California Climber | Issue 22 | Fall '17

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californiaclimber freE


N 22


ALIEN REVOLUTION The Mother of Modern Cams

HELY Duplex Stainless Steel


Made In Spain



NO. 22 FALL 2017



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Joe McDaniel attempting the first ascent of an un-plucked roadside gem near the summit of Sonora Pass. IMAGE + DEAN FLEMING THIS PAGE

Jackie Moore on Cannibals (5.12d), Snowshed Wall, Donner Summit. IMAGE + JIM THORNBURG

Andy Cross

Be a climber. Where you find joy: pursue it. Where you see others finding joy: encourage it. Whatever makes you a climber: do it. These are words. See our actions at


Ben Pope on an un-named first ascent at Sonora Pass.


PUBLISHER Dean Fleming ART DIRECTOR Alton Richardson SENIOR CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jerry Dodrill, Jim Thornburg SENIOR CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Fitz Cahall, James Lucas CONTRIBUTORS Max Silver, Katie Goodwin, Charlie Barrett, Jim Thornburg, Ken Etzel, Austin Siadak, Alton Richardson, Dean Fleming

MOST, IF NOT ALL OF THE ACTIVITIES DEPICTED HEREIN CARRY AND PRESENT SIGNIFICANT RISKS OF PERSONAL 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 recommend 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 responsibilty associated with those risks.


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

EDITOR’S NOTE IN OCTOBER OF 2004 I followed a girl to the hustle and bustle of the East Bay, where I barely managed to pay half a room’s rent by stacking boxes in the warehouse of small used gear shop called the Wilderness Exchange. Looking back I consider myself pretty lucky to have acquired this position, as it so happened that the Wilderness Exchange was something of a hub for folks who were actually brave enough to fight the Friday traffic on the 580 in route to escape the city for weekend adventures in the Sierra. One such fateful autumn weekend a fellow Wilderness Exchange employee and I had trouble choosing where to spend our precious three-day excursion. We decided to take a small tour of the Central Sierra’s best crags, after all, the autumn season is a time when nearly all of California’s major highways remain open and the Golden State’s climbing areas offer perfect temperatures. We started by jamming into Yosemite Valley for a few long crack pitches, and then up to Tuolumne Meadows for a couple multi-pitch slabs, followed by a quick jaunt down 395 to the Owens River Gorge to clip bolts. We decided to finish the trip with a circumnavigation of the Central Sierra by taking Highway 395 north to the East Shore of Lake Tahoe, then crossing the Sierra on Highway 80 with a quick stop at Donner Summit’s Black Wall. Over the next few years we drove “the Loop,” as we later coined

it, a number of times, and later concluded that it might be the most quintessential climbing road trip in California. The final stop on “the Loop,” Donner Summit, is also among the most important historical square miles in the western United States. Long before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans spent thousands of summer seasons amidst the sparkling granite domes and clear blue waters of the Donner region. With relatively mild eastward and westward slopes across the heart of the otherwise impossibly steep Sierra Nevada mountain range, the first wagon trains to reach California’s western slope choose to cross the pass at Donner Summit. In later years the Summit became the site of the first transcontinental railroad, the first transcontinental highway, the first transcontinental air route, and the first transcontinental telephone line. Fast forward to the early 1970s when folks like Kim Schmitz, Norm Simmons, Eric Beck, Peter Haan, Karl Hammer, John Hoffman, Harry Smeenk, A.P. Marsten, Barry Dow and Dan Schultz saw the potential for technical rock climbing at Donner Summit and began establishing routes on the Black Wall, including classics like Black September, Bolt Run, On Ramp and One Hand Clapping. By the mid to late 1970s folks like Ron Kauk, Mark Hudon, Dale Bard and Gary Allen came to Donner and pushed grades into the 5.11 and 5.12 range. Among the most prolific Donner Summit developers of the late 1970s was Max Jones, who established difficult test pieces like Panic in Detroit (5.12c), Monkey Paws (5.12a), Walk Away (5.11d) and Welcome to my Nightmare (5.11b/c) at the Snowshed Wall. In the late 1980s and early 1990s climbers like Hidataka Suzuki, Alan Watts, Tom Herbert, Don Welsh and Scott Fry started developing steep and hard sport climbs at the incredible Star Wall including Puma (5.13b) [Suzuki 1988], Warp Factor (5.13a) [Fry 1988], A Steep Climb Named Desire (5.14a) [Fry 1990], Star Wars Crack (5.13a) [Watts 1986], Father’s Day (5.14a) [Herbert 1997] and Taste the Pain (5.13c) [Welsh 1990]. “During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Scott Frye was at the forefront of hard climbing in the U.S. His groundbreaking first ascents are sprinkled throughout the west,” said photographer Jim Thornburg. “Routes like Warp Factor and A Steep Climb Named Desire are hard, but also classic routes of the era that are still in high demand today. He’s also OK at Ping Pong.” In the years that followed Donner Summit’s test-piece climbs motivated hundreds, if not thousands, of aspiring climbers from Central California and around the globe.

