Summer Sailed In – Red Rock, Tuolumne, Sierra Eastside, and Zion


 

Some more rocks got climbed, not with my usual frequency…sometimes life intervenes and balance is necessary. This summer was kind of tough in Vegas, some of my regular partners have dealt with various injuries, I have had a few minor injuries to deal with, and other regular partners of mine were very busy with seasonal work. My climbing-related goals for the summer were to just plain have fun climbing and to get myself back into respectable climbing shape. I accomplished both, of course with more room to improve in all respects. Personal and work-related goals are always a work in progress, but progress is being made in major ways and that is what matters. Becoming a more balanced, better version of myself is always a huge priority for me.

Enough with the introspective prattle, on to the fun stuff…

Early summer some random cragging went down…

 

Me leading Atman after work one hot summer evening

 

Sweet views into Calico Hills backcountry

 

Bolts were clipped on easy climbs at Charleston, still need to return and find the crag I was ACTUALLY looking for

 

 

Some off the stone activities went down, given that not much climbing went on…

 

Sam and I at my buddy Brandon’s wedding rehearsal dinner

 

Myself, Lee, and Brandon – the groom to be.

 

I got pretty stoked on road biking a bit this summer at Mt. Charleston, thanks to another friend of mine named Travis – this one is one of the co-owners of Desert Rock Sports – support your local climbing shop! Travis showed me part of his burly hill climbing circuit on the mountain and the right time of day and the week to do it. The riding is fantastic, even when compared to some of the rides in the Reno and Tahoe areas I have done, and provide ample challenge. The lowest elevation on the rides that we did after work was 6,400′ with most rides having over 2,200′ of elevation gain in short mileage. To say this ride might have you out of breath, especially the 1,800′ climb up Deer Creek Rd from its junction with Kyle Canyon Road (avg. 6.5+% grade), is an understatement.

Back to climbing, Mike and I decided to have a look at Only The Good Die Young. We only did the first two pitches due to domestic obligations, but this is one I hope to go back very soon to finish.

 

Mike following P1

Mike following P1

 

#Selfie at the belay, lulz

 

Looking at the exposed roof you pull off of the belay. I thought this portion would be the crux, but the blankness above was quite challenging. Some reports on the internet assert this to be the actual crux rather than the fourth pitch. Didn’t do that, so can’t speak to it, and am a bad face climber (which is what the crux is), however, I wouldn’t argue with this being an 11b/c face crux.

 

Mike throwing up the thumbs-up on P2.

 

Mike making moves after the stout crux on P2

Red Rock has so many awesome corners. Here is Mike following P2, an awesome stem-box problem.

Looking up at this pitch and having to go down broke my heart a bit. Beautiful pitch at a moderate (5.10c) grade that I will be back for.

 

Now we were all off to Zion for Aaron’s bachelor party…

 

Aaron had sampled canyoneering after his visit to Vegas last summer to climb Epinephrine with me and was hooked, so we were going to do some canyons and some climbing if time allowed.

 

First up was some cragging at Cerberus Gendarme, one of my personal favorites…

The look on my face about says it all while leading Scarlet Begonias. Scarlet Begonias is a pretty burly testpiece, but totally classic.

 

Up next was Pine Creek Canyon for us, and for all of us except for Aaron, our first canyoneering experience. Here I am “enjoying” my first swim of the canyon.

Jeff rapping between potholes

 

Myself, Jeff, and Aaron in Pine Creek Canyon

Dat glow. Myself, Paul, and Aaron in Pine Creek Canyon

Paul on the final rap of Pine Creek Canyon

Then it was on to Mystery Canyon…

T-Pain in the upper reaches of the canyon

Paul and Aaron at a cool spot where the canyon widened

 

Myself, Travis, Aaron, Paul, and Jeff – thank goodness for auto-timer!

