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nd

tions a u l o s e l b a stain

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

in climbi

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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.com/videos

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

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CaliforniaClimber

CALIFORNIACLIMBERMAGAZINE.COM

NO. 19 WINTER 2016

DEPARTMENTS 08/EDITOR’S NOTE 10/ACCESS 18/ROUTE OF THE SEASON 20/STAND BY YOUR VAN 22/REVIEW

ON THE COVER

FEATURES

THIS PAGE

26/CRYSTAL RIDGE 44/CHASING HIGHLINES

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Star Pais climbing a V6 arête (name unknown) at the Crystal Ridge Boulders near Big Pine. IMAGE + DEAN FLEMING

Max Silver chilling out high above Yosemite Valley. IMAGE + “RED BEARD”


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CaliforniaClimber

Monica Beck climbing Collin’s Arete (V6), Crystal Ridge Boulders.

CALIFORNIACLIMBERMAGAZINE.COM PUBLISHER Dean Fleming ART DIRECTOR Alton Richardson SENIOR CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jerry Dodrill, Jim Thornburg SENIOR CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Fitz Cahall, James Lucas CONTRIBUTORS Austin Schuler, Anthony Lapomardo, Charlie Barrett, Katie Goodwin, Greg Epperson, Max Silver, Dean Fleming, Alton Richardson

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.

DEAN FLEMING

CALIFORNIA CLIMBER 22502 Colorado River Dr. Sonora, Ca 93570 Phone: (209) 768-0110 Email: climb108@yahoo.com


EDITOR’S NOTE IN THE LATE 1990S WE SPENT NEARLY EVERY WEEKEND among the high elevation peaks of the Central Sierra. I was blessed with large blocks of time away from school and a few dedicated mentors that were also eager to explore these remote regions of California. I can still remember cresting the summits of a dozen granite cliff bands and then gazing down into the deep talus fields below. “I wonder if anyone has climbed on those big boulders down there,” I’d ask. The response from my older and much more experienced friends would typically range between “who cares?” and “who in their right mind would hike all the way out here just to go bouldering?” I figured they had the right idea, after all, bouldering was, as far as I was told, a form of practice for “real climbing,” like cracks and alpine routes. As the years past I found and read books about rock climbing. Not only guidebooks that explained how routes had names and grades (a concept I hadn’t really understood during the first five years of climbing) but also picture books and historical texts that showcased some of California’s most innovative climbers performing harebrain stunts among the wilds of places like Joshua Tree, Tahquitz Rock, Suicide Rock, Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley. To my surprise nearly all of

these books featured bouldering. Many of my climbing heroes were featured in black and white prints climbing problems like Midnight Lightning (V8), White Rastafarian (V3) and A Streetcar Named Desire (V6). I flipped through pages with images of people like John Long, Ron Kauk, John Bachar, Lynn Hill, John Gill and Dale Bard pulling hard moves on tiny blocks. While I always enjoyed the act of bouldering, these discoveries helped give my efforts validity. I decided to become a climber that proudly practiced all disciplines of rock climbing. In recent years we’ve seen slacklining rise from pastime to passion. Like bouldering, the sport of slacklining and highlining has grown in leaps and bounds, from a few tattered practice lines in the bowels of Camp 4 to massive highlines that bridge the gaps between some of California’s most iconic formations. Like anything that slightly deviates from our customary ideas of what rock climbing has been and should continue to be, the salty traditionalists in our community will certainly craft new and rude labels for highliners and slackliners. And some of the critique of highlining is not without merit entirely, as we have seen some impacts and deviations from ethics on the summits of classic rock climbing routes in regards to fixed anchors that have been installed to support massive highlines. While highlining has certainly branched out from traditional rock climbing in recent years, the core of California’s highlining community is ever adapting their skills and systems to forge a strong ethic of natural anchors and adventurous climbing techniques. “Highliners dream of walking beyond steep drops, over vast valleys, between towering spires, and over thundering waterfalls,” says veteran California highliner Max Silver in his feature article “Chasing Highlines” on page 44. “As highliners chase these remote lines, they need to not only be good riggers, but also confident climbers with a suite of backcountry skills,” adds Silver. “Alpine techniques, boltless climbing anchors and old school climbing siege tactics have become the basis for rigging big projects with safe, all-natural rigging (boltless anchors). The elite now go into the backcountry with an advanced knowledge of knotcraft, hundreds of feet of rope and a modified rack of climbing gear to rig all-natural lines safely.” For more on California’s most innovative highlines, see Max Silver’s feature article “Chasing Highlines” on page 44. For information about the rules and regulations for slacklining in Yosemite National Park, visit nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/slacklining.html. ­—DEAN FLEMING


