California Climber | Issue 28 | Spring 2019

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CaliforniaClimber SPRING2019




ALIEN REVOLUTION The Mother of Modern Cams

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Gabriella Nobrega climbing Tufatafoni Traverse (V4), Salt Point State Park. IMAGE + JIM THORNBURG THIS PAGE

Jimmy Web climbing the Upper Meadow Arête (V3), Desolation Wilderness. IMAGE + CAROLINE TREADWAY

Train Better Shoulder Friendly 2 Piece Design

Variable Depth Rails

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Rock Prodigy traning center Integrated Training App


Meg Gallagher climbing the Gerstile Cove Roof (V4), Sonoma Coast.

CALIFORNIACLIMBERMAGAZINE.COM PUBLISHER Dean Fleming ART DIRECTOR Alton Richardson SENIOR CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jerry Dodrill, Jim Thornburg SENIOR CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Fitz Cahall, James Lucas CONTRIBUTORS Caroline Treadway, Austin Siadak, Anne-Marie Lambert, Jerry Dodrill, Jim Thornburg, Dean Fleming, Kyle Queener

MOST,IFNOTALLOFTHEACTIVITIESDEPICTEDHEREINCARRYAND PRESENTSIGNIFICANTRISKSOFPERSONALINJURYORDEATH. Rock climbing, bouldering, ice climbing, mountaineering, alpine climbing and any other outdoor activity are inherently dangerous. The owners, staff and management of California Climber do not recommend that anyone participate 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 necessary and be prepared to assume all responsibility associated with those risks.

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

EDITOR’S NOTE ON THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 25TH, 2019 a powerful storm swept over California’s Sonoma County leading to the largest flooding of the Lower Russian River in nearly a quarter century. The flooding caused an estimated $155 million in damage to homes, businesses, roads and other public infrastructure in Sonoma County, but also swept an immeasurable about of debris and trash down the Russian River and into the Pacific Ocean. Once in the Pacific, the trash and debris subsequently moved northward by way of strong currents. Locals and officials have since noticed that a large amount of trash has been deposited on the beaches north of the Russian River Mouth, a region that includes popular ocean-side climbing areas like the Sunset Boulders, the Fort Ross Boulder and Salt Point. “The recent flooding of the Russian River area here in Sonoma County has been devastating to many people in our community,” said Sonoma County resident and California Climber contributor Jerry Dodrill. “A lot of folks have been busy cleaning out waterlogged homes and businesses, while others have been focused on the environment. With my free time I’ve been hiking to remote beaches in search of plastic and trash that washed out during the storms.”

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In the wake of the recent flooding in Sonoma County and the subsequent polluting of the local beaches, approximately 300 community members showed up and spent a beautiful Saturday cleaning plastic and storm debris from the local beaches as part of the 5th annual B-Rad Beach Cleanup which was made possible by the Clean River Alliance, The B-Rad Foundation, Sonoma Coast Surfrider, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods and California State Parks. “Together we collected over 3,000 pounds of trash, much of which was transported by canoe from Driftwood Beach to River’s End Restaurant & Inn, then hauled off,” said Dodrill. “It was a pleasure to be documenting the event last week, but the work is only just getting started. We’ve pulled endless amounts of trash from Driftwood Beach. Propane bottles, gas cans, a full oil pan, and all kinds of other junk to high ground. The amount of work to do is staggering, even after our B-Rad cleanup. It’s time to take a hard look in the mirror and think about the individual local impacts we are having and how they add up globally.” <~~~>


n page 40 of this issue of California Climber, photographer Jim Thornburg brings us to the coastal boulders of Sonoma County with 22-pages of stunning photographs featuring some of the most interesting and unique rock formations in North America. In late spring and early summer the seaside blocks and bulbous rocks found here are flanked not only by the beauty and power of the Pacific Ocean to the west, but also by a spectacular display of wildflowers and other vibrant plant species. As with every destination that we feature in California Climber, it’s crucial to be informed of and to follow Leave No Trace practices and ethics when visiting the boulders along the Sonoma Coast. With the recent impacts from the flooding of the Russian River and subsequent trash accumulation on Sonoma County’s beaches, we should all consider bringing a trash bag and doing our best to haul out a portion of the garbage each time we visit. If you’d like to get involved in the local beach cleanup events in the Sonoma County region, check out organizations like the B-Rad Foundation, the Clean River Alliance, Sonoma Coast Surfrider, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods. —DEAN FLEMING

EVENTS APRIL 27TH, 2019: ADOPT-A-CRAG AT SUGARLOAF WITH CRAGS Join CRAGS in tackling the much-needed work leading up to Sugarloaf. Sugarloaf is a huge granite spire towering over the town of Kyburz on highway 50 between Placerville and Tahoe. It is showing signs of erosion and degrading conditions. This is where we come in! JULY 19TH-21ST: WOMAN UP CLIMBING FESTIVAL PRESENTED BY TOUCHSTONE CLIMBING The Woman Up Climbing Festival is a community celebration of all aspects of woman in climbing. The weekend starts off with a competition set by an womens route setting crew, designed for top-level athletes and weekend warriors of all abilities. The following features several clinics, panels, presentations from athletes, routsetters and industry leaders. All aimed at acquiring new skills and opening up comversations about women in climbing.

