Trip Report
Balch Fest 2013. Two Days in and Around and On The Flake. The Official Trip Report
Monday November 18, 2013 8:22pm
The first twinges of a slight itch under my left armpit have begun. I'm gonna fire this Trip Report off today, while everybody is still in a good mood from the weekend. Because when the poison oak blisters begin on festival-goers this Wednesday, I'm gonna go internet dark. I will not open any of the upcoming threads entitled "Death to Micronut[TR]", "FACT: Micronut is a LIAR![TR]", or "Can Micronut Prescribe Me Some Prednisone[TR]."

Yeah Jaybro....That's gonna leave a mark.
48 hours post fest....does it itch?  Or just hurt?
48 hours post fest....does it itch? Or just hurt?
Credit: Jaybro

Rewind:
Several months ago, an obscure Supertopo thread posted by Matt Sarad entitled Leversee Offwidth Near Balch Camp started with an innocuous question...."Anyone heard of this?"

The firestorm of beta, stories, photos and folklore that followed regarding Balch Camp Flake and Patterson Bluff could never have been foreseen. An old Patagonia poster showing a massive, maneating crack with a struggling climber in its jaws had inspired climbers for years and added to the mystery of "What is that thing?!" and "Where is this place!?"

The Patagonia poster that started it all.
The Patagonia poster that started it all.

148 posts and two other threads later, the interest in this central valley giant was at a boiling froth. Alexey bit first, and started yapping online with Jaybro and others who had been to The Flake. The route in the phot is called JCA's Wide World of Sport (5.12b), and with the second ascent still up for grabs and a rating in the "prolly harder than 5.11" range, Alexey committed to aiming for the send.

Somehow I chimed in with a "Hey, I'm from Fresno and would love to throw a BBQ and make some T-Shirts" and the idea of a Balch Fest was born. With nearly 30 people highly interested in driving deep into the foothills east of Fresno, Macronut and I started talkin BBQ, camping, trailcutting and t-shirt logistics.

Credit: micronut

So. A couple things about Patterson Bluff, and the famous Balch Camp Flake and its twin slitter offwidths. The place has a history rife with tales of bushwacking, tick bites, obscure route locations, mysterious approaches on rappel, mountain lion encounters and general bad to the boneness. If you're from Fresno, you can see the thing on nearly every clear day, and word of 10 pitch 5.12 routes and full on adventure had escaled the place to legendary status over the past couple decades. Though few of us had ever really been climbing there. With the installation of a new climbing gym in fresno and the "interwebs" as Cultureshock likes to call it, sever locals started getting to know each other and interest in the place started to happen after many years of dormancy.

Credit: limpingcrab
Credit: micronut

Rich Leversee, Paul Martzen and others were hot and heavy on the big main wall in the pioneering days of the place, and guys like Jaybro and Mungeclimber were all about the big splitters on Balch Camp Flake, a freestanding 240 foot tall act of God down the road a ways.

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

I had hacked my way in to the flake more than 20 years ago on a recon trip gone bad, and with miserable tales of the approach to the flake, we set up a trail day with some of the local motivated locals.

Credit: micronut
Paul Martzen, early FA man himself, Macronut and his kids, me and my two sons and Donutnational spent a day in full on Junglebook mode whackin' and thrashin' and poisonoakin' to the base of The Flake. Imagine my surprise, when at 7:00am, halfway up the winding road to Patterson, when my 7 year old son hollers from the backseat, pop-tart in hand, "Dad, I forgot my shoes!" After about ten seconds of rationalizing turning around and heading home, with the gravity of the upcoming Balchfest on my heart, I had a WWHD (What Would Herson Do?) moment. We pressed on and my boy manned up, having a blast in full cave-boy mode. I don't think poison oak affects kids under 10 anyway. They move too fast in the dense underbrush for the evil sticky oil to collect on their paws.

Credit: micronut

Turns out Adam and I didn't get very close to the flake, we were still a long ways off when we called it a day, but my emails to fest attendees were nothing but confident.

"Hey yall, trail's lookin' good."
"Jaybro will clean it up a few day before we get there...it'll be dialed!"
and the one I'm now famous for "You will NOT be clearing trail at The Festival!"

Credit: micronut
yeah......my bad on that one.

DAY 1. Friday. I split from work early and am on the road with daylight to spare. Gonna go set up camp and post some signage and get ready for folks to start rollin in anytime.

The light is great and I stop often for photo ops...
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

until I almost splatter a free range filet mignon on my windshield doin'52 MPH on the windy road past Pine Flat Lake.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Fwoah! This drive is no joke yall.

I didn't mention much about the local wildlife in the OFFICIAL BALCH FEST INVITE thread in case there were arachnaphobes in the group. Wouldn't want a lil brown bug or two to scare people away from one of the best offwidths on the planet now would I?
Credit: micronut

I make it to Kirch Flat and set up basecamp, alone in the lowland canyon of the mighty Kings River. It has a nice, quiet Deliverance meets methlab country kinda feel....and off in the distance I can swear I hear a banjo pluck a few cords.

dada ling ding ding ding ding ding ding....

Sure would be nice if somebody shows up soon....
The lack of Balch Fest Goers by ten pm has me wondering if anybody is gonna come to my little party.

I sit by my small fire, in the pitch black, reading and just chilling for five hours, until I can no longer take the creepy silence.
Credit: micronut

I suppress images of Ned Beatty and toothy rednecks in river country and head down in the absolute darkness to shoot some timelapse shots on the water. I'm stoked to see the results, though its so dark I can hear the water more than I can see it. 20 second exposure is rad eh?
Credit: micronut

Eventually, Adam shows up with the firewood and Jaybro makes the show, along with others. By midnight we're digging the vibe of new friends and the following day starts to show promise!

Credit: micronut

DAY 2: Saturday
We awake to new faces, the hiss of Jetboils and coffee and donuts to start the Fest in style. There a whole lot of "What's your real name dude?" as the reality and dysfunctionality of meeting on Supertopo sets in.
"Crotch? Your name is Crotch? Who names their kid Crotch?"

Soon after breakfast its time to load up and the following Supertopoans (among others but I can only remember their real life name and don't want to post them here) are in attendance.

Crotch
Limpingcrab
Micronut
Macronut
Matty
Paul Martzen
Christina
Jaybro
Alexey
Vitaliy
Da Hunter
Oakie
Rincon
Eventually we'll pick up John Elezarian, Cultureshock, Danny, Ying and many others.

The drive up to the flake is something straight out of "IceRoad Truckers in Nepal."
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

The stoke is high and its all smiles at the pullout.........and for the first ten minutes of the trail.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Then the cussing begins. I'm not sure I've heard my name cursed in quite such decorative vocabulary for a long time. Packs are snagging on branches, razor sharp manzanita tears at the flesh, people are slipping and crawling and yelping when the poison oak infested ground gives way beneath them. At some point we are literally in a jungle of poison oak, clawing at vines as we ascend class three branches and roots along a series of house sized boulders with gaping black holes beneath them. The natives were restless to say the least.