EDITOR’S NOTE <~~~> In 2013, the private party that owned land encompassing Donner Summit’s historic 400-foot Black Wall, as well as the Peanut Gallery and Road Cut climbing areas, expressed concerns about liability, putting access to these climbing areas at risk. Local climbers, Access Fund, and the Land Trust quickly reached out to the landowners. Over the following seven months the climbing community and partners banded together to raise over $300,000 to purchase the property. A group of local climbers led the grassroots fundraising effort, and both Planet Granite and Touchstone Climbing gyms played a critical role encouraging their members to match their donations. Hundreds of climbers and local residents donated to protect the climbing resource; athletes gave slideshows with partners such as Tahoe Sports Hub, Mountain Area Preservation, and California 89 donating venues. Outdoor companies donated gear for auctions and raffle prizes. On 12/11/2015, the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Access Fund announced the acquisition and protection of a significant set of climbing areas on Donner Summit. The victory was announced only eight months after going under contract and launching the Save Donner Climbing Forever fundraising campaign.

“The acquisition would not have happened without the amazing response of the climbing community,” says Brady Robinson, Access Fund executive director. “This will be a long-lasting partnership among the partners and the entire climbing community that came together.” Truckee Donner Land Trust has since held the 11.9-acre property, adding it via a boundary line adjustment to the neighboring 65-acres of land they already hold in fee. Access Fund has since maintained a permanent conservation easement on the Black Wall property to back up the Land Trust’s long-term commitment and ensure climbing access in perpetuity. “Next steps are trail planning, stewardship, and additional trailhead improvements here at the Black Wall and the greater Donner Summit area,” says Gary Allan, local climber and Project Manager for the Save Donner Climbing Forever campaign. “Let’s keep this momentum going.” ­—DEAN FLEMING

To learn more or get involved in stewardship efforts, visit


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2017 FREE BEER | FOOD TRUCKS | SWAG | CASH PURSE Climb hard in our all-levels Citizens category on Nov 11th and party harder with free pizza, beer, and prizes. Ready for the big leagues? Heavy hitters can sign up for our USAC-qualifying Open category. A National Cup Series event, Open competitors must qualify on Nov 10th for a chance at the crown and a hefty cash purse in the Finals Round on Nov 11th. Register online today on the Touchstone website for the Citizens category or on the USAC site for the Open category. Dogpatch Boulders | 2573 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 |



SEVEN UNFORGETTABLE CLIMBING ACCESS SAVES IN CALIFORNIA CALIFORNIA IS HOME to some pretty spectacular climbing areas. And behind the scenes, there is a network of talented and dedicated local climbing advocates and conservation organizations working to protect our climbing areas. We’ve had the pleasure of partnering with many amazing volunteers over the years. Here are 7 of our most memorable saves in The Golden State.

EL CAPITAN’S WORLD CLASS VIEWSHED PRESERVED In 2013, Yosemite park planners proposed a large parking lot and new campground in the undeveloped meadow beneath El Cap and Cathedral Rocks— the most iconic view to rock climbers in the world. For years, Access Fund has collaborated with Yosemite National Park to help manage this world class climbing destination. But this new proposal would have brought campfire smoke, noise from campers, rumbling garbage trucks, and hundreds of glinting windshields to the experience of climbing The Nose, Central Pillar of Frenzy, and dozens of other iconic climbs. Access Fund joined forces with Yosemite Climbing Association and Bay Area Climbers Coalition to encourage park planners to pursue alternatives that would keep camping, development, and parking a few miles east. Through dogged advocacy and a collaborative spirit, we worked together to preserve the climbing experience, improve Valley camping opportunities, and minimize the impacts of a woodcutting lot beneath El Cap’s Salathe Wall that bothered climbers with constant buzzing of chainsaws. We continue to partner with local climbers and Yosemite National Park officials on stewardship efforts and development of the new Yosemite Wilderness and Stewardship Plan.

