Big Rock - a little history

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 5, 2012 - 01:49am PT
The perfect stepping stone...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 18, 2012 - 04:16pm PT
Gathering bump...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 17, 2014 - 02:59pm PT
Big Bump for Big Rock...
Bugle

Trad climber
San Diege
Jan 28, 2017 - 12:44am PT
From my meager recollection:
Can't really tell just by looking at this map, but it was either Pudnurtle or Puppy Dog that was put up by Kevin Powell, Tim Powell, Dan Ahlborn and I think John Barbee. Gary Geraths might have had something to do with it, as well. It was originally called "Early Morning Frustration." I think it had three bolts, so that is why I am thinking it might be Puppy Dog.
Hard Trough was originally called "Amoeba." I believe it was put up by Kevin Powell and Dan Ahlborn.
The Headwall was originally called "Reflections." It was put up by Kevin Powell, Tim Powell, and Dan Ahlborn.
Edger Sanction was put up by Tom Polk.

Not 100% certain of the first ascent teams, but the original names are right. Not sure when they acquired different names.
Bugle

Trad climber
San Diege
Jan 28, 2017 - 01:05am PT
A note about the "Nose" or "Runny Nose." Here is how I remember the story. I was at Big Rock and there was a top rope on what we called "Long John Silver" (left of Mind Bender). A few people were greasing off the thing, then Largo did it like it was a walk in the park. I was climbing in Aspens (tennis shoes from a shoe store called Gallenkamp) and I was able to get up the thing in those, despite Largo's "hand" belay (not a hip belay). Largo suggested we go do a classic route that they just freed last week. We hiked over to the base of the Nose and long pulled out a rope. It had huge frays in it. He said it was left on El Cap and the rats had eaten it a bit, but it was "bomber." I didn't mind so much as he would be leading on it. Then he told me the plan. As he had already done it the week before, it was fitting that I should lead it. What!!! He thought it was about 10D, and there was a fixed pin near the bottom and a bolt protected the top. Since it was an old aid route, how bad could it be? I remember it being a bit sketchy at the bottom, and I was only able to put in a small wire to protect the crux. I somehow made it to the bolt at the base of the Nose section, but there was no bolt hanger. I tried fiddling a wire over the piece of old bolt sticking out of the rock as the moves past it seemed a bit sketchy. The wire whipped off the hanger as soon as I stepped up, but I was fully committed. Fortunately, the climbing got easier the higher up the Nose I went. Actually, the climbing was quite good, a good location and decent rock. I belayed in some weeds at the top. When Largo got up to the belay, he laughed and said that was the first free ascent! So began a long friendship as we ended up living fairly close to each other in L.A. and got into some filmmaking epics together. Largo, would love to hear your recollections on that climb. Memory is a little cloudy, so I hope I haven't been giving any "alternative facts." It really is/was one of the best in the area. I don't think we ever rated it, though. Good times.
john bald

climber
Jan 28, 2017 - 12:42pm PT

Back in the 1" swami days.....

Thanks to all who have posted up. Nice to relive those good times.

My shout out goes to Roy Naasz, Derek Starr.
Roy taught me the hip belay off the Beethoven Wall at Stoney Point.
Entertained me with tales from the Valley.
Led me up my first roped climb in Joshua Tree, The Orphan.

My eternal thanks to you Roy, for being an inspiring figure and showing me the ropes when I was a young runt!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 28, 2017 - 06:07pm PT
I have been in touch with Lee Harrel about the early history of climbing at Big Rock and I need to post about it in detail. Lee mentioned that he had done the Nose free before Largo and company claimed the FFA.

Funny that you should mention Roy Naasz as his name came up while I was interviewing Wayne Merry in connection with an early rescue from the outside face of the Lost Arrow where Roy was the victim.
DonC

climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 28, 2017 - 07:35pm PT
I'm the OP and happy to see this thread still alive about such a local but important area.

Bugle - do you recall the time frame of when you and Largo did the Nose free? I seem to recall doing it in the early 70's and I always assumed it was already an established free climb by then.
Bugle

Trad climber
San Diego
Jan 28, 2017 - 07:57pm PT
It had to have been mid-seventies. I wouldn't doubt that it had been freed before. It was a classic line and I can see why someone would have aid-climbed up to the "nose" just to get to the cool buttress climbing. I can also see that those who knew about it would have, at least, tried to free climb it. The bolt on the arete had been there awhile as it was rusted. The route seemed harder than much at Big Rock at the time, and the pro was a little bit sketchy, but if people were already doing English Hanging Gardens, there is no reason to believe they couldn't have done this years before. For me, it was cool to climb with someone everyone looked up to, and it was a good route, so who did it first wasn't as important. I'm just glad I didn't take a fall on that rope!

Tim.

p.s. DonC, did it have a rating?
bvb

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Jan 28, 2017 - 09:16pm PT
I did my first "5.10" at Big Rock. I think it was called "Mad Dog." I was there with a Sierra Club RCS group. I pretty much waltzed it. It was the first time I was given a clue as to how totally sandbagged San Diego ratings were. Or how how soft Big Rock ratings were. In either event, it's a fine little crag for slabbin'!
DonC

climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 28, 2017 - 10:27pm PT
Bugle - I don't recall the rating at the time, so many years ago...

Steve - I lived in Riverside at the time and was a relative "local" from the late 60's through mid 70's. For all the time I spent there I don't recall Lee but my older brother knew him. A few days after he did the first ascent of the Serpentine at Suicide, he and my brother did the second ascent. If he did the first free ascent of the Nose it was likely in Kronhoefers, Robbins, EB's or some very early shoes - what an accomplishment at that time!
Tom Patterson

Trad climber
Seattle
Jan 29, 2017 - 08:27am PT
I've loved this 10-yr old thread, and glad to see it bumped again.

Is Big Rock open again?
PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
Jan 29, 2017 - 09:13am PT
Agree with above comments: love to see this thread is alive and doing well.
Can't tell you how much I miss the place...
Steve, Keith might know who did the first free ascent of "the Nose." Most likely it was top roped free before someone lead it?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 29, 2017 - 09:27am PT
Lee was pretty clear about it and would have likely been climbing at that standard ahead of most folks climbing there at the time.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Jan 29, 2017 - 05:33pm PT
http://www.water.ca.gov/lakeperris/embankment_remediation.cfm

Best I could find online, three year project started October 2014, looks like Big Rock is closed until next winter

Timeline

February 2014 - DWR completes design

April 2014 - construction contract advertised

June 2014 - contract awarded to Pulice Construction, San Diego CA

October 2014 - three-year construction begins

Construction Activities through Summer 2015

Vegetation clearing
Rock-blasting for materials and new road construction
Constructing cement deep soil mixing cells
Transporting and stockpiling materials around the dam and lakebed
Dewatering
DonC

climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2017 - 07:07pm PT
does all the nearby blasting/shaking do anything to the integrity of the bolts?

I wondered about this during the original construction too
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