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
At this point, I'm feeling like I'm either gonna quietly hang back, get in my car and head home or push on tellin' em to shut their lightweight pansy mouths and act like they've seen a real trail before. In my book it ain't fun till somebody gets a stick in the eyelid I tell em. I choose the latter, and after a true near death experience by Alexey in a poison oak carpeted serac field of death boulders, we emerge out of Mirkwood forest and the wall comes into view. The stoke returns and people are ready to freakin slay the dragon! Hoots and hollers and monkey calls reverberate through the canyon.
Yeah....Jim played the mandolin on the whole hike in.
Yeah....Jim played the mandolin on the whole hike in.
Credit: micronut
I call this one...."Jim on a Rock."
I call this one...."Jim on a Rock."
Credit: micronut
The primates are howlin!!!
The primates are howlin!!!
Credit: micronut

The flake does not disappoint. We feel like conquistadores reaching the edge of the known world. Bilbo Baggins deep in the dragon's lair. The inside of the flake is immense and magical. Awestruck, we descend into the bowels of Patterson Bluff and the place literally swallows us whole. Its 240 feet straight up with the weight of the world squeezing in on us.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

While Jay and Alexey get ready to do battle with JCA's Wide World of Sport, other's start to check out The Passionate life and Dracula Crack. Here's some shots of Vitaliy, Adam and Limpingcrab on Dracula crack, which is actually the back side of The Passionate Life....as the two big cracks actually slice fully through the crack in a mystery of Newtonian physics that defy gravity.


Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Christina eyes up JCA's from the inside.
Christina eyes up JCA's from the inside.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

The place is literally rattling with energy as BIG cams get dumped out and boys and girls start jumping on things. Here's Crotch starting up a gnarly thing left of Dracula Crack.

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Never has this place seen so many humans.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

though silent relics of the past remind us of the pioneers who came before us.
Credit: micronut

Meanwhile...on the other side of the Earth. Gladiators prepare to go into the arena.

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut


Alexy and Jay. Christina and Vitaliy. Two teams that would end up with the second and third ascents of JCA's nightmare trash compacter grovelfest.
Alexy had earlier reached the flake, slapped on his harness and started up while we were all futzin' around on the inside. This quiet Russian madman is all business. A true barbarian. With nothing more than a grunt here...a "Vatch me Jaybro" there, he steadfastly inched his way up the gut. The angles from the base were lame and the sunlight was in my face, but here's a couple shots of the early action.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

If I had to characterize the sounds and style of each climber it would be thusly:
1. Alexey
A deep grunt and a scrape here and there, but always going up.

2. Christina
Beauty and grace. Fluid. Like water running uphill.

3. Jaybro
Curses and belching. The sound of a waterbuffalo giving birth. A True Master of the Wide.

4. Vitaliy
I don't know, he didn't stop yapping and making jokes long enough for me to get a bead on him


a rare shot of Balch Camp Flake and JCA's Wide World of Sport with cli...
a rare shot of Balch Camp Flake and JCA's Wide World of Sport with climbers on it.
Credit: micronut

So Paul, Adam, Limpingcrab and others set off to find their own adventure on the massive pillars east of the flake. They got themselves into some nice stuff and maybe they'll post their photos here on this thread. Paul's shot looking down on The Flake from their high point is beyond stunning.


I cruised around shooting many of my 632 photos from the weekend, including these of Jim, Valley Hardkid and mandolin maestro, onsight freesoloing on The Passionate Life (5.11c)....the left of the two prize offwidth cracks on the flake....without a shirt, just to make sure the poison oak wax from the hike in got rubbed in nice and good.
That kid ain't right.
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut



I went back inside the flake and got this rad shot of Alexey high in the offwidth. How often do you get to be INSIDE a legendary route shooting out?!

Credit: micronut

I then found a cool pedestal to stand on in the sun and shoot the wall from below. These shots are from both days one and two and show the steepness of the route's first pitch. Remember, this brute is 240 feet tall over two pitches. Not your typical short grunt. Its in your face for a couple hours. at some point, Christina hollered up to Jaybro "I JUST WANT TO STOP GOING UP!!!!" she collected her wits, finished to the belay, then said "I think I'm gonna puke!" Atta girl.

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Jaybro. King of Balch Camp Flake.  Up where he belongs.
Jaybro. King of Balch Camp Flake. Up where he belongs.
Credit: micronut
Cultureshock getting rad
Cultureshock getting rad
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Christina atop the first belay.
Christina atop the first belay.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Ok....enough climbing action. The real party was back at Kirch Flat later that night.
Credit: micronut

I bailed to go get the marinade ready and after a frigid bath in the Kings River we had a rager goin by the time the warriors found their way back home. John Elezarian prepared rice pilaf that woulda made you slap your momma and he sliced and diced a mountain of fresh veggies. He bathed these in olive oil salt and pepper and pure love while I grilled a pile of chicken and bratwurst impregnated with enough Pappy's Seasoning to give a man liver failure. This was to be a barbeque of biblical proportions.

look at Jim in the background...."So I'm all like...inverted"
look at Jim in the background...."So I'm all like...inverted"
Credit: micronut

Vitaliy's grandma made some sort of sweet, lemony, flaky, magic Ukranian cake from heaven that will have our children's children talking about it around campfires for generations to come. Seriously, my parotid glands are swelling just thinking about it as I type.

Credit: micronut
Vitaliy...call me. Right now. I need your grandma's phone number. Is that weird?


We sat down and as Macronut got the big kids fire ready, we enjoyed laughter and stories from the day's adventure around a wonderful meal with new friends. Does the climbing life get any better?
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Alexy and Macronut
Alexy and Macronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

So we revel into the wee hours, talking about everything from splitters to chimneys, from Josh to the Bugaboos and everything in between. From astro physics to child raising, and from wives tales about poison oak cures to the golden age of Yosemite. Its just like the Supertopo forum....but people are nice to eachother. There is no slander (ok, a little) or malice or anger or ego. Funny how meeting face to face does that. As the flame dies down, Macronut and Crotch and I stay up late while Jim plucks away on the mandolin.

Credit: micronut

We played hard this weekend, but the real meat and potatoes of this trip are right here, in the warmth and dying embers of the fire that has brought us together in this wild, scrappy place, off the beaten path, where the adventure is measured in hours of groveling and crawling rather than letter and number grades.

We have done the place proud. Patterson Bluff is now more than just a place we've all heard about, and Balch Camp Flake is more than a mystery. The flake is silent now....way above us, in the hills beyond the roughneck PG&E village of Balch Camp she sleeps, waiting for her next suitors. As we amble off to our tents, the first hints of a scratchy rash begin under my armpit where a chink in my armour has revealed itself. And I know I'll be remembering this weekend for a long long time.

Well done Supertopo.

Micronut,
Out.


POSTSCRIPT. I just want to give a special shout out to Jaybro. I had never met him prior to this weekend and I just want to say thank you for the vision you had for that route so many years ago, the energy you put into the trail this week and for being the glue that made this whole thing worth while. It was a blast. See you next year?

(Please note that I kinda combined two days of climbing action into one for photo and writing time sake. Kinda confusing, I know. I'll keep my day job)

  Trip Report Views: 5,883
micronut
About the Author
micronut is a trad climber from fresno, ca.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
whitemeat

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 08:34pm PT
I have yet to read it but saw the pics!!! wish i could ev gone... looked like a great time had by every one!! behind the flake looked the best:)!!!!!!!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Nov 18, 2013 - 08:37pm PT
SICK!!!
Great gathering of WIDE lovers and cool report/pics!
Well done Scott putting it together.
Tad
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
  Nov 18, 2013 - 08:41pm PT
Yes yes yes!!!!!

Thank you all for a great time
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
  Nov 18, 2013 - 08:45pm PT
F**kin' A boyz!!! You ROCK!!!
We don' need no steenking British doods!!!!
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 08:50pm PT
Well done Micronut!
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 08:54pm PT
<3 wyde! :-D
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Nov 18, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
I just don't know where to start.
"Wonder Wide Hogs"

Simply one of the best....a new classic...