ACCESS

WORDS + KATIE GOODWIN, CALIFORNIA REGIONAL DIRECTOR, ACCESS FUND

CLIMBING MANAGEMENT ON CALIFORNIA’S PUBLIC LANDS CALIFORNIA IS HOME to some of the most iconic and sought out climbing destinations in the United States and across the World. The wide range of bouldering, sport climbing, traditional climbing, big wall climbing and alpine adventure is truly inspiring, all in one great and diverse state. California has a robust climbing history, and a bit of the rebel spirit still lives on from the era of the Stone Masters and before, when climbers were looked at as outcasts and vagrants, pushed out of public lands for climbing. Today climbing is gaining popularity and with it more regulations as the number of climbers and their impacts increase. While this may make many climbers cringe at the thought of more regulations, plans and rules, the reality is we are in a new era, where forming partnerships and working closely with Federal agencies improves and often ensures long term sustainable climbing access. A large portion of climbing in California is on Federal or ‘public’ lands; almost 60% of the peaks, crags, and boulders in this country are on America’s public, federally managed lands. Each agency has a unique mission and a slightly different approach to managing climbing. All three agencies—National Park Service (NPS), US Forest Service (USFS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM)—regard climbing as an appropriate activity on the condition that it does not substantially impact natural resources, cultural sites, traditional values, Wilderness character, and other users’ experiences. That said, none of these agencies have explicit, overarching, national-level guidelines for climbing management (with the exception of climbing in Wilderness). Each management area (e.g., Yosemite National Park) is responsible for developing regulations based on its staff’s interpretation of national policies, its agency’s mission, special designations, natural resource conditions, public input, and precedent. All three land agencies generally manage climbing in designated Wilderness areas with tighter regulations in order to adhere to the Wilderness Act mandates

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for solitude, primitive recreation, and non-motorized tools. While these guidelines differ across the agencies, motorized drills and bolt-intensive climbing are generally prohibited in federally designated Wilderness areas.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE (NPS): Approximately 13% of climbing in America is on National Park Service land. The National Park Service’s mission is to preserve the parks for the enjoyment of future generations. The National Park Service is less centralized than the other federal land agencies. Each park unit acts relatively autonomously, with the park superintendent acting as the CEO. All national parks use the same planning handbook and management policy guidelines, but each park’s implementation style is unique; climbing can also be heavily regulated to protect natural resources or Wilderness character. Some major California National Parks that feature popular climbing destinations include Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Pinnacles National Monument and the Santa Monica Mountains.

BELOW Bird Lew climbing on the Eye Boulder at Courtright Reservoir. IMAGE + Greg Epperson RIGHT Mike Roberts climbing Shaman Skyway (5.11), Sorcerer Needle, the Needles. IMAGE + Greg Epperson Climbing at both the Needles and Courtright Reservoir could be impacted by updated Wilderness Managment Plans.


CALIFORNIACLIMBERMAGAZINE.COM | 13


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ACCESS UNITED STATE FOREST SERVICE (USFS):

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (BLM):

The United States Forest Service manages the most climbing, approximately 34% of any land management agency. The USFS tries to balance the health, diversity, and productivity of its forests with recreation opportunities. The USFS acknowledges the economic and social benefits of outdoor recreation activities like climbing. While there are nearly 10,000 climbing sites on USFS land, only two national forests have standalone climbing management plans. This speaks to the agency’s relatively handsoff approach to climbing management. However, when necessary, the USFS can be quick to restrict climbing access and fixed anchors. For example, the USFS is the only agency to have banned fixed anchors in all its Wilderness areas—although, the ban only lasted a few months before pressure from climbers resulted in a reversal. There are many well-developed climbing areas in national forests that are not known to USFS district managers. Given the increasing popularity of climbing, a marked increase in USFS climbing regulations and restrictions in the upcoming years is expected, as many national forests become aware of climbing areas and revise their forest management plans. Popular California climbing destinations in national forests include Sierra National Forest (Shuteye Ridge), Inyo National Forest (Pine Creek, Bishop area climbing and countless classic Sierra high peaks), Sequoia National Forest (the Needles), Eldorado National Forest (Lover’s Leap, Sugar Loaf, Phantom Spires), Lake Tahoe Basin (widespread bouldering), Stanislaus National Forest (Sonora Pass climbing, Calaveras Domes), San Gabriel National Forest (Williamson Rock), Cleveland National Forest (Corte Madera, Eagle Peak, El Cajon Mountain), Angeles National Forest (Texas Canyon, Horse Flats), Shasta Trinity National Forest (Mt Shasta).

The Bureau of Land Management manages approximately 10% of America’s climbing. The BLM has a multiple-use mission and manages its 245 million acres for resource extraction, livestock grazing, recreation, and timber harvesting. The agency manages some of its vast expanses of remote land in the western U.S. for both developed and dispersed forms of recreation. For the most part, climbing is loosely regulated on BLM land, with the exception of designated Wilderness areas and Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). Oddly, fixed anchors are generally allowed in Wilderness areas (some require authorization) but essentially prohibited in Wilderness Study Areas, which are areas being considered for a Wilderness designation. Popular California climbing destinations on Bureau of Land Management include Bishop Field Office (Volcanic Tablelands, Crystal Ridge, Alabama Hills), Barstow (New Jack City) and El Centro District (Valley of the Moon) Currently there are three major management plans underway on California federal lands that could impact climbing access.

LEFT Tom Michael climbing the incredible Boney Fingers (5.11) at Whitney Portal. Whitney Portal is one of hundreds of areas that could be impacted by a revised Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo National Forest Plan. IMAGE + Greg Epperson

climbrockzilla.com 1-707-255-1500 849 Jackson Street #5A Napa, CA 94558


ACCESS

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK WILDERNESS MANAGEMENT PLAN: Yosemite is in the process of developing a new Wilderness Management Plan which primarily focuses on regulating backcountry hikers and camping, stock use and commercial services within Yosemite. The Park Service has intentionally not addressed rock climbing in this plan with the intention of developing a new climbing management plan after the Wilderness Plan is finalized. So as climbers why do we care about this Wilderness Plan? Yosemite National Park’s wilderness contains many of the world’s most celebrated and iconic climbing objectives such as El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel, Cathedral Rocks and Spires, Royal Arches, Mt. Conness, Fairview Dome, Cathedral Peak and many others. We expect the new Wilderness regulations will lay the framework for the pending climbing management plan and could impact how climber’s access backcountry climbs.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: The Park Service plans to release a DRAFT Wilderness Management Plan in the spring of 2017. There will be an opportunity to review the plan and send comments to the Park Service. Keep an eye out for this plans release either through the Park Service’s website or sign up for the Access Fund’s email list to be notified of the Plan’s release and more detailed information specific to climbing.

