Another beautiful day in the Stronghold this weekend and we only ran into two hikers (looking to climb the next day). It would have been the perfect day to get on Abra and not freeze. Now I have followed Forest Lawn twice. Never sure if I could ever lead it. Always felt it was a little powerful to place gear on. We had warmed up on Endgame and headed over here just to "take a look". I had seen this picture and was inspired. I thought "now or never". No nuts, just doubled the 0.5 & 0.75 on the rack to 3" and away I went. Maybe I am getting better at climbing….finally.
We just had the pleasure of revisiting a place we have not been to since Beanfest 2010. We wanted a day of sport climbing where we could get lots of moderate routes in. Zappa Dome came to mind and a great day it was. We climbed 13 of the routes here. Though this is not the GEM of the Stronghold it defiantly will give you a full day of climbing-especially the day after the Beanfest when your not up for hiking up to Rockfellow Domes. So I have posted all the route descriptions, and topos for the area and hope you will still check out the Stronghold even if your not ready for a big day.
I am exhausted from my own vacation. Let me try to paint the picture for you.
Just when you thought our rock climbing days (especially after starbucks) can be a little intense it actually gets worse with ice climbing.
We started at 3:30am to break trail for 3 hrs in 40cm of fresh snow. Exhausting! To then climb 4 pitches of intense alpine ice up to grade v. That is when we discovered our trip was to go horribly wrong: we left the headlights in our packs at the base (what amateurs), we were wet and the temp was -23, we had the ropes freeze to the anchor and we had to do what all climbers dread, we cut our ropes to get out of there, we argued about if we should the descend the way we went up or hike out across the snow bowl to the base of another climb. I was scared of avalanches but it would be quicker so we tried but in the end we got cliffed out and returned to rappelling. I got hit with ice and was bleeding. We kept going and finally at the last rappel it was so dark that we could not see enough to make an anchor and Scott had to rappel to the ground so I could pull back up a headlight. By this time I was shivering uncontrollably and admitted to Scott that I could not think clearly. We got our packs but I was scared to down climb the ice in the gully so he short roped me down and then as I untied for the last bit I plunged through the ice into the creek to soak my legs. Two more hours of hiking out with all of my clothes on plus two down jackets did not warm me up. All in a day of ice climbing.
So we had a weird mix of battling mother nature and being nurtured in her bosom. There is no place I would rather be then wandering through the woods on a windless evening crunching in deep snow and seeing the sparkle of snow crystals on trees, but there is something to be said for ensuring that your day ends with a warm fire and embrace of family to remind me of how far I need to adventure. Wishing you'll a fabulous new year of health and happiness.
It was a last minute decision. I should have worked today but instead I went climbing. How many times have you done that? I got a call from a friend who's partner canceled on him. Did I want to climb? Of course but I was not up for hard sport (his favorite). After spending a week in Tahquitz I was up for trad and exploring full body rock climbing (NOT his favorite). Faced with the only choice being not climbing he agreed to the Stronghold. My huband talked us into " Be All End All". WHO ME! Did he forget who he was talking to. This route is the first thing you see after you finish the trail to Rockfellow dome (the big feature you see in this picture). There has been a bail beener on the 5th bolt for years and in the hundred times I had been up there had never seen anyone on it. The line is "impressive, intimidating, imposing" all the words you don't use to describe my climbing. He spouted romantically about how incredible it is to free this whole route and how it would be a fabulous adventure. All starry eyed with the romantic notion we could get up it , I would aid the 11+ parts my partner would try to would try to free, we ventured forth to see what would happen. It was going to be a big day. After thrutching and aiding my way to the end of pitch one we convinced eachother to push on. But hang on---this first pitch needs to get full credit. I was able to free it to the 4th bolt where my strenght wore out and I needed to rest. Past that I needed more hangs and pulled on a few pieces but the inbetween parts of climbing were incredible. I did a knee bar with my leg crossed in front of me like a russian dancer. I laybacked, I jammed (fingers, tips, toes), chickend winged and grunted. I kept feeling like there was this beautiful puzzle infront of me but I just didn't have all the tricks to pull it off. I am even inspired to get on it again!!! By the time I got to my partner he was shivering and teeth chattering but he lead off the second pitch. He made it past the slab crux and let me take over. I was looking up at a unprotected chimney. I committed and after lots of wedging I made to the anchor and was so excited I convinced my partner to keep going. This was our escape, our chance to get out of hot water without loosing any gear. I got in that chimney/ stem/ funky hollow block climbing with a full arsenal of 3 x #4 camelots. This pitch took forever and I actually just ran out of steam. My helmet was getting stuck, the gear was pulling on my neck and I had to face it-- I was just not ready for this pitch. I was going to rap off a sling but my partner insisted that I be "as safe as possible". Even insisting that I could leave his #4 if I needed, I added a nut and lowered very gently. If I had left the #4 I would have felt bad but on the other hand maybe I would already have plans to go get it next weekend. Either way MAYBE I do have those plans. Have you ever had a climb sit in your craw? I now have one. It may "Be all" I had, but this is not the END!!!
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