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El Capitan from Bridalvale Lookout IMAGE + Dean Fleming

ACCESS TO JAILHOUSE ROCK SAVED In 2010, an impending subdivision threatened to block access to Jailhouse Rock in California. Arguably the best winter stamina sport climbing in the West, Jailhouse is a major resource for Bay Area, Yosemite, and Sacramento climbers. Local climber Tom Addison came to Access Fund for help, and we approached the landowner to discuss options. After months of negotiations, Access Fund reached an agreement with the landowner to protect Jailhouse Rock through a complex conservation development partnership. A short-term Climbing Conservation

Conrad Frausto climbing Soap On A Rope (5.13a) at Jailhouse. IMAGE + DEAN FLEMING

Steven Roth climbing Bat Karma (5.13a) at Auburn Quarry. IMAGE + JIM THORNBURG

Alton Richardson climbing Saigon (V6), Buttermilks. IMAGE + DEAN FLEMING

Loan secured conservation and access easements, ensuring permanent protection and access to Jailhouse Rock. Check out the video of this project. Once access was established, the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team worked with local climbers to build a new parking area and trailhead for climbing access.

AUBURN QUARRY RE-OPENED In 2012, Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento (CRAGS) and Access Fund re-opened Auburn Quarry (aka Cave Valley) outside of Sacramento, California after a 9-year climbing ban. With limited budget, the California Department of Parks and Recreation would only agree to allow climbing if CRAGS and Access Fund entered into an agreement with them to provide liability protection and critical services to offset climber impacts. CRAGS agreed, and Access Fund granted funds to help meet the terms of the new agreement and launched a fundraising campaign to raise the remainder of the money. The climbing community responded quickly and generously, and in just under two weeks the community raised nearly $10,000 to provide services and restore climbing access.

DONNER SUMMIT SAVED Climbers have been scaling the walls on Donner Summit for over 50 years. But in 2013, the private landowners expressed concerns about liability, putting access to the historic climbing area at risk. In 2015, a local conservation organization, Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT), partnered with Access Fund and local climbers to conserve a significant set of climbing areas on Donner Summit, including the historic 400-foot Black Wall, Peanut Gallery, Road Cut, and access trails to the popular Space Wall and Stealth Wall. TDLT owns the 11.9-acre property and Access Fund holds a permanent conservation easement to back up TDLT’s long-term commitment and ensure climbing access in perpetuity. The world-class climbing at Donner Summit is set amidst some of the most dramatic terrain in the Truckee-Tahoe region, boasting stunning vistas.

PARTNERING TO PROTECT BISHOP’S DELICATE LANDSCAPE The Bishop area sees more climbers every year, and the increased use has caused concern for sensitive cultural and natural resources. In 2012, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) called on the climbing community to help protect these resources and ensure continued climbing access. Over the next 5 years, a coalition of partners have come together to protect this unique high-altitude desert climbing area. The Friends of the Inyo joined us to design and install kiosks at Pine Creek and Tablelands to educate climbers on responsible use. Access Fund also supported Bishop Area Climbers Coalition and the American Alpine Club in installing a toilet at the Buttermilks to help address human waste issues. And the Access FundJeep Conservation Team visits regularly to provide ongoing stewardship to help locals sustain this California favorite.




California State Parks are home to some popular climbing areas, like Castle Rock State Park, Malibu Creek State Park, and Stony Point State Park. Access Fund has been working with local advocates since the early 1990s to address the state’s ongoing liability concerns and help individual parks create plans to protect cultural and natural resources and still allow climbing access. Over the years, the California State Parks Department has proposed various regulations that would impact rock climbing access, such as higher entrance fees, a ban on rebolting existing climbing routes, and closure of some climbing access trails. Access Fund works regularly with the Bay Area Climbers Coalition, Allied Climbers of San Diego, and local climbing advocates to successfully negotiate with the Parks to ensure long-term, sustainable climbing access.

Long owned by a local timber company, the northern reaches of Castle Crags near Mt. Shasta, California are home to over 20 challenging climbing routes, but the area has never enjoyed permanent protection. In 2013, local climbers reached out to Access Fund with a unique conservation opportunity to join an alliance between a land trust, three timber companies, and the Forest Service to permanently protect the climbing area. The Wilderness Land Trust purchased the 360-acre property with funding from the Access Fund Climbing Conservation Loan Program, The Conservation Alliance, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The property is currently being transferred to the USDA-Forest Service for inclusion in the adjacent Shasta-Trinity National Forest, ensuring long-term protection for Castle Crags.