SIERRA, SEQUOIA AND INYO NATIONAL FOREST PLAN: These three Forests worked together to draft their new Forest Plan which provides guidelines on how everything is managed on Forest land, from recreation and trails to timber management and roads. The Forest Service finished their DRAFT Forest Plan this summer and released it for public review and comment, the Final Forest Plan will be issued spring 2017. This plan includes potential management changes for iconic climbing destinations like the Needles, Shuteye Ridge and numerous other climbing areas within these three Forests. Access Fund, American Alpine Club and Outdoor Alliance participated and commented throughout the process to insure continued recreational and climbing access.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Keep an eye out for the Final Forest Plan to be issued next spring, sign up for Access Fund email list to be notified of the Plan’s release and more detailed information specific to climbing. There will be a final objection period for this plan once it is posted.

Ben Pope climbing Boneheads (5.10b), a rare bolted sport climb at Pat & Jack Pinnacle in Yosemite Valley. Although Yosemite’s new Wilderness Management Plan does not directly address climbing in the park, it may impact the way we access climbs in Yosemite, especially in the backcountry. IMAGE + Dean Fleming

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ACCESS SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS NATIONAL MONUMENT-ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST: This newly designated National Monument is currently working on a management plan. Within this Monument is Williamson Rock which has been closed for over 10 years to protect the endangered Mountain Yellow Legged Frog. The current DRAFT Management Plan focuses on supporting the needs of the diverse population surrounding the Monument and educational initiatives to connect and engage the diverse population in the area to their public lands. The DRAFT Management plan has intentionally left out changes to Williamson Rock which will be studied under a pending environmental impact study. Latino Outdoors, Access Fund and other recreational groups are working together to promote enhanced recreational access to this Monument and continue to work to re-open Williamson Rock.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Support Latino Outdoors and the Access Fund as they continue to work through this long environmental review process, and sign up for Access Fund’s email list to be notified of upcoming plans and more detailed information specific to climbing. The world of environmental policy, recreational access and federal land management can seem confusing and painfully slow, but it is important to stay engaged and participate. When in doubt reach out to a local or national level advocacy group for more information. Donate, volunteer, participate, be present and active in your local community and great change can come; just know that it may happen at the glacial speed of the Federal government!

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Check out the Access Fund at accessfund.org. Become a member or join the email list for updates on events happening in your climbing community.

Anne-Marie Lambert climbing at the Alabama Hills, an area that could be impacted by a revised Inyo National Forest Plan. IMAGE + Dean Fleming


ROUTE OF THE SEASON

WORDS + CHARLIE BARRETT / IMAGE + ANTHONY LAPOMARDO

PLATINUM PLUS FIRST ASCENT Mark Haymond & Mike Brennan – 1972

BETA ROUTE

GRADE

Platinum Plus

LENGTH

5.8

60 feet

ROCK TYPE

STYLE

RACK

Granite

Traditional

1” to 3.5” cams

LOCATION

APPROACH

DESCENT

Cap Rock, Tollhouse Rock

15 min., uphill

Bolted anchor, lower or rappel

SEASON

Year-round

GUIDEBOOK A Climber’s Guide to Tollhouse Rock by Dwight Kroll & Tom Slater

DESCRIPTION Tollhouse Rock is a 600 foot tall granite dome located about an hour northeast of Fresno. At 4000’ in elevation this foothill crag and surrounding areas can be very warm in summer yet often climbable on even the coldest winter days dependent on snowfall. Platinum Plus is a picnic style route located on the incredible Cap Rock at the summit of Tollhouse Rock. With a moderate difficulty and huge views of the valley below, Platinum Plus is perfect for lazy afternoons and toproping sessions. The route

starts from a large ledge with a nice flat zone for the belay; however, because of the exposed nature of this perch, some will want to bring a few extra cams to tether the belayer. Platinum Plus starts in a large right-facing flake that begins with thin hands and gradually opens to wide hands to the top of the flake. At the apex of the flake you will face a heady and exposed mantle that leads to easier face climbing moves and a set of anchors at the top of Cap Rock.

APPROACH

t

From the bottom parking lot at Tollhouse Rock hike up and right on a steep 4WD trail. Continue up this trail to the summit and then turn right and follow the visible trail further right to the top of Tollhouse and to the summit of Cap Rock. Off the trail Cap Rock can be accessed via a small thin cut trail on the left

Zack Fisher climbing Platinum Plus (5.8).

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hand side that leads to the cliff side. Once you are standing on the summit you can see Platinum Plus; the obvious climb that follows the right side of a giant detached flake. From here use a safety tether from a higher anchor point to access the toprope anchors of the climb, or casually traverse the slab/ledge to the base of the climb.