Susan
christinafreschl

climber
Berkeley
  Nov 18, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
Amazing report Scott! Great time. Til next year:)
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
  Nov 18, 2013 - 08:57pm PT
Soo Freakin' Cool!!





I am so wishing I could have made that action. Nice follow through, ye all be proud warriors!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 09:03pm PT
excellent!
i'm gumby dammit

Sport climber
da ow
  Nov 18, 2013 - 09:04pm PT
awesome. did not disappoint
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Nov 18, 2013 - 09:04pm PT
Mungeclimber were all about the big splitters


Yep, all the 5.8s OWs I can find!


Great write up! Sorry to have clearly missed the event of 2013!!


But so very glad I don't have PO right now.
Rudbud

Gym climber
Grover Beach, CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 09:04pm PT
If I could've I would've, but I couldn't, so hopefully next year I can, Looks like good times.
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  Nov 18, 2013 - 09:40pm PT
Killer.
Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 09:48pm PT
Fan-friggin'-tastic.

But I am wondering, considering all the effort just to get there, did nobody go back on Sunday?
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 09:50pm PT
Yet another excellent TR from Micronut. Very very funny.
Hope by miracle of miracles you escape without any poison oak!
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 10:01pm PT
Wow, fantastic features and bold climbers! Some beautiful shots. Congrats on the widestravaganza. Fingers crossed on the next few days of PO roulette ;-)
susan peplow

climber
Joshua Tree, CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 10:08pm PT
What a fun read and visual TR. So happy to walk away with even 10% of what the experience from the comforts of my own house. Sitting in PJ's not itchy, scabby or bruised this was a super fun read.

Good on all ya'lls for getting out there and super psyched that Christina was there to represent the girls!!!

Amazing location and gathering!
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
  Nov 18, 2013 - 10:12pm PT
Willoughby - they made sure to leave rope and gear behind Saturday so as to prevent the lazy day back step. Many of the pics are from sun.
Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 10:20pm PT
10-4. Guess I need to work on my reading comprehension. Awesome stuff!! Still not sure I can wrap my feeble mind around the onsight free-solo business.
JOEY.F

Gym climber
It's not rocket surgery
  Nov 18, 2013 - 10:40pm PT
Yes I enjoyed this trip report!
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 11:08pm PT
Awesome!

Thanks for all the work putting everything together Scott! Also, I second the appreciation for Jaybro and his trail work, can't imagine what that would've been like without his week of slave labor.

Such a good time with great people and great climbing! I need a thesaurus.

Really enjoyed meeting everyone there and was bummed to have to leave after the BBQ but it was definitely worth it.

Anyway, here are some of the pics from the exploration with Paul and Macronut you were talking about (with a few others):

Paul Martzen on the Third Pillar.  If you look reeeeeally close you ca...
Paul Martzen on the Third Pillar. If you look reeeeeally close you can see Vitaliy 3/4 of the way up the flake and some light shining through the crack on the wall behind.
Credit: limpingcrab
Vitaliy and Christina at the top of the first pitch.  Say Cheese!
Vitaliy and Christina at the top of the first pitch. Say Cheese!
Credit: limpingcrab
While some were enjoying losing their skin and clothes in the wide, Pa...
While some were enjoying losing their skin and clothes in the wide, Paul took Macronut and I over to this beautiful 10c fingers to roof to hands gem of a climb on Second Pillar.
Credit: limpingcrab
Alexey from the inside looking out.
Alexey from the inside looking out.
Credit: limpingcrab
Paul Martzen balancing on the scariest flake ever.  I don't think my o...
Paul Martzen balancing on the scariest flake ever. I don't think my or Macronuts helmets would've helped much.
Credit: limpingcrab



moacman

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  Nov 18, 2013 - 11:41pm PT
WOW................

Stevo
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Nov 18, 2013 - 11:45pm PT
Simply: the best trip report ever!
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Nov 19, 2013 - 12:00am PT
Hey there, say...... NICE!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Nov 19, 2013 - 12:04am PT
Per Scott's request re-posting my comment from the BALCH FEST thread

First annual BALCH Fest 2013 was A LOT OF FUN! Thanks to everyone who worked on making a trail, contributed food, stories, and their presence. I liked it a lot to be honest. Ratio of hours driven to pitches climbed was lowest I had in a few years but amount of fun I had was through the roof. AND I am sore and beaten like a dog after that OW thing. My abs are sore, my ribs are bruised, my back is bruised, there is a nice skin tear on my right elbow, my legs are covered in bruises, and waiting for poison oak to kick in! Never climbed an OW that was so sustained for so long. This one and other three OWs/chimneys there look like a lot of fun. Jaybro, congrats with a FFA of it, it is a gem of a climb. Even though it deserves a lot of traffic, I am happy the approach and lack of beta keeps the crowd away. I was stoked to do a third ascend of the route with Christina (great lead of the crux pitch!). Even though I did the whole route clean, I have to come back to lead the first pitch to get the full value experience. First pitch is so long and sustained that by the time I got to the last 30 feet my left hand (which I used to pull on the edge) was fried. There was a good jug right under the belay station, and I couldn’t use it! It was pretty comical. There were several other people who tried the route on TR and got a good workout (I think list includes Hunter, Aaron, Alexey's wife and Yolav at least). And Alexey/Jaybro climbed the route prior to us. The pitch takes a long time so only about two parties a day can do the route. The length is like 4-5 PGSF OWs stacked on each other for the first pitch. It is wild. But again there are 3 other BIG OW/Chimney routes that deserve traffic.
I forgot my camera and did not take photos, but thanks to those who did. I will post a photo of my leg soon. Some SICK bruises! Thanks for great shots of Christina and I on the flake. And photo of me leading Dracula crack is awesome too. I’d love to go back and do some more exploring so we could have more info on other routes by BALCH fest 2014!

Also uploaded a photo of my leg. Looks much better after I washed the blood off!
when I was leading 2nd pitch a footstack blew. Even though I managed t...
when I was leading 2nd pitch a footstack blew. Even though I managed to stay balanced in the OW I bumped my sh#t a little...
Credit: Vitaliy M.

Can't wait to do it again next year, or earlier. Maybe will go back this winter!
moosedrool

climber
Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
  Nov 19, 2013 - 12:17am PT
Great TR!

TFPU
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  Nov 19, 2013 - 12:24am PT
We played hard this weekend, but the real meat and potatoes of this trip are right here, in the warmth and dying embers of the fire that has brought us together in this wild, scrappy place, off the beaten path, where the adventure is measured in hours of groveling and crawling rather than letter and number grades.

We have done the place proud. Patterson Bluff is now more than just a place we've all heard bout, and Balch Camp Flake is more than a mystery. The flake is silent now....way above us, in the hills beyond the roughneck PG&E village of Balch Camp she sleeps, waiting for her next suitors. As we amble off to our tents, the first hints of a scratchy rash begin under my armpit where a chink in my armour has revealed itself. And I know I'll be remembering this weekend for a long long time.


Now this piece of beautiful writing will reside inside my thoughts for quite some time.
This TR is fantastic.... the photos, breathtaking.
So happy for you all!

~peace!
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Nov 19, 2013 - 02:51pm PT
Woohoo! Some thoughts while I get my own details together ; what vitally says about going in again this winter/ spring, makes a lot if sense. Right nwt the plants are relatively dormant, and any forays in will greatly improve the trail. Come spring, we're going to be fighting the new jungle by next fall it will be like we were never there!

I'm planning at least another trip before the spring.