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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


SEPTEMBER 23RD: USA Climbing Series at Sender One, Los Angeles


SEPTEMBER 24TH: USA Climbing Series at Planet Granite, Sunnyvale

OCTOBER 14TH: Adopt-A-Crag at Mt. Saint Helena NOVEMBER 3RD THROUGH NOVEMBER 5TH: American Alpine Club’s Bishop Highball Craggin Classic


OCTOBER 7TH: USA Climbing Series at the Factory, Orange OCTOBER 14TH: USA Climbing Series at Pacific Edge, Santa Cruz OCTOBER 21ST USA Climbing Series at Granite Arch Climbing Center, Rancho Cordova OCTOBER 28TH: USA Climbing Series at Diablo Rock Gym, Concord NOVEMBER 4TH: USA Climbing Series at Top Out, Santa Clarita

OCTOBER 13TH: Touchstone Climbing Series at Sacramento Pipeworks, Sacramento NOVEMBER 11TH: Touchstone Climbing Series at Dogpatch Boulders, San Francisco

NOVEMBER 18TH: USA Climbing Series at Rocknasium, Davis NOVEMBER 18TH: USA Climbing Series at The Wall, Vista

SEPTEMBER 9TH: USA Climbing Series at Aesthetic Climbing, Lake Forest SEPTEMBER 16TH: USA Climbing Series at High Altitude Fitness, Incline Village

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

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Elliot Allan enters the short but powerful crux of Highway Star (5.10a), Yosemite Valley.

FIRST ASCENT Chris Falkenstein, Don Reid, & Edd Kuropat



Highway Star






Single Pitch Trad



Doubles to #3, 1 #4




Yosemite Valley

3 mins

TR from trees, walk off



GUIDEBOOK Yosemite Free Climbs, by Don Reid

DESCRIPTION With an exceptionally short approach from Highway 120 and convenient access to the summit of the formation for top-roping, Highway Star’s short but powerful sequences have been used for running laps and end-ofthe day warm-down sessions for generations. Highway Star is a mere 50 feet in height and may be considered moderate at 5.10a, yet this small route is steeper than it appears and has been known to surprise unsuspecting leaders with its strenuous sequences. The climb starts with an easy yet unprotected scramble up a short triangular pinnacle. From here a few small cams can be placed in a shallow left-facing flake/corner. Intimidating liebacking

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up this flake leads to a dark chasm underneath a small roof where climbers are forced to exit out a 1.25” crack in a small flake system. Pulling this roof is considered the crux of the route, yet above looms a short section of 3.5” splitter that can be difficult, especially for climbers with smaller hands. Once through the small roof and past the cupped hands or fist jams, a short but immaculate series of perfect hand-sized splitter cracks lead to the summit. Make sure you tag up a cordelette or some long runners to equalize a few smalldiameter oak trees that make the summit anchor, and to extend your anchor’s master-point over the edge of the cliff.



well. There were only few missing things and modifications that needed to be done. After I bought it I found someone to weld on a Catalytic converter and it was basically California legal! I have updated hardwood floors, gas stove, shelving, stereo, and few other living amenities.

Max Silver and his 1987 Toyota 22R Chinook Popup

How’s the gas mileage?

CCMag: What is this thing? MS: The Mail truck is a little bit of a frankentruck. It’s a 40-year old Chinook Popup Camper transplanted on 1987 Toyota Pickup with rebuilt 22re engine with some other random engine parts in there... don’t ask, it still runs... How did you come up with the Mail Truck? I normally refer to it as the Mail Truck because of its similar color scheme and the tendency to always get into the wrong car at the Post Office. Where did you find it and how much did it cost you? A local Salt Lake City legend by the name of Randy sold me the truck for $8,300. I got $200 knocked off because it had a cracked windshield, or maybe he just liked my aloha shirt. I remember him having quite the collection of 4WD campers and an awesome 4x4 Toyota Sunrader that I probably should have got instead of the Chinook, but I couldn’t afford it. Have you done any modifications? The 40-year old interior is holding up pretty

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Running premium petrol ain’t cheap, but gets me 16-18mpg on the highway. In town it’s like 1415mpg (Elevation 5,000ft). I average about 50 bunnies and usually one deer per year. I think my house gets great gas mileage compared to the average house. How does it do off-road? Lately, unstoppable! I accidently drove through a100-foot-long knee-deep puddle; four wheeled through Sierra obscurities, and have yet have any problems with snow or sand. It still drives like a little Toyota pickup which is the best part about moshing through forgotten corridors and mountains. Have you ever been stuck? One time one of the main relays burned out in the Black Sheep coffee shop parking lot. I got stuck at the Black Sheep parking lot for five days until I eventually figured out what the problem was. It turned out to be a $14.00 fix. The Black Sheep parking lot is the center of the World, where all great adventures start from, so it wasn’t a bad option. Plus, there was whole tribe of people trying to survive in that parking lot this winter. What was your favorite trip so far? That time I went to Bishop and never left.... Do you have clearance to tell us about the Guardians of the Black Sheep Parking Lot and your upcoming title match with Mammoth Mountaineering? The title Guardians of the Black Sheep Parking Lot usually references all the nomadic people who congregate at the Black Sheep Parking Lot. It’s also the name of our hacky sack team, or as we like to call it, Drugbag. Wish us luck as we battle Mammoth Mountaineering in the coming months. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Yes. To all my strong rock climber friends: Please stop breaking off my door handles. I’m tired of opening my door with a screwdriver.