COMPETITIONS MARCH 2ND: (12pm-5pm) Touchstone Climbing Series, LA Boulders, Los Angeles MARCH 22ND: (5pm-10pm) Touchstone Climbing Series, The Studio, San Jose MARCH 30TH: (12pm-5pm) Touchstone Climbing Series, Cliffs of Id, Culver City APRIL 27TH: (12pm-5pm) Touchstone Climbing Series, Mission Cliffs, San Francisco MAY 31ST: (5pm-10pm) Touchstone Climbing Series, MetalMark, Fresno JUNE 15TH: (12pm-5pm) Touchstone Climbing Series, Hollywood Boulders, Los Angeles JUNE 21ST: (5pm-10pm) Touchstone Climbing Series, Berkeley Ironworks, Berkeley AUGUST 30TH: (5pm-10pm) Touchstone Climbing Series, Great Western Power Co., Oakland SEPTEMBER 28TH: (12pm-5pm) Touchstone Climbing Series, Verdigo Boulders, Burbank OCTOBER 4TH: (5pm-10pm) Touchstone Climbing Series, Sacramento Pipeworks, Sacramento NOVEMBER 2ND: Battle of the Bay at Dogpatch Boulders, San Francisco

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Touchstone Climbing + Mountain Hardwear present

JULY 19-21 , 2019 Dogpatch Boulders, San Francisco Touchstone Climbing and Mountain Hardwear present a multi-day climbing festival celebrating the womxn of our sport. FRI, July 19: Come to our all-gender Keynote Kickoff Party and celebrate the womxn in our climbing community. Sat, July 20: Crush world-class problems in our all-womxn’s bouldering competition set by an all-womxn crew. Sun, July 21: Join clinics, panels, and presentations led by womxn from every area of the climbing industry. Women and underrepresented genders of all ages and abilities welcome.

Dogpatch Boulders | 2573 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107 | 415.800.8121 |


FIRST ASCENT Scott Ayers and John Hartman, 1992

BETA ROUTE: Giveaway GRADE: 5.10a LENGTH: 80 feet ROCK TYPE: Volcanic Tuft SEASON: Spring & Fall STYLE: Sport, single pitch RACK: Quickdraws LOCATION: Gorgeous Towers Area, Upper Owens River Gorge APPROACH: 20 minutes DESCENT: Lower off, bolted anchor GUIDEBOOK: Owens River Gorge Climbs by Marty Lewis 11th Edition DESCRIPTION

The Owens River Gorge just north of Bishop is renowned for its wealth of high quality bolt-protected face climbs. With literally hundreds of safely bolted sport routes, typically vertical or slightly overhanging and mostly ranging in difficulty between 5.10 and 5.12, the Gorge is a perfect place to gain and maintain the strength and skills necessary for steep and sustained face climbing. While there are plenty of incut buckets and edges in the Gorge, nearly every route in the canyon features at least a few sections of slippery, forearm-burning holds that are flat or sloping in nature; a phenomena that frustrates many fledgling leaders, but also builds staying power, resting skills and character. Climbers visit the Gorge year-round, yet in spring the canyon becomes vibrant with the colors of thriving plant species offering an added scenic bonus. The Gorgeous Towers area is located in the relatively quiet Upper Gorge and offers some of the finest routes in the canyon, including the namesake Gorgeous (5.10b) and neighboring warm-up Giveaway (5.10a). Giveaway begins with a funky and “exciting” start which is somewhat height-dependent. This is the 5.10a crux and although wellprotected, should be carefully negotiated by 5.10 leaders as these difficult moves are close to the ground. After the second bolt, 5.9 moves on jugs take you up a unique arête positioned directly adjacent to a massive, gaping chimney. This chimney feature gives the route an eerie and exposed feel, but also offers creative rests with wild stems if needed. After seven bolts of secure and fun climbing, a few slick slopers at the top guard access to a three bolt anchor.

Jim Thornburg climbing Giveaway (5.10a).

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“THE ASHTRAY” Dean Fleming and his 1999 Suburu Impreza Baja Custom CC: Ok, what the hell is this thing? DF: The Ashtray is a Subaru Impreza, a Subaru Outback, a Subaru Forester, a Suzuki Samurai and a bunch of scrap metal. At this point it’s hard for me to tell what she really is, but the motor and the transmission are all original 1999 Subaru Impreza. Where did you find the Ashtray and how much did she cost you? I bought her with 80k original miles way back in 2004. It’s hard to believe that when I bought her she was actually a nice car and I paid a lot - just under $10k. But it was well worth the investment. Now the Ashtray is sporting 315k miles on the original automatic transmission and motor. I enjoy driving dirt roads and that will do a lot of damage to any vehicle, so I’m constantly crawling under the car to replace suspension things like ball joints, CV axles, tie rods and wheel bearings, but aside from oil changes, timing belts etc, I’ve really done nothing major to maintain or repair this car’s transmission or motor. It’s literally the most reliable thing in my life.

