Trip Report
20 Pitches in a Day - Pinnacles Nat. Mon.
Tuesday October 27, 2009 5:02pm
Credit: Slater
Above Brandon Thau on pitch #7 of Old Original, Machete Ridge. Photo Tom Slater

My friend Brandon Thau and I ventured north to hit up some classics on the westside of Pinnacles National Monument. We wanted to get in 20 pitches on a short, fall October day. We were the first ones in the lot and made it to the base of the Citadel- photo below. Coastonoan, a 4 pitch journey up knobs and lower angle slabs, takes the left skyline while another good route called Power Tools 5.10d takes the middle line for 5 pitches up the center of the steep face. Whitetail Rock is on the right, and Mission Impossible 5.10c takes the face just right of the dark streak.

We decided to warm up on Coastonoan 5.4R - photo below. A very good route, with only a few runouts on easy well featured slabs. The route gets your head ready for the rest of the day, and reminds you about 3 solid points of contact and popping knobs.

Below is the first crack pitch of Power Tools 5.10d. There are two steeper face starts (.10b/.12a) that look a lot cleaner and probably make the route better. But... we're hooked on crack. Good pro and ample knobs to stem on. Brandon on crack...

Brandon (below) on the .10b 4th pitch of Power Tools. This pitch follows up a stout 5.10d crux 3rd pitch that ascends a wild bulge (will add photo later?) up huge jugs.

The dehydrated duo, below, on top of the Citadel. 9 pitches in...

The Citadel is ideal for hotter days at the Pinnacles. We were in the shade until 3pm and hardly broke a sweat, while the rest of the sunny crags were easily 85 degrees plus. Below is another excellent face climb, one of the best sport routes on the west side, and it is called Mission Impossible 5.10c. It is on Whitetail Rock, which is right next to the Citadel, right off the trail. Kinda like doing a vertical version of P.O.D. that is 130' long! Knobby, steep, solid, long, steep, long... The moves aren't super hard, but the endurance factor will get you if you're not fast. Fairly well bolted too. Highly recommended!

Below is a shot of the Citadel and the High Peaks, or at least some of them. Tons of rock... Can you say years of adventure?

We ate lunch and finally hit the sun. Sizzle. We also saw the hoards hiking around. We had been in isolation for 6 hours and hadn't even seen one other person. We started to sweat and ditched a pack and continued up to the start of Old Original 5.5, a 9 pitch ridge traverse of Machete Ridge. Lots of 3rd- 4th class scrambling with a few 5th class moves. Still, 80' out with no pro on a ridge 600 feet up is no joke. Make sure your shoe laces are tied! More than anything, this was a scenic stroll above the park with awesome views of various vistas. The only thing that sucks about this route is the descent/rap/walk off the east side. Slick pebbly water polished track with 200' drop offs and some 4th classing. Not what we were expecting. We finally rapped off a tree to the start of the caves at dusk. We made it. Luckily I had a headlamp to get us through the caves.

Below is Brandon on pitch one of Old Original, which starts on the east side of the ridge.

Later along the ridge, belaying (below) on a cloud of light.

The walk back was quiet, with crickets chirping, the screaming, gawking tourists long gone. First ones in the lot, last ones out. 20 pitches done.

One last task... wash off the dirt so we can man-handle our grub back in the car. After some food and drink we headed back south, back to our wives and kids and an early Monday morning alarm.
At least the work week will seem easier.

Thanks to Brandon, an amazing climber and friend. He was my rope gun for most of the day. He always makes it look sooo easy.

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About the Author
Slater is a trad climber from Central Coast.

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Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Oct 26, 2009 - 05:54pm PT
Nice job!

no other place like the west side!


Trad climber
part Texas, part Oman
  Oct 27, 2009 - 12:53am PT
Yeah, the west side is definitely better - sweet report!
Tim Camuti

Trad climber
  Oct 27, 2009 - 11:04am PT
Thanks so much for putting this up- good to see long multipitch photos and tantalizing descriptions from Pinnacles!

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Oct 28, 2009 - 07:17pm PT
DA Pinns! Love it.

Nice work!
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Oct 28, 2009 - 10:39pm PT
nice report! nice photos! nice routes! thanks

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Nov 17, 2009 - 01:55pm PT
If someone fits in more than 20 post up! I think if we'd done this trip other than in winter we would have had about 2-3 more hours and could have piled on some more. I bet 25-30 would be possible. My record for the east side is a puny 11 pitches (Portent counts only as one!).

  Nov 17, 2009 - 02:25pm PT
Nice work !!

Went back to Pinnacles for the first time in four years this past Sunday. Just did some of the classic moderates on the east side.

Thinking about Costanoan for my buddy's first lead. Sounds like it could be a bit cool in December though ..

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Nov 20, 2009 - 04:54pm PT
It won't be that cold. It ain't Everest. Just layer up and GO FOR IT! If it is your friend's first lead, then you might want to lead the first pitch. There is a ground fall potential between bolt 1 and bolt 2. You might be able to sling a knob off route, but it won't be great. It is easy, and most won't have trouble. But if it is his FIRST lead, then he might not want to be 35' out on Pinns rock. After that he should be golden. If you can, hit up Mission Impossible, it is my favorite sport route on the west side now. Kinda like POD on the east side, but a tad easier.

Gym climber
  Nov 20, 2009 - 06:13pm PT
Very NICE send(s)! Mission Impossible is sweet, no?

Great pics, I especially like that one of the Citadel from up high.

I have an ongoing goal/project, 11 pitches of 5.11 In a Day at the Pinns...Whoa boy! It's a project just making the tic list.
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