ow do you maintain high quality manufacturing, stitching and machining while including all the features of the most expensive quickdraws on the market - in a package that costs a mere $16.95? We’re not really sure, but we’re giving some serious props to Mad Rock for once again offering a great product at a dirtbag-friendly price tag. Mad Rock’s latest quickdraw, the Bottle Nose, offers all the sleek designs of the finest workhorse quickdraws. The soft end of the Bottle Nose draw includes beefy dog-bones that are comfortable to grab and provide stable clipping. The ergonomic and durable rubber gaskets keep the rope-end carabiners aligned. Both the straight gate and bent gate Bottle Nose carabiners are designed without gate-notches to reduce catching on bolt hangers and ropes for easy cleaning. Additionally, small thumb-catch grooves in the gates of both carabiners allow for super easy clipping and un-clipping. A ribbed edge along the spine of the carabiners makes for easy “basket clipping” and also helps add stability when attaching the draw to hard-to-reach bolt hangers. The Bottle Nose draws come in two sizes, from four inches to six inches and can be purchased as a package of six for $89.95. As do all Mad Rock products, purchase of the Bottle Nose Quickdraw includes a lifetime warranty.

LA SPORTIVA TX2 { $130 }


pproach shoes are commonly known for being bulky, heavy, ugly as sin, and determined to do one thing: approach. But over the last few years manufactures have been changing up their designs, gradually making approach shoes lighter, more versatile and most importantly (tongue in cheek), better looking. For decades climbers have found themselves running in the mountains, to and from scrambles/solos and finding lighter and lighter gear that can still keep up to the demands and abuse that these environments put our gear through. Regular approach shoes have always fallen short here; a shoe that is good for scrambling and climbing low5th class in is likely awful for running, where as trail running shoes aren’t sticky enough for safe climbing. The TX2 from La Sportiva is the enduro-scrambler, ultra-light and fast alpine climbers’ dream shoe. The design very closely resembles a running shoe but boasts an uber sticky Vibram Mega Grip Rubber Outsole (dot style rubber and a “Climbing Zone” edging platform

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under the toes). Stability and tensional rigidity are enhanced from a flared metatarsal area, keeping your arch healthy and foot supported while climbing, trail running and hopping around talus. This past summer, we’ve logged well over 150 miles in a single pair of these; scrambling up to 5.6, setting PR’s on 10k alpine trail runs, hiking to countless boulders and then out to the pub for burgers. While the 3mm sole has understandably gotten a bit thin during this time (50,000+ feet of vertical will do that) the shoe as a whole has held up impressively. The one-piece (seamless) polyester knit upper dries super fast and is absurdly breathable. The added bungee tucked into the heel makes pulling your shoes out of the bottom of that big ass pack simple when they are strapped together. If you’re looking for a do-it-all approach shoe that really shines in the running to and from rock climbing department, then the TX2 shoe is where it’s at.

The most sensitive down turned shoe we have ever made.


MUNDAKA Discover its amazing glove-like fit and ability to adapt. Mundaka allows the most natural and effective climbing style no matter what the rock throws at you.

Distributed by Trango | |




limbing with a backpack on sucks. Then again, stuffing bars, keys and topos into your pockets and climbing with your shoes, water bottle and rain jacket clanging around on your harness might suck even more. In the early days our mentors said things like “hydrate before you leave the ground,” or “we should do this descent barefoot,” or worse, “I’ll lead and you can carry the bag.” And that wouldn’t be such a bad deal if “the bag” didn’t typically consist of an ancient 12-pound rucksack that was meant for hauling potatoes. Today’s ultra-light climbing backpacks are much better in regards to weight, but are usually shredded by one or two hauls up the crux pitches. Thankfully last year the folks over at Trango finished designing a bag that solves most of these problems. The new Ration Pack from Trango includes a number of valuable features, including some quality exterior approach shoe attachments to save interior space, a volume expansion sleeve for easier access to interior items at hanging belays, a single ice axe attachment point, two small internal pockets for bars and knickknacks and a bladder sleeve. But in testing we found that the most

innovative design feature of the Ration Pack was its removable and replaceable cover for protection on crux pitch hauls. Because designing a full backpack from haul-resistant material would add significant weight to the product, Trango instead includes a durable protective sleeve that can be placed over the backpack during hauling, but then stashed away for other applications. In testing we found that the haul cover also functions perfectly as a rope-bucket for flaking, stashing and hanging the haul-line or lead-line at crammed belay stations. In most situations, our testers would use the haul cover as a rope-bucket for the haul-line, then, when it was time to haul the bag, simply slip the cover over the Ration Pack and ready the bag for hauling. For easier pitches, cramming the haul cover back inside the Ration Pack and climbing with the bag was relatively easy and still maintains a lightweight system. A comfortable fit with adjustable sternum strap, a low-profile, a removable hip belt and a surprisingly roomy 18-liter volume, round out this high quality and super versatile climbing bag.