瀀栀漀琀漀㨀 䄀渀搀礀 䌀爀漀猀猀


STAND BY YOUR VAN

IMAGE +DEAN FLEMING

“FITZ” Austin Schuler and his 1984 Volkswagen Westfalia CC: Where did you find Fitz and how much did he cost you? AS: I found Fitz at my house one day. Someone who was staying on our property owned him before me and then when he left he let me adopt Fitz! So technically, I didn’t spend any money to buy him. However I have spent a lot of money to get him running. I would say that he has cost me around $6,000. But that includes a rebuilt transmission which was unexpected and “many moneys.”

him soon. I have half-joked about pulling out the passenger seat and putting in a wood burning stove. And maybe one day put a Subaru motor in the boot of him, but that is way down the line. How’s the gas mileage? He can be a little bit of a drinker, but on the highway he gets around 16mpg. In town it’s anywhere from 8 to 10...kinda heinous. How does Fitz do off-road? Offroading is a little noisy. But luckily all my junk is stowed well so I don’t have a tsunami of stuff rattling. He does need new suspension for a smoother experience but so far he’s been romping. It sounds like Fitz came with some really nice camping items, what are your favorite features? It’s no lie, Fitz is well equipped. The sink, stove and bed are really awesome, but I think my favorite part is how compact and space efficient the layout is. And of course the pop-top is real deal helpful.

How did Fitz get his name?

How does Fitz do over those steep mountain passes?

I knew that these vans were temperamental so I figured he would be a brat at times and throw mechanical tantrums. So Fitz sounded kinda German and he throws fits…often.

Fitz is slow. We went over Sonora Pass and he bogged pretty hard. I was in first gear for a lot of that drive but you know when you have your house driving around with you it’s worth it to be slower.

What modifications or repairs have you done? Fitz still needs many repairs, but having the transmission rebuilt in Colorado has been the biggest so far. I haven’t really lived out of him long enough yet to know what I want to modify but I have put in auxiliary lighting and power most recently, also got his tunes bumpin’ again with a new stereo. I also put in a really nice Mexican blanket, for sleeping of course. As of now I am mostly in the restoration process, making minor fixes to the already existing systems. I would like to get new suspension for

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What was your best road trip so far? The maiden voyage was to Colorado, but I would say that the return from Colorado has been the best so far. Money and a new transmission brought Fitz back to California, and lack of money brought me back. I also landed an 11 month internship in Occidental so between that and a huge array of climbing it was a pretty easy choice. Also the ocean. On our return trip I got to climb on the East Side and also in Sonora and Columbia. But I am really excited to be going to Bishop and spending another winter stint climbing in the Buttermilks with good friends. Anything else you’d like to add? I would like to thank my sponsors. Mom, fire extinguisher, ass and crotch patches, as well as Mexican blanket, and last but not least, COFFEE!!!


One membership. Eleven unique locations.

touchstoneclimbing.com


REVIEW WINTER PRODUCTS

METOLIUS SESSION CRASH PAD { $140 }

L

ast year we received the popular Session Pad from Metolius; a midsize pad that can be easily strapped onto a larger pad or used as a single pad in casual bouldering applications. Our first impressions of the session pad were positive, especially in regards to size, as the pad seems to fit perfectly into the trunk of most small sedans, under the bed of most camper vans, and easily straps to the rear racks or roofs of pickup trucks. One tester even remarked that the Session fit perfectly inside the small closet of their camper van. When carrying the Session pad the beefy shoulder straps, waist belt and chest strap allow for remarkable comfort. The flap closure system is very easy to open and close and safely conceals shoes, chalk or a water bottle inside the pad if needed. A sneaky stash pocket found on the outside of the flap proved useful for keys and other knick-knacks. Suitcase style carry handles helped to move the pad short distances or heave the pad down talus slopes. When opened, the Session sports a plush logo rug for cleaning shoes. In use, the combination of 4” sandwich foam and an angled hinge that helps to reduce the gutter provide a firm and safe landing zone.

After six months of normal use we tried our best to destroy the Session pad. After carefully spotting the landing zone and making sure it was clear of people, we tossed the Session pad off of a few 100 foot tall cliffs. We left the pad out in the rain for a ten day storm. We kicked it into crevasses, folded it over sharp rocks and drug it through muddy landings. We found the 900d poly outer fabric to be very abrasion resistant. We also found this fabric to maintain its shape and size after soaking in the rain and drying in the sun. While this might sound like an unnecessary test, who hasn’t accidentally left their pad out in the rain or found it soaking wet after a foggy night on the coast? To add to the resiliency of this pad, the speed hook aluminum buckles that close the pad are guaranteed for life. Overall we found the Session Pad to be a versatile, durable and very affordable crashpad with some incredibly utilitarian additions.

