California Climber | Issue 18 | Fall '16

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s n o i t a v Inno ng hardware. Su

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more info at

ClimbTech Removable Bolt

Wave Bolt Glue-In

ClimbTech removable bolts are great for bolting and minimizing impact. New features include cable stiffener, ergonomic trigger, and one-piece cleaning bushing. ClimbTech RBs are safe, efficient and easy to use.

The Wave Bolt is a glue-in rock climbing anchor, offering tremendous strength and increased resistance to corrosion. It combines the strength of glue-ins with the convenience of pitons. In vertical placements the Wave Bolt will not slide out of the hole – like other glue-in bolts do – prior to the glue hardening.

ClimbTech Legacy Bolt

ClimbTech Cable Draws

The new Legacy Bolt sleeve anchor now makes it possible to be installed and removed, allowing the same bolt hole to be used for rebolting. See new Legacy Bolt product videos at:

ClimbTech’s permanent draws – Permadraws – are designed to be long-life rock climbing quickdraws that don’t wear or deteriorate like traditional nylon draws.

Follow us on Facebook /climbtech

Follow us on Vimeo /climbtech

We are proud to dedicate this issue of California Climber to the memory of JULIA MACKENZIE 5/7/1986 - 9/7/2016



NO. 18 FALL 2016






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Cole Zuelke climbing Release (5.12c), The Lost World. IMAGE + JIM THORNBURG

Julia MacKenzie climbing Dewlap (5.11d), Lizard Head, Phantom Spires. IMAGE + DEAN FLEMING


Clara Lopes climbing Green Monster (5.11d), The Lost World.

CALIFORNIACLIMBERMAGAZINE.COM PUBLISHER Dean Fleming ART DIRECTOR Alton Richardson SENIOR CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jerry Dodrill, Jim Thornburg SENIOR CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Fitz Cahall, James Lucas CONTRIBUTORS Jim Thornburg, Jerry Dodrill, Greg Epperson, Dean Fleming, Charlie Barrett, Kristina Williams

MOST, IF NOT ALL OF THE ACTIVITIES DEPICTED HEREIN CARRY AND PRESENT SIGNIFICANT RISKS OF PERSNAL INJURY OR DEATH. Rock climbing, bouldering, ice climbing, moutaineering, alpine climbing and any other outdoor activity are inherently dangerous. The owners, staff and managment of California Climber do not recomend that anyone partcipate in these activities unless they are an expert or accompanied by an expert. Please seek qualified professional instruction and/or guidance. Understanding the risks involved are necesassary and be prepared to assume all responisbilty associated with those risks.


CALIFORNIA CLIMBER 22502 Colorado River Dr. Sonora, Ca 93570 Phone: (209) 768-0110 Email:


60 MILES EAST OF THE CITY OF SONORA, California’s Highway 108 climbs toward the 9,623ft summit of Sonora Pass. As it gains elevation at a steep grade near the town of Twain Harte, Highway 108’s roadside scenery quickly changes from oak-studded foothills to an expansive and dense pine forest. The Stanislaus National Forest boundary begins 10 miles east of Twain Harte near the town of Sugar Pine. As the tenth largest National Forest in the state of California, the Stanislaus encompasses over 898,000 acres ranging from 1,500 to 11,000 feet in elevation. The topography varies dramatically as the forest sweeps from the northern edge of Yosemite National Park across the Central Sierra, finally joining the Mokelumne Wilderness near Ebbitts Pass and the Mokelumne River basin. Though well documented, the Stanislaus is one of the least developed National Forests in the lower 48. Only 180 miles of paved roads exist within the forest boundary providing vehicle access to a mere 14% of the entire Stanislaus National Forest.

At 6,000 feet in elevation the northern aspect of Highway 108 drops steeply into a 3,000 foot deep river canyon. At the bottom of this ravine winds the Middle Fork Stanislaus River. In 1948 the Tri-Dam Project approved the construction of Donnell Dam which would flood a large portion of the Middle Fork Stanislaus River canyon forming Donnell Reservoir. Although plagued by hazardous work conditions that would result in multiple accidents and deaths, the 483 foot tall dam was completed over an astonishing one year period. To provide machinery and supplies for the project, Tri-Dam workers constructed Forest Service Road 5n06; a small gravel track that winds down into the Stanislaus gorge from Highway 108. Rock slides five miles below the highway forced land managers to close the road at mid-length sometime around 1970. Today the upper section of this steep dirt road is unkempt, overgrown and largely abandoned. Route 5n06 serves little purpose to area motorists, yet it does provide access for local climbers who have been developing routes along the road and near Donnell Reservoir since the 1960s. Doug and Stephen Olmstead were likely the first climbers to explore the sport climbing potential in this region when they established some fine pitches at nearby Second Quarry and at the Lost World; a picturesque canyon filled with waterfalls, lush wildlife and steep granite sport climbing. Shortly after, local climbers Dave Yerian and David Clay ventured into the Lost World to establish Peaceful Warrior (5.10d) and Green Monster (5.11d); two fine routes that are still considered among the best climbs on the Sonora Pass Highway. +++


first visited the Lost World gorge in 1998, at a time when only a handful of local climbers had ventured into the gorge and less than 20 routes existed in the canyon. A few years later the Lost World experienced a slight boom in new route activity with visits from climbers like Ed Barry, Jeff Schoen and most notably, El Cerrito resident Tom Addison who has now established

EDITOR’S NOTE A wood carving of a Sasquatch stands eight feet tall in front of the Strawberry General Store on Sonora Pass. IMAGE + JERRY DODRILL

well over 100 pitches in the Lost World and continues to develop new routes in the canyon. In addition to quality climbing and solitude, many of the climbers who visited the Lost World began to experience a strange and often frightening phenomenon. In the early 2000s climbers began to find teepees made from three balanced sticks ranging in size from six inches to six feet in height in very remote areas of the forest. Then the noises started. In 2003 climbers first reported hearing incredibly loud screeching sounds and thuds in the forest. The sounds seemed to be circling the campsite near the Lost World parking area. Between 2003 and 2010 more than 25 individuals reported unsettling encounters near the parking for the Lost World climbing area. During this time large things have slammed into the side of climber’s trucks; rocks have been moved and stacked in odd configurations, and a few glowing pairs of eyes have been spotted deep in the forest. For more on the Lost World and some incredible images by climbing photographer Jim Thornburg, check out this issue’s cover story on the Lost World on page 40. And please remember that campfires are strictly prohibited within the Stanislaus National Forest this season; so if you do decide to stay the night at near the Lost World parking area, you’ll have to do so in the dark. ­—DEAN FLEMING 1-707-255-1500 849 Jackson Street #5A Napa, CA 94558



The new Dragon A state-of-the-art cam that makes the most of every placement >

New hot forged and CNC’d TripleGrip lobes give • Larger surface contact area • Increased holding power • Higher performance in slick rock • Reduced ‘walking’

> Extendable 8mm Dyneema sling saves on quickdraws > Ergonomic thumb press gives positive handling > Rated to 14kN from size 1 upwards

EVENTS & STEWARDSHIP EVENTS CLIMBER COFFEE Where: Columbia Boulder, Camp 4, Yosemite Valley When: Sundays at 9am Info: About: Starting September 18th Climber Coffee will be held at the Columbia Boulder in Camp 4. Stop by Camp 4 at 9am to drink some delicious coffee, meet fellow climbers, chat with Yosemite’s Climbing Management staff, and get psyched for another day in the center of the universe. The Yosemite Climbing Stewards will discuss recent happenings in the park, share upcoming events and stewardship opportunities, and field questions. Our staff of awesome Climber Stewards might even have beta for your project. ADOPT-A-CRAG: BAY AREA CLIMBERS COALITION AT CASTLE ROCK Where: Castle Rock State Park When: October 2nd Info: About: Help clean up Castle Rock in the Santa Cruz Mountains with help from the Access Fund and the Bay Area Climbers Coalition. ADOPT-A-CRAG: CRAGS CAVE VALLEY CLIMBING FESTIVAL AT AUBURN QUARRY Where: Auburn Quarry When: October 15th Info: About: Celebrate and help maintain Auburn Quarry climbing area. Additionally, Reel Rock 11 is showing at Sacramento Pipeworks on September 16th. Doors open at 7pm.