or years climbers have utilized the advantages of wearing board shorts for their daily climbing needs. Typically made of lightweight material, usually stretchy, and generally perceived as very comfortable, this piece of surf wear has found a home in many clothing tubs deep inside climbers’ vans. But, like many things adapted for climbing, they’re not exactly perfect for our needs. Enter the La Sportiva TX Short, originally designed for alpine climbers but quickly embraced by the masses. The TX picks up where regular board shorts stop, adding front hand pockets, Cordura reinforcements around the legs and a 12” inseam, all while still clocking in at only 261 grams. We tested these shorts in alpine environments, both bouldering and climbing grade 3+ routes as well as normal sport cragging missions and countless gym sessions in between washes. After a summer of extremely consistent use, the shorts still look brand spanking new after a fresh wash and aren’t breaking down in the butt region, like regular board shorts tend to do. The 4% spandex guarantees mobility and the use of Nylon and Cordura ensure they don’t stay wet for too long. The built in board short style shoelace belt (on the inside!) doesnt bunch up and pinch underneath a harness. We frequently wore these shorts under regular alpine pants, so that we can strip down and hike out in pure comfort in the TX Short. The TX is available in both men’s and women’s sizes.

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LEFT CLIMBER Alix Morris ROUTE Scarface (5.12), Liberty Cap, Yosemite Valley PHOTOGRAPHER Austin Siadak

THIS PAGE, TOP CLIMBER Jacob Russel-Meyer ROUTE Checkerboard (V8), Buttermilk Country, Bishop PHOTOGRAPHER Dean Fleming

THIS PAGE, BOTTOM CLIMBERS Dennis Baumsteiger & Kai Defty packed and ready for the road. PHOTOGRAPHER Dean Fleming


CLIMBER Austin Schuler LOCATION The Grapevine (V1), Columbia PHOTOGRAPHER Dean Fleming

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LEFT CLIMBER John Scott ROUTE The Amazing Ginsu, Hidden Dome PHOTOGRAPHER Jim Thornburg


THIS PAGE, BOTTOM CLIMBER Hayley Brown ROUTE Snatch Power (5.10c), Yosemite Valley PHOTOGRAPHER Dean Fleming


CLIMBER Ethan Pringle LOCATION Lost Rocks PHOTOGRAPHER Dean Fleming

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OPENING SPREAD Christy Johnson warming up at the summit of Herring Creek Dome. The problems here are usually scrambled after climbing one of the many excellent multipitch routes up a 300-foot slab. THIS PAGE Wildflower blooms near Chipmunk Flat. OPPOSITE PAGE Trevor Carter bouldering an un-named (V4) with a tricky lip encounter along the Middle Fork Stanislaus River.

S H OR TS A N D FLIP FLO PS A R E A BA D CH OICE . Crawling beneath head-high scrub oak, the sharp Manzanita branches dig and scratch into thighs. Underfoot spines of the dreaded Sonora Pass White Thorn plant pierce easily through the soft foam of flip flops, quickly driving themselves deep into the soles of supple human feet. Along the Highway 108 corridor this type of seemingly endless bushwhacking is often rewarded by grainy, short, turd-like lumps of mossy and featureless stone. Yet a small quantity of iron-hard vibrant orange granite, often referred to by locals as “the Gold Standard,� keeps us thrashing. They call it selective memory; when time wipes the mind clear of the hardships and toiling, choosing only to remember a small number of idyllic occasions. Like rounding the top of an exposed granite slab, or entering a vast clearing in the dense forest as solid granite boulders of appropriate height and angle reveal themselves. Hidden among the thick brush lining the Sonora Pass Highway, a rare breed of striking gold boulders with black-streaked striations and incut patina holds can be found in small quantities. These golden eggs are often spread few and far between zones that host just a handful of high quality problems.

