Trip Report
Don't Drink the Punch
Sunday April 28, 2013 9:05pm
The Devil's Punchbowl. Home to some of my earliest climbing memories.

Credit: justthemaid

So after regaling my other half with tales of kitty litter slab, rusted hardware, tenuous gear and sandbagged ratings for the last few years, I finally convinced Mr. E that it was exactly his style of climbing.

We shook the lion's share of potential climbing partners off by announcing an impossibly early meet-up time of 9:00 AM. No waiting in lines at Malibu Creek. Not.. this.. Sunday. Oh yes... this crag would be ours.

We conferred with the owl.. who told us "go forth.. for the path you will take is paved with rust and roadrash potential."


Credit: justthemaid


And started our hike into the bowl.


Credit: justthemaid


Mr. E gearing up for his first climb of the day. He took note of the total lack of chalk anywhere in sight as well as approving of the adequately engineered aluminum home-made hangers. Some rattly gear placements shook off that troublesome dust left over from sushi-fest.

Credit: justthemaid

Me shoeing up to climb the same. Eying the bulgey awkward start.


Credit: justthemaid


Me striking out into the sandy unknown.


Credit: justthemaid



Bolts look legit to me...Hell.. they've lasted this long they must be bomber.



Credit: justthemaid



"Secured" anchor. Masterlock is always a good choice.


Credit: justthemaid


Mr.E heading up the rib of Overhanger As long as you don't fall off on the first 15 feet it's all good. Nope.. no chalk here either.


Credit: justthemaid

Our favorite route of the day had the uninspiring name Lower Bolt Route. A full value climb that tests one's 5.10 climbing skills by throwing every conceivable move at the grade at you. Chalk? Not a tick mark to be found.

Credit: justthemaid



While running a few laps on this route....


HOLY CRAP!!

DA BRIM!!!!!!!!!


Nutjob sighting. Evidently NOT dissuaded by our "early" arrival and totally vague directions, the man tracked us down... and when I say down.. it's like way down in the bottom of the bowl. Like a bloodhound he is..

This guy's like.. sponsored and sh!t by Da Brim. Film crews could be parachuting in at any moment.


BTW.. Da Brim totally works in da shade and without da helmet FYI.


Credit: justthemaid



Well, after running up a bunch of routes we finally headed out. Nutjob and his girl climbing.


Credit: justthemaid



Final shot of Satan's Catbox on the sweltering hike out.


Credit: justthemaid



  Trip Report Views: 3,468
justthemaid
About the Author
justthemaid is a climber from Jim Henson's Basement.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
  Apr 28, 2013 - 09:10pm PT
Always enjoy what you write and the pictures are wonderful. Hope to see you in Tuolumne or the Valley this summer. Cheers to you and Mr.E
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
  Apr 28, 2013 - 09:21pm PT
I don't understand. You said you were climbing, and even posted pictures that make it look like you were climbing...

But how is that possible if there was no chalk? How do you know which holds to use? Or even which holds are in?

Sounds pretty suspicious to me.
Michelle

Social climber
1187 Hunterwasser
  Apr 28, 2013 - 09:26pm PT
Looks like fun was had by all!
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Apr 28, 2013 - 09:39pm PT
Very nice....looked like good clean fun!
Thanks!

Susan
MisterE

climber
  Apr 29, 2013 - 12:35pm PT
But how is that possible if there was no chalk? How do you know which holds to use? Or even which holds are in?

Sounds pretty suspicious to me.

I have found my home here. Scary mixed that feels like trad even when you are clipping the star-drives. My own little slice of the North Cascades here in SoCal...

Never before now has the path joyously lacked such direction, since my migration west from AZ...

10b4me

climber
  Apr 28, 2013 - 10:14pm PT
Haven't climbed there in at least fifteen years. Those hangers are still there?
Always found the climbing interesting
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Apr 28, 2013 - 10:21pm PT
Mr E, reminds me of Peshastin without the apple trees and wild asparagus.
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
  Apr 28, 2013 - 10:26pm PT
I've had fun at the Devil's Punchbowl. That place is really unique. Nice TR!
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
  Apr 28, 2013 - 10:28pm PT
Star drive bolts, if I remember correctly, are c. 1962.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Apr 28, 2013 - 10:28pm PT
Nice to see somebody getting out!
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Apr 29, 2013 - 12:22am PT
A bunch of cool routes in a place I've never even herd of, looks awesome, thanks!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Apr 29, 2013 - 02:47am PT
It was December of 1970 the only time I visited the DPB trailhead. Dillis wanted to show the Rev and me what a climbing Mecca was. This was not it, we decided. We kept on to JT.
Credit: mouse from merced
Fun trip report, though!