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The Ashtray looks a little modified. What did you do to her? About a year ago she passed 300k miles and I had two goals. First, I wanted to take the tool kit out of the car and then drive her across the country and back. I wanted to do this because I’d been talking shit for a few years, saying things like “I’d take the tool kit out of this car and drive her across the country…” So I finally did it and it went smooth. Second, I wanted to lift the car and then rally down in Baja. So I gave her a 4” lift courtesy of some junky Subaru Forester Struts and springs salvaged from a scrap yard in Modesto. The lift was pretty easy besides the custom brackets and spacers I needed to fabricate to properly align the rear tires in the wheel wells. I then put on 27” tires that gave her about 13” of ground clearance. Aside from the lift and tires, I spray painted it black and then added some of those annoyingly bright light bars. My buddy Kai helped me weld a steel bumper from a Samurai on the front that connects to a janky skid plate. Baja dreams aside, it’s become the perfect vehicle to rally the 4x4 roads near my house. How’s the gas mileage after the lift and modifications? It actually improved the highway mileage and didn’t hurt the city mileage that much. She lost some torque but still averages 29mpg. That alone pretty much makes her the dream crag-searching machine. The Ashtray is also my daily driver for that reason. Did you ever make it down to Baja? We did! We made it down and back with only one bad wreck and two flat tires. We ended up taking Highway 5 down the coast, which turned out have about 100 miles of rough dirt – picture an endless Buttermilk Road. On the first night we were totally lost and going pretty fast on dirt when a big ditch in the road took us out. I ended up with the front end so badly smashed that the belts were pressed into and cutting through the fan shroud and I blew an old transmission line. We were totally lost at this point, running through the darkness towards some headlights, when a dude stepped out with a machine gun… But it was chill. The military dudes helped us push the car down to a flat spot and then got a passing driver to tow us back to a tire shop. After replacing the transmission line with an old air compressor hose and dumping in some powdered radiator patch, she was back on the road with no troubles. I’m still driving on the old air compressor hose and cracked radiator.

From Humble Beginnings...

Made in the U.S.A. since 1983

STAND BY YOUR VAN Can you sleep in the back? Yup. I’ve probably spent more nights in the back of the Ashtray than any other place besides my childhood home. It’s small and cramped and smells like a grave, I need to shove my feet into the tail light compartment to stretch out, but I love it, it’s my home. At 315k miles do you have any plans for the future… besides the inevitable tow to the scrap yard? The Ashtray is a hog - I’m really not sure anything can actually kill her. I’ve hydro-locked the motor in a four foot deep mud puddle, snapped the timing belt, overheated it a dozen times, smashed the oil pan at least ten times, been sideswiped by another car and I’ve had a few pretty serious collisions off road. She always comes back to life relatively easily. At this point I’ll probably just replace the motor or do whatever needs to be done to keep her going. I want to drive this car or some version of it for the rest of my life. I know there’s really nothing practical about owning a daily driver with over 300k miles, and I often wonder myself why I keep throwing energy into it. But I’ve come to realize that love isn’t very practical and that I really do love this vehicle. The best moments in my life were had in this car or in places that I was able to

go because of this car, but the Ashtray has also seen me at my worst. I’ll get frustrated working on her and I’ve thrown wrenches at her, kicked her and punched her more times than I can count. Most of the dents in the car are actually self-inflicted. After all the shit we’ve been through, for whatever reason, when I sit down and turn the key, the Ashtray’s always ready and willing to go wherever I need to go. How do you tow something like that to a scrap yard? What climbing area will you visit next in the Ashtray? I don’t go climbing anymore. I spend all my time and money on this stupid fucking car.




ow do y’all go to the bathroom up there?” If you’ve ever racked up in El Cap Meadow you’ve probably been asked the question. But it’s a reasonable query, and a topic that is still discussed among even the most seasoned big wall veterans. Although we all know by now (or should know) that we need to pack our waste with us during long routes and then properly dispose of it once back on flat Earth, the best way to do this is still up for debate in many circles. A classic home-made system involves the use of PVC pipe with a sealed end and then a threaded end, plastic bags, paper bags and kitty litter. A slightly more advanced version of this system utilizes the PVC receptacle and WAG Bags. Though one might think that either of these two homemade systems would be cheaper than a brand manufactured option, the truth is that PVC, Pipe sealer, caps, threads and the requisite tool kit needed to assemble said

items is quite pricy. The folks at Metolius have thus manufactured the ultimate big-wall waste disposal system; an environmentally responsible choice, a durable and lightweight choice, and for $59.50, a hell of a deal. The Metolius Waste Case uses Metolius’s tried-and-true Durathane haul bag construction which makes the system light, durable and flexible. Say goodbye to bulky, obnoxious rigid tubes. WAG Bag kits are approved for disposal in landfills. The Waste Case comes with six WAG Bag kits each containing one waste bag with Pooh-Powder, a zip-close disposal bag, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Pooh-Powder is a specially engineered mix of a non-toxic polymer-based absorbent (similar to what is in baby diapers), along with an organic decay catalyst and odor neutralizer (no perfumes). When waste comes in contact with the powder, the powder gels the liquid waste, encapsulates the solid waste, removes odors and begins the decay process. Refill WAG Bag kits are also available direct from Metolius.