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In the early 1990s the few climbers living along the Sonora Pass Highway plucked the most easily accessible problems. These rare gems can be found on boulders with convenient access via forest service roads or paved pull-outs. Areas like Pump Rock, Donnell Vista and Chipmunk Flat are obvious, and were quickly scrambled by climbers like Brian Carkeet, Dave Yerian and especially, Phil Bone, who has likely scoured and scaled more terrain in the region than any other. In more recent years climbers such as Lance Kimball, Daniel Forbes and Anthony Allopena have done more thorough developments, especially near Burst Rock and higher up on Sonora Pass. Although some have thought to have found the next worldclass zone along the Highway 108 corridor, the style of bouldering on Sonora Pass remains consistent; a few scattered gems here and there, but nothing quite condensed enough to warrant the drive from any major city center. Nevertheless, when the fall season begins in early October, here we are again, scrambling and scratching our way through the brush and brambles, tossing pads into ravines and over Manzanita, with eyes pointed to the next golden blob far on the horizon. For when you do stumble onto a block worthy of the Gold Standard, the quality can be impeccable and the style of climbing can be interesting. Yet over the years most of us have succumb to a realistic ideology of Sonora Pass bouldering; the idea that this never ending search for boulders is simply an excuse to spend time in solitude with unmatched scenery in a place we call home.




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PREVIOUS SPREAD Kai Defty fights the pump and tricky exit moves on Carjack Crack (V6). THIS PAGE Joe McDaniel pinching Tuolumne Meadow-esque knobs to make the first ascent of an un-named problem at Chipmunk Flat. OPPOSITE PAGE Ben Pope climbs above the headwaters of the Stanislaus River at Chipmunk Flat.

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PREVIOUS SPREAD Trevor Carter traversing over the Middle Fork Stanislaus River. OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP Keenan Pope makes the first ascent of One More Time (V1) at the edge of the Middle Fork Stanislaus River. OPPOSITE PAGE, BOTTOM Luke (Ropewad) Mast climbing The Flake (5.7) at Donnell Vista. THIS PAGE Ben Pope tries for the first ascent of a roadside nugget at Chipmunk Flat.




After tromping through dense aspen and chaparral, Kai Defty discovers and attempts the first ascent of an incredibly dynamic compression prow at Chipmunk Flat.

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Keenan Pope climbing an un-named yet brilliant 5.10a hand crack at the Corridor Cracks near Donnell Vista.

THE BETA GETTING THERE From the Bay Area take the 205 east to the Highway 120 junction in Manteca. Continue on Highway 120 to Oakdale turning left (eastbound) on Highway 108. Follow this to the summit of Sonora Pass. WHERE TO STAY The quality of free camping near the summit of Sonora Pass is immaculate – please help to keep it this way by cleaning up after your group and following crucial leave no trace ethics including only gathering dead and down firewood. In late summer and fall there are almost always campfire restrictions. Please check with the Pinecrest Ranger District for current info and please adhere to all restrictions.

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GUIDEBOOK A Climbers Guide to the Sonora Pass Highway 2nd Edition by Brad Young has all the routes and some bouldering information. Northern California Bouldering by Chris Summit, Kevin Swift and Chris McNamara has the most detailed bouldering information for the summit of Sonora Pass. www.sonorapassclimbing. com is a website developed by Robert Behrens which has new route information and a friendly forum for beta scavenging. You’ll probably run into Behrens on the pass – he’ll be the guy covered in moss drinking a Bud Light w/Lime. Climbing gear, chalk and various high quality camping equipment can be purchased at the locally owned and operated Sierra Nevada Adventure Company in downtown Sonora.

FIVE STAR ROUTES The Flake (V0), Donnell Vista The Pump (V4), Pump Rock Boot Camp (V5), Chipmunk Flat Carjack Crack (V6), Chipmunk Flat The Ramp (V7), Pump Rock

Far North climbing Gym

Humboldt County’s Premiere indoor climbing center

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

Images + Dean Fleming

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Sara Dekker climbing the pitch two variation (5.9) of Rated X on the Black Wall.



the area around Donner Lake, California was the setting for what would become one of America’s most grisly epics. 79 emigrants from the countries’ heartland embarked on an ambitious cross-country journey towards the promised land of California. A massive bushwacking struggle was required to cross the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, followed by a misfortunate “shortcut” across the parched 80-mile Salt Lake desert. By the time the bedraggled group reached the crest of the Sierras, they were hammered and seriously behind schedule. Recordbreaking early October snowstorms soon turned Donner Pass into an impassible barrier. The group was trapped for the winter, ill prepared for the brutal conditions to come. During the ensuing five-month bivuoac, nearly half of the pioneers succumbed to exposure and starvation, while the survivors resorted to cannibalism. If death-marches, freezing to death, or a hungry look in your climbing partner’s eyes are a little more adventure than you care for, consider the following: approaches at Donner average around 30-seconds from your car. Summer temperatures at the crags hover