ADOPT-A-CRAG: FRIENDS OF JOSHUA TREE CLIMB SMART Where: Joshua Tree Lakes Campground, Joshua Tree National Park When: October 14th – 16th Info: About: This year will be a special community gathering marking the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 20th staging of this seasonal kickoff to the climbing season in Joshua Tree. Join us for a value-packed weekend of education, inspiration and celebration, all in support of a great cause as all proceeds benefit JOSAR, Friends of Joshua Tree and the Access Fund. ADOPT-A-CRAG: FRIENDS OF PINNACLES CLIMBER APPRECIATION DAYS Where: Eastside of Pinnacles National Park When: October 21st – 23rd Info: About: Join Friends of Pinnacles, the Access Fund and the American Alpine Club in support of the Pinnacles Trail Crew. Volunteer to help restore and improve climber access paths and staging areas at one of your favorite Pinnacles crags. AMERICAN ALPINE CLUB’S FALL HIGHBALL CRAGGIN CLASSIC Where: Bishop California When: November 4th – November 6th Info: About: This 3-day, grassroots festival, is a true celebration of all things climbing featuring the Bishop premiere of Reel Rock Film Tour 12 with a 5.10 after-party at Mountain Rambler Brewery; a full lineup of climbing clinics taught by professional climbers and guides covering a range of useful skills; a massive Climber Party held in downtown Bishop and hosted by our friends at New Belgium Brewing and Black Sheep Coffee Roasters and featuring local food vendors, live music, silent auctions and raffles with incredible deals on top-end gear.

One membership. Eleven unique locations.



Area Protection Update, Yosemite National Park: As of August 1st, 2016 all Peregrine closures within Yosemite National Park have been lifted for the season. Thanks for giving space to these amazing falcons. For current info on Peregrine closures in Yosemite please visit www.

Touchstone Climbing Series – Autumn 2016 September 16th - Great Western Power Company October 21st – Dogpatch Boulders November 19th – Sacramento Pipeworks

Public Meetings Update: Yosemite is kicking off their Wilderness Plan scoping period this fall. There are a series of public meetings happening now but the comment period is open until Sept 30. For more details visit

USA Climbing Series – Autumn 2016 September 18th- Planet Granite SF (San Francisco, CA) October 1st- Pacific Edge (Santa Cruz, CA) October 15th- Granite Arch (Rancho Cordova, CA) October 22nd- RockSport (Reno, NV) November 5th- High Altitude Fitness (Incline Village, NV) November 19th- Rocknasium (Davis, CA)

Area Protection Update, Jailhouse Rock: The wildfire on the property in summer 2016 has been maintained. There are no additional access restrictions for this area. Check for current updates.

Meyers Climbing Festival September 17th

We stock a large selection of supplies for all your hiking, climbing, and outdoor adventures. Rentals Available Open 7 days a week including holidays




Keenan Pope climbing The Flake (5.10b).


Knobby Wall, Yosemite Valley



The Flake






Trad, single pitch



Singles, small-3”




Knobby Wall, YNP

3 min., flat

Walk off


Year Round

GUIDEBOOK Yosemite Free Climbs by Don Reid

DESCRIPTION Yosemite Valley is well known for hosting some of the best routes on the Planet. Yet the soaring cracks and smooth buttresses of the Valley’s tallest walls rarely lend themselves to steep, gymnastic sport climbing. A nearly 100 year-old tradition of ground-up bolting in Yosemite National Park has also limited the number of quality wellprotected sport climbs in the region. Regardless, some overhanging sport climbs can be found in small-but-quality pockets of atypically featured rock throughout the Valley. One such location is the Knobby Wall, a giant boulder with severely overhanging facets on which incredible diorite knobs form in-cut edges and jugs. The Knobby Wall’s convenient location [just 100 feet from Highway 140] and its remarkable ability to stay dry in wet weather, have transformed this little boulder into a well-known local’s destination for quick after work laps and rainy day sessions. Although a number of difficult sport climbs can be found on the Knobby Wall, including the often-projected Keep the Muscle, Loose the Fat (5.13b), the Knobby Wall also features a few

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moderate sport climbs and the steepest 5.10 crack in Yosemite: The Flake (5.10b). When standing underneath the nearly 45 degree overhanging roof and gazing out the sequence of fingerlocks and hand jams on The Flake, it’s hard to believe this incredible feature can be climbed at the mortal grade of 5.10. The tricky boulder problem that guards the start of the route can be intimidating. Some climbers protect this sequence with a crashpad as the first piece of gear on the route is found after these difficult moves at a height of 10 feet. After placing the first piece, strenuous laybacking protected by excellent small cams leads to a perplexing crux mantle. We’ll let you figure that one out on your own, but perhaps it should be noted that superb cam placements protect this crux and a short fall into open air is your only consequence should you botch the exit moves. Once you elegantly mantle the top-out, or slither over the summit like a beached porpoise, lower off of two bolts to set up a top-rope. To clean the anchor, walk off the climber’s right side of the boulder.



“MARK” Cam Trujillo and his 1989 Dodge Ram B250 Conversion

course) and mood lighting. I found that I didn’t have to modify too much. Aside from installing the windshield wiper bailing wire, all I’ve done is replace the back bench seat with a full size bed. How does Mark do off-road?

CC: Where did you find Mark and how much did he cost you? CT: Funny you should ask that, because I actually bought Mark from a guy named Mark. I had been in van-search mode for a while when I read his post on the Eureka, C.A. Craigslist without any pictures, claiming that he had a really nice yellow dodge van for $1,500. That’s about all it said, so I was a little wary going in. As you can see, the van is not yellow at all, but it IS pretty nice. How did Mark get his name? Well he’s got the name Landmark II printed on the side. I don’t know what became of the Landmark I but that might be another good van feature if you can find it. Anyway, I just call him Mark for the sake of brevity. Mark is considered a “Luxury Conversion;” can you tell us about these extravagant features? Mark came with all the fixins: power windows (one of which is broken), power locks (one of which is broken), cruise control (which oddly works fine) and power windshield wipers (which are held in place with bailing wire). The interior includes four swiveling, reclining armchairs, a wooden table and curtains/ venetian-blinds for every window, shag carpeting, a booming sound system (tapes only, of

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Over the winter some friends and I were driving back from Chico to Humboldt after a weekend of righteous partying during a pretty serious storm. As we came over the mountain pass the storm became really snowy, and I got a little nervous. Mark did pretty well coming down the mountain in the snow, though, until we got down to the bottom. We found that the Mad River had gotten so swollen down there that it was flowing right over the road. We tested the waters and found them to be less than a foot. So, slowly and carefully, we drove Mark through a raging river. I doubt he would last a day on the sand or anything like that. In fact, he can’t really go uphill in reverse on a dirt road. I’ve had a hell of a time turning him around in situations like that. What are your favorite features? In my opinion, Mark’s paint job sets him apart. A lot of people talk about how creepy big white vans can be (which I absolutely disagree with), but I think Mark narrowly escapes this description with his stylish striped facade. Another nice thing about Mark is his greenhouse capabilities. I’ve successfully cultivated several cacti on the dash, and I do not have a green thumb. Actually, a chunk of grass and sod got caught in one of the cracked fenders last winter, and the moisture here by the coast has kept it green and thriving all these months. Dance parties or cocktail parties? Mark is so fancy; I think he’s more suitable for cocktail parties. In fact, during party season (between midterms and finals) Mark was a regular fixture at all the best shindigs. Who wouldn’t want to retire to the plush room out in the driveway with the Prince tape in the deck and some nice Coors Light on ice in the cooler? I’ll miss college. Anything else you’d like to add? You know, living out of a van for a year really changed my life for the better. It gave me a new perspective and made me appreciate the simpler things in life. It forced me to reassess what I thought of as the essential possessions, because there’s only so much room in a van. Just like traveling, living in Mark really helped me learn to let go and just go with the flow. I tend to be a bit of a homebody, but it’s no fun just sitting in a van alone. So I actually spent more quality time with friends and loved ones because of Mark.