Wonder if Donini will ever go visit Ralph Stover in Delaware...
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Apr 29, 2013 - 08:29am PT
Hi, thanks for not showing where the good climbs are hidden.

Glad you all had fun.

ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Apr 29, 2013 - 10:37am PT
Did you take a look at this overhanging corner located right at the base of the trail, next to the "sluice box" (this pic looking up, that corner is steep).

hanging rock
hanging rock
Credit: ydpl8s

I was bouldering down there on some low angle slabs, got about 35 ft up, and every hold I was standing on broke off as I lifted my foot from it. My wife had to turn and walk away, she didn't want to watch me take a 35 ft, rasberry, sliding dive (I didn't thankfully).

Cool place geologically, but I would rate this pretty high up there on my choss list.
MisterE

climber
  Apr 29, 2013 - 12:39pm PT
^^ I know knott what you speak of - we are going back next weekend!

Fine climbing for anyone not offended by loose rock!
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Apr 29, 2013 - 12:42pm PT
LOL! Very funny write -up! Looks like a fun day.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Apr 29, 2013 - 12:53pm PT
Excellent TR. To my old-timer eyes, it actually looks attractive, Mouse's comments to the contrary notwithstanding.

I particularly loved the line "Bolts look legit to me...Hell.. they've lasted this long they must be bomber." with the picture of the Star dryvn and Leeper hanger. Those were state-of-the-art when I started climbing, so how could anything be wrong with them 45 years later?

Thanks for your most entertaining and inviting trip report.

John
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  Apr 29, 2013 - 03:18pm PT
quality, all around. kudos.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 29, 2013 - 03:33pm PT
Looks Hellish,
Thanks!
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Peavine Basecamp
  Apr 29, 2013 - 03:38pm PT
Rusty gear in sandstone.... What could go wrong?!

Looks like invigorating climbing.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Author's Reply  Apr 29, 2013 - 06:16pm PT
Rusty gear in sandstone.. what could go wrong?

LOL^^

@ydpl8s. I have actually observed a couple guys climbing that block in the past. One guy actually stuck some gear in the crack. World's shortest trad climb? Go figure LOL.



and now back to ...

Da Brim....

... and I forgot to mention the heinous overhangs...






Credit: MisterE
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  Apr 29, 2013 - 06:22pm PT
Climbed all over that place in the 1980's. Was there when they shut it down for a couple of months. Got it open again with the help of R. Vogel. I even have a detailed topo of the place. I could turn it over to Chris Mac for his Supertopo Guide to the Punchbowl.

It was all the rage in early 1990s when there was some steep sport routes put up on the hoodoos North of the parking area. We only ever climbed down in the canyon.

Troy put up sport routes on Williamson and within weeks the place was deserted and has been ever since.

Then Echo Rock became the "pop" crag.

Texas Canyon might be a "pop" crag soon.

There are others yet to attract the attention of the mob scene.

Perhaps some day the scene will return to "The Punchbowl" after this post gets a few more hits.

PIcture below taken before cams when we'd use those wide hex nuts to protect "Slot Machine" the crack route pictured in your TR above.
Owen & Savage demonstrate magical levitation technique on a #8 <c&g...
Owen & Savage demonstrate magical levitation technique on a #8 <c> hex. c.1988
Credit: Mark Goss
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
  Apr 29, 2013 - 06:20pm PT
Wow, that does look super steep. Huh.

Great report!
10b4me

climber
  Apr 29, 2013 - 06:28pm PT
Never climbed north of the parking lot. Went to check it out, but that conglomerate looked sketchy
rincon

Trad climber
Coarsegold
  Apr 29, 2013 - 06:29pm PT
The Punchbowl used to be very popular back around the early 90's or so, and there was always a bunch of climbers there on weekends. You guys were where all the old climbs are, on the slabby crags at the Punchbowl proper...the good stuff is on the overhanging crags like Attitude wall. Some of those climbs are excellent if you like steep 5.12's!!
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Author's Reply  Apr 29, 2013 - 08:58pm PT
Pfft..

Upper area

"good stuff"?

5.12 clip-ups on modern bolts..

Weak sauce.

;)


But fer real.. My weak muppet arms don't do overhangs. I actually did my first leads in the PB Proper so I have a soft spot for the slabs.

