First, I’d like to apologize for not putting links to the climbs that I had mentioned in my last post. I’d been in a rush to pack, sort, and tie up the loose ends before I left for this trip the night I wrote the post and neglected to do so. I’ll fix that, and I’ll likely have those same links in this one. So to quickly sum up where we are: We are in Idyllwild, California, and we are climbing on Tahquitz Rock–a world class granite monolith that rises about 800ft. It’s a semi-alpine environment, and a perfect place to grow as a traditional climber, especially if you’ve ever had dreams of climbing in Yosemite.
We started out talking, and Dave was just unbelievably psyched. Furthermore, he is just really stoked to be out here and the expectations are low. He was like, “Just pick a climb and I’ll follow you up!” SO, I picked a climb called Finger Trip (5.7) We briefly went over commands and safety checks, and I started up the first pitch, opting out of the original splitter crack on the left, and staying with the 5.8 layback variation finish. Laybacking and smearing are such crucial techniques to granite climbing that I felt it was not to be missed! Dave got up to the first belay and was ecstatic! I just fed off the psych and we did a real quick gear swap and belay transfer and I was off to link the second and third pitches. A good thing about this climb is that on the fourth pitch (our third) you are forced to go out of earshot and eyesight from your belayer. It was a good experience and I think a perfect first climb.
From there we took the friction descent, which is a fourth class walk off the South side of Tahquitz and back around to our packs, where we hydrated and snacked briefly before running up to linkup (combine two climbs) Coffin Nail–Traitor Horn or Coffin Nail-Jensens Jaunt. Coffin Nail is pretty sustained, so when we finished the Coffin Nail we opted to top out on the last two pitches of Jensen’s.
On the way back down we dropped our gear off at the base of Left Ski Track, one of my all time favorite climbs of the area, and grabbed our backs. Re-hydrated again and all that good stuff, and brought our backs to a tree closer to the friction descent. We climbed up the left Ski Trick in three classic pitches, and topped out the 5.8 direct slab.
Today, which is day two, we decided to keep it pretty mellow, so we left camp somewhat late, arriving at the parking area around 8 AM, and headed straight for Jensen’s Jaunt to do the first two pitches of Jensen’s and link it up with the Traitor Horn pitch–one of the most fantastic and exposed 5.8 pitches I’ve ever climbed, and likely most will ever climb. Dave soared through the crux, only to find that he had left a draw clipped into a piton below the horn, but like a champ he down climbed/jumped down and fixed the issue, and then turned the crux for a second time.
As it is now, we’re just decompressing at the Higher Grounds Coffee Shop, one of my go to’s in the area, and here I’ll be adequately caffeinated and head off to South Lake Tahoe: our objective Lover’s Leap. We’ll spend three days here, continuing a five day climbing binge into Saturday, where we’ll take a rest day. On Sunday morning we will head into Yosemite like third world dogs and ravage the walk up campgrounds to try to book a site for two days.
All in all, Dave and I have done 16 pitches in two days. 12 full length pitches yesterday, and 4 full length pitches today. At 200ft. pitches that is like 3,200 feet of climbing, which is more ground that most climbers will climb outdoors in an entire year, especially climbers who are recreational rather than lifestyle. I am so pumped and inspired, and honestly can’t convey what a big deal it is that not only did he climb his first trad and multipitch routes yesterday, but that he climbed 16 pitches in two days and never stopped smiling the entire time!