hen STATIC founder Taylor Carpenter began designing her first chalk bucket, she searched everywhere for the toughest, most durable and unique fabric she could find. From this exploration came the STATIC Waxed Canvas Collection; a series of chalk bags and buckets with a vintage look that develops with each use. “Each crease leaves a mark, telling the story of every adventure you take your chalk bag on,” said Carpenter. “These bags are really rugged and less likely to tip over than your average bag because of the tapered design and wax coating.” This summer we grabbed a prototype of STATIC’s new Waxed Canvas Chalk Bucket to test for this review. In the past few months we’ve stuffed it into our crashpads, kicked it into the dust and thrown it to the top-outs of boulders across the state. We found that the waxed canvas material does create a bucket that is a little bit heavier than most chalk buckets, which is a slight nuance when carrying large loads or hiking great distances, but this small detraction was more than compensated by the bucket’s durability and stability. There’s nothing worse than a chalk bucket that wants to tip over, yet some firm-bottomed buckets are also a hassle to stuff into your backpack or crashpad. STATIC addressed both of these issues with the use of waxed canvas material, which holds a sturdy form when opened yet also packs down easily. In testing we found the waxed canvas to scratch, crease and fold easily, which over time does create a really cool vintage look while still maintaining a structurally durable exterior.

The STATIC Waxed Canvas Chalk Bucket was designed with a dual closure system, with Velcro that snaps the bucket shut and a side release buckle which closes like a dry-bag. Inside is a canvas top that flows into a protected soft fleece lining. This lining holds chalk really well, so you’ll be able to chalk up even when you think you’re out. Additionally, the linings of all Static chalk bags are infused with USDA Organic and local San Diego lavender which adds a pleasant but subtle aroma to each bag. Each STATIC bag is handmade in San Diego using as many locally sourced materials as possible.



he introduction of lightweight carabiners has been the simplest yet perhaps the most utilitarian innovation in rock climbing gear over the past decade. While climbers with Flintstone-sized fingers, aid climbers and ice climbers (who need to clip rope with gloves on) often scoff at the idea of small carabiners, for the rest of us the invention has significantly decreased the weight and size of the standard climbing rack. With the release of their original FS Mini carabiner (FS stands for Full Strength), Metolius introduced a sturdy and safe micro-biner that fulfilled the safety requirements for climbing and mountaineering. Metolius has recently revamped this design with the production of their new FS Mini II carabiner: an ultralight (23g) biner that has been renovated for superior safety and improved handling. At 23 grams the FS Mini II falls in line with the lightest climbing carabiners on the market. Yet unlike many ultralight biners of a similar weight the FS Mini II does this while maintaining very strong specs (22kN major axis, 7kN minor-axis, 7kN open-gate) and a robust frame that resists against rope wear and nicking on bolt hangers. The Mini II has a slightly wider gate opening and deeper basket than the Mini I for easier clipping and more hitching options. Metolius also added “Nose bumps” to the main body of carabiner which protect/shield the wire

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gate from getting opened if the biner is moved under rope tension. Basically these bumps help the gate from getting accidentally opened as the climber moves up the pitch. Additionally, the outside of the wire gate to nose profile has been optimized so that the rope gets shed outward (verses accidentally clips itself in) in case it comes in contact with that side of the biner. Best news: the price has been reduced from $7.50 to $5.95. The FS Mini II biner is obviously not designed to be a master point biner and they can be fiddly when used for complex rigging. Clipping any small biner does take a bit of getting used to but even people with huge fingers can learn the subtle techniques. Because they are short, the FS Mini II biners do not clip especially well if you grab the basket with your finger to clip rope, but they can be easily clipped by the three other methods and in some cases are easier to clip than full size biners. All ultralight climbing products are specialized and not without their drawbacks, and the FS Mini II is no exception, but after considering that we’d be carrying our biners 100% of the time and clipping them for a short period, we felt that the weight and space savings were well worth the small nuances.


MAD ROCK REMORA { $93.00 }


n early 2015 Mad Rock released the Remora – a wonderful little slipper which may be the best fitting shoe for climbers with narrow feet in the entire Mad Rock line. The Remora was not specifically modeled for climbers with narrow feet, and the shoe does fit very well over a wide range of foot types, yet the nature of this well-designed slipper fits like a sock and pulls tension around the heal and over the top of the foot – a saving grace for narrow-footed climbers. We tested the Remora for six months with very positive results among climbers with narrower feet and those who prefer a sensitive, comfortable shoe with power in the toe box. The Remora preformed great on steep boulders and sport climbs, but the shoe also worked very well for crack climbing and longer routes. Climbers with slightly wider feet had the best results while climbing cracks in the Remora as these testers were able to size the shoes slightly larger while still maintaining power in the toe box for precise edging and a snug fit around the ankle and upper foot. If sized very tight (two full sizes below street shoe) the Remora does force the pinky toe into a small bump that can hinder crack climbing, but only testers with extremely narrow feet needed to size this far down (Mad Rock recommends sizing about 1.5 sizes below street shoe). Steep climbs and cracks are fun to climb in the Remora, but the best results came on delicate granite smears. Although you’ll need a strong foot to maintain power in this position, the Remora can smear atop greasy dishes and granite dimes with incredible precision and stability. The Remora has been built with a traditional look, yet enhanced with features such as the power upper and SynFlex materials to give

a consistent and precise fit. The Science Friction 3.0 rubber on the sole boasts higher friction and greater durability with improved tear strength. Unlike some Mad Rock models, the rubber on the sole of the Remora has been “brushed” giving it a wonderfully sticky feel straight out of the box. The Remora has also been outfitted with Science Friction 3.0 R2 rand rubber designed for higher durability and greater give without loss of performance. The power upper on the Remora utilizes a thin, lightweight and sensitive rubber to provide extra grip without compromising comfort. The overall feel of the shoe is soft, supple and comfortable with a suction-cup fit, yet perhaps the best feature of the Remora is its lightweight price tag which checks in at a nearly incomparable $93.00.



9 is a project born from the creative mind of Mauro Calibani, the 2001 Boulder World Champion and Italian route developer who first climbed the infamous Is Not Always Pasqua (E9) in Interprete, Italy. In 2000 Calibani founded the climbing apparel brand E9 and began producing clothing and accessories for climbers with an original and peculiar style. Calibani replaced the drab Earthy tones commonly seen in climbing apparel with loud, vibrant colors and edgy graphics; a style that was quickly embraced by the European climbing community and beyond. Although E9 is well known for their alternative style, it is the pure functionality and quality of the brand’s clothing that has seen E9’s popularity rise across the globe over the past decade.