@Spider.. nice photo. I did Texas and Punchbowl in one weekend. Got my fill of pebble conglomerate this week.
em kn0t

Trad climber
isle of wyde
  Apr 29, 2013 - 07:17pm PT
4 thumbs up to 4 o' my favorite peeps. way to go for the real deal!

Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Apr 29, 2013 - 07:20pm PT
Totally urban fixed gear and tatoo bump! Master locks are bomber btw.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Apr 29, 2013 - 07:27pm PT

Aresome!!!!!
MisterE

climber
  Apr 29, 2013 - 09:14pm PT
Kalimon: Master locks are bomber btw.

I was thinking a bullet through the lock-as-an-anchor would make a great Masterlock ad - sadly I forgot to pack on this lead....
portent

Social climber
your mom's house
  Apr 29, 2013 - 11:36pm PT
Aresome!!!!!

Exactly!!

-Kovar
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  Apr 30, 2013 - 08:37pm PT
Here is a little treasure. I scanned it so hopefully it can be printed at 10" wide. This guide, reportedly drawn by Dennis Clark of Palmdale was displayed at the Punchbowl when I first arrived in 1983 and was removed in 1988 when rock climbing was briefly banned by the management.
Devils Punchbowl reported to by drawn by Dennis Clark. Photo taken in ...
Devils Punchbowl reported to by drawn by Dennis Clark. Photo taken in 1987.
Credit: Spider Savage
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Author's Reply  Apr 30, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
Nice Spider! Easier to understand than the one that's been regurgitated in the So. Cal guide for several editions now BTW. I see the ratings are even more sandbagged than the T.M. topo LOL.

Rumor has it the new So Cal guide is in the works, but it's all photo-topos now. I'm not sure if Devil's Punchbowl will be included in this version or not. More accurate approach beta for the upper area would probably make it more appealing to the sport'os. Troy's guide for the North side has you bushwhacking and lost half the time if you are unfamiliar and the gym-rats don't like getting scratches on their lycra.

Edit to add: Spider- you should do a little write up on any history on this place you know about. There's not much documented. Don't make me sick Grossman on you.
Rankin

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
  Apr 30, 2013 - 08:53pm PT
Choss has got a bad rap. Glad to see the old school routes getting dusted off. Nice TR!
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  Apr 30, 2013 - 10:20pm PT
Here is a treat for Skip, Eric, Scott and anyone else who enjoys sandstone. I was serious about making a guide at one time and had quite a bit of detailed info.
Hand drawn by tracing photos in 1990. Original is 17 inches wide.
Hand drawn by tracing photos in 1990. Original is 17 inches wide.
Credit: Spider Savage
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  Apr 30, 2013 - 10:29pm PT
I also have a folder full of letters that trace the closure and reopening of 1987/88. They're pretty dry and a little scary so I'll spare you all the drama.

Lower Bolt Route had this beautiful 1" pebble foothold at the crux. Broken off while Jerry Sears was standing on it in late 1988.

There is this front formation, then another slab formation behind it. I'm sure you saw the big split boulder with the chimney if you walked off the back side after doing Slot Machine. There are some nice hard 5.10s back there.

Also a mediocre route way back about 6 formations up hill.

I think Medusa (Jeff C.) may have added a route left of Lower Bolt Route. (See MountainProject.com)

Many good times here back in the day. But, got bored after we climbed everything a few times.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Author's Reply  May 1, 2013 - 10:28am PT
Lower Bolt Route had this beautiful 1" pebble foothold at the crux. Broken off while Jerry Sears was standing on it in late 1988.

That explains a bit. I TR'd a few laps on this climb trying to figure out how the hell to do the crux cleanly. The only way I could do it involved cheating - using an empty bolt hole for balance. Nutjob, being taller, was able to finagle a way around it.

Medusa (?) put up a 5.11d Rupert the Bear on the face to the left of Lower Bolt Route. There are two additional harder routes going directly through the top and right side of the arch (The Hole on your topo). To Jeff's credit, he's dedicated time and $ towards some maintenance and has replaced some of the anchors and super-scary bolts on a few of the routes. I believe the park service has banned any new route development. I'm not sure what their current stance is on replacing the pre-existing antique hardware.

Edit to ask: Give us the cliff notes on the closure. What instigated it and how was it resolved?


Choss has got a bad rap.