BLUEWATER WAVE 70M DRY ROPE {$198.95}

T

hin ropes aren’t for everyone, or every climbing and rigging application, and they absolutely require thoughtful handling and rope management to maintain safe functionality and a lasting service life. For example, most thin rope aficionados will often pull the rope to the middle mark and then rappel from the top of climbs that might abrade the smaller sheath of a thin cord. Belaying with thinner ropes also requires the use of specialized belay devices and mindful belay techniques. That said; when assessing ropes like the Bluewater 9.3mm Wave, the testers here at California Climber tend to use these thinner ropes under “normal” conditions that will more quickly abrade the sheath of the rope, including lowering frequently from the tops of sport and crack climbs. Under these circumstances, that would normally occur when using a thicker rope, our testers found the 9.3mm Wave to perform well above all our expectations for a rope of this diameter. The 9.3 Wave has a similar construction as the Bluewater 9.1 Icon, with the idea of packing as much sheath into a slim rope as possible. This construction gives incredible handling characteristics, but more importantly, a much longer

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service life. The 9.3mm Wave holds its round shape well, especially under load for easier and safer rope management. Astonishingly, the Wave resists abrasion at a remarkable rate. After six months of use and countless lowers from rough granite sport climbs and slabs, the 9.3mm Wave did have some noticeable fuzz on the sharp ends of the rope, but the amount of noticeable wear on these heavy use sections were comparable to other cords in the 9.8mm range. Off the spool the 9.3mm Wave unrolled beautifully with no abnormal twists or tangles. In fact, as a thinner doubledry cord, the Wave is one of the supplest and softest ropes we’ve seen. At 56 grams per meter the Bluewater 9.3mm Wave offers a slightly larger diameter for its weight than other comparable brands that usually check in at 9.2mm or even 9.0mm to attain the same weight per-meter. As a reasonably priced, lightweight and surprisingly durable rope for its diameter, all of the testers involved in this review can strongly recommend the 9.3mm Wave for nearly every climbing application.


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REVIEW WINTER PRODUCTS

CLIMB TECH SS HANGER { $2.69 }

A

fter receiving a package of Climb Tech’s 304 stainless steel bolt hangers last summer we went right to work establishing new climbs and also retrofitting a few older routes with new hardware. In the spirit of full disclosure, it is worth mentioning that we only placed the Climb Tech stainless hangers with Hilit wedge anchor style bolts and these bolts and hangers were only placed on solid granite formations found high on the Sonora Pass Highway in the Central Sierra. We do

feel that additional testing should be done on softer rock types, and a longer inspection period should be utilized to gain a larger idea of these hangers’ longevity and performance, however, a vast majority of the rock found in California can be easily compared to the rock at this test site. Our first impressions of the Climb Tech hangers included a feel of the smooth/rounded inside edges that have been designed to reduce the damage to carabiners at the clip in point. To further test this feature we fixed quickdraws with varying carabiner types and thicknesses at crux sections. To gain a better test model we tried to use brand new carabiners for this test. After a few weeks of hangdogging and whipping on these fixed draws we removed the quickdraws and inspected the bolt-end carabiners. While there was certainly some noticeable wear and mild scratching, we did not find any large gouges, grooves or chips in the aluminum. We also quickly noticed that the clip in point is large enough to accommodate two carabiners, or a carabiner over or under a 3/8” chain or quick-link at anchor points. These hangers are machined for use with 304 stainless 3/8” bolts or ½” sleeve bolts. The hangers include a tight-fitting bolt hole so that no washers are necessary for use with Powers-type bolts. In regards to visual impact, the best feature of the Climb Tech stainless hangers are their dull matte finish that reduces glare and visibility of the hangers from a distance. Some testers felt the hangers could be slightly improved if they were given a duller finish for even more visual impact reduction. Overall we found the ClimbTech stainless hanger to be a super nice bolt hanger with a very affordable price and light weight. All hangers are CE/UIAA approved.

CYPHER VESTA SPORT {$15.95 & $16.95}

Q

uick draws are a lot like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, there are a plethora of styles to choose from, they all do darn near the same thing and some are better than others. So after putting the Cypher Vesta Draw through its paces over the last six months it was pretty clear that these were no basic flavor draws. Clocking in at 103 grams for the full gates and 99 grams for the wire gate version, these were quickly paired with everything from overhanging sport routes to long, multipitch tradventures. Racking almost as light as a standard “alpine” size quickdraw (tiny dog bones) but with a hefty swath of webbing between the biners (think Petzl Spirit), a full rack of these never weighed down your harness waist belt and were super easy to hold onto when dogging on routes. Key lock style biners on the protection side ensured no catching on gear loops when going to clip or on a hanger when cleaning those pesky first couple of bolts on steeper affairs and a small, almost hair tieesq band on the rope side never allowed the biner to escape your grasp on the crux clip. With so many companies producing fantastic draws, it’s hard to find good reasons as to why one would be better than the other. But if you put all the facts in the table for comparison; size, weight, options, price and of course looks, then the Cypher Vesta Draw quickly rises to towards the front of the pack and should be taken as serious as Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz.

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HOLLOWED GROUND WORDS & IMAGES + DEAN FLEMING

CALIFORNIACLIMBERMAGAZINE.COM |

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HOLLOWED GROUND

PREVIOUS PAGE Jeff Fox climbing a V6 slab (name unknown) on the lower block at Crystal Ridge. THIS PAGE Hanna Hall climbing a V3 (name unknown) on the upper block at Crystal Ridge.

