We pulled into South Lake pretty late. I think by the time we reserved our campsite and had the tent set up it was close to midnight. I boiled up one of my gourmet ramens and enjoyed it under a star-filled mountain sky. Dave crashed out. I thumbed through the guidebook looking for an easy day of climbing so that Dave could get some rest and I could get a feel for the rock at The Leap. I think it’s really important to monitor the people around us, including ourselves, and be willing to allow ourselves and the people we’re with the space to rest or heal. That next morning was one of those mornings, and I sat there texting with a friend telling her that I thought I’d killed Dave as he slept will into the mid-morning. I should remind you that I’m pretty strict on the 6 AM wake up on climbing trips.
However, Dave eventually moved, and then stirred, and then sat up. At this point in the day my expectations were pretty low because it was so late, and I figured that any route we tried to get on at the crag would have lines. However that wasn’t the case. Lovers Leap is fairly mellow on weekdays, but we opted to go climbing on The Hogsback to avoid crowds and keep the day mellow. The approach was easy, and the weather perfect. One-hundred yards shy of the start of our climb a rock gave way and I ripped off the tip of my toe. The Chaco escapades will continue, and it was nothing that a little duct tape and athletic tape couldn’t fix and hold together.
I looked up Knapsack Crack, a climb recommended by the SuperTopo Guidebook, and questioned why I brought a rope. About seven minutes later we were descending back down the side of The Hogsback to make our way back around to Deception. Before going into Deception, I’d like to suggest Knapsack being included in and evening solo circuit. It is an extremely secure and fun jaunt up a low angle crack system. You can literally run up the first pitch. Moving that fast got Dave pretty psyched. I’ve noticed that with a lot of people I climb with–that moving fast brings a really enjoyable atmosphere to climbing. It’s kind of like when you just go all out into a run on the beach as the cool wind blows through your hair. That kind of speed in climbing is almost like a different sport than the typical slow movement.
When we had gotten to the crag and were roping up I’d noticed a party on a route to the right of us, and I assumed that was Deception, which it was–kinda. I read in the guidebook that you can link (combine) pitch (the distance between belays) one and two with a 60m rope. I got all excited and just took off straight up this blank slab, and low and behold I was off route. I like that spicy style of climbing though, so I continued up what felt like 5.8- lichen covered slab into a rarely traveled corner system (5.7) with a hero piton about 140ft up. I climbed until I could feel the rope ripping back between my legs as it reached it’s maximum stretch and built a belay. The guide was wrong in the pitch length calculations, and after two two-hundred foot pitches we had to build a final belay for a 15ft pitch off the top.
Deception is a really good climb for the grade, and a must do if you are in the area and have some downtime to spare. I’d suggest doing it in the evening after a day of climbing on The Leap. If you’re comfortable, I’d also suggest adding this to an evening solo circuit. For those looking for some more interesting climbing there is also a direct runout 5.9 face that we didn’t get the chance to do, but I hear that’s the way to go.
When we got back to camp I could see the wear on Dave’s face. It caused me to pause and remember that only two days ago–on Monday–he had done his first ever trad or multi-pitch climb. One of the problems I’ve had in my life is being able to respect the boundaries or limitations of others. And I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say Dave had reached a limitation, but instead that to continue at the pace I had set would have made him miserable and possibly injured. We resolved this by heading five minutes down the road to The Strawberry Lodge for some much wanted burgers!
All in all it was a really nice mellow day, and after the climbs we were able to walk over to the main crag and scout out some beta on the routes we wanted to climb the next day. We had a list of ultra-classics that I had to do in order to justify driving all the way up here for a week!
Remember… I hate seduko, and I didn’t drive all the way up to South Lake to play it. I went there to climb, and climbing is what we did.