Credit: justthemaid
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
  May 1, 2013 - 07:43am PT
Nice report. I love visiting obscure areas like that---too bad The Punchbowl is a continent away!!! One minor point, Mouse, I doubt that Donini will ever make it to Stover in Delaware since it is, in fact, in Pennsylvania.
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  May 1, 2013 - 09:36am PT
Very cool topo Chris. I'll be heading out there Friday to rediscover the place. The last time I was there was probably about the time that picture of you and Chris was taken. I remember doing a long two pitch route that tended to the left, had a hanging belay. I thought it was behind the main formation but could be wrong. Seemed to be about 5.8 maybe 9. Any idea what that might be?
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  May 1, 2013 - 12:54pm PT
Some of the routes on the center of the main formation are 1-1/2 pitches. There is a long traversing route that starts on the right side and goes to the top of the middle. It's pretty fun since you are climbing sideways.

Route 25 on my topo No Philosophy may be 1-1/2 pitches (its been over 20 years since I was back there). That one is pretty stout with some delicate 10b face climbing. I dimly recall there may be an easier route to the right of that one. Which may be the one you are referring to.
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  May 1, 2013 - 01:05pm PT
I have some picture of the route I'll try and dig them up, maybe it will help identify what it is.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Author's Reply  May 1, 2013 - 01:21pm PT
Might be talking about Into the Spotlight (5.8) which is located on the back-most slabs behind the main wall. (The "Behind the Scenes Wall" according to the T.M. guide.) You hike left down the main wall to get to it. I've climbed it once years ago. Weird middle anchor. We just climbed all the way to the top and did a two-rope rappel. No Philosophy 5.10 2P is also on the far left end separate from the main wall. Never climbed that one.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  May 1, 2013 - 01:30pm PT
Edit to ask: Give us the cliff notes on the closure. What instigated it and how was it resolved?

I recall the place was closed due to several factors.

#1 The Barking Dog Wall... this is the most northerly formation, maybe the home of SPORT CLIMBING in So Cal. The property got sold and the new owner was NOT COOL with climbers at all, so he started running us off. His property line was in question so he got the rangers (LA county parks dept folks) involved.

#2 I think the person "incharge" decided that having all this traffic at "his park" was to much, so he banned all climbing.

We all owe a debt to Vogel, he was able to point out to the dude that one of the reasons the park was established in the first place was for recreation uses. One of the spelled out uses was "Hiking and CLIMBING"....right there in black and white. So he relented and then they started charging to park in the parking lot.

Climbers started parking just outside of the entrance and a use trail went to the Gorilla Wall, Attitude Wall etc. All the best climbing is to the north.

Best way to these is to pay and park. Look north to see the stuff, a bit of looking and you will find the old trail going down hill - but not down into the punch bowl proper.

After Willie became in vogue... most stopped comming.

The good climbs get shade in the pm...

you need to be able to climb 5.10d to have stuff you can do.

Its a fun place to go.

Thanks for the TR
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  May 1, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
I just hijacked my wife's scanner, here are a few shots from waaaayyy back in the day.
What route is this???
Credit: Batrock
Credit: Batrock
Credit: Batrock
Credit: Batrock


S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
  May 1, 2013 - 02:05pm PT
That masterlock on the anchor is awesome!
Onewhowalksonrocks

Mountain climber
In the middle of the ocean
  May 1, 2013 - 07:12pm PT
Good walk down memory lane.

I climbed there from 1985 to 2000. The late 80's early 90's I put up a few climbs in the outback. I never named them or told guide book authors. I to started a guidebook. I made a few copies and gave them to the visitors center. Don't know what happen to the copies. I did a bit of research on the old/first climbs. When I started there bolting was banded. However we still bolted in the main area. I just did it in the early morning or midweek when it was hot. When there was more snakes then rangers. When the LA County budget was low there was only one ranger on site. He really didn't know what was going on. I do know why climbing was stopped. I could go on and on but not now.

Here are a few routes in the outback.

Berlin Wall. 5.7/8 This is a short wall in the back of "Behind the Scene Wall" I put up a 60' route following pockets going left to right.

Very Back Wall had three routes. This wall is about a five minute walk on the right side of the wash. Someone put up a 5.10a/b up the middle of the wall before 1992. I put up a route that goes up on the left side of this wall following a small gully. Named "Sam" 5.8/9, it is a little lose in the middle.

