Summer Catchup: Pine Mountain Pulldown and Mt. Woodson

30 09 2009

This summer was jam packed with  fun climbing including many trips to the Sierra. These long days on the mountain stand at vast contrast to some of  the more chill weekends that are swept up in the fray. I wanted to share a few photos that I didn’t get to post back in August and earlier in September.  One missed weekend Julie and Josh came down from LA to do a bit of crack climbing 101. The easiest place for this is Mount Woodson, which has a mix of boulders with nice cracks and top ropeable mini routes. We lucked out with cool weather in August and had a great day touring some of the classics like Robbins Crack, Jaws, Baby Robbins, Lie Detector and more.


A very proud TR onsight 😉 of Eric’s Face.

In addition to learning crack technique Lizzy made the most progress I’ve ever seen on Lie Detector, which is a desperate 5.12+ thin fingers seam. A series of 5 or 6 nearly footless moves pull over a bulge to a much easier 5.10 section. Lizzy was able to stick the first three of these moves for the first time proving her summer of climbing returned good fitness. Without the advantage of Lizzy’s fingers I was barely able to do the first move, figuring out some crazy beta requiring a precise deadpoint to a poor lock… Maybe next time!

Woodson - Aug 09 - 042

Working on an interesting arete variation Josh came up with.

After tiring of crack climbing Josh and I played around in one of the caves on this tricky problem. In addition to the established line seen in the next two photos we tried a variation or eliminate that followed the arete. It was fun but neither of us could get past the poor slopers. Josh managed to avoid the camera so there are only photos of me on these problems.

Woodson - Aug 09 - 018

Starting up the cave/rail problem. (Originally graded B1 !)

Woodson - Aug 09 - 017

Too bad I missed the hold.

Woodson - Aug 09 - 045

Bouldering is hard…

At the beginning of September I attended the Pine Mountain Pulldown which was also a stop of the Reel Rock Tour. I was psyched for the combo of stress free bouldering and a chance to see the newest climbing films. Lizzy was able to catch a ride down from Palo Alto and  volunteered as a trail monitor on Saturday for the competition.  I was able to carpool from San Diego with Jeff and Keli who are very active in our local climbing community. The Pine Mountain Pulldown is set up as an environmentally responsible event and  partnered with our local advocacy group, Allied Climbers of San Diego, to minimize impact.  After a day of bouldering on Saturday I spent Sunday walking around the bouldering area, with Keli, Jeff and Lizzy, picking up trash and washing off offending tick marks as part of an Adopt-A-Crag event. To further reduce environmental impact the power for the event was solar and all of the competition climbers were bussed to the crag to reduce pollution.


On Sock Hop – V6  photo thanks to Jessica

One of the ACSD members, Adam Kimmerly, took a bunch of photos which can be found here. He also attended last year and one of those photos ended up on the poster of this year.  The following pictures are a subset of his shots from 2009.


Keli on a tricky slab (V5 without the far  left holds).


Robert, of the Vertical Hold Crew, on the classic Dissing Euros V6


Luke about to fall off a fishy V5


Colin, another VH strong man, crimping hard!


Gracie, a micro crusher from Fresno, showing the boys how its done.


Luke uses some alternate beta on the same problem.


Keli, with Jeff spotting, on her way to second place in the women’s division!


Luke gets yet another handful of Mojo bars thanks to the Clif Bar booth!




A Local Climbing Weekend

28 07 2008

After traveling for 4 straight weekends (Charleston, Needles twice, New England) and Luke’s busy weekend of routesetting (I’ll let him blog about that), we were up for a little break from travel this weekend.

I baked a carrot cake and headed down to San Diego on Wednesday so we could have an extra-long “weekend”, even though Luke still had to work on Thursday. So I hung out at Luke’s house on Thursday and we headed to Vertical Hold for an evening climbing session, which was somewhat marred by my left shoulder being really incredibly sore from a silly bouldering fall at the ARC on Tuesday (playing around and falling/landing on my shoulder sans crashpad… oops).

We had a nice, relaxing Friday – Luke made french toast for late breakfast and we headed to Verizon to get him a new phone (Chocolate 3, pretty sweet!), only to be told that his mom had to call them to get him a password or something. So we got some smoothies for “lunch” and headed home for a bike ride (I brought my road bike down with me). We went along some hilly roads and then along a bike route along the 15 in a big loop. It was a bit hard on the legs (not really many hills in Pasadena) but I know it was good for me.