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Perhaps no other E9 product line has made such a leap in popularity as their climbing-specific pants; a line of 98% cotton and 2% elastic pants that are designed specifically for comfort and durability while bouldering and climbing. E9’s recent lines are available in their signature vibrant colors, but also in more conservative colors like grey and iron. This spring we received a few pairs of E9’s new Rondo Slim pants and put them to the test on boulder problems and climbs of varying styles throughout the state. In six months of testing we found the Rondo Slim Pant to remain comfortable, durable and breathable in every fair-weather climbing and hiking application. The pants are fit snugly in the waist but roomy in the legs which not only allows for excellent mobility while climbing but also allows the pants to fit comfortably over long underwear and/or other thermal layers during colder days. E9’s pants are designed for maximum mobility and durability during difficult climbing applications, but are not designed for mountaineering or other extreme weather climbing implementations. The pants are therefore not waterproof or water resistant. The Rondo Slim sports a multitude of appealing features, such as elastic drawstring tightening systems around the ankles, multiple brush holders on the pant legs and rounded deep pockets. Yet the most common remarks from our testers regarded the waistband, which consists of a wide, form-fitting elastic band that fits perfectly under a harness with an added drawstring closure. E9’s entire line is 100% hand made in Italy and produced using stretch fabrics sourced locally from Italian vendors. Without exception, the Rondo Slim Pant has been designed using the highest quality materials and fabrics, including burly YKK zippers, a steel button snap at the waist, reinforced stitching near the rear and knee areas and double-stitched pockets.

Ethan Pringle on Jumbo Love, 5.15b, CA. P: Spenser Tang-Smith

ethan pringle Jumbo Love, 5.15b


The Tarifa is a powerhouse of performance thanks to the new RB Range X technology (Maximum Range of Response and Balance). The RB Range X system creates a dynamic response and provides unparalleled balance in the shoe, making climbing feel both easier and more intuitive. As with all Tenaya shoes, the comfort and quality are unrivaled.

Distributed by Trango | |




as part of the climbing team and another two dropping in from the top with several hundred feet of rope. Both approaches yielded good results but the story was incomplete. I wanted to have a decent photo position for an entire climb. Fixing ropes from the top to the ground would allow me to move freely above and beside the climbers. One solo load carry and another with two friends had my gear and 2,000 feet of rope on the summit of El Cap. I was hopeful this amount of rope would get me to Heart Ledges. From there existing fixed ropes continued to the ground. I’d discovered the difficulties of merely finding the top of El Cap from the trail above a year earlier while photographing on the Zodiac. Finding the actual topout point of the route Sunkist without first hand experience turned out to be difficult. I made several explorations over the lip, looking for recognizable features. I made a guess and lowered two 300 foot ropes tied together over the edge. I rappelled with the remaining six ropes coiled and dangling from my harness. 500 feet down I realized that I was headed for and eventually was standing on Chickenhead Ledge, several hundred feet East of where I wanted to be. I ascended back up my lines and hauled them back to the summit. I needed to find the Fat City Dihedral, the exit where Sunkist rolled over, and go down from there. I had a pretty good idea now where to start but with my mistake I didn’t have enough daylight to continue fixing ropes and reach the ground. I bivouacked on the summit with the ropes piled on top of me to stay warm. It was a long, cold and sleepless night. I started fixing down the next morning. I was on the right path now. One of my biggest fears was getting stuck dangling out away from the wall, unable to swing back in, but Sunkist manages to follow an almost plumb line unbroken by any huge roofs or jutting features. I clipped my lines in occasionally and rarely drifted out away from the rock. The giant roofs of the Heart were below me and I passed these with a long free rappel. My only rope snarl happened here, dangling 50’ away from the cliff, it seemed like hours of untangling as I slowly spun in circles. I soon realized that the heat polished cam on my rappel device was letting the rope slip through, very slowly. I reached the Heart Ledges rappels with plenty of rope to spare. From Heart Ledges I continued to the ground on the worst fixed lines I have ever descended. One of the lines had a half dozen knots tied in it. At each bad spot in the rope a knot was tied, basically eliminating a terribly damaged sheath area. We started up the route the next day. The featured photos were taken four days into our ascent, high on the Shield Headwall, 2,000 feet above the Valley floor.

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MacKenzie climbing Jagged Sky (5.12a) at the Bear Crag in Mammoth.

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MAMMOTH LAKES, C.A. 9/4/2016, 2:45PM


reclined on a crashpad in the bed of the truck while the strong scent of moss, empty beer cans and trash wafted over me. I thought about how lazy I am, especially when compared to Julia. She had awoken at 5am that morning to make the hour-long drive from Bishop to the Bear Crag; a cliff stacked with hard sport climbs, many of which she had onsighted or redpointed over the past few weeks. We planned to meet at a coffee shop in Mammoth at 2:30pm after the Bear Crag went into the sun. When the clock hit 3:00pm I started to worry. Julia was rarely late. But conditions that day were cloudy and cool, ideal temperatures for the steep and pumpy routes at the Bear Crag. I assumed they had stayed at the cliff an extra hour to nab a few more pitches before making the long descent back to the parking lot. My mind drifted back to a conversation I’d had earlier in the week with our mutual friend Austin. “Julia climbs more than anyone I know,” said Austin. I agreed. We started to calculate what we thought might be the average number of days Julia climbed each year. “I think at least 250 days each year,” I said, “and she’s been doing this for nearly twenty years. That means she’s probably climbed about 5,000 days of her life.”

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The number was astonishing, but it made sense when I considered her well-rounded mastery of the sport. I leaned back on the crashpad, stared into the sky and began to estimate how many 5.12 routes she had redpointed before I had my first cup of coffee that morning. Knowing Julia, it was probably more than I had accomplished in the past five years. At 3:30pm Julia’s car pulled into a nearby parking spot at the coffee shop. In typical J-Mac style, she leaped out of the driver’s seat, skipped over to the truck and gave me a huge Momma Bear hug. She did a funny little dance in the parking lot and then punched me hard in the upper arm. She yelled at me as if I were across the busy street and hard of hearing. “Come on, I’ll buy you a smoothie!” She talked me into a blended thing with strawberries while she ordered the strangest most sugar-filled drink on the menu, an iced banana chai tea with a weird type of yogurt and something we couldn’t pronounce – we figured it was some kind of insect or a root from South America. Back in the parking lot we sipped our drinks and talked about a Demolition Derby event back in Bishop. We tried to decide if we should actually go climbing or just get drunk at the Derby. Julia knew that I was raised in the small town of Sonora and that I’d like to see the cars smash into each other and catch fire. We talked for an hour and then decided to go climbing.

OPPOSITE PAGE MacKenzie packing her cat Pika at the boulders of Squamish, British Columbia. IMAGE + Jim Thornburg THIS PAGE MacKenzie climbing Humboldt Current 5.10a) at Promontory, Del Norte County.


THIS PAGE MacKenzie climbing Delirious (5.12a) at Columns of the Giants. OPPOSITE PAGE MacKenzie climbing Huda Crack (V5), Huda Point, Humboldt County.

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ulia MacKenzie started climbing at the young age of 12 at Class 5 Fitness in San Rafael near her home town of Kentfield, California. She took to climbing instantly and soon acquired a position behind the front desk at Berkeley Ironworks. By the early 2000s Mackenzie had completed a number of difficult sport climbs and boulder problems as hard as V9. She soon began to travel and climb outside the Golden State, making annual pilgrimages to places like Squamish, Red Rocks and Smith Rock. In 2010 MacKenzie was involved in a serious motorcycle accident that severely damaged her left shoulder. The torn rotator cuff in her shoulder would frequently pop the joint out of its socket during any type of downward pull. When even the easiest climbing terrain became a hazard, she decided to undergo reconstructive surgery. The process of recovery would take years, yet the possibility of climbing again at full capacity inspired her to go under the knife. In 2012, after her longest break from rock climbing in nearly a decade, MacKenzie slowly and carefully returned to climbing, mostly with a new group of friends from Arcata where she had recently graduated from Humboldt State University and landed a job as a Registered Nurse at Mad River Community Hospital. To say the climbing scene in Arcata suited MacKenzie would be a vast understatement; rather, she near-completely influenced the vibe of an entire generation of Humboldt County climbers. MacKenzie’s boisterous laughter, infectious psyche and outstanding cooking bestowed upon her the nickname “Momma Bear;” a title that perfectly described her unwavering generosity and instinctual nature to care for others.