Bachelor party boy getting to take his companion on the penultimate rap into the Narrows

The following day we decided to crag the first pitch of the super-classic route The Headache, one of my personal favorites. I kept babbling on about how good the first pitch was and was met with eye-rolls and “ok, Weston” ‘s – however, once it was sampled…all were stoked.

Hand crack…oh glorious hand crack

Aaron getting his lead on, about to clip the cam he placed.

I think Paul Wall enjoyed the hang and the scenery on this one. Oh, and the climb, too.

That walk back from the car.

After the Zion trip, the climbing stoke was back in full effect, and so too would be the quantity of climbing going on. Climbing 5-star quality routes without the accompanying crowds is always a pleasure, and that was the case for Stephen and I on Triassic Sands:

Stephen leading the stout-for-short-people-like-us 5.10 crux down low

Stephen following the super fun, exposed (technically) third pitch of the route.

Stephen following P3

Me leading the P4 5.10- corner – not to be missed. Tales of the sketchiness of the shark-tooth-shaped rock are greatly exaggerated. Tread carefully, but by no means is it an immediate death wish.

Some Eastside adventures followed…

 

Jeff following P1 of West Face prior to bailing due to weather…that turned out to be a few minutes of sprinkles, threatening clouds, and then this…

Ze Cardinal

The next morning…

Me leading V8 Crack at Cardinal Pinnacle

Me leading P2 of West Face of Cardinal Pinnacle

Jeff about to pull the crux step-over of the West Face of Cardinal Pinnacle

Jeff making moves

 

At this point, light rain had started to move in and we were contemplating bailing. The rain then stopped, sun started to shine over Lake Sabrina, so we made the call to punch it quickly to the top of the Pinnacle.

Me leading the fantastic P3 of West Face

Jeff following P3 of Cardinal Pinnacle’s West Face – it was about at this point we knew we were likely going to get wet, as the clear skies we had made our decisions based upon quickly closed up.

 

This was the last picture I got before the weather went sideways. We got cold, wet, and scared pretty quickly, but fortunately were down and off in no time.

Naturally upon arriving on the ground, we had some victory beverages awaiting…

We keeps it classy, naw’mean?

Views après weren’t too bad…

The next day Jeff had to boogie back to Vegas for work so Shawn and I went slab climbing at PSOM Slab. Kristina came to hang out and the dogs came along as well…

Shawn getting his TR laps in on the first pitch of the JFMR. I love that pitch.

Perritos

 

The following weekend, Shane and I went to Tuolumne. It was Shane’s first visit, and we were in hopes of visiting the mighty OZ first. Unfortunately, I underestimated the cluster of the Tioga entrance station on a Friday afternoon…instead, we stared longingly at the sweet corner and ran a quick lap on Stemulant, an awesome 10a cragging route at Drug Dome.

Me looking up at the crux of Stemulant

Following Stemulant, I gave Shane the obligatory tour of the meadows, cruising to Olmsted Point and back. MoMart dinner was had and all rejoiced. The next morning we would launch off on a fun link-up of Tenaya, Columbia Finger, and Cathedral. We were going to climb Matthes, but looked across from the saddle and determined it was a bit more walking to climbing than we wanted to do.

Shane somewhere on the route. We roped up about ¾ of the way up and simuled the rest. I had third classed this five years ago, a classic scramble!

Coffee!!!!

Shane at the end of the “real” climbing on the route

Shane scrambling up on to the summit

A beautiful cross-country hike brought us to the saddle between Tressider Peak and the Columbia Finger. From here we got our first vista of the Matthes Crest, and out of laziness opted against it. Instead, we decided to third class some low fifth route on Columbia Finger, which provides AWESOME photo opps:

I went up Columbia Finger first…

Then Shane did, too.

 

Tressider, Eichorn, and Cathedral in the background. Columbia Finger visible in the reflection in my glasses.

Classic view of Cathedral and Eichorn from the JMT. We dropped into this basin to approach Cathedral.