We got up early on Saturday to meet Stein and Chase in Escondido to head up to Riverside Quarry for some sport climbing. Everyone warmed up on Original Sin, an 11b with drilled pockets. (Brief aside on these drilled pockets: in case you don’t know, the quarry is kind of a special place when it comes to ethics – there wouldn’t be rock here at all without people messing around with it and most routes have to be thoroughly cleaned or glued before they’re climbable, so although I wouldn’t ordinarily endorse manufacturing holds, I think it can be a reasonable thing here.) I toproped it clean first try, so I decided to go for the lead after a rest. Meanwhile, the boys all climbed Violator, a many-starred 11c just to the right of Original Sin. Then they started projecting Seduction, a cool-looking (I can only say how it looked, since I didn’t try it) 12d/13a in the same area.

Chase on the beginning of Seduction (5.12d)

Although I was nervous about leading Original Sin (I always am nervous when about to do something that’s not easy), the lead went great. I had the sequence down from my toprope ascent, the pockets were awesome, and I made all the long reaches just fine. This was great for me because I’m looking to start pushing my limits more when sport climbing (I just made a route pyramid, but more on that in another post).

Stein carrying the dog over scary rocks.

I’m sure Luke would love to tell you about Seduction. All I was able to take from the discussion of it was that it had some long-ish moves off very small holds, but also some cool sections. At the end of the climbing session, Stein managed to redpoint it, which was cool to watch.

Luke and I finished the day back in San Diego with dinner at an Indian restaurant, which had excellent vegetable samosas and mango mousse, but disappointing meat in the main dishes. Then we went to see the X-Files movie, which was good, but maybe not quite as exciting as I was hoping for.

On Sunday, we planned to meet up with Lukasz and Eli for some crack bouldering/toproping at Mt. Woodson at around noon. They had never been to Woodson before, so we planned to give them a little tour of the classics. So we went to Robbins Crack (5.10a), Baby Robbins (5.9), Jaws (5.11-), Girls’ Climb (5.10d), California Nights (“5.11b”), Blackfinger (5.10a), and Hear My Train a’Comin (5.12-). We mostly toproped everything since we only brought one crashpad (on purpose). It was fun to try a new route (Girls’ Climb) and a couple older ones (Jaws, California Nights, Train). I was able to use a sequence of fingerstacks (at least 3 in a row) on Jaws that felt totally solid, which was pretty cool. California Nights felt hard and the rock was especially abrasive. Although it’s a classic, it’s definitely not one I’m interested in projecting. Train, as always, was hard, but Luke was able to boulder up the jug (i.e. do the crux) and I was making my highpoint without too much trouble. It was a great day, although next time I think we’ll try to go try some new climbs instead of doing the same circuit over and over again.

Lukasz soloing Baby Robbins (5.9)

Me toproping Jaws (5.11-)… fingerstacks!

So overall, a great weekend with a nice mix of climbing and relaxing. Next weekend will probably be another low-key one before we take a long weekend trip to Charleston so I can send my project (!!!) and we can try out a bunch of other areas.



Heat Wave!

16 04 2008
It was quite toasty here in SoCal last weekend – temps jumped up to the 90s without much warning.
Due to my landlords suddenly deciding not to renew the lease with my housemates and I in Pasadena and some frisbee drama leaving my feelings pretty bruised, we decided to take a more relaxing weekend plan. We slept in Saturday morning and Luke went to the gym to set some routes while I stayed home and did a little homework and some apartment searching.

On Sunday, we headed out to Woodson in the morning to get some climbing in before it got unbearably hot. We went to Hard as Nails first to try to boulder the line, which we both previously did clean on TR. Head games were very much in play as it suddenly seemed a lot harder to do the thin moves without a rope. It’s going to take some more work to do this one.

