a difficult time adjusting, but I knew where I was going. Hushed voices around to the left became louder as my feet met the daylight. I turned the corner and noticed one new route right away. There were folks on it, though, so I showed my partners around. There's the 12 something that clears the roof, and eight is around the corner, and that's a short nine right there to the right. It's a one-move wonder, but what a wonderful move it is.

One of my partners, the strongest of the three of us, found what looked like a nice line to the left of the nine. He clipped the draws to his harness and headed up. The start looked easy, but it wasn't. Then the middle was easy, but the next section was hard again: overhanging, juggy in the wrong spots and crimpy in the good spots. The feet pointed in the wrong direction and only a full leg bar in the roof itself allowed for any rest. He stretched long to clip the last bolt and topped out on thankfully easy terrain. Then another partner went up, and I after her. We flailed, but the man who put up many of the routes here came to join us. His barefoot climbing brought us shame, but we knew he was a better climber anyway.

It was late, and begging-for-money-from-the-generous was my next call of duty back home. We packed up, but before we left I asked the original climber a few questions. I was grateful to not only get his thoughts, but also a drawn map of the upper tier. He's a nice man and willing to show folks around so long as a guidebook isn't published any time soon. The climber's coalition owns the parking lot, and that's about it. The mortgage needs to be paid before the masses arrive, and there's no money to pay it. I like what they've done here, though. They've developed a nice series of crags, some bolts and some not. They've bought the parking lot in order to keep people from parking on private property. They've worked with the land owners and have developed a relationship that allows for climbing at such a good location. But most importantly, they've opened it up without opening too much. They've allowed people to come and enjoy without over-stepping their bounds. The money may not be there, but I hope it comes in. They've done this right, and I hope that continues.

We pulled out of the parking lot satisfied with our day. It was short, it kicked our butts, but then again, choss always seems to have the upper hand.

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