n 1998 I watched a video of legendary California Climber Ron Kauk climbing a 5.13 sport route called Aqua located in the greater Lake Tahoe area. I distinctly remember noticing the subtle differences in the way that Ron climbed this route compared to videos of other hard climbs in the US that I had seen. Specifically, I remember the way that Ron seemed to dig his toes into the small pockets on the route to pull himself upward and sideways. Ron also used his heal (revolutionary at this time) to pull himself into the wall to make seemingly effortless clip stances and rests. I remember the strange looking shoes he was wearing – low cut around the heal with a unique lacing system that seemed to pull the heal of the shoe tight around his ankle, a relaxed but sharp toe that seemed to dive into the pockets, purple… I was sold. In the years to come I purchased and then blew through more than a dozen pairs of LA Sportiva Mythos, a shoe that taught me how to smear into thin cracks, edge on dimes and negotiate the sometimes terrifying slabs of Tuolumne Meadows. I later moved on to climb at areas like Smith Rock where I was told (in no uncertain terms) by the locals to switch into more aggressive and supportive shoes like the LA Sportiva Muira, which have since become my shoe of choice. Never-the-less, I still keep a pair of Mythos on deck for those tricky slabs and heinous thin cracks, and I certainly credit a large degree of my footwork technique to this shoe. For 2019 LA Sportiva has

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created a re-edition of the iconic La Sportiva Mythos climbing shoe made with eco-friendly materials to minimize environmental impact. 25 years later, this shoe still delivers amazing versatility and performance.

“Zach’s highly energetic personality, his zest for living a full life, his non-stop desire to learn new things, and his joy at seeing others succeed at living out their own dreams is what makes Zach a perfect coach.” Chip Brejc from South Lake Tahoe -

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Join us for an All Inclusive Climbing Retreat to:

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DMM DRAGON CAM { $74.95-$125.95 }


limbers are picky about their gear, but perhaps no pickier than when choosing a rack of spring loaded camming devices (SLCDs) for traditionally protected routes. The truth is, while many manufactures have produced and sold SLCDs, most designs have failed to meet today’s high standards. In the opinion of this tester, there are currently only three or four companies that have been able to compete in the modern SLCD market. While DMM’s Dragon Cam is relatively new to the market, it’s been met with mostly rave reviews and has easily competed with today’s best camming devices. The reason for the Dragon Cam’s success seems to be related to the fact that DMM didn’t break the mold or try to revolutionize the camming device market – they simply enhanced and perfected it. A hot forged thumb press allows for quick placement and retrieval of the Dragon Cam, and also provides stable

handling. The thumb press also allows cams to have an extendable sling without sacrificing strength – Dragon cams from size 1 upward, have a 14kN strength rating. The dual axle design of the Dragon Cam produces a greater expansion range than single axle designs, allowing them to fit a greater range of crack sizes. This lets dual axle cams fit more placements and have greater overlap between sizes, allowing you to carry fewer units to protect the same range of cracks. The patented TripleGrip lobes of the Dragon Cam improve performance and reduce walking in all rock types. Contact areas are machined aluminum, giving better grip than anodized surfaces. These feature additional edges that catch on crystals and other micro features, helping the Dragon bite to increase grip and reduce walking. The lobes are also thickened, making them more robust under load, and highly resistant to bending forces.



pring time in California can provide perfect climbing conditions, yet spring is also a time of unpredictable weather like afternoon rain storms and windy nights. As summer approaches and T-shirt weather becomes more frequent, it starts to feel like a monumental pain in the ass to pack heavy jackets and under-layers into the boulders for a quick session on the off-chance that a cold wind or short thunderstorm might hit. In these conditions a lightweight, packable, weather resistant windbreaker can be a lifesaver. While a dozen or more outdoor companies manufacture lightweight windbreakers that function very well in the field, when the sun dips below the horizon and a trip to your favorite burger joint or tap room is in order, these high tech pullovers often leave you feeling like your wearing a wrinkly trash bag. After just a few weeks of testing HippyTree’s new Portola Windbreaker, we’ve found it to be a functional and stylish alternative to the high tech plastic wrap that fill the racks at your local REI.

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The Portola Windbreaker is in essence a basic lightweight windbreaker jacket with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating. The front half zip with zipper garage at the chin and the front pouch pocket with hidden zip and flap closure keep your neck and phone dry in an average rain, but keep in mind that the Portola isn’t a hard shell designed for alpine mountaineering – if you turn a fire hose on your buddy you’re probably going to fry his iPhone. The Portola is finished with side zip hand pockets (the entire jacket is easily packable into right-hand pocket), a mesh lined hood with a custom draw cord and engraved eyelets, a cinch cord at the hip, elastic wrist cuffs, vented back yoke with mesh lining, a printed twill patch on the chest and a de-bossed leather label on the side seam.