Then we headed to Hear My Train a’Comin, where we set up a TR so Luke could try the whole line, which he sent after a couple false starts! I was glad that he was on toprope and not soloing it (not that he wasn’t awesome, but it’s pretty long!). I didn’t get as far, but I was improving on my beta and getting a move further than I had been getting last time we worked on Train. Luke thinks the moves will just keep getting harder because the fingerjams are on the big side for him.
We finished up by working a little on AIDS Victim on TR, which follows a thin seem with a couple of very necessary crimps to either side. Luke re-worked the beta and sent it clean on TR, while I worked through the first crimpy move (last time I tried I couldn’t even pull on the crimp – this time it felt pretty good, so a good improvement there) and got to the top with a couple of falls. My fingers were suffering from the abuses of Train, so I decided to stop after my one try. I did, however, get an awesome perfect thumbstack in one of the pods. Yay learning stuff in Indian Creek!

Overall, a good session – it’s always fun to go to Woodson to work on hard cracks – each one requires something new and different.

We’ll be leaving tomorrow night for a long weekend in Bishop. We’ll be going with a couple other friends, so hopefully we’ll come back with some sweet photos!

Getting Psyched for Indian Creek!

19 03 2008

I finished my last final of the term yesterday, which was pretty awesome. It’s always a huge relief to get even a brief reprieve from the work and stress of the term. This one was especially stressful at times with a certain neuro class that had WAY more work than the units I’m receiving for it. But that’s over now – back to English classes next term!

Anyways, we’re leaving on Friday morning to head out to Indian Creek! So while Luke still has to work through Thursday, I get the coveted task of taking some time off to relax and getting all our stuff ready to go. That and wrapping Luke’s birthday presents (it’s his birthday on Sunday, but we’re opening stuff early so we don’t have to cart it all the way to Utah). So it should be a pretty nice next two days.

We’re definitely really excited about this trip and have a HUGE list of routes we want to climb, but we could always use more suggestions (favorite IC route, anyone?) or ideas of places to go/things to see if we take a rest day. A friend has already suggested hiking to Druid Arch in the Canyonlands as a sweet activity.

And finally, a little update about this past weekend (sorry, no photos!). We went to Mt. Woodson on Saturday, initially planning on heading up to Crucible and the Test Tube, but upon arriving, we decided we were a little tired to walk all the way up the hill, plus the weather didn’t look super stable, so we decided to focus our attentions on two routes lower down on the hill – Hard as Nails and Hear My Train a ‘Comin. We went to Hard as Nails first. It’s a beautiful splitter thin finger crack, so a very different experience for Luke and I. We both toproped it twice with some resting for our fingers in between. I struggled with my feet the first time, wearing my still fairly new Cobras, but the second time, wearing the Katanas instead, was much easier – it never ceases to amaze just how good those shoes can be.

On our way back to the road, Luke decided he wanted to try Right Long’s Crack (an offwidth) so we headed up to that. Although he didn’t send, he definitely made some progress, figuring out that he needed to execute a kick-over move to be able to move his hand-stacks up the crack. It was pretty fun to watch (as the belayer 😀 ).

Finally, we stopped by Hear My Train a’Comin on the way down, by way of Blackfinger, which Luke sent twice. The funny thing about Train is that each of us requires a completely different sequence since the locks are so finger size dependent – Luke makes a long reach from his second lock to a crappy one above, which he has to trust to get to the jug, but I have to start out with a jab for a lock Luke didn’t even think existed (using a different foot on the starting foothold) and need to trust that to keep moving up, which I didn’t really manage to do that day. Luke, however, was successful in finally reaching the jug, so next time we can put up a toprope so he can climb the whole thing.

Sunday was my birthday, so we took a day off and did some fun normal-person stuff. We headed to downtown San Diego to “Extraordinary Desserts” which is pretty much the best dessert place EVER and had an amazing piece of cake, then went out to a movie – Vantage Point – which was pretty good, followed by a trip to the San Diego Zoo (which was fun! we hadn’t been in a long time), and back home to make dinner – attempting a recipe for homemade stuffed pasta using won-ton wrappers, which was only somewhat successful.

We’ll hopefully have tons of stories and photos when we come back from our trip!


4 02 2008
Despite the continued rain-on-the-weekend trend in SoCal this past weekend, Luke and I managed to catch some dry weather on Mt. Woodson on Saturday!