Cool light and texture get me pretty stoked on the trees in this neck of the woods.

 

Shane just got switched from simul-mode to follow-mode, as I threw together a belay to pass a 4-party choke at the Chimney on cathedral . The 5.7 knobs out left were WAY more fun, and had nobody on ’em!

 

Shane pulling over nearish to the summit

 

Shane and I mega-stoked on the summit of Cathedral, the best 5.6 in the universe. It never gets old.

More light and texture.

 

 

Back to Vegas and back to reality, worked all week, and after work on Friday got in a fantastic three pitch route with Stephen called “The Walker Spur,” a John Long, Lynn Hill, and Richard Harrison route. Has to be good with that FA team – and it was!

Stephen following P1

More Stephen following P1. Crux was fun 10b/c move off of a ledge with a mank pin protecting it. Definitely a no-fall zone.

Psyched!!!!

Having the canyon to yourself on a summer evening isn’t bad…

Stephen launching off on P2

Stephen making moves higher on P2, totally classic.

 

Which brings me to the most recent trip, Labor Day Weekend…

T-Pain and I met up with Ben in Bishop and Jeff joined us later on in the trip. Our first route was Cardinal Pinnacle’s Crack Kingdom. Holy Classic, Batman!

Me leading the awesome fist crack on P2 of Crack Kingdom

Consumed by the P2 crux flare…thing was difficult!

T-Pain following P2’s upper section, feelin’ the breeze

Ben floating through the roof on the money pitch – P3.

T-Pain and I at the belay

Ben clearly did not pay his gravity bill this month….floating along through the one of the trickier sections of P3

Super cool sun dog visible and glorious granite

Fantastic light on trees that are probably older than our country

Me leading the thin boulder problem crux of the fourth pitch. A few quick pulls and it’s over.

Ben finishing up the route in fantastic evening light

Travis belaying Ben down the exposed down-climb to the first set of rappel anchors

Looking toward Sabrina on the rappels

Glorious sunset from the rappels on Cardinal.

The next day we paid a visit to an area Ben and Zach both have raved to me about, Patricia Bowl. High elevation cragging at nearly 11,000 feet where if you forget your hike was only 30 minutes, you could easily be miles back in the High Sierra Backcountry. The views outstanding and the climbing quality.

Ben leading the fantastically sustained Modern Trad

More Ben on Modern Trad

The views are pretty ridiculous

Me lolligaggin’ and hangin’ around on Freedom Fighter. 5.11 at almost 11k is pretty damn hard.

After climbing, we went up to Mosquito Flat to hang out by the creek and enjoy the cool temps.

 

That evening, Jeff joined us from Reno and the following day we split up. Jeff and Travis dropped Ben and I off at the parking area for the Scheelite Canyon/Pratt’s Gulley, and they went down the road to climb Chips Off The Old Block.

Ben and I hopped on Rites of Spring and only did the first two pitches, which were OK…definitely NOT the classic we expected. In addition to that, there was a lot of noise coming from the Mustache Wall area with a constant stream of vulgarity, grunting, dogs barking, and generally a distracting atmosphere. Couple that with the less-than-classic climbing and we rapped and bailed. I also injured my elbow on the second pitch by hyper-extending it a bit. Ouch.

Just before elbow tweak on P2 of Rites of Spring

We went back down to where Jeff and Travis parked the car, hollered encouragement at them, and then went and climbed in solitude on some fun slab routes until sunset.

Another highlight of the trip was two of my good friends getting their first 5.10 leads in – Jeff and Travis both got theirs on P1 of the JFMR:

Travis making it happen

T-Pain clippin’

Jeff making moves

 

All in all, this summer was productive. Didn’t climb anything terribly difficult or terribly ‘rad’ but it doesn’t always have to be ‘rad.’ Much fun was had with a wide variety of great friends and I am looking forward to doing quite a bit more of that this Fall.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

 

Weston

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