There is so much to do there, and we've been so hamstrung by lack of trail. Everyone go out and thrash, for the greater good!!

and Scott, youre very welcome, and thanks to you for making this all ha[[en and spiffing up my wardrobe!

Nice work and thanks, all!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Nov 19, 2013 - 12:58am PT
I knew the TR wouldn't disappoint, Micronut. My only criticism is that you understate your own irreplaceable contributions. I wish I were feeling better, but just being there for the Saturday night festivities was great in itself. Thanks again to everyone who made this happen.

John
susu

Trad climber
East Bay, CA
  Nov 19, 2013 - 01:04am PT
Very sweet!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Nov 19, 2013 - 01:12am PT
a poison oak infested serac field of death boulders

All-time, LSEDFS-style party!

You Farce-Siders of Fresno rock!

I had better things come up than a casual stroll through a minefield of PO.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Nov 19, 2013 - 01:32am PT
Posse up!


Nice.
KP Ariza

climber
SCC
  Nov 19, 2013 - 02:20am PT
Wow, that's a real deal trip report. Awesome job you guys (and girls), all the way around.
rincon

Trad climber
Coarsegold
  Nov 19, 2013 - 10:51am PT
I had a lot of fun, and didn't get any poison oak...can't ask for more than that. Scott and Adam, thanks for being such great camp hosts!
Rob
Osprey

climber
  Nov 19, 2013 - 10:50am PT
That's what I like to see. Well done everybody!
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Nov 19, 2013 - 11:11am PT
Grade VII PO approach.

Thank Micro, classic write up as usual.
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Nov 19, 2013 - 11:15am PT
an excellent gathering and a truly awesome TR!


PROPS!!
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Nov 19, 2013 - 11:15am PT
Great shindig, great reporting.
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Nov 19, 2013 - 11:19am PT
NICE WORK!!! The Stoke exudes from this TR MicroNUT! 2nd and 3rd ascent of WWOS!? SICK!
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  Nov 19, 2013 - 11:21am PT
That's really COOL! Nice getting all this together to a great place. Taking the mystery out of it. I think that the Golden Age of Central Sierra Climbing is now! Thank you all.
i'm gumby dammit

Sport climber
da ow
  Nov 19, 2013 - 11:25am PT
i would love to come next year, even if just to watch Christina flow uphill like water, but...
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Nov 19, 2013 - 11:43am PT
Dammit!

I spend hours looking for mere sandstone pimples while you lot have these bloody enormous crags to explore

Wow!, wow, + a double wow.

It looks like you did some ferocious stuff in excellent company.

Great TR.

Steve
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Nov 19, 2013 - 01:10pm PT
Thanks everybody. MAcronut called me and he's blowin up on his waistline and forearms but he's ready to go back in. And Jaybro said he's already scheming on a winter trip back into the fight.

Sooooo much rock up there.

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Do cheburashkas even get poison oak?
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Nov 19, 2013 - 01:21pm PT
Wait so nobody puked?!

NICE TR MICRO.

Alexey - harder than Basketcase, or incomparable?

BIG respect to the senders!

Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Nov 19, 2013 - 01:33pm PT
Christina suggested that she might, from on top of pitch one, with a mob of adoring fans gaping open mouthed.... But she didn't .
bergbryce

climber
East Bay, CA
  Nov 19, 2013 - 02:46pm PT
Awesome!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Nov 19, 2013 - 02:52pm PT
I think my ole buddy Burl gave her a sympathy puke all the way from Mt Shasta!

DMT
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
  Nov 19, 2013 - 02:55pm PT
Great TR and unique summary of the spirit of a climb:

1. Alexey
A deep grunt and a scrape here and there, but always going up.

2. Christina
Beauty and grace. Fluid. Like water running uphill.

3. Jaybro
Curses and belching. The sound of a waterbuffalo giving birth. A True Master of the Wide.

4. Vitaliy
I don't know, he didn't stop yapping and making jokes long enough for me to get a bead on him

Lol...
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Nov 19, 2013 - 03:06pm PT
thanks for report Micro. You probably spent more energy writing this so quick than climbing burl.
I met a lot of nice people which was fan to spent time. I which I have more time and energy to hang around with them.
Since all day spent in the "cave" on approach, climb/ belay / decent to JCA WWS did not see much around me. But curious. There is a lot of people which was not mentioned in TR who came and hopefully had a good time. Even did not have time to see "Passionate life" and back side of the flake. Definitely next time... Thanks Vinita for support, I felt it via the rope when you belayed me.
The interesting thing that this JCA WideWord looks from the bottom so much easier that it really is. It really looks like 5.10 and it is very deceiving.
PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
  Nov 19, 2013 - 03:09pm PT
Wooow!! Looks like I sure missed out! :(

Awesome photos! Looks like I'll have to train for next year's Balch Fest!
L

climber
California dreamin' on the farside of the world..
  Nov 19, 2013 - 08:40pm PT
Yet another FANTASTIC trip report, Micro! Great and ghastly photos, humorous writing, and a touching bit around the smokey fire in the wee hours of the morning that truly made me smile.

I loved it. Thank you!

snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Nov 19, 2013 - 10:10pm PT
sigh- I missed out!!!!!
Matt Sarad

climber
  Nov 19, 2013 - 10:35pm PT
What a magnificent place. The inside is awe inspiring. I am glad I stirred things up.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Nov 19, 2013 - 11:29pm PT
Nice!
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Nov 20, 2013 - 11:34am PT
Wow...great TR!
Bascuela

Trad climber
Fresno, CA
  Nov 20, 2013 - 02:37pm PT
Excellent TR!
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Nov 20, 2013 - 04:21pm PT
I was surely late to the party, only arriving on Sunday AM, but had a great time.

Surely the worst ratio of climbing to driving I've ever had. Easily worth it to hang out with the 'nuts, Scott and Adam and to meet a handful of the Supertopo crew.

JCA's Wide World of sports was also amazingly difficult. No single move was impossible but 150+ feet in a row of such a hard size kicked my ass.

Wish I could have been there for the party on Saturday night!

I also took a GPS track of the approach that I will post later on.

 Luke















BFK

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
  Nov 20, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
Very Rad!
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Nov 20, 2013 - 05:26pm PT
It begins...

PO
PO
Credit: limpingcrab


I vote next year "The Sun Also Rises" becomes the challenge for the hard men and women. Best rock in the world after all, according to Coz
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Nov 20, 2013 - 06:01pm PT
Me too Crab. We'll be strong....together.
my I-phone doesn't make it look too bad does it.  Probably not gonna g...
my I-phone doesn't make it look too bad does it. Probably not gonna get much sympathy. But man it sure itches.
Credit: micronut
Levy

Big Wall climber
So Cal
  Nov 20, 2013 - 06:18pm PT
I feel for those of you who got a dose of Poison Oak. Get some Tech-Nu. That stuff is terrific for dealing with the after effects of P.O. exposure.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Nov 20, 2013 - 07:26pm PT
Божемой!
Ha-ha! No rash here!
Credit: Jaybro
Taking new replacement iPhone through its paces
Credit: Jaybro
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 20, 2013 - 07:25pm PT
Get some Tech-Nu. That stuff is terrific for dealing with the after effects of P.O. exposure.
Too late to use it, if it's more than 1-2 hours after exposure.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Nov 20, 2013 - 07:41pm PT
Clint, I am not sure that your timeline it is right. 6-8 hours after exposure works.
But I read that even after you got rush after 48 hours - you apply technu to this place to remove poison oak oil, and it will not cure the rush, but prevent from spreading more
L

climber
California dreamin' on the farside of the world..
  Nov 20, 2013 - 08:01pm PT
Alexey's right on that point. I've used Technu 2 days later, on the festering oozing rash itself, and it not only kept it from spreading, but helped dry it up much faster.
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
  Nov 20, 2013 - 08:22pm PT
I'm feeling lucky. My rash is restricted a few spots on my ankles and a few on my left bicep. My eyelid never got worse than a bit of red and a little itch when I blink so maybe it was my imagination all along..or maybe it's the drugs. I'll be impressed if no one gets it bad.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 20, 2013 - 08:54pm PT
A++ y'all,
TFPU,
Wish I were there!
Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Nov 20, 2013 - 09:08pm PT
But I read that even after you got rush after 48 hours - you apply technu to this place to remove poison oak oil, and it will not cure the rush, but prevent from spreading more

No, NO, NO. Poison Oak rash doesn't spread. It just takes longer for it to crop up where the oils were thinly distributed, or didn't penetrate as deep, etc., so it appears to spread.