THE VAN’S INTERIOR THREW OUT A FAMILIAR RATTLE OF POTS AND PANS AS I TRAVERSED THE FIFTEEN MILES OF SINGLE LANE WASHBOARD THAT SEPARATE THE SMALL TOWN OF BIG PINE IN CALIFORNIA’S EASTERN SIERRA NEVADA BASIN WITH THE GRAND WESTERN SLOPE OF THE WHITE MOUNTAINS OF INYO COUNTY. TWIN F-18 FIGHTER JETS BARRELED JUST A FEW HUNDRED FEET OVERHEAD IN A FLIGHT PATTERN FROM THE NEARBY RIDGECREST AIR FORCE BASE. OUT THE WINDOW LAY THE RUSTED CARCASS OF A 1970S ERA WASHING MACHINE, RIDDLED WITH BULLET HOLES. FOR THOSE NEWLY ACQUAINTED WITH THE EASTERN SIERRA BASIN, THESE MODERN INFLECTIONS ARE THE CAMOUFLAGES THAT SO OFTEN CONCEAL THE SACRED NATURE OF THIS INCREDIBLE LANDSCAPE. THE IMPACT OF MAN ON THIS REGION IN THE LAST 100 YEARS IS VAST AND HUGELY DISCOMFORTING. STILL, AS BEAMS OF LIGHT STREAM THROUGH THE PEAKS OF THE HIGH SIERRA TO THE WEST AND SHADOWS CREEP ACROSS THE VALLEY TOWARD THE WHITE MOUNTAINS, THIS AREA’S RUGGED BEAUTY IS UNCANNY.

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t is said that the word Inyo translates roughly in native Bishop Paiute to “dwelling place of the great spirit.” With even a quick glance at the towering ranges and sweeping drainages, this rendition seems thoughtful and accurate. Yet as our experiences grow more intimate with this region the idea steadily grows far from interpretation. With time the Inyo transforms into a place of unquestionable holiness, a place where harsh elements and a seemingly desolate landscape interconnect with and somehow support the delicate yet hardly noticeable life cycles of hearty high desert species. As I bumped down the dirt road I thought about my survival rate, had I theoretically been tossed out into this landscape with nothing but the clothes on my back. I figured I’d last 48 hours, maybe 72 if I’d gotten lucky and found shelter. Backing down a 1,000 foot stretch of single-lane dirt road, I knew I was lost again. For three years I had been visiting this area to climb on the Crystal Ridge Boulders; a very small zone consisting of three massive angular blocks that stand solemnly in the center of a massive alluvial fan at the base of the White Mountains. Anyone with a general understanding of geology and a sense of the area could probably find these boulders, yet they are sneakily tucked behind a small glacial moraine and only found after a long series of correct turns on nearly fifteen miles of dirt roads. Cursing my poor memory and the faulty directions I gathered from a website early that day, I pulled back onto the “main” road and headed south along the base of the Whites. Once again, intuition and foggy memories would lead the way.

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THIS PAGE Austin Schuler climbing Wills’ Arete (V7) on the lower block. OPPOSITE PAGE TOP Colton Edson climbing a V6 arête (name unknown) on the upper block. OPPOSITE PAGE BOTTOM Monica Beck climbing the best V3 at Crystal Ridge, a proud face with an unknown name on the upper block.

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S

nap! The weight of the ¾ ton van easily broke the first low-grade tow strap. The vehicle didn’t budge. The rear tires spun freely, digging deep trenches in the loose sand. The rear end slowly lowered until the transfer case sat squarely on the ground. I dug sand out of the tail pipe while Charlie fished around in the closet for a 40 foot length of junked climbing rope and a few retired carabiners. The first attempt stretched the dynamic climbing rope an easy 30%. The force of the pull threatened to snap the climbing rope which could send a carabiner flying through my rear window or the windshield of Charlie’s new Toyota 4x4 pickup. We decided to double up the rope to reduce the static elongation and give her one final pull. It worked. We finally arrived at camp as dusk fell. The wind began to howl down from the High Sierra peaks just a few miles to the west. Wearing T-shirts on the drive to the boulders, we now quickly donned heavy jackets and layers to fend off the driving cold. The Inyo is a place where temperatures can easily rise or fall 50 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 50 minutes, yet a haphazardly tossed banana peel can take 50 years to fully decompose. What may seem like a barren patch of dry dirt can hold the seeds of a thousand wildflowers. These species of flowering plants can lay in wait for decades until the magical combination of warm temperatures and afternoon thunderstorms trigger vibrant blooms. Surveying the dusty slopes of the Basin and Range, with its near-non-existent water supply and sandy soils, it becomes obvious that the survival of the resilient creatures that inhabit this land is nothing short of miraculous.

OPPOSITE PAGE Austin Schuler takes a night time lap on a highball V2 (name unknown) on the upper block. THIS PAGE Star Pais climbs a tall V6 arête (name unknown) on the upper block.

The following day we lounged like lizards in the sun while friends shuffled pads under the few outstanding lines at Crystal Ridge. Discounting the warm-up boulder, which does have a few fine climbs in the V0 to V3 range, the bulk of the bouldering at Crystal Ridge can be found on the sharp arêtes and striking highball faces of two massive blocks. The highest quality problems here typically fall between V3 and V7. What the area lacks in quantity and difficulty, it quickly compensates for with excellent quality rock, intricate sequences and committing final moves. By 3pm the wind sped to 30 mile per hour gusts as an impending snow storm engulfed the Sierra Crest to the west. A wall of dust rose a few hundred feet tall from the basin below and steadily pushed toward the White Mountains. With sandblasted faces we tried to summit a V6 slab climb left of a west-facing arête. The wind threw our pads into the air as a cloud of dust overcame our position in the wash. Miles from a main road, as we retreated back to the parking area, we all agreed it was about as adventurous as you’d like a day of bouldering to get.

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HOLLOWED GROUND

Monica Beck takes a morning lap on the warm-up boulder at Crystal Ridge.