MONKEY 9.0 FULL DRY Because Experience Matters




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CLIMBER Elliot Robinson ROUTE Un-named, South Sierra Eastside PHOTOGRAPHER Kyle Queener


CLIMBER Jim Reynolds ROUTE Cramming, 5.10d PHOTOGRAPHER Austin Siadak

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CLIMBER Ari Maiello ROUTE Ferny Mac, V5 PHOTOGRAPHER Dean Fleming




CLIMBER Charlie Barrett ROUTE Un-named FA, V8, Sonora Pass PHOTOGRAPHER Dean Fleming

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Roman Yalowitz climbing the Campsite Face.



ABOVE Jimmy Web on the Upper Meadow Arête (V3). TOP RIGHT “Send Train ricocheted off the talus, bright now in the moon, and we were dying cuz it was actually pretty good…” BOTTOM RIGHT Roman Yalowitz pinches out the belly of the steep, featured arête, Little Cub Sit (V11).”

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We were the first to climb here, or that’s how it felt. And it was probably true. “Think people will start coming here?” I asked Jimmy. “Who’s gonna come out here?” He said. “We’re six miles in.” So we believed no one would. And no one did. “But no photos,” Jimmy said. “Cool,” I said but shot anyways. What he meant was, don’t tell anyone about this place. Not yet. Roman set off with a rope and a project in mind. He’d show back up after dark. Jimmy stood below a futuristic wall that sung like a sheet of copper in the falling sun. He palmed the surface for an edge, a dimple, a ripple, anything large enough to grab. Windshield wipers. Nothing. The sun fell and threw the shadow of the ridge over us. The meadow cooled in a rush. Temps were getting good.

Rami pawed the steep underbelly of a slab. Toeing, extending, stabbing for a grainy slimper, scraping off and thumping the pad, like someone pushed him over every time he tried to stand up. The smack down. It was all projects. We wandered into the meadow, to a sculpted arête that held onto the sunset. Lapped it, one after the other as the last bit of gold skidded up the far ridge and was gone. To the west it looked like snow. Pink gauze hugged gray peaks. We thought about dinner. Jimmy sneakered up a low mantle on a random slant, scampered up it like a ten year old. That was Jimmy, he’d climb anything. Didn’t matter what it was. We trailed back to camp and sprawled out on crash pads. Jimmy flicked on his headlamp and fired up the stove. Hannah sliced salami. Macaroni rushed into boiling water. Someone passed a flask of whiskey around, and the Milky Way burned in full color. You can sit here, you said. So I did. Nervous. More whiskey. JT got drunk and called himself debonair then starting singing some bluesy gospel caterwaul. Just belting it. “Gotta get on that send train… send train is leaving the station… don’t miss that send train.” Send Train ricocheted off the talus, bright now in the moon, and we were dying cuz it was actually pretty good. We tried a low ball mantle in our sneakers and down jackets. Clouds skidded over us. Throats warm from whiskey in the turning indigo. The moon, a blinding heart. I’m really shy, you said. Me too, I said. I could feel you shiver and maybe it was cold. The moonlight looked like dawn. Our eyes were stars. In the morning you said, “We survived.” And I laughed because it was true even though parts of me had come loose in the night, like someone had torn out a wall and exposed the original - ancient, fragile, obsolete.



Roman Yalowitz squeezing the incredible double-arêtes on King of the Jungle (V13).

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The last light of day hugs grey peaks as Nick Cornwell runs laps on the Romancing the Stone boulder.

We shivered in the last bit of night. Warmed in a sweep of light. Crawled out of our bags and left them like cocoons. Coffee. I grabbed water bottles, hopped a puddle of puke outside JT’s tent, and ran down to the stream. My fingers stiffened in the snow melt that slipped from somewhere up high you couldn’t see, sparkled then fell into a mossy crack into the lake below. Numb hands. Screaming barfies. Back at camp, everyone had bed head. Jimmy wormed half out of his sleeping bag. Nick fired up his stove. Roman dragged his pad over. We pooled snacks, whatever we hadn’t eaten the day before and assessed the caloric situation. Rations. Stoves were lit and we lay low out of the wind. Jimmy downed breakfast with the fire in his eye, and dashed off for his project, a squeezy arête the sun hit first thing. Repose to fight mode in seconds. We caught up with him in the jumbled maze of overhangs and sidewalls and baleen arêtes. We threw pads down and split off to explore. Jimmy, chalk bag in hand, eyeballed a feature that, if you fuzzed your eyes, looked like an Orca. He slapped his hands together and in a few seconds, was half way up, smearing torn sneakers up a prow that leaned over a pit. Scampered up like it was nothing. V6, V7, V8. “I don’t know,” someone said. He hopped off the backside of the boulder and found another. Fuck the shoes and the gear and grades. Blankness into possibility. The ritual soothed a nerve. Brushed up and loved, the place became a momentary home with familiar landmarks and hallways. It was something. Who knew if I’d ever be back. Now was slipping into then and there was nothing to do about it. So I stood near you and we leaned into the wind. Our cheeks would be red for days.