n September of 2012 eight young climbers packed into Julia’s 1978 Toyota Dolphin camper named “El Jefe” and made the long haul from Arcata to South Lake Tahoe. After a cold North Coast winter they were excited to test out the sparkling granite boulders in the warm sunshine of the Tahoe Basin. I met the group that weekend while wondering through

one of Tahoe’s characteristic pine forests. We fell off boulders during the day and then exchanged stories and laughter into the night. Under the stars atop a sandy ridge, we arranged our crashpads into a giant square. We wriggled into our sleeping bags and piled onto the huge bed like a litter of puppies. Giggles wafted up through the smoke of a passing spliff, a wine bottle circled the sleeping bags, and I fell in love with Julia. Less than a week later I headed for the North Coast. By November of 2012 Julia was climbing and bouldering again at a high level. Her job as a Registered Nurse afforded her plenty of time off and she used this time to steadily work her way back up the grades. El Jefe soon became our home, and we parked the ageing camper at many of the ocean-side crags that line the Humboldt County coastline. Here, the days played out in a repetitive fashion: Pumped out of my mind on the warm-up, I’d brush sand into my eyes a few feet above a bolt mushroomed with rust. The booming sound of the ocean’s waves crashing into the boulders below would strike me with a deep and dizzying fear. Shaken, I’d lower to the ground. Then I’d watch Julia, steadfast and composed, elegant yet powerful, as she cruised above my highpoint and calmly clipped the anchors. Later, I’d retreat into the shadows to take pictures as Julia casually onsighted route after route. With El Jefe as our untrustworthy steed we toured the state [at a maximum speed of 50 miles per-hour] in search of optimal climbing conditions. Soon places like Bishop, Mammoth, Sonora Pass, Humboldt County, Columbia, Tuolumne Meadows and Lake Tahoe began to blend together and feel like one huge-yet-familiar backyard. Although Julia was a far better climber than I in almost every regard, she had not yet gained much experience with longer routes and crack climbing techniques. Her first day crack climbing in Yosemite Valley was something of an unexpected challenge. On a 5.10d finger crack in the Lower Merced Canyon, she hung from the rope in a slump, her spirit seemingly broken. Little did I know that this day would only fuel her determined character. In the months to come Julia would perfect her crack climbing technique and then complete an ascent of The Nose (VI 5.9 C1) and a sub-24 hour ascent of Triple Direct (VI 5.8 C2) on El Capitan. CALIFORNIACLIMBERMAGAZINE.COM | 33

Julia MacKenzie climbing an un-named V5 arĂŞte at Moonstone Beach, Humboldt County.

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THIS PAGE MacKenzie climbing the Razor (V3) in the Labyrinth, Columbia. OPPOSITE PAGE MacKenzie climbing Osteoporosis (5.11b/c) at Footsteps, Humboldt County.

NEXT PAGE TOP MacKenzie climbing Behemoth (5.12c) at Columns of the Giants, Sonora Pass. NEXT PAGE BOTTOM MacKenzie climbing an un-known V4 arête at Ossagon Rocks, Humboldt County.


n 2013 our romantic relationship came to an end in what was likely the most casual and least hurtful break-up known to mankind. One of us, neither of us can remember which, suggested that we might be better off as friends. We fist bumped, cracked beers and then continued bouldering. Over the next few years our friendship grew, as did the large network of amazing people that always seemed to surround her wherever she landed. While I hunkered down in California, growing weaker from hours of computer work, MacKenzie expanded her horizons and her abilities, traveling the globe in search of good climbing conditions and cultural experiences. Throughout her travels to China, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico and Germany she gained even more stamina for hard climbing. In the Italian Dolomites she increased her knowledge of route-finding and alpine climbing techniques while negotiating some of the most complex terrain on Earth. In 2014 MacKenzie’s process of recovery came full circle when she redpointed one of her hardest routes to date, If (5.13b) at the steep limestone crag Trinity Arêtes near her home in Arcata. In the summer of 2016 MacKenzie moved into a house in Bishop, fulfilling one of her lifelong dreams. From here she would commute to work in the Bay Area. On her days off she would dedicate nearly every moment of her life to climbing and exploring in the vast Sierra Nevada mountain range. Over the next few months she amassed an astounding list of difficult ascents in the High Sierra including Speed of Life (5.11b), the Polish Route (IV 5.10+), Positive Vibrations (IV 5.11), the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney (III 5.7) [onsight free solo], the Harding Route on Keeler Needle (V 5.10+), Inyo Face (V 5.11) [onsight second ascent], Star Trekkin’ (III 5.10c), Western Front (IV 5.10c), the Third Pillar of Mt. Dana (III 5.10b), the Harding Route on Mt. Conness (IV 5.10c) and countless others. CALIFORNIACLIMBERMAGAZINE.COM | 37

MAMMOTH LAKES, C.A. 9/4/2016, 4:30PM: The truck bumped and rocked down the forest service route as we joked about the randomness and remoteness of the shitty little cliff I’d managed to drag us to. About an hour earlier Julia had thrown her pack into the bed of the truck before crossing the street to pick up a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon at the Chevron Station in Mammoth. In an effort to help me secure a few last-minute climbing photos she had convinced a friend and local Mammoth resident to join us. In classic style for Julia, jovial laughter, bribes and beers were a large part of this conversation. We sat atop the tiny cliff as gunshots rang out in succession from a nearby campsite. We joked about the “peaceful” nature of our surroundings and made references to the right-wing nut jobs and motorcades of idiots that lined the highways over the Labor Day weekend. We sipped beer from our red white & blue Pabst cans and yelled back at the gunfire, “God bless ‘Merica!” The sun set over the Sierra as we piled our gear into the back of the truck. Julia wanted to ride in the bed of the truck until we reached Highway 395. I told her I’d unbuckle my seatbelt as I drove to even our chances in the event of a crash. I did my best to hit every pothole on the way out. I also managed to gaze into the rearview mirror a few times. In the twilight I could barely see her, bouncing around in the bed of the truck, grinning with her huge, untamed smile. I rolled down the window to hear her laughter, belting out louder as we hit bump after bump in the road. She seemed as wild and free as a person could be. The next day I lingered at a coffee shop in Bishop. Around 3:00pm I received a call from Julia. She said that she had just pulled a quiche out of the oven and that I should come over before leaving town. We chatted a bit about October, when she would be traveling over Sonora Pass and we might be able to meet up to do some climbing. She said that she might leave tomorrow for the High Sierra to finish the Evolution Traverse (VI 5.9) near Lake Sabrina. We wished each other the best and promised to meet up in October. It was the last time I would hear her voice.

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Far North climbing Gym

Humboldt County’s Premiere indoor climbing center

1065 K St, Arcata, CA 707-826-9558

Images + Dean Fleming

Julia MacKenzie climbing TH Route #2 (5.12a) at Columns of the Giants, Sonora Pass.



he following weekend a few close friends gathered at a dusty campsite to celebrate the life of Julia MacKenzie. I’m sure we weren’t the only group to do this, as Julia’s indescribable presence has touched so many around the globe. That night we yelled “El Jefe!” into the darkness and drank gallons of the sugary hard cider she so adored. In the morning we mixed our coffee with the Cinnabon-flavored creamer she would buy at the Arcata Safeway. In the coming months we will dedicate things, like these pages, to her memory. We will put up new climbs and name them for her. We will do our best to honor her. Yet I continue to search for a memorial worthy of such an audacious and unique spirit. For now I can only hope that those of us who have been touched by her will find some form of comfort as we each work to overcome the individual challenges of our lives. For her character is the kind you call upon in times of need. She was, and always will be, our Momma Bear. On Wednesday, September 7th 2016, Julia MacKenzie [age 30] was climbing a portion of the Evolution Traverse in the High Sierra when loose rock caused her to fall and sustain fatal injuries. She will be dearly missed by many.