around 80 degrees while autumn brings even milder temperatures; although you could drown in gorgeous Donner Lake during your between-climb dip. And no matter how hungry your partner gets, she should be able to make the five minute drive to Truckee before she tries to take a bite out of you. The crags that fringe Old Donner Pass Road range from 50 to 300 feet high and offer every conceivable type of rock climbing. The stone is super-hard greenish granite. You’ll find cracks, knobs, edges and even gas-bubble pockets on cliffs that range anywhere from low-angle to steeply overhanging. The majority of the climbs are single-pitch cracks, but there are plenty of bolted faces as well. The 300-foot-high Black wall is home to a few dozen multi-pitch crack and sport adventures. 5.6 - 5.10 level climbers will find scads of pitches to choose from for leading, and hoards of harder climbs that are easily set up for top-roping.


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Donner’s Star Wall hosts the highest concentration of difficult and excellent sport climbs in the region, including California’s first 5.14, A Steep Climb Named Desire (5.14a) established by Scott Fry in 1990. Star Wall also houses one of the most intimidating traditional routes in California, the heady Father’s Day. First climbed by Tom Herbert in 1997 by clipping the bolts on Steep Climb, Father’s Day (5.14a) has since been redpointed without the use of fixed protection by Nico Favresse, Alan Moore and Reno local Urs Moosmuller. LEFT Ron Kauk cruising Warp Factor (5.13a), a steep wall of killer crimps at Donner Summit’s Star Wall. THIS PAGE Scott Fry making the first ascent of California’s first 5.14, A Steep Climb Named Desire (5.14a), way back in 1990 at Donner Summit’s Star Wall. CALIFORNIACLIMBERMAGAZINE.COM | 57

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LEFT Manic Depression (5.11d), Monkey Paws (5.12a), Bottomless Topless (5.10a), Panic in Detroit (5.12c) and the Panic Principle (5.13a) are five of the best cracks anywhere and they are sideby-side on Donner Summit’s Snowshed Wall. Mike Carville solos Monkey Paws. THIS PAGE Fun thin face moves followed by an excellent and bouldery crux sequence, plus the comfort of closely spaced bolts, have made Short Subject (5.11d) a soughtafter Donner Summit sport route for decades. Gabriella Nobrega climbing.


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Rated X (5.7) [or 5.9 with a second pitch variation] is one of the best moderate two pitch routes in the west, offering intimidating wide liebacking on the first pitch, followed by either the “X� pitch (5.7) or the direct variation that involves a few wide moves and some thinner 5.9 in a corner. Both variations finish on an excellent section of thin hands. LEFT Stacey Bloom tackles the 5.9 variation on pitch 2. THIS PAGE Kim Pfabe liebacking the 5.7 flake on pitch 1.


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Although the Road Cut appears scruffy at first glance, the quality of the rock is generally solid with heavily featured sport climbs that host crisp edges and positive pockets. In 2015 a rock fall occurred at the Road Cut area which decimated the route Totem Pile (5.11b), pictured here.

LEFT Gabriella Nobrega climbing Hit and Run (5.11b) at the Road Cut. THIS PAGE Vlad Sofiyev climbing Totem Pile (5.11b) at the Road Cut. CALIFORNIACLIMBERMAGAZINE.COM | 63

Brian Cork climbing Carl’s Gym (5.10d) at Snowshed Wall.

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joshua tree, C.a.

head games www.Cliffhangerguides.Com

THE BETA GETTING THERE Donner Summit is located 15 miles to the north of Lake Tahoe in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. The cliffs lie along Old Donner Pass Road, once the main link between Nevada and Northern California at an average elevation of 7,000 feet. The town of Truckee lies five minutes to the east, and has plenty of restaurants, cafes and grocery stores. Alpenglow Sports has a large selection of gear, and the new guidebook “North Tahoe, A Rock Climber’s Guide” by Josh Horniak. The public docks along Donner Lakes’ north shore are great for lounging and diving. WHERE TO STAY There is a State Park Campground at the east end of Donner Lake that costs about $11 per night and has the added luxury of hot showers. The campground is also home to one of the Tahoe Basins best boulders, Split Rock home to a brilliant selection of moderate problems. For you creative campers on a budget, it’s also possible to camp guerilla-style in and around Truckee. GUIDEBOOK North Tahoe, A Rock Climber’s Guide by Josh Horniak

Brian Cork climbing Full Moon (5.11d) at Black Wall.

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:

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

Mayan Smith-Gobat | Riders on the Storm, Torres del Paine


The TERREX SCOPE GTX® features STEALTH® rubber outsole and a waterproof GORE-TEX® membrane for unbeatable grip on wet and rocky surfaces.

© 2017 adidas AG | Photos: Thomas Senf, Franz Walter

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