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“Jimmy flicked on his headlamp and fired up the stove. Hannah sliced salami. Macaroni rushed into boiling water. Someone passed a flask of whiskey around, and the Milky Way burned in full color…”


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Unbelievably versatile The Oasi’s design and system of construction lets the heel sit lower while climbing and is superbly responsive to every situation, relaying detailed information back to the user in any situation. Distributed by Trango | | trango/tenaya

california climber printed in the usa since issue #1 We’ve had a great time making this magazine. Thank you for reading and for your support.

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Gabriella Nobrega climbing Tufatafoni Traverse (V4), at the Call Box Rocks.


Travis Lombardo climbing Triceratops (V4).


he old Volvo station wagon dipped and swerved as the passengers’ side front tire skidded off the road into a patch of gravel. I thought I was going to die for what seemed like the 50th time that afternoon. Chris punched the gas and casually corrected the car back onto the pavement with one hand, still waving the other hand over his head, trying to point out what appeared to be a small lump of rock in a ditch covered with poison oak. On this impromptu tour of the short drive from Forestville in west Sonoma County to Salt Point, Chris had pointed out dozens of micro zones and individual rocks that he’d scrubbed and chalked up over the last few decades. I’d met Chris Summit only a few hours earlier; just enough time to realize that he might be more psyched on rocks, and finding rocks, than any other person on the Planet. Although Chris’s infatuation with finding new boulders is obsessively fanatical, bordering psychotic, it’s a passion that in some degree has been passed down through the generations of Wine Country climbers – a passion that began on the Sonoma Coast with Jordy Morgan, Richie Esquibel and Marcos Nunez, perhaps the three most iconic figures of Sonoma County’s bouldering history. Chris parked the Volvo alongside an old split-railed fence as golden rays of sunlight peaked through a thick amber field of wild grasses. The hillside rolled west for a few hundred yards until dipping down out of sight towards the thundering ocean below. Without a single boulder or rock in sight, this first impression of the Sonoma Coast is as breathtaking as it is confusing, but as we made our way down a well-worn path towards the coastline, it became apparent that rocks do exist here. Although the climbable blocks on the Sonoma Coast are far between, much more spread out than your typical bouldering area, the boulders that do warrant a closer look are beautifully textured, artfully sculpted and sometimes massive in stature. “The boulders sit on a gigantic three-hundred foot wide by two mile long shelf of sandstone; easily the biggest bit of rock in the greater Bay Area,” said Bay Area guidebook author and photographer Jim Thornburg. “The ocean is wild there, constantly sculpting the rock into exquisite shapes with swells that can engulf the entire shelf.” “I get excited on the approach when I see bits of Sonoma Coast Sandstone sticking up through the forest, it’s the same feeling I get when I see Ceuse Limestone or Southern Sierra Granite,” added Thornburg. “The rock is really special - world class even - gritty and generous with other-worldly features; perfectly round pockets, laser cut edges and bizarre Tafoni ribs and blobs unique to this strip of coastline. Its only flaw is a slight sandiness that ads spice to the higher top-outs.” It was here that Sonoma County climbers Jordy Morgan, Richie Esquibel and Marcos Nunez first discovered world class problems like Fort Rosstafarian (V6), Stoney Whiteboots Johnson (V7x or 5.13a) and countless others, some of which the names and grades have been long forgotten.

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“I was involved, I guess,” said Morgan. “I’m pretty sure that I was one of the first ones there as a matter of fact, mid 80s. I called it Secrets, did a bunch of the low hanging fruit and put bolts in on a bunch of TRs. I Took Scott Cosgrove out there at one point and cleaned up the Wave (we called it the Brain). No serious names or grades given though. I couldn’t tell you the dates even…” “The history is obscure because Marcos spent a lot of days out there by himself, fishing and plucking highball boulders and solos,” said Thornburg. “If you see a tall, alluring face, Marcos has probably climbed it.” Although Morgan, Esquibel and Nunez share a quiet, reserved demeanor, their infectious psych for new boulders spread through generations of Sonoma County boulderers; early on to climbers like Chris Summit who later shared this passion with local young climbers like Charlie Barrett, Giovanni Traversi, Kevin Jorgeson and Travis Lombardo – all of which would go on to discover and/or re-discover high quality boulder problems along the Sonoma Coast. <~~> On sunny spring weekends and foggy summer days, a few cars with climbing-related bumper stickers might be seen at the pull-outs that line this rocky region of the Sonoma Coast. While exploring the sea’s edge, you might see some chalk on a few holds, or even bump into another group of climbers, yet the bouldering here is vastly spread out, difficult to discern and can often be affected by changing tide patterns. Although there are, on average, more climbers here than could be found in years past, bouldering on the Sonoma Coast remains quite and respectful, especially when compared to bustling areas like Bishop’s Buttermilks or Happy Boulders. Climbing in a delicate coastal environment like the Sonoma Coast mandates the use of solid Leave No Trace principles. As outlined by quotes from local Sonoma County climber Jerry Dodrill in this season’s Editor’s Note, the recent flooding of the Sonoma region has subsequently deposited an abnormal amount of trash and debris along the coastal areas northward. Recent clean-up events hosted by local organizations have gathered and properly disposed of at least 3,000-pounds of trash that once lay scattered along the beaches north of the Russian River. In the pages that follow you’ll find rousing images taken by Bay Area climber, guidebook author and photographer Jim Thornburg. If these photos inspire you to visit the Sonoma Coast, we hope they also inspire you to throw a trash bag in your pack and assist in the effort to clean up our local beaches and climbing areas. At a minimum, please be respectful when visiting these boulders. Ways to do this include parking in designated parking areas, using existing trails, paying whatever day-use fees may need to be paid at State Parks, and packing out with you any waist or trash you may accumulate.