There is a crack that can be scene from the parking lot overlook. It is fun and worth the time to climb it. Located to the left of the above area.

nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  May 3, 2013 - 08:57am PT
MisterE crankin' through the crux of a pretty tricky climb.
MisterE crankin' through the crux of a pretty tricky climb.
Credit: nutjob
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  May 3, 2013 - 09:00am PT
I should probably wait 'til my lady steps on a bolt before giving her ...
I should probably wait 'til my lady steps on a bolt before giving her penalty slack.
Credit: nutjob
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  May 3, 2013 - 09:13am PT
Just the Maid at one of the many cruxes on this climb. Devil's Punchbo...
Just the Maid at one of the many cruxes on this climb. Devil's Punchbowl
Credit: nutjob

Edit: Maybe more later, all the pics are on home fileserver, this is all I had time to upload before the airport shuttle came to pick me up :)
snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  May 7, 2013 - 12:29am PT
bump
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  May 7, 2013 - 03:15am PT
Sweet looking spot. Tfpu
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Author's Reply  May 8, 2013 - 09:16am PT
Thanks for the info Onewhowalks . It's an interesting area to me and there are a lot of big gaps and inaccuracies with the published beta both in the guide and online
E and I climbed out there again this weekend. Did some climbing up on the north side as well. I'd post pictures but my home internet is dead till Fri.

I'm taking this place on as a pet project in terms of documentation. A lot of random new crap has popped up over the years, and it's definitely overdue for some assessment on the condition of the hardware. Perhaps the ASCA can help out at some future date.
MisterE

climber
  May 8, 2013 - 07:13am PT
OK, at Starbucks so I can post some pics from last Sunday:

Upper Area overview
Upper Area overview
Credit: MisterE

Leading "Joke Book" at Attitude Wall
Leading "Joke Book" at Attitude Wall
Credit: MisterE

Getting ready for climbing.
Getting ready for climbing.
Credit: MisterE

Skip at Attitude Wall
Skip at Attitude Wall
Credit: MisterE

Skip on a fun 5.10
Skip on a fun 5.10
Credit: MisterE

Cool conglomerate in sandstone
Cool conglomerate in sandstone
Credit: MisterE

Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  May 9, 2013 - 12:32pm PT
Hooray! Top Billing TR in C-Mac's weekly email.

Skip - You are welcome to all my original work and notes if you get serious about documenting and publishing something.

I'm thinking a Punchbowl/TexCyn/Castaic Crag guidebook might be very useful. But I am too lazy.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Author's Reply  May 21, 2013 - 05:56am PT
I had no internet for over a week, so I was out of the loop on the newsletter.

I'd like to start updating historic info on the Punchbowl. Primarily I am interested in giving credit to FAists, correcting any mis-information and I'd like to update MP info on the current condition of the existing hardware so that anyone who chooses to climb there can evaluate risks. There's still plenty of scary bolts commingled with rebolting, which isn't really an issue in my book as long as people know what they are getting into.

My interest is purely academic. I'm not publishing a guidebook of the area but in light of this TR getting so many views, some increased traffic is inevitable (at least briefly until everyone looses interest again).
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Author's Reply  May 20, 2013 - 03:59pm PT
So I was out at Punchbowl on Friday and when I got back to my car some mysterious benefactor left a gift on my car.

R&I Guide for the Punchbowl written by Tidwell. Not sure of the year.. Looks like early/mid 90's. A goldmine of info! I'm sure there's not many copies of this still in existence, so I'm putting it here for posterity. It's even got commentary by Tony Bird LOL.

It's pretty beat up and the scanner doesn't work with my computer so sorry if they are a little hard to read. I'll try to get the boy to do some higher resolution scans and swap them later.

Cool stuff! Thanks Punchbowl Fairy!

Credit: justthemaid

Credit: justthemaid

Credit: justthemaid

Credit: justthemaid

Credit: justthemaid

Credit: justthemaid
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  May 20, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
Looks like my pic above is listed on the map as "unknown dihedral" LOL
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  May 20, 2013 - 12:09pm PT
Awesome, great TR. Obscure spots are awesome.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  May 21, 2013 - 03:48am PT
This is a Devil of a TR, a hell of a lot more than I expected.

So it turns out that a very large crag system is close and cheap to get to for a large metro population here. The benefits of going to DP, this pit of whatEVER it is, choss, high-quality chalk, etc., as compared to a longer drive, I would have to admit it would have had my attention long ago, had my bride and I remained in SoCal (uh, yeahh...) to live.

I've climbed quite a bit at the Sespe Creek area, though, back in the early 70s as well and wonder if anyone has some current stuff on that little roadside attraction and its immediate area. There was a lot of cragging potential there, up and away from the road. I'm talking SHADE, so ya only gotta worry about bugs and maybe PO and no trail...meh.

Oh. Not Joisey, eh? Meh.

rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
  May 21, 2013 - 05:01am PT
How disappointing...! These photos don't measure up to the shots of your husband driving the little sports car at Disneyland...Broccoli and asparagus to you...
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