I was feeling a little under the weather from the day before and the ridiculous week I had (ultimate frisbee has been the bane of my existence recently), so I chilled on the crashpads wearing all the jackets for the first couple minutes while Luke warmed up on Baby Robbins and Jaws. Then I felt better and warmed up by climbing Baby Robbins twice, and it was time to throw myself at Jaws. On my first serious attempt, I made it to the top, although I started about 4 feet up on top of the stacked crashpads. I was shaking when I made it to the top, but it did feel really good. Something just clicked and the jams felt way better than they ever had before. I took a break before trying again and on the very next try I sent it from the ground up.

So there goes the first major step towards becoming a more awesome trad climber (and eventually climbing equinox!!!) Luke mentioned that he was excited to go spend some time working on equinox, so hopefully we can do that our next free weekend!

After Jaws, we walked up to the top of the hill and headed down the other side to look for some new cracks. We found Test Tube and the Crucible, which we definitely want to try next time. With no new cracks in sight and the wind and clouds making the weather more questionable, we decided to head back to the car. On the way, we stopped at the “cave area” and Luke played around with the steep holds before we continued down to the car. (Photos above are of Jaws, photo below of Equinox)

Luke also climbed Jaws without the crashpads a couple times, which was pretty awesome, too!


Plastic and Cracks!

14 01 2008

The past weekend saw a lot of rock climbing and even more sore muscles.

After fueling with pasta and cheesecake in Pasadena on Friday night, we headed up to Ventura on Saturday morning to compete in the citizen’s ABS Regionals comp at Vertical Heaven. When we arrived in Ventura and got out of the car, the air smelled disgusting – I was concerned about having to breath it all day, but amazingly I either got accustomed to it or it smelled better inside the gym. We checked in and got some free stuff in a Mad Rock bag and sweet T-shirts.

The comp itself was 3 hours long, with 60 problems, 15 each in Rec, Intermediate, Advanced, and Open categories. It being my 2nd comp ever, I struggled a bit. I tried basically all of the the intermediate problems, flashing 2 and making good progress on a lot of others, although I didn’t end up sending them. Luke was climbing in the Advanced category and did pretty awesome, winning 2nd (a free headlamp). We were able to garner some more free stuff – lots of t-shirts, stickers, and a chalkbag via a raffle and them randomly throwing free stuff to the crowd before the finals.

We were a little surprised at how few really good climbers were there, but apparently the comp didn’t really matter for people who wanted to go to Nationals. Lisa Rands and Alex Puccio were the strong women, placing 1st and 2nd in the women’s open category. It was really cool to see Lisa climb AND she put her bag next to my bag on the floor so I ran into her a lot. There were some pretty crazy problems, too – including one involving a jumpstart to campus moves to a bat hang to an upside down dyno… a little ridiculous but a crowd pleaser for sure.

We had dinner with Hartley, Jamie, and Nicole, and headed back down to San Diego, sore but stoked for a day at Woodson on Sunday.

It was a great day for climbing – sunny and warm (although a bit chilly in the wind atop Robbins boulder). We climbed Robbins Crack first – I soloed it for the 2nd time and felt a lot less freaked out than the first time, which was good. Then after doing some easier cracks that our companions could actually climb, we managed to find California Night for the first time! Luke sent this and I was making pretty good progress, but wanted to save some energy for my nemesis, Jaws. I also made the stupid mistake of running a track workout in too-small shoes last week and my big toe has been painful and oozing a little blood since, so I couldn’t fit my right foot into my smaller shoes.

Then the boys enjoyed some time climbing steeper routes in a cool cave area before we headed to Jaws to finish the day. Luke and I soloed Baby Robbins and relaxed in the afternoon sun on the top – by this time we were both pretty worked from all the climbing we’d done this weekend. Luke’s left arm was really hurting and my tips were worn down practically to bleeding!

Then it was time to throw ourselves at Jaws. Luke sent it first try, which was pretty awesome. I got pretty close to the top on my first try, but fell as one of my off-jams slipped out. But it felt pretty good. The next couple tries felt awkward for me and I never made it as high as my first go… maybe next time when I’m less tired it’ll happen. Then I just have to keep sending it to get ready for IC…

I’m pretty sore still today, but luckily its a rest day for me – just classes and homework, so hopefully I can recover before this coming weekend. I’m also feeling pretty motivated to work hard at my Tuesday/Thursday ARC bouldering sessions so that I can climb better at the next comp we go to, whenever that may be.

That’s it for now,