Steven Roth climbing Fear of the Inevitable (V6). This stunning arch quickly became a well-known classic when it was discovered and cleaned by Travis Lombardo and then first climbed by Giovanni Traversi just a few years ago. A huge ocean swell has since removed a large block at the start of the climb and it’s unclear if it still goes


Rebecca Taggart climbing Triceratops (V4), a bit of a low-ball, sure, but one of the best problems around if you don’t like getting too high off the ground. As a bonus, Triceratops features some of the coolest rock formations in the region.


Nina Kilham climbing the Gerstile Cove Roof (V4), an absolutely amazing problem established by Jordi Morgan in the early 2000s and then recently uncovered by local climber Travis Lombardo.

Townsend Brown and Rico Miledi climbing the third pitch of Kitty From Hell (5.10d). Described as oustanding with sustained and varied climbing featuring everything from fingers to OW.



Giovanni Traversi making the first ascent of High Tide, Low Tide (V13). “A tricky compression out the sculpted sandstone roof sequences you into one of the most difficult moves I have ever done,� said Traversi.


Keegan Williams climbing Fort Rosstafarian (V6), the king line on the popular Fort Ross Boulder. One of the southernmost boulders on the Sonoma Coast, the Fort Ross block is perched atop a pebbled beach just south of the town of Fort Ross and just north of Fort Ross Historical Park. Although this large boulder only offers a handful of problems, the quality of the stone and the movement of the problems are impeccable.


Vikki Glinskii climbing the Tufatafoni Traverse (V4) at the Call Box Rocks, Salt Point State Park. This problem is found on the huge Stoney Whiteboots boulder, on the slightly overhanging face that looks out to the ocean and features some really unique moves on wildly shaped holds.


Steven Roth climbing an un-named V0 at the Call Box Rocks. Although not too technically challenging, the sheer beauty of the rock found here creates some exceptionally high quality moderate climbing.


Travis Lombardo climbing Barnacle Bill (V4), a super fun and safe boulder problem that starts on cool pockets and then uses a crack to finish. This route often features a sandy landing, rare for Salt Point.


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Steve Temple climbing Tufatafoni Traverse (V4).



Jerry Dodrill busts a rose move on the Wave Traverse (V2), a long, pumpy and popular traverse problem that bisects the entire steep side of the Wave Boulder at the Secrets. This problem starts on the far left side of the Wave Boulder and finishes around the right arête on some really cool honeycomb featured rock. For an added challenge, some try to finish with on the boulder’s namesake problem, the Wave (V3).


Kim Pfabe climbs through the extraordinarily varied rock types, colors and textures found on the Sonoma Coast on an un-named V2 at the Secrets.


Fascinating, nearly psychedelic Tafoni sandstone features litter the sandstone rocks on the Sonoma Coast, especially at Salt Point State Park.

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Giovanni Traversi climbing on huge tufoni features on the Big Wave Dave Boulder.



Chris Clay climbing the Wave Traverse (V2).


Kim Pfabe climbing Swiss Cheese, an immaculate (V2) on the west side of the Fort Ross Boulder. This is the only moderate problem on the Fort Ross Boulder, which inherently makes it popular, but it’s fun, swinging movement up really cool holds makes it likely also one of the most intriguing problems of its grade in the entire Bay Area.


The Tafoni features found at Salt Point and elsewhere along the Sonoma Coast are natural rock cavities; cavernous weathering features that include tiny pits, softball-sized cavities, truck-sized caves, and fascinating honeycomb forms.

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Travis Lombardo climbing The Wave (V3), at the Secrets. This tall, steep and intimidating problem can be a little crumbly, especially near the top of the boulder, but with enough pads the landing is just good enough for relatively safe sessions.

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Ryan Pasquill, Big Issue (5.13c R), Pembroke, UK. Photo: Ray Wood

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Travis Lombardo watches for impending waves while topping out a tall V2 Left of the Stoney Whiteboots boulder at the Call Box Rocks.

THE BETA GETTING THERE The boulders featured in this article can be found at and between Fort Ross to the south and Fisk Mill Cove to the north on Highway 1 about twenty miles north of the town of Jenner. The problems here are quite spread out and can be hard to find, tucked as they are into crannies and on hidden sea walls. Chalk is quickly washed away and the rocks often have a coat of grit. Approaching this area with a sense of exploration and appreciation of the wild atmosphere might yield the most fun. WHERE TO STAY Beautiful and convenient camping is available at Salt Point State Park at the Gerstle Campground and Woodside Campgrounds, but you’ll pay $35 per-night. There are no free camping options anywhere near the boulders and if you try to sneak a roadside bivy in your car you’ll definitely get busted. GUIDEBOOK Bay Area Rock by Jim Thornburg

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THE TICK LIST BOULDERS Fort Rossta (V6) Blockhead (V3) (see Last Go on Pg. 64 for more info) Tufatafoni Traverse (V4) Living a Dream (V6) Triceratops (V4)

joshua tree, C.a.