Technu is useless once the oils are inside, and Clint is absolutely correct on this point.

Zanfel, however, and the Walgreens knock-off, DO pull the oils out, and they're amazing. It's expensive as hell, but it does work. I don't work for them or anything like that, but I get PO really BAD: Prednisone or even shots bad. So as a field biologist I have a lot of experience with this stuff.

Back of the hand ain't no big thing; run it under scalding hot water and enjoy the rush. But if you get it where you can't stand it (or sit on it), invest in a tube of Zanfel or the Walgreens stuff, follow the directions, and you can thank me later.
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Nov 20, 2013 - 09:12pm PT
I used to have to go to the hospital I would get it so bad, but ever since I started eating it I only get little spots and they clear up after a couple days instead of two weeks.

Yes, I said eating poison oak. No, I will not be responsible if you try it and DIE!!!
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Nov 20, 2013 - 11:17pm PT
sure, eating poison oak is the best remedy against poison oak.
do not try to repeat this stunt
do not try to repeat this stunt
Credit: Alexey
jammer

climber
  Nov 21, 2013 - 03:59pm PT
Sounds like a blast :). I am especially jealous of that fabulous grilled up meal. Makes my mouth water to think about it. If I had shown up, I bet I would have put you all to shame for my coverage of poison oak, I seem extra sensitive to that stuff.

Can anyone confirm if the second and third ascents of JCA's were done redpoint/onsight/french free? Just curious. Sweet to hear about that one getting done, and to hear someone flowed up it like water. Very cool.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Nov 21, 2013 - 04:40pm PT
As far as I know - second free accent of JCA WWofSport did not happen on Saturday.
But a lot of people climbed this crack to the top. I have not climbed second day there, so I do not know what happened on Sunday
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Nov 21, 2013 - 05:49pm PT
My own Balch camp trip started Sunday in Joshua tree after the Billyfest, with a solo bittersweet 400 mile drive.
A week or so earlier, I'd gotten an ominous voice mail from Alexey, who had made a forray into the heart of poison Oak darkness.

"Jay, Alexey, we went to Balch camp, it was most terrible boosh whacking in my life. We go in three and a half hours, but cannot approach flake, maybe another hour to flake. So we turn around. Three hours. Total boosh whacking seven hours. I have no idea how it is possible to climb in day with such approach?"

Hmmm? After all the growing enthusiasm for this project I felt a certain responsibility. I swear, when we had the best trail in, it was under an hour. Obviously it was my job to go do some trail construction this week before team Balch descends into that, maelstrom.

A little background. My journey really started in August of '87(?) in Santa Barbara, at the ORCA ( forerunner of OR) outdoor industry trade show, when Richard Leversee ( representing The newly formed Black diamond, formerly Chouinard) approached me ( pimping Misty mountain thread works) with tales of a crazy unclimbed ow somewhere in the Sierra, " I call it the offwidth from hell"
"Where?" I asked.
"If I told you I'd have to kill you," he answered. - Give him a break, that was almost a new phrase back then.

A few years later both myself and the outdoor retailers show had moved to Reno. Twice a year he would remind me of this potential route. Often he would just lean over my shoulder from behind ( ever meet him? He's a big guy) and mutter " offwidth from hell, offwidth from hell"
February '95 found us en route to the crag to meet Paul Martzen to get after it. That story can be found here;
http://www.widefetish.com/features/jays_wws/jays_wws.html

Back to the recent past...

As far as going to BC, I've always been a 180-Fowler,-Belmont direct guy, but when I programmed my phone in Josh I saw it gave me a different route. Breaking up routines is the stuff of life, and "offers of unusual travel are dancing lessons from god." So I decided to go with a sort of northern route that would drop down onto my well worn trail.

Somewhere Blitzo was chuckling.....

At eleven pm I topped off my tank in Clovis and drove off the fringes of 4g land.

An hour later Siri told me to hang a right on a little hobbit lane to drop from my present 6,000' of elevation to the 3,000'-4000' foot range of Balch camp. Only thirty miles to go!

A quarter mile down the granny gear-low slopped, single lane route, I came to a fork offering two options each labeled, "dead end"! Wtf? I found if I headed on the one on the right I stayed on the course my phone showed. Since there was no connectivity, Siri was working from memory.
After an hour or so I came to a locked gate and a moonlit view of pine top reservoir. Nothing a seventeen point u turn ( in a toyota camry) couldn't deal with! A couple hours later, in the hamlet of Shaver lake, Siri made contact with her satellites! " Jaybro turn down dinkey creek road, you'll get there, no sweat!" - or words to that effect.

A few minutes after plunging down a ski-slope steep road barely wide enough for mopeds to pass subcompacts, I was off the grid again. Oh well, as long as I'm going downhill this, should work.... Again I heard a Blitzo chuckle from the other side.

The road was rolling, at one point I was approaching 8000' of elevation. There had been snow on the side of the road for some time, but when I slid down the seven percent grade of sheet ice, I knew that any possible exit strategy would not include returning up that hill.

But the signs were encouraging: "Dinky creek camp this way" ... Some time after midnight I was having second thoughts... Until I saw a sign that said " courtright reservoir 15 miles, Wishon res seven". Woot! I knew I could drive a backroad from Wishon through black rock campground and on to Balch camp from the east!... If the road was, open, if the snow wasn't too deep, if there were no fallen trees across the road...

Somewhere in there I saw some enormous ass trees and a sign for the McKinley grove of giant sequoias. Cool schist eh, Blute?!

Then I came to a fork in the road and a much smaller spur with a sign, " black rock campground fifteen miles, Balch camp thirty, get the lead out, small change"

Now I'm on familiar, heavily potholed, terrain! And the altitude had dropped below six thousand feet! Home free.

Cruising along at eleven miles an hour, the moon shining in my eyes, I could feel Blitzo's presence in the seat next to me. "This is a pretty cool adventure Jaybro," I imagined him saying. All we were lacking was his actual physical presence, 'cid, and a case of beer. Though Blitzo is dead, and I don't drink anymore, it was plenty psychedelic enough!

Especially when the animals came out!

First up was a beautiful silver fox, that ran in front of my car, dodging and weaving, looking back over his shoulder at me, before running off the road and into the hills a quarter mile later. I almost got a photo.
Then something much larger leaped all the way across the road!
German shepherd sized or larger, with a tail as long as my arm. then joined by a cohort! I can only think of one creature in wild California that fits this description.
I recalled Leversee's words, eightteen years earlier, on the hike down from the top of Patterson east, as our headlamps caught the the green reflective cats eyes, three feet above the ground. "did I tell you, Jaybro, that this area has the highest concentration mtn lion population in The sierras?"