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OPPOSITE PAGE Monica Beck moves into the crux on a highball V3 (name unknown) on the upper block. ABOVE Colton Edson climbing Collin’s Arete (V6), one of the best lines on the lower block. LEFT Miranda Serene climbing a unique V4 face (name unknown) on the lower block.

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ccording to the guidebook “Bishop Area Rock Climbs” by Peter Croft and Marty Lewis, the first documented climbing at the Crystal Ridge Boulders occurred sometime around the turn of the century, mostly by Dimitri Barton, Colin Broadwater, Greg Haverstock and Andy Puhval. Although various waves of psyched locals have discovered and re-discovered the problems at Crystal Ridge over the years, this area has been typically thought of as a small-yetbeautiful off-the-beaten-track zone that hosts a handful of excellent problems on quality rock. The Crystal Ridge area is quite possibly the smallest bouldering zone on the Eastern Sierra. It can seem especially miniscule when compared to giant zones like the Buttermilks or the Tablelands of Bishop. Yet the landscape here is particularly brilliant, with a completely unencumbered view of the grand Sierra Nevada Crest to the west its primary attraction.

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Austin Schuler pressing out the intimidating mantel on a V2 (name unknown) on the upper block at Crystal Ridge.

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THE BETA SPECIAL CONCERNS The Crystal Ridge Boulders have been considered a sacred area to generations of Bishop Area rock climbers. Please treat this beautiful zone with the upmost respect and leave it as you found it. Remember to stay on existing roadways, park in existing parking areas and do not camp in the parking area for the boulders. Please respect all fire restrictions in this area and do not build fire rings or enhance any areas in which you may be camping. The options for bathroom breaks at the Crystal Ridge Boulders are very limited. Please consider bringing “wag-bags” and a 5 gallon bucket to remove your waist from this region. At a minimum, bring a shovel so that you can dig a proper hole. GETTING THERE At the request of the local climbing community specific directions to this location have been omitted from this article. However, directions can be found in the guidebook/s listed below or on mountainproject.com GUIDEBOOK “Bishop Area Rock Climbs,” by Peter Croft and Marty Lewis.

5 STAR ROUTES Unknown, (V3) [tall face climb past in-cut edges on the NW face of the largest block] Unknown, (V4) [seems and edges on the west face of the lower block] Collin’s Arete, (V6) [the SW corner of the lower block] Wills’ Arete, (V7) [the NW corner of the lower block] Unknown, (V6/7) [tall arête on the SW corner of the largest block] James Honey climbing Wills’ Arete (V7), on the lower block at Crystal Ridge.

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CATHEDRAL SPIRES Jerry Miszewski walking the Cathedral Spires highline. At the time the project seemed impossible. No one knew how big the line was or how we were going to get a tagline across to the other tower. After five days of climbing, fixing 1,200ft of rope and a few desperate attempts to get a tagline across, we managed to establish one of Yosemite’s proudest highlines. Jerry Miszewski managed to get the FA (First Across) walking the 350ft behemoth. He dubbed the line Hubris; it has yet to see a second ascent.

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CHASING HIGHLINES WORDS & IMAGES + MAX SILVER

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MATTHES CREST Braden Mayfield walking the classic Matthes Crest Highline. Not many people know of the local Yosemite legend, Braden Mayfield. With his badassery and hardcore climbing ethics, Mayfield was the first highliner to push for all natural highlines and move away from bolts. Braden has been crushing highlines for more than 20 years and continues to push limits by establishing highlines around the world.

IN RECENT YEARS THE POPULARITY OF HIGHLINING has grown tremendously. What was once considered a fringe sport pursued by a small group of fifty or so people has quickly grown to several thousand worldwide, and continues to grow. Highlining has spread around the world and can be seen from the United States to China, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and beyond. By now most climbers know what slacklining is and that it originated during rest days in Yosemite’s Camp 4. Today the sport has evolved to include big wall climbing tactics, hunting for massive exposure on remote alpine peaks and often complex rigging. Highliners from all over the World have marked California as a destination highlining spot. However, the growing popularity of the sport is not without its own set of problems. Similar to climbers, highliners suffer their own access issues, bolting conundrums, and bureaucratic battles with National Park officials. Recently, Yosemite National Park banned all highlines over waterways and waterfalls, mostly due to an overuse of certain areas and a lack of respect for the majority of park visitors who wish to experience solace in nature. Peak flows of waterways in the spring traditionally bring many highliners out to rig one of the Valley’s most iconic gaps; Yosemite Falls. This year the growing popularity of the sport resulted in a highline constantly being rigged over Yosemite Falls during the months of April and May by different groups. Highlining started to become a nuisance to the National Park. The last straw was broken while President Obama was visiting Yosemite. That same day, the Vernal Falls highline was coincidentally being rigged. The Secret Service ended up getting involved and shutting down the highline. A few weeks later Yosemite National Park placed a ban on highlines over all waterfalls and waterways. The future of highlining in its place of origin is now uncertain.