Image + Doug Tiano

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Arc’teryx La Brea 159 South La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Pacific Edge 104 Bronson Street Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Far North Climbing Gym 1065 K St C, Arcata, CA 95521

Sender One 1441 S. Village Way Santa Ana, CA 92705 Rockreation 11866 La Grange Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90025 Hangar 18 Upland 256 East Stowell Street Upland, CA 91786 Hangar 18 Hawthorn 4926 West Rosecrans Avenue Hawthorne, CA 90250 Hangar 18 Riverside 6935 Arlington Avenue Riverside, CA 92503 The Factory 1547 West Struck Avenue Orange, CA 92867 Top Out Climbing Gym 26332 Ferry Ct Santa Clarita, CA 91350 Gear Co-Op 3315 Hyland Ave Costa Mesa, CA 92626 LA.B 1375 East 6th Street Unit #8, Los Angeles, CA 90021 Cliffs of Id 2537 S Fairfax Ave Culver City, CA 90232 Vertigo Boulders 266 E Magnolia Blv Burbank, CA 91502 Hollywood Boulders 1107 N Bronson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

SAN DIEGO Mesa Rim 10110 Mesa Rim Road San Diego, CA 92121 Vertical Hold 9580 Distribution Avenue San Diego, CA 92121 Nomad Ventures 405 West Grand Avenue Escondido, CA 92025

JOSHUA TREE Nomad Ventures 61795 Twentynine Palms Highway A, Joshua Tree, CA 92252 Cliffhanger Guides 6551 Park Blvd, Joshua Tree, CA 92252

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Sanctuary Rock Gym 1855 East Ave Sand City, CA 93955

CENTRAL FOOTHILLS Metal Mark 4042 N Cedar Ave Fresno, CA 93726 Alpenglow Gear Co 40879 CA-41 #1f, Oakhurst, CA 93644 Sierra Nevada Adventure Company Sonora 173 S Washington St, Sonora, CA 95370

EASTERN SIERRA Big Willi Mountaineering 120 S. Main Street, Suite 13, Lone Pine, CA 93545 Elevation 150 S. Main St. Lone Pine, CA Eastside Sports 224 N Main Street Bishop, CA 93514 Hostel California 213 Academy Ave, Bishop, CA 93514

Sierra Nevada Adventure Company Arnold 2293 CA-4, Arnold, CA 95223

Sage to Summit 312 N Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514

Sierra Nevada Adventure Company Murphys 448 Main St, Murphys, CA 95247

Spellbinder Books 124 S Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514


Mammoth Mountaineering 3189 Main Street Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Sacramento Pipeworks 116 N 16th St, Sacramento, CA 95811 The Boulder Field 8425 Belvedere Ave #100, Sacramento, CA 95826

BAY AREA Berkeley Ironworks 800 Potter St, Berkeley, CA 94710

Mammoth Gear Exchange 298 N Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514 Black Sheep Coffee 232 N Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514

The Studio Climbing 396 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113

Mountain Rambler 186 S Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514

Great Western Power Co. 520 20th St, Oakland, CA 94612

Fixe Hardware 107A South Main Street, Bishop CA 93514

Dogpatch Boulders 2573 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107


Mission Cliffs 2295 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110 Planet Granite Belmont 100 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002 Planet Granite Sunnyvale 815 Stewart Dr, Sunnyvale, CA 94085 Planet Granite San Francisco 924 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94129

Basecamp Climbing Gym 255 N Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89501 Blue Granite 1259 Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 Greater Tahoe Gripworks Pine and, Sage Ave, Markleeville, CA 96120

Bridges Rock Gym 5635 San Diego St, El Cerrito, CA 94530

High Altitude Fitness 880 Northwood Blvd Incline Village, NV


Alpenglow Sports 415 N Lake Blvd, Tahoe City, CA 96145

Rockzilla 849 Jackson St suite 5A, Napa, CA 94559

Truckee Sports Exchange 10095 W River St, Truckee, CA 96161

Vertex Climbing Center 3358 Coffey Lane Santa Rosa, CA 95403

The Backcountry 11400 Donner Pass Rd #100, Truckee, CA 96161 Strawberry Station General Store 17481 HWY 50 Twin Bridges, CA 95375


BLOCKHEAD (V3), FISK MILL COVE STATE PARK The Playground area near Fisk Mill Cove State Park is a complex area of open sandstone benches perched just feet above the Pacific Ocean. Precariously positioned at the water’s edge, on a massive sandstone shelf that slopes downward towards the waves, Blockhead (V3) is easily one of the most serene albeit intimidating boulders on the Sonoma Coast. Pictured here, Travis Lombardo negotiates the tricky crux moves that lead to a wild roof-pull high above a slippery slab. IMAGE + JIM THORNBURG

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Far North climbing Gym

Humboldt County’s Premiere indoor climbing center

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

Images + Dean Fleming





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