Again, Cool! Blitzo would have dug it and, gotten a photo!

By two thirty am, Monday morning, I was in my old camp! A sort of redneck hunting camp tucked into the forest, invisible from the road, the firepit features a four foot high retaining wall, blocking the east wind. The pit itself was over a foot deep in ashes, melted beer bottles. Charred cans decorated the pit in classic hillbilly fashion. Backwater mess? It was the Elysian Fields, to me!

I slept in till seven or so. Didn't get on the trail until after eleven.
That day, armed with saw and clippers, I made it to the rocky area three quarters of the way to the flake, into the area Linda Jarrit, in 2010 had labeled, "the sea of Poison Oak". Probably less than two miles and well over two hours. I had my work cut out for me ( so to speak) if people were to hike in, climb, hard, and hike out on Saturday!

The rest of the week is a blur
Blitzo goes to Balch Camp
Blitzo goes to Balch Camp
Credit: Jaybro
of trail work, poison oak, abandoned marihuana cultivation camps, clothes destroyed by clawing manzanita and other hubris. I made it to the flake three days in a row, prepared the area at the base of Wwos,
Credit: Jaybro
" every act of creation starts with an act of destruction"- Pablo Picasso

Hmm this is climb is out of hand....
Credit: Jaybro
Credit: Jaybro

I built a Blitzo shrine,
Credit: Jaybro
behind the flake,
Credit: Jaybro
spent the non gardening hours listening to the oldies but goodies station, speed reading William Gibson novels, and aero pressing the strongest coffe known to human kind.

On Friday I drove into Fresno for supplies and electronic contact. essential, because, among other things, my iPhone had decided to stop charging!

A couple hours in wifi of the evil empire;-starbucks- had me reconected with the world at large, among others were the the phalanx 'o folks headed to Balch camp. Woot!!

Driving in to the party spot at kitsch camp I spied a solitary man nodding off in a lawn chair in front of a feeble fire- Scott, Aka Micronut!

"Um sorry, Adam has the wood in his truck..."
we shot the sh#t, getting more background and building more enthusiasm and collected more arrivalists as the clock ticked toward the midnight hour.

My camp was 12 miles upstream, a mile past the trail head, shortly after Alexey and Vinnita arrived, we three went up there to spend the night.

the next morning, from my journal;

"Saturday morning 5:49 today is the day! Alexey and Vinita are. Few yards away!
Credit: Jaybro

6:13 am, freezing! The coldest morning yet, by far! Sitting in the car running the heater! In shorts though.
I have a bunch of itchy spots, oops! ( turned out later to be manzanita irritations, no blisters, anyway)

This will be a cool day.
Credit: Jaybro
Too bad Pam is not here. This scene begs for her! I wonder if it will get done today? Alexey is strong, but has less experience at this grade. Christina is an animal as well. This is going to be a very interesting day!
Long approach, hard f*#king climb. Lots of people. This will be fascinating however it turns out."

A late start, we were on the trail at 8:15, passing the starting Cairn that has a little bit of Blitzo ashes in it for good Karma.
Credit: Jaybro

A hundred and thirteen years between us, a little more with vinita's considerably less years, the going is steady, if not speedy. The rest of the team, coming from the lower base camp, catches up with us at the house size boulders, sea of PO, BCF view, at three quarters way.

As I hang, watching the young bucks stream by, swilling grapefruit fizzy water, most of the crew passes me. But somehow i am the first to arrive at the base of the climb, by a healthy margin.

I look up at the steep climb
YIKES!

Soon the crew is with me, a chorus of "I wanna lead," rings, out. Decisively i say, "I got no rack, but I am flaking out Alexey's rope"

Then Alexey appears. "I took bad upside down, backward heafirst fall on boulders, but broke no bones!"
Okay, it's Alexey's lead!
Credit: Jaybro
Credit: Jaybro
Credit: Jaybro

In no time at all, "the iron Russian" is churning away on the lead, Vinita belaying, I take photos and hobnob. one of the hobnobee's is a tall silver haired gentleman resembling, Phil Austin of the Firesign theatre, 'Paul Marzten! Long time!"

What a cool day this is! At some point Alyosha has me send up a valley giant on the trail line. Then he takes some sort of biscuit just before bolt one, the one i placed on lead. then I realize how far the the trail line hangs from the wall. Dang this thing Is steep!
Credit: Jaybro
Credit: Jaybro
Credit: Jaybro
Credit: Jaybro
After a bunch of effort, much shouting, but all too soon, it is my turn. It's hard from the start! Not too bad, but hard work all the way!
"Ya tak byuoose-я так боюс" i mutter. Christina looks at me, " that means, I'm so scared, in russian!" i explain.

That thing is a Lot of work! very similar, and just a bit harder than, The Mayor, in Offwidth City, Utah, It is very continuous with too many bulges and mini cruxes to count.

Near the top of pitch one, just after my left foot has skated off key holds and Ive fallen, but caught myself before the rope did, twice, I get off my best russlish shout ever, "Ochen f*#king, Troodna! Очень яобIng трудно" which got a laugh from Aleexey, for sure, and maybe from Vitya as well.

Then it was over. pitch one, the meat, anyway. After eighteen years, when I was already afraid of being over the hill, at 39, it was actually easier now, and not Just because of the toprope.

Alexey ran up the second, 5.11 pitch, while I belayed, and watched Christina's progress leading the crux pitch, below.
What a day!

Following the second pitch was much easier, but still more work than a lot of things, an effort most of the way!

it was a true joy to share the summit with Alexey! This whole thing meant a lot to me, having people brave all kinds of things to be here. To share a climb with me, a climb that had meant a lot to me all those years before, and perhaps even more, now!

After confering with Alexey, I spread some of Blitzo's ashes, carried, in a container in my left pocket, around the top of the flake. Blitzo would have SO dug this adventure!

Soon I was the first one down. Stopping on the way to high five Christina at the belay on her one fall(?) lead, and joking with Vitally lower down who was on TR on pitch one, "I am resting at this stance, I so, want to do this without weighting the rope." and I think he did!

Then on the ground below, surprise of surprises, there was my new friend, Ying!
The Lovely and resourceful Ying!
The Lovely and resourceful Ying!
Credit: Jaybro
I had had breakfast with her in Josh, at crossroads the sunday before, telling her of this project, and later, on the road emailing her links to the the supertopo and Widefetish threads about this place. with just that beta, she drove up solo, from LA found the trail head and hiked all the way in to greet me as I came down! Really, how amazing an odyssey is that?

Lots of imagines and impressions....after eighteen years os no action, there was a crowd on this route!
Two butts and a babe. Christina definitely gets the 'best hair' award!
Two butts and a babe. Christina definitely gets the 'best hair' award!
Credit: Jaybro
Credit: Jaybro
Amazing, and more action than ever on the surrounding climbs.

My hope is that this keeps up! There us so much to do there, and all that is lacking is a trail systems!

Others have filled in about the party that night. i took no more photos, it was epic, the food, especially V's gram's cake, but not to forget, Jelezerain s pilaf and veggies, and of course the chiken and I hear, brats.

i didnt climb sunday, I had a leisurely morning, strong coffee and Alexey's mom"s Piroshki -Zamechatilnie! with Alexey and Vinita.