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n the faint firelight I could see Nick brandishing an open pocketknife in his right hand. His left hand swept the ground in search of camping gear and cooking utensils, but he kept his eyes on the forest. My headlamp was fixed on the dark group of trees where I had heard the last screeching and thumping sounds. We heard the sounds again, this time east of camp about 30 yards from our fire pit, and instantly pointed our lights there. Something screeched again and as before, two incredible crashing sounds followed; as if two boulders had been dropped 20 feet to the forest floor. Now completely terrified, we ditched the rest of our belongings and piled into the van. Nick turned the key. The familiar sound of a squeaking belt let us know the van had started and everything might be OK, until he flipped on the headlights. That’s when shit got really weird. <~~~> Our trip to the area climbers have dubbed the Lost World had begun on an early summer afternoon, as the white Dodge minivan climbed steadily up California’s Highway 108 toward the 9,623-foot summit of Sonora Pass. As we gained elevation at a steep grade near the town of Twain Harte, the oak-studded foothills quickly gave way to a dense pine forest. Ten miles east of Twain Harte, we entered the Stanislaus National Forest, a massive 898,000-acre stretch of wilderness. As we passed the small town of Strawberry, thought-provoking rock outcroppings began to dot the hills on either side of Highway 108. Partly hidden among the trees, clusters of granite eggs, slabs and boulders became more prevalent with each bend in the road. Higher on the pass, we began to notice an increase in both rock quality and the height of the roadside crags. At 6,000 feet, the northern aspect of Highway 108 dropped steeply into a 3,000-foot ravine. At the bottom of this gorge, the North Fork Stanislaus River meandered through a rough, craggy landscape. On both sides of the gorge massive granite walls stood sentinel over the river below. By mid-morning we reached the left turn onto Service Road 5n06 - a small gravel track that winds down into the Stanislaus River Canyon from Highway 108. Road 5n06 was originally cut in 1948 as a service road to the Donnell Reservoir Dam. Rock slides five miles below the highway forced land managers to close the road at mid-length sometime around 1970. The upper section of the steep dirt road is now overgrown and largely abandoned. <~~~>

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The tires on the van thumped and kicked out dust as we sped down the narrow, potholed Road 5n06. After 25 minutes we drove past an old rock quarry on the west edge of the road. Just beyond the quarry, I noticed peculiar stacks of sticks on both sides of the road. Always made of three sticks and placed in small clusters, the odd tee-pees ranged in size from tiny to 4 feet in height. “Probably landmarks for pot-growers,” said Ian, a 25-year-old elementary-school teacher from Oakland. Nick and I had coaxed Ian into searching for new routes during his three-month summer vacation. The three of us had worked the register at a now foreclosed Berkeley gear shop in 2005. During smoke breaks in an alleyway packed with Yakima Racks, I had spewed about the endless granite along the Sonora Pass Highway, eventually talking Nick into an extended climbing trip there after his upcoming graduation from UC Berkeley. We parked in a small dirt pull-out a few hundred yards from a makeshift road-block that marks the end of Road 5n06. Here the stick tee-pees were more abundant, larger and extending further up on otherwise untouched hillsides. One particularly large tee-pee had been placed directly in front of our parking spot, on a large stump about three feet away. In a display of youthful defiance, I knocked over the tee-pee with a half-assed flying sidekick. After a quick sweep of the campsite we cracked beers and started gathering firewood. The stick tee-pees were easy pickings; we gathered most of them up and threw them next to the fire pit to use as fuel.

Max Zolotukhin climbing Going for the Jugular (5.12a).


Christine Zalecki climbing the second pitch (5.12a) of Chains We Can Believe In (5.13b).

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Christine Zalecki climbing The Dream (5.12c).


he next morning we hiked into the North Fork Stanislaus Canyon. A vague trail passed over an exposed granite slab before dropping down a set of switchbacks. At the canyon’s rim, ferns surrounded old-growth Douglas fir and blossoming dogwoods. The lush plant life continued down the canyon to the emerald waters of Donnell Reservoir. The early summer runoff fed three towering waterfalls that flow from the top of the Lost World’s steep granite walls. As we descended into the gorge, I began to feel that the Lost World was not given its title from the 1912 Sir Arthur Coyle novel; nor was it named for the sequel to the movie Jurassic Park. The Lost World of Sonora Pass must have attained its name by a much more literal etymology. The area is tucked beneath the shroud of a magnificent forest ecosystem; lost to time and unscathed by contemporary developments. Although the Lost World has been largely overlooked by the majority of California-based rock climbers, we soon found the established routes in the gorge to be nearly as unique and beautiful as their surroundings. We spent most of the day sampling wellprotected climbs that strike through the area’s shield-like headwalls and massive dihedrals.

Although some of the climbs in the Lost World are inobvious from a distance, we found the routes to be peppered with psychedelic patterns of black diorite holds and incut edges. Many moved through vibrant green, orange, black and violet lichen streaks on larger sections of ivory white or gold-varnished rock. In a single afternoon we climbed on heavily featured overhanging face climbs, up laser-cut crack systems, through airy roofs and along the prows of incredibly tall and exposed arêtes. <~~~> A full day of pulling on sharp granite knobs and edges ended with an arduous trek out of the steep Lost World gorge. Exiting the canyon requires an hour of uphill hiking on boulders and around winding switchbacks, and we reached the road and campsite just before sunset. We started a small fire, downed some heavy pasta and a 12-pack of Miller, and conked out. At around 1:30 a.m. Nick’s white pit bull Poncho let out a howl loud enough to wake up Los Angeles. I rolled over in my bag and, foggy-eyed, saw Nick sitting up in his sleeping bag aiming his headlamp into the trees. “It screamed in my face,” he said, looking shaken. “What, the dog?” I asked. “No, something else,” said Nick. “Something just screamed six inches from my face.” “It was probably the dog, dude.”


<~~~> The following morning we set out to climb some of the most aesthetic routes in the gorge. Nearly 10 years before, the Sonora locals Dave Yerian and David Clay had wandered into the Lost World and plucked gems like the perfect two-pitch dihedral Peaceful Warrior (5.10d), the excellent overhanging hand crack Cry of the Falcon (5.11a) and one of the finest sport pitches on the Sonora Pass Highway, Green Monster (5.11d). Doug and Stephen Olmstead had spent a few summers in the Lost World, where they established, among others, the popular four-pitch sport climb Pangaea (5.10c). Since the mid 1990s, only a handful of climbers have come to the Lost World to establish new routes. The most prolific developer has been the El Cerrito resident Tom Addison, who has opened more than 100 independent pitches in the gorge. As we moved pitch to pitch down the canyon, we gave thanks for the artfully placed stainless-steel bolts on each of the meticulously cleaned and well-protected routes. Although he seemed distracted by the previous night’s startling wake-up, Nick still managed to onsight the crux stemming section on the first pitch of Peaceful Warrior. I struggled up the steep handjams on the second pitch and then brought Nick and Ian to the belay. After we three rappelled quietly to the canyon floor, an awkward silence prompted me to spill the beans on

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the area’s somewhat supernatural reputation, stories I’d heard from numerous visiting climbers over the last seven years. While we coiled the ropes I told them about the summer of 2003, when, after finishing a day of climbing at the nearby crag Second Quarry, a couple from Berkeley supposedly experienced incredibly loud screeching noises in the woods near their—and our—campsite. The couple found the noise to be so threatening that they quickly packed their truck to leave. By their account, when they finished packing up and were both inside, something slammed into the truck near the driver’s-side door. Whatever the object was, it was large enough to dent two quarter panels of a late1980s model Toyota pickup.

OPPOSITE PAGE Route developer Tom Addison climbing his route Men Who Pause (5.12c) . THIS PAGE Christine Zalecki climbing Welcome to Gnarnia (5.12b).