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As highlining continues to grow and evolve, it has moved out of California’s National Parks and into the backcountry. As highliners chase these remote lines, they need to not only be good riggers, but also confident climbers with a suite of backcountry skills. Alpine techniques, boltless climbing anchors, and old school climbing siege tactics have become the basis for rigging big projects with safe, all-natural rigging (boltless anchors). The elite now go into the backcountry with an advanced knowledge of knotcraft, hundreds of feet of rope, and a modified rack of climbing gear to rig all-natural lines safely. Slacklining, a sport that evolved as a cross-training exercise on rest days for climbers, has now become its own thing entirely as people continue to raise the bar. Today, these passionate crusaders set their goals on bigger, gnarlier peaks, combining trad techniques and big wall approaches to rig inspirational highlines. Any gap is now within the realm of possibility, especially to those highline first ascensionists that embrace climbing. The future of highlining, like with anything it seems, is unknown. While we may see a decline in the number of highlines being rigged within touristy areas like National Parks, the sport will likely be pushed further into the mountains. Highliners dream of walking beyond steep drops over vast valleys, between towering spires and over thundering waterfalls. We are guaranteed to see big gaps like Half Dome to Mt Watkins or Matthes Crest to Echo peaks walked within our near future. The images that follow were captured over the past decade as the some of California’s longest, tallest and most inventive lines were established and walked by many of the state’s best highliners. Many of the photographs in this article feature lines that were established with mandatory fifth-class climbing (sometimes first ascents of remote spires and alpine peaks), complex natural anchors and innovative rigging. Best of luck slackers, be safe.


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EMERALD BAY Braden Mayfield walks the Emerald Bay Highline above Lake Tahoe. This old line has recently seen a surge in popularity from local Tahoe highliners. Its beautiful views and sunsets make up for a terrible approach.

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TAFT POINT Ethan Holt taking a break from hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to walk the Taft Point Highline above Yosemite Valley. Sun rays burn through the clouds and leave unreal light on El Captain. The ease of access and epic exposure still make the Valley a premier destination for highlining.

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DANA PLATEAU Preston Bruce Alden walking the Dana Plateau Highline. The Dana Plateau is mostly known for its uber classic alpine route the Third Pillar of Dana (5.10b), yet it also offers amazing highline potential with varying lengths and tons of options for all natural rigging. These high altitude lines are more a test of lungs than a test of skill.

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EICHORN PINNACLE Ryan Jenks walks the Eichorn Pinnacle Highline at sunrise. Standing at 10,680ft, Eichorn Pinnacle is one of the easiest alpine lines to rig. An important lesson was learned when one of our anchors failed; eight out of nine cams blew out of the anchor point. A fixed red nut is still left at the crime scene and I’m sure every climber who sees it tries to score some booty, but that thing aint budging. That day we learned the importance of backups and why sliding X anchors shock load systems. But it isn’t an adventure until something goes wrong. A few hours later we built a new anchor. Safety thirds!

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SAWTOOTHS Ryan Robinson walking the Middle Tooth Highline in the Sawtooths in Bridgeport. The middle tooth of the Sawtooth was one of the more challenging projects. To gain one of the summits we put up a first ascent going up the South Tooth, which meant climbing rock that could be described as oatmeal flakes and kitty litter. Ropes got stuck, it rained choss and everyone was scared. The reward was unreal and it’s always funny when the highline is safer than the actual climb. The line is called flossing the tooth and the climb we established is called Don’t Die (5.8).

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MATTHES CREST Preston Bruce Alden walking the classic Matthes Crest Highline. Who wants to do that 5.7 down climb from the southwest tower when you can just walk across? This Matthes Crest Highline might be one of Yosemite’s best keep secrets. This line offers spectacular exposure with fun natural anchor rigging and is remote enough to be a great intro line for alpine rigging.

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BISHOP Ray Marceau planking with Mt. Tom standing proud behind a Casa Diablo highline near Bishop. Casa Diablo granite is similar to Joshua Tree, offering humongous egg shaped boulders, easy rigging and fun scrambling; a true local Eastside favorite. We may or may have not been tripping balls on mushrooms while dancing on webbing...

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MT. WATKINS Jared Alden walking the Lower Spire Highline on Mt. Watkins. We managed to get the 4th ascent of the Lower Spire on Mt. Watkins after a few days of hiking, climbing and rigging. It was a proud moment and even prouder when we rigged a line off the summit block and walked towards Half Dome during sunset. The bolt ladder is still fucked and the 5.8 A3 hook traverse was unreal; best of luck trying to repeat this one.

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DANA PLATEAU Preston Bruce Alden walking over the Dana Plateau. There is something unbelievably amazing about going into a space where no one has been before. The feeling of the unknown, the unfamiliar, and not knowing what’s going to happen next is the driving force in which we pursue highlining. I may be a climber by heart but highlining is my passion. I really can’t express my joy and love for both sports and can’t wait to see what peaks I’ll climb and dark depths we will walk across. The future is ours and it is grand!

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Climb Responsibly in the Desert The desert climbing environment is uniquely fragile and full of life— and it demands specific minimum impact practices.

Avoid walking on microbiotic soil crusts, which play a critical ecological role in the desert.

Soil in the desert lacks the microorganisms to biodegrade human waste. Use a toilet or pack it out.

Wait 24-48 hours before climbing on sandstone after it rains to avoid damaging the rock.

Respect cultural resources. Look but don't touch.

Learn more at: www.accessfund.org/desert

Eric Odenthal bouldering in Castle Valley, UT. © Whit Richardson

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Fabian Buhl

OUTPERFORM THE WIND

Andreas Steindl

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Andrew Taylor

The TERREX AGRAVIC ALPHA HOODED SHIELD jacket protects you from the wind while keeping your body at the optimal temperature. Whether you perform high pulse or static movements, always stay in your zone while pushing your limits further.

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California Climber | Issue 19 | Winter '16  

Crystal Ridge Boulders | Chasing Highlines Photo Essay

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