Which one taped his right shoulder beforehand?
Which one taped his right shoulder beforehand?
Credit: Vinita B
Credit: Jaybro
Full value, Cant wait for next year.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Nov 21, 2013 - 06:01pm PT
Jay, that is an awesome report. As I sit here bored at work it brought back many good memories (oh it was so long ago already, I want to do it all again…well maybe I should let the bruises go away first). I did not have many expectations before the event - “Oh awesome, I will meet some of the other people that I heckle on the internet, maybe they won’t want to punch me in the face?” But so many people contributed something, that it turned out to be one of the best climbing gatherings I attended. Big part of it was the attitude of people. So many good stories, humor, contributions etc. Reason why I started climbing was for challenges and for adventure. This trip had all that and much more. “Are we gonna make it to the flake today? I am stuck in my tracks, surrounded by bushes and poison oak!” And we did get through it. But than the OW was steep, even a little overhanging, with some bulges to prevent one from cruising up. I really did not know if I was gonna make it up.

I do hope to see familiar and new faces at the next year’s Fest, and do hope it happens. Also hope Jaybro doesn’t invite Pam, cuz I want the 2nd free ascent (even though I did make it up the flake without falls, I led the second pitch, not the first. First pitch is the crux, so for now my ascent has an asterisk)!

Big thanks to Micronut/Macronut (Scott and Adam) for all the work they put in preparing food, making a trail with their kids, bringing good vibes and humor.
Thanks for Jaybro for making the trips back in the day and sharing this gem with us. HUGE thanks for all the work you put in to make a trail and your stories kick ass as well.
Thanks to Christina for being a great partner and letting Jim and I carpool! Topping out the flake with her and Luke was awesome! Jim’s always positive attitude and music skills were also appreciated! Luke’s humor was nice to have on Sunday, but he better come for the full weekend next time. Thanks to everyone else who shared the experience with me, it would not be the same without you!

This trip proves that we have a great community on this site. Again, thank you all for coming out with positive attitude!
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Nov 21, 2013 - 06:04pm PT
This is so super worthy BBST

Steve
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Nov 21, 2013 - 06:32pm PT
Jaybro title is "Godfather of the Balch Fest".
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Nov 21, 2013 - 07:39pm PT
Jaybro,

That was a touching and fitting end to a great weekend. Thank you for sharing that. I had no idea about your Siri misadventure and your epic approach drive journey. That Siri can be a fickle mistress can't she. Again, thanks for everything and lets stay in touch.

Scott
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 21, 2013 - 08:41pm PT
Thanks for sharing your cool report, Jaybro!
Awesome of you to do all that trail work, and it sounds great to have a fun bunch of folks to experience the big adventure out there.
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Nov 21, 2013 - 09:25pm PT
That was awesome Jaybro!

Vitaliy is right, the people made the trip as great as it was (fun climbing and exploring and amazing food didn't hurt either)
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Nov 21, 2013 - 09:33pm PT
Jay! Woot Woot….what an awesome report. You have captured so much in that report. A circle of love!

Susan
Macronut

Trad climber
Fresno, Ca
  Nov 22, 2013 - 05:01pm PT
Truly touching Jaybro. Thanks for sharing. Scott and I's conversation as we made our way back to camp consisted of "that was awesome but do you really think people had a good time and would really want to come back?" Question answered. We've not stopped talking about it since our return and have the joy to look east and remember the times. With Patterson looming over our valley home inviting us back...just wait Sir Patterson you ain't seen nuthin yet...can't wait to get back there to open up more trail and routes for all to enjoy.
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Nov 22, 2013 - 05:46pm PT
Jaybro thanks for the addtional TR. Sorry to miss meeting you on Saturday.

V, glad someone enjoyed my humor. I was worried my jokes were not as funny as normal since I spent half the time complaining.
The 2nd Half of the approach to the Balch Flake on the way in.
The 2nd Half of the approach to the Balch Flake on the way in.
Credit: cultureshock

If anyone wants the GPS tracks you I made one for the way in and the way out. I missed the easy part on the way in so it's only about half the track.
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/406890530

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/406890520

Map from the hike out.
Map from the hike out.
Credit: cultureshock

Full Stats were 1.25 miles and 45 mintues on the way out. Took just less than an hour to make it in on Sunday. The rocky part is the only section where it seemed really easy to get lost. Lots of PO in that section.

I'm pretty shocked I don't have any yet. I did do a Technu bath when I got back to the car on Sunday.

 Luke
Raafie

Big Wall climber
Portland, OR
  Nov 22, 2013 - 05:47pm PT
Sweet adventure-fest!

So forgive me if I didn't catch a comment on it, but you're knee procedure wasn't that long ago. How'd that go Micronut?
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Nov 23, 2013 - 11:44am PT
Thanks for asking Raafie. Definitely a bit premature to do back to back weekends of full body bushwacking uphill and down just three weeks post-op. i went to rehab today and had some 'splainin to do about all the manzanita scratches and poison oak on my legs. But the knee feels strong and has nearly 100%rotation. I'm blessed to be a really fast healer I guess.

See you out there soon!
Credit: micronut

Scott
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Fresno
  Nov 23, 2013 - 06:24pm PT
Vinita and Jay
Vinita and Jay
Credit: Paul Martzen

Credit: Paul Martzen

Macronut on Dracula Crack
Macronut on Dracula Crack
Credit: Paul Martzen

LimpingCrab on the Ouroboros Crack
LimpingCrab on the Ouroboros Crack
Credit: Paul Martzen

Heading back down the trail to the the cars, Saturday.
Heading back down the trail to the the cars, Saturday.
Credit: Paul Martzen

Heading out Sat evening, via the waterfall trail.
Heading out Sat evening, via the waterfall trail.
Credit: Paul Martzen

Technu Fest at the road where we stripped down and slathered on the sl...
Technu Fest at the road where we stripped down and slathered on the slimy substance in hopes of minimizing the Poison Oak.
Credit: Paul Martzen

It was great to see so many people enjoying this amazing place and creating such a fun event.

More photos at my zenfolio page: http://paulmartzen.zenfolio.com/p996864311

http://paulmartzen.zenfolio.com/p996864311
Macronut

Trad climber
Fresno, Ca
  Nov 25, 2013 - 11:59am PT
Getting ready for the encore!
Getting ready for the encore!
Credit: Macronut
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Nov 25, 2013 - 05:41pm PT
This just keeps on getting better and better!

Susan
DaveyTree

Trad climber
Fresno
  Nov 26, 2013 - 01:07am PT
Love that there is more interest now. Let's keep the trail open! Work got in the way of fest.
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Nov 26, 2013 - 09:08am PT
A TR+++++!! I've gone through this 10 times. Just keeps getting better each time. I'm starting to think people who tackle the wide have more fun.
Dr.Sprock

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
  Nov 26, 2013 - 09:35am PT
quite a drive eh?

won't go back in there unless it's a 3 day affair,

get in Thursday nite, leave Sunday evening,

Mammoth Orange closed down, frickin caltrans, had the best orange shakes with fresh squeezed OJ and real ice cream,
too much carnage at the crossroads,
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Nov 26, 2013 - 01:16pm PT
Just heard from Leversee, who has been following this. Perhaps he'll add something here.

In any case, thanks Ricardo! You are the true great godfather of Balch Camp Flake!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Nov 26, 2013 - 12:43pm PT
Jay, awesome write up and I think you have proved that kids can come in the form of 350 foot tall billion ton flakes as you can tell you love that place and are proud of that place like one of your own children.

Got Jack on some of the Wide at the tower and he may have lost a little of his affinity for it after he took a good thrashing, but he stuck with it like a champ and kept plugging away and soon made the belay with a fat 10.5 mil rope in tow. He cruised the second pitch so if he keeps progressing maybe we will have to come out next year that place looks bad ass.