Christine Zalecki climbing Green Monster (5.11d).

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THIS PAGE Chris Van-Luven climbing the second pitch of Timeless (5.10d) OPPOSITE PAGE Arete A Vue is among the best warm-ups in the Lost World, with a short 5.11a pitch that can be extended into a tall and brilliant 5.12b arĂŞte. IMAGE + Dean Fleming

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On the hike back to camp I pointed to a large granite slab - the place where another encounter was said to have occurred, during the summer of 2004. Four climbers set up camp on the granite platform and, on a rest day, spent some hours gathering large rocks to stack into a windscreen for a cooking area. After finishing the rock wall, the four climbers walked about 200 yards to the nearest river to fill up their water bottles. When they returned, only 30 minutes later, all of the rocks they had stacked for their cooking area were gone. All four climbers left the crag immediately. Among them, only one has returned to climb at the Lost World. We reached the van that evening with a growing sense of caution. We cracked a few beers in the eerie silence and took a few minutes to inspect our campsite. Everything seemed to be as we left it, so we settled in for what we thought would be a typical evening under the stars.

<~~~> It was 10:30p.m. and I couldn’t find my water bottle. I was pretty sure it was inside my backpack, sitting on the back seat of the van. I rose reluctantly from my sleeping pad, and moseyed down the short slope toward the parking area. At 15 feet from the van, I heard something moving around by the passenger’s-side front tire. It sounded like a deer. It seemed to step away shyly, as a startled deer would. Still, I decided to head back up the slope to grab my headlamp and see what it was. As I returned and shone my light in the direction of the noise, two tremendous screeching sounds let out into the night. They didn’t sound like the scream of a female mountain lion, or the howl of an owl, or the cry of a falcon. The timber of the screeches suggested the lung capacity of an animal the size of a bull … or bigger. The screeching sounds were followed by two deliberate pounding sounds, huge crashing noises. The screeches came again, in a series of two, and the pounding sounds followed again, in two deliberate and rhythmic successions. Nick stood up and shone his light toward the van. Backing up toward the fire, we both heard the sounds a third time, this time coming from our left about 30 yards from the campsite. We shone our lights in that direction, and I panned my headlamp to try and spot the thing.


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OPPOSITE PAGE Vladimir Sofiyev climbing The One That Got Away (5.12c). THIS PAGE Steven Roth on the first ascent of Big Monster (5.14a).


Nicole Zuelke climbs one of Tom Addison’s more recent additions; a spectacular 5.12a that climbs a thin seam up an intimidating black-streaked wall.

The screeching and pounding came a fourth time, this time from the hillside directly behind our camp and slightly farther away from us. The sound was fainter now and Ian, still in his sleeping bag, did not hear it. Nick and I continued a hushed discussion about whether or not we should bail. Ian frequently interrupted us to ask what the fuck was going on. I couldn’t think of an answer that made sense. We heard the sounds one more time as we lined up to pack the van. The screeching was now coming from across road 5n06, and although the sounds were growing fainter with each episode, a startling notion arose: Whatever this thing was, it was circling us. The screech of the timing belt on Nick’s van startled me, but I was instantly relieved, thinking we were about to put some miles between ourselves and the Lost World parking area. Nick put the van into reverse and then flipped on the headlights. Directly outside of the windshield—three feet from the hood of the van—a small stick tee-pee was placed carefully on top of

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the large tree stump. I froze in the passenger’s seat. I couldn’t speak, but I remember a few distinct thoughts: If I hadn’t startled whatever it was by the front of the van, how many stick tee-pees would have surrounded our campsite the following morning? Would we have survived to count them? Between 2003 and 2010, more than 25 individuals reported unexplainable and often unsettling activity at or near the Lost World parking area.

THE BETA GETTING THERE From the town of Sonora take Highway 108 east. After 42 miles (2 miles before Donnell Vista) turn left onto Forest Service Route 5n06. At the first fork in the road stay left on 5n06. At the second fork in the road stay right on 5n06. Follow this to the end of the road where a large campsite and parking are obvious. From here, continue hiking down route 5n06 past the road block. At the first major left turn in the road scramble up onto granite slabs. Walk down and slightly east on these slabs until you can drop down into a steep ravine on a well-worn path. Cross a small creek on a log and then drop down the canyon skirting a small cliff-band. Follow the trail that switchbacks into the Lost World Gorge. WHERE TO STAY Free primitive camping can be found at the parking area for the Lost World and at many other areas along Sonora Pass. CAMPFIRES ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE STANISLAUS NATIONAL FOREST. GUIDEBOOK A Climber’s Guide to the Sonora Pass Highway, Second Edition by Brad Young

5-STAR ROUTES Peaceful Warrior (5.10d) Green Monster (5.11d) The Dream (5.12c) Chains We Can Believe In (5.12a, 5.12a, 5.13a) Fear of a Black Granite (5.13a)












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Piece of the Action (5.11d) is the “easiest” bolted route at the Lion’s Den. This severely overhanging knife-edge arête, first climbed by Steve Schneider in 1989, starts with cryptic moves on tiny holds which lead to a knobby jug at the last bolt. From here, an all-out throw for the lip leads to a committing mantle and twelve feet of runout but easy slab climbing to the anchor. Max Silver makes the big move to the lip.

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OPPOSITE PAGE Block and Tackle (5.12a) is the Lion’s Den’s flagship route. First climbed by Dale Bard in 1982, Block and Tackle is the most obvious and stunning line at the Lion’s Den; a ¾” to ½” crack that splits the center of a varnished golden wall. This route features overhanging perfect finger locks through a bulge which leads to technical moves up a slowly steepening wall to a crux sequence near the top. Shawn Snyder works the technical moves above the bulge. THIS PAGE In June of 2015 local Mammoth climber Lonnie Kauk redpointed an old Steve Schneider project on a blank-looking wall just right of Fear of Flying for the first free ascent of Lion King (5.14a). This line of insanely small but cutter edges up a gently overhanging wall is the hardest route at Lion’s Den and among the most difficult bolted sport climbs on the Eastern Sierra. Kyle Queener powers through the bouldery crux moves.


typical autumn day for local climbers in the Eastern Sierra town of Mammoth Lakes starts with a full day of work at one of the many coffee shops, gear shops, eateries or rental shacks. The mountain town of Mammoth is almost entirely supported by multisport four-season tourism and to survive here usually requires some form of trade with visiting outdoor enthusiasts. As the clock strikes 5pm racks and ropes are haphazardly thrown into camper shells that cover the beds of high mileage 4x4 trucks – vehicles that are almost always graffitied with “Sierra Pinstripes;” a term used lovingly to describe hundreds of scratch marks from the sage brush and pines that line the Mammoth area’s back roads. The first beers of the day are promptly cracked while bumping down Forest Service Route 5n-whatever, in route to one of the hundreds of quiet albeit small granitic or volcanic cliffs and boulder fields that surround this portion of the East Side. In tune with its longstanding vacation spirit, Mammoth is a place where accurate beta, redpoints and tick-lists are deemed irrelevant. Instead, snacks, tall cans, spliffs and laughter are widely considered vital ingredients to a successful day at the crag. When the last ropes are pulled and the pads are folded, a short hike back to the truck is followed by a customary twilight dip in the icy waters of June Lake, Rock Creek or Lake Mary. Sleep, repeat; all the while planning for a weekend filled with larger objectives in the nearby High Sierra.

ore than 760,000 years ago the Long Valley area just east of Mammoth Lakes exploded in a cataclysmic volcanic eruption. This massive volcanic event was one of the largest in North America’s geologic history, forming the Long Valley Caldera and leaving evidence of the eruption as far away as Wyoming, where seven-foot thick walls of compacted ash from the explosion have been discovered. The most common rock type formed by this near-super volcano is known as the Bishop Tuff, which can be found in plentiful concentrations at areas like the Owen’s River Gorge, the Happy and Sad Boulders and at Mammoth’s own Clark Canyon. Because of this event and the subsequent eruptions and lava flows from the Long Valley Caldera, the greater Mammoth Lakes region is stacked with quality rock climbing and bouldering. Yet aside from a few larger formations, the region is almost entirely comprised of micro-crags; zones that yield just a handful of worthwhile roadside pitches or boulder problems.