Micronut, what is the tallest wall there? Looks to be better than a 1000ft.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Nov 26, 2013 - 01:30pm PT
Mike, something close to that sounds about right. There are ten pitch routes in the area.
Lots of info, here;

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/2106135/Patterson-Bluff-online-guide

Also when I stopped by the party site Sunday, I may have left one of car keys/fob there. A wierd looking aftermarket mahine that looks like this.
Let me know if anyone snagged it
Credit: Jaybro

guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Nov 26, 2013 - 01:42pm PT
Lots of smiles, so the hike didn't kill any folks.

And Techneu can help weeks into a PO episode... keep rubbing on the rash. The clear coat helps as well....

Good to see Blitzo getting out, hauled him out to ECHO last sunday.... he had a grand time.

Hopefully Rincon and Matty will show me the way .... winter climbing looks good at that place.

TFPU

FRUMY

Trad climber
Bishop,CA
  Nov 26, 2013 - 03:33pm PT
TFUP
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Nov 26, 2013 - 03:40pm PT
Mike m, the tallest wall is, indeed, more than 1000 ft, but it's on the western bluff, rather than the eastern bluff. There are literally miles of cliff, and it's clearly visible on my drive home many days. Ironically, despite its close "crow flies" proximity, I can get to Yosemite Valley and Courtright quicker than I can get to the Bluffs.

John
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Jan 6, 2014 - 02:33am PT
Who's Jaybro? Has he done anything in Colorado or Tennessee?

I mean if he hasn't done anything in CO or TN how can we judge his badassery?

Please advise?

--GB Smellz, this year in the summertime.

Be advised.

Who's Jaybro? Yer funnin'.

matty

Trad climber
under the sea
  Feb 28, 2014 - 06:20pm PT
About time to head back, do some tail maintenance, and get clean up that damn flake!!!
johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Feb 28, 2014 - 07:14pm PT
Hey there, say...... NICE!

Camfest! TFPU.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Feb 28, 2014 - 07:59pm PT
I'm not going to be able to make it, but you guys should get up there before it gets too hot!
Flydude

Trad climber
Prather, CA
  Mar 12, 2014 - 12:49am PT
That alcove is so sweet...and the acoustics too cool! Great trip report!...d.
climber bob

Social climber
maine
  Mar 12, 2014 - 10:24am PT
great report..i remember spying that thing back @ 81'while rafting the north fork with the late marc appling..beautiful area!
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Mar 18, 2014 - 05:07pm PT
On March 15 it was already too hot, poison oak blooming , rattle snakes on trail, trail fool of Mountain lion poop, but trail seems better than in November, backpacks are still heavy , JCA's Wide World of Sport same hard as before kick Michal and my asses and rejected again.
new grass grow after november Balch Fest  and cute cows  making site r...
new grass grow after november Balch Fest and cute cows making site ready for November 2014
Credit: Alexey
same f*#king hard as 6 month ago. Spanked again little bit later
same f*#king hard as 6 month ago. Spanked again little bit later
Credit: Alexey
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Mar 18, 2014 - 11:27pm PT
Proving once again that Alexey kicks 94% more ass than most any climber you're ever going to run into!
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Mar 18, 2014 - 10:52pm PT
This thread rules
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Mar 19, 2014 - 01:54am PT

What those two above me said, and I made Alexey's photo one of my desktop backgrounds.
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Mar 19, 2014 - 02:02am PT
Alexey and Jay make me feel like a sissy
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Mar 19, 2014 - 02:46am PT
Micro, King of the Awesome TR's strikes again!!!

I haven't met those rest of those folks yet but having Jaybro and Elezarian in camp will get me to show up every time.

This is the spirit of Supertopo. This is what it is all about. People getting together, climbing, and having a good time.

Priceless.

Love the pics too, Scott. Wonderful looking cliff. Beautiful.
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Mar 19, 2014 - 02:54am PT
http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/#5

Rule # 5
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Mar 19, 2014 - 07:22pm PT
Stahlbro. That was awesome.


Alexey. You inspire me. You are the hardest of the hard. Way to get back on that horse. Glad you liked the "trail" improvements. Glad you didn't get mauled. Or struck by a rattler. Or poison oak.

Oh wait. You probably did get poison oak. The itching won't last as long as the memories of this place however. Well done.

Scott
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Mar 19, 2014 - 09:54pm PT
I have had extremely severe bouts with poison oak though the decades here in California and gone through treatment etc. There is a lot of folklore about it of course, just like all the other medical conditions for both people and animals. (See All Creatures Great and Small for an endless though hilarious buttload of other people's irrational medical beliefs).

I got to the point where I was no longer allergic, having had such heavy exposures to it and also constant exposures through cross-country endurance horse racing. Firefighters have been commonly able to gain immunity, too for example. My dermatologist said that the indians in some cases would feed tiny amounts of the leaf to children to initiate that immunity, by the way. And he also said that the oil can persist on objects (shovels, clothes etc) for up to a year…If struck by it, the treatment is quite simple in my experience. Prednizone for 10 days orally and a shot of cortisone initially. I was in full relief within 30 minutes of that shot, by the way. Total complete disappearance of all symptoms so long as I kept up the course of prednisone. If you lapse with it, the symptoms return.

from WEBMD: Poison Ivy,Oak,or Sumac - What Happens

Contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac can cause a rash (allergic contact dermatitis ). The rash is caused by contact with the oil (urushiol) in these plants. Urushiol is an allergen, so the rash is actually an allergic reaction to the oil in these plants. (PH: mediated cell dermatitis)

Normally, the immune system protects the body from viruses and bacteria by producing antibodies to fight them. In an allergic reaction, the immune system overreacts and starts fighting essentially harmless substances as though these substances were trying to attack the body. This overreaction causes problems that affect the skin, nose, lungs, digestive organs, and blood vessels. In the case of contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, it results in a rash.

You are not allergic to these plants until contact with urushiol triggers a reaction. The contact with urushiol can either be direct or indirect, such as through clothes, tools, or other objects.

Most poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes develop within 8 to 48 hours after touching urushiol, but they can take as long as 15 days to form.2, 1 The rash usually takes more than a week to show up the first time you get urushiol on your skin. But the rash develops much more quickly (in 1 to 2 days) after later contacts. The rash usually lasts 10 days to 3 weeks, but more severe cases can last up to 6 weeks.1 After the rash heals, there are usually no permanent scars on the skin.

The rash is not contagious. You cannot catch or spread the rash after it appears, even if you touch it or the blister fluid, because the urushiol will already be absorbed into or washed off the skin. Sometimes people mistakenly believe that the rash is spreading because it appears later on different parts of the body. But the rash only appears where urushiol has come in contact with the skin. So either the rash is still developing from earlier contact, or you have touched something that still has urushiol on it.

How sensitive you are to poison ivy, oak, or sumac and how bad your reaction is depend primarily on your age and on the extent of the first contact or first few contacts with the plant. Other influences include physical activity and immune system function. Some studies show that how allergic you are to the plants may be inherited.1

Complications

Complications from a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash usually do not occur in healthy people.

The rash can occur all over the body (generalized eruption) in highly allergic people.
Excessive scratching of the rash may discolor the skin or cause a bacterial infection.
The rash may come back or get worse if treatment ends too soon or if the medicine used is not strong enough.
In rare cases, kidney problems (nephrotic syndrome) can occur. This can happen in any severe allergic reaction and is not specific to poison ivy, oak, or sumac.
flyingkiwi1

Trad climber
Seattle WA
  Mar 20, 2014 - 12:58am PT
So stoked to see yall are still capable of providing some of the best entertainment on the web!

Ian
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