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OPPOSITE PAGE Fear of Flying (5.10c) is a severely overhanging Yosemite-style flare first climbed by Dennis Phillips in 1980. The route opens with butt-scumming around oddly shaped 4” double-cracks. Beyond the twin fist cracks you’ll find tenacious stemming and creative gear placements followed by a forearm exploding finger crack layback and a physical mantle over the lip. Pictured here, Luke Mast grabs a difficult onsight ascent. THIS PAGE On the far right side of the Lion’s Den cliff is Whirly Bird (5.12b), a taller route that features an excellent sequence of powerful and balancy moves up a gently overhanging and colorful wall. Although a few of the holds are sometimes greased with bird pee, Whirly Bird is well-worth a quick scrub and session. Shawn Snyder works the sequential moves above the crux.


web of fire and logging roads surrounds the June Lake Junction about 20 miles north of Mammoth Lakes. In the late 1970s and early 1980s California climbers Errett Allen, Scott Cole, Shawn Plunkett, John Bachar, Kevin Leary, Dave Yerian, Dale Bard, Dennis Phillips, Steve Schneider, Bill Serniuk, Russ Walling and Ron Kauk were among the first to scour these forest service roads in search of climbable stone. This was an era when strong traditional ethics still reigned supreme and influence and techniques gained from the nearby climbing Mecca of Yosemite National Park were the norm. Adhering to this staunch traditional upbringing, climbers of the day would often seek out splitter cracks that could be climbed using natural protection in a ground-up method. While thousands of cracks abound on the granite buttresses of the Sierra Nevada, uncovering naturally protected routes on the often soft, bulbous and pocketed volcanic rock formations near Mammoth Lakes was a rare occurrence. Then came 1980 when Dennis Phillips stumbled into the Lion’s Den; a discovery that lead to a newfound belief that quality cracks could be established on the Bishop Tuff.


s Forest Service Route 7942 sweeps northeast from Highway 395 near the June Lake Junction it makes a wide turn above a deep depression in a sandy, pumice-strewn hillside adorned with fragrant pine trees. From this vantage the small crag known as the Lion’s Den is virtually invisible, with its varnished gold summit blending perfectly into the adjacent hillside. A quick hike across the road leads to a steepening scree-slope that slowly reveals a west-facing and gently overhanging band of solid volcanic rock. The Lion’s Den is comprised of a 300 foot wide welded tuff cliff band with short, steep, heavily featured arêtes. These dramatic edges are separated by smooth golden faces that yield a small selection of striking corners and splitter cracks. Three of these cracks, Classic Crack (5.10a), Fear of Flying (5.10c) and Block and Tackle (5.12a) are considered among the finest naturally protected routes on the Mammoth area’s welded tuff.


TTHIS PAGE On the far right side of the Lion’s Den stands the S-shaped hand crack Classic Crack (5.10a), a short pitch that requires a gamut of techniques from technical 3 ½” cupped hand jams near the ground slowly thinning to steep 1 ¼” ring locks and thin hand jams near the chains. Luke Mast negotiates the thin jams near the top of the route.



rom a grand view of California rock climbing the Lion’s Den is a tiny crag, hosting less than 10 leadable climbs on the entire cliff band. Yet these few routes span a massive range in difficulty from 5.9 all the way to 5.14. Lion’s Den also features an incredible range of styles on both the area’s bolted climbs and steep cracks. On the crack climbs you’ll find butt-scumming in Yosemite-style flares, calf-pumping stems, burly laybacking, technical 3½” cupped hands, 1¼” ring locks, creative gear placements and finger-torquing seams. The Lion’s Den is a great place to safely practice a wide range of advanced crack climbing techniques, but if you’d rather clip a few bolts or get a quick pump on some steep face climbing, the cliff has a fair selection of bolted routes. Here you’ll encounter bouldery moves on overhanging rock that ranges in style from knife-edge arêtes to sheer faces with small in-cut crimps and an pockets. Gabe Metzger climbing unnamed (V1).

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ion’s Den is not a World-class crag and as is the case with so many of Mammoth’s smaller climbing areas, the great High Sierra just a few miles to the west casts a large shadow over these cliffs both literally and figuratively. Yet for the local climbers of the Mammoth Lakes area, discovering, exploring and revisiting cliffs like the Lion’s Den has become a near40 year tradition and an anticipated part of the daily routine. Climbs like Block and Tackle (5.12a), Bulldog Arete (5.12a) and Fear of Flying (5.10c) have also become convenient rights of passage for Mammoth locals who wish to follow in the footsteps of early area route developers like John Bachar, Dennis Phillips, Steve Schneider and Dale Bard. If you’re looking for the best cracks and the highest quality stone in the Sierra Nevada, drive a few miles north to the towering buttresses and packed base-camps at the Hulk. Or maybe just a few miles west to Yosemite National Park, where the lines on the cliffs are matched in stature only by the lines for the bathrooms and campsites. But if it is solitude you seek, in a place where the sweet smell of sagebrush and butterscotch from towering Jeffrey pines intensifies in the morning sunshine, where the shadows creep across the otherwise flat valley before rising thousands of feet to the dramatic east summits of the Sierra Nevada, where camping is free, the climbs are steeped in history and the grades are irrelevant, maybe you’ll like the Lion’s Den. Or perhaps, like the early climbers who came before us, you’ll find your own little nook in the vast swath of rock that is so plentiful in the Eastern Sierra.

joshua tree, c.a.

presents: theoctober lynn28 - 30,hill experience 2016 An Intimate Climbing Weekend with Climbing Sorceress Lynn Hill

guaranteed good times

• Lynn teaches the science of climbing movement in Joshua Tree National Park • Two days of instruction and climbing with Lynn Hill and Cliffhanger Guides • Camping at the world famous Sethspool • Adventure, Culture, Community • Lynn Hill slide show and tall tales • Campfire stories with special guests • Catered Gourmet meals • Halloween Festivities • Yoga, Sports Massage and more

12 slots only, reserve yours soon

Contact Seth and Sabra at: for more information and registration

5-STAR ROUTES Classic Crack (5.10a) Fear of Flying (5.10c) Piece of the Action (5.11d) Block and Tackle (5.12a) Whirly Bird (5.12b)

THE BETA GETTING THERE From the town of Mammoth Lakes take Highway 395 north for about 20 miles. At a point one mile before the turn off to June Lake Junction, the northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 395 join each other after cresting the top of ridge. Here, a large sign reads “June Lake Village.” Turn right (east) onto the small dirt road behind this sign (Forest Route 7942). Take this road for 0.5 miles to a Y intersection and turn left. In 0.7 miles from this Y intersection, just beyond a right hand turn-off, park. Walk downhill (west) until you reach the top of the Lion’s Den cliff. Skirt the top of the crag to the right (north) and then drop down to the base of the cliff.

Shawn Snyder climbing Block and Tackle (5.12a).

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WHERE TO STAY There are excellent free campsites on the forest service roads that lead to the Lion’s Den. CAMPFIRES ARE CURRENTLY NOT ALLOWED IN THIS AREA. GUIDEBOOK Mammoth Area Rock Climbs by Marty Lewis

We believe that a great user experience is the best path to a safe experience. The challenge is not creating a device that can grab a rope – it’s creating a device that will actually get used correctly. Most people will choose the easiest path, so we made it the safest path.