Trip Report
Friday Night Chosstacular on Highway 152
Friday August 15, 2014 9:45pm
Ok, I'm rocking out to Stayin' Alive right now, imagining John Travolta's shoes and bitchin' walk, so you know I made it back alive. But it's always what happens in the middle that makes it interesting ain't it?

So traffick sucked out of SF Bay on a Frozay night. Took about an hour to go 2-3 miles around the 85/101 junction. I was getting antsy. And I can't remember how many times I've driven by this big formation on Highway 152 near Pacheco Pass. If you've ever driven that way before and you're a climber, you know the one. I've even got markers in my car GPS to remember it. But when you've got places to br in LA or SF, it's not usually high on the priority list. Just a dream for Some Day. Well, today was that day.

I didn't plan it. Just thought I'm already getting back to LA around 11pm, after leaving there at 4am earlier today. No biggie for a little more delay? I actually drove past it, said F it, and pulled over hastily by a call box. I geared up with a sling, 2 biners, a pair of mythos, and a water bottle. Even though the sun had just dipped below the mountains, it didn't occur to me to bring a headlamp. Of course I had it in the car- what self-respecting climber isn't always ready with a headlamp?

I'll post this in parts in case my connection dies...

The objective
The objective
Credit: NutAgain!

And so it begins....

  Trip Report Views: 1,174
NutAgain!
About the Author
NutAgain! is a trad climber from South Pasadena, CA.

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mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Aug 15, 2014 - 09:57pm PT
How many times have I passed it by
In my head they just multiply
Just over the pass
I'm sure it's a gas
But I'm sure that













































































Yur gunna die!

What is cool is that many would not have posted
Just taken the gear and just ghosted
(Thru private owned-land
Be it ever so unplanned)
And failing they would not be roasted.

Such a risk!
Tsk-tsk-tsk.



NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 15, 2014 - 10:11pm PT
Okay, now rocking out to a 5th of Beethoven, funky as all get-out. Where was I? Oh yes.

I hop a barbed wire fence, stroll across a little grassland, and then follow a ranch rod for a bit. Along the way a little herd of cattle stampeded away from me, and I fantasizes that I was in Lonesome Dove, driving a wrastled up herd from Texas to Montana.

Drivin' the herd en route to the objective
Drivin' the herd en route to the objective
Credit: NutAgain!
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Aug 15, 2014 - 10:15pm PT
I hope the next installment isnt "Then came a rancher up to me in a truck with a shotgun, and he said as he spit tabasco at my feet -yur not from round here are ya?"
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 15, 2014 - 10:29pm PT
Credit: NutAgain!

Credit: NutAgain!

Credit: NutAgain!

Credit: NutAgain!

As I near the actual rock outcrop, I'm front-pointing in my flip-flops in the dirt, and using my water bottle for purchase. This was a bit after surmounting the fist-sized talus field held slightly past the angle of repose by a network of dead vines. Much to my chagrin, I noted the piles of red dry leaves and all the sticks I had been bushwacking through were a desiccated poison oak forest! Bare legs, bare feet, and a larger hole of missing skin on my calf from the last trip with the kids. Grrrr... Well I'm hopelessly committed at this point, so I proceed somewhat fatalistically. At some point I think my eyeball was scratched with a poison oak stick. Let's hope for the best :)
looks easy from here

climber
Ben Lomond, CA
  Aug 15, 2014 - 10:33pm PT
I usually take 152 on my adventures to the Sierras, and I eye that crag every time. I'm looking forward to seeing it (vicariously) up close. Thanks for taking one for the team, NutAgain! (do I need to put a . after the ! in your name, or does the ! end the sentence?)
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 15, 2014 - 10:44pm PT
Mosstacular Chosstacular. This should be rotated counter-clockwise. Ha...
Mosstacular Chosstacular. This should be rotated counter-clockwise. Had to mangle up through this stuff to get to the rest of the poison oak gulley
Credit: NutAgain!

My poison oak gulley was cliffing out! Don't screw up
My poison oak gulley was cliffing out! Don't screw up
Credit: NutAgain!

Perched rocks don't instill confidence, but the coating of miss bespea...
Perched rocks don't instill confidence, but the coating of miss bespeaks some degree of stability and longevity.
Credit: NutAgain!

NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 15, 2014 - 10:50pm PT
Woo Hoo! Survived the gully!

Credit: NutAgain!

Credit: NutAgain!

Credit: NutAgain!

NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 15, 2014 - 11:21pm PT
But this has basically gained me the summit ridge, not the summit itself. If I'm going to die of poison oak rashes, I might as well make it worth it. Onward and upward.

Credit: NutAgain!

More bushwacking mixed with easy 5th class's. Luckily, I didn't rip open my existing wound.
Credit: NutAgain!

Now it was getting a bit too dark for pictures on the shadowy side of the rock, a little randy and spicy hand to finger crack guarding the summit. Th exposure at that point is nothing to sneeze at. Just below, I had made up the acronym TFITD:" to fall is to die" to force myself to pay attention even though it was basically walking/bush-grove long to skirt around to this crack,

Credit: NutAgain!

It was a little too tricky to get the camera to hold still while hanging from this jam:
Credit: NutAgain!

Credit: NutAgain!

When I got to the top of the crack, no way I was committing to anything up there to top out that way. All sloppy dirt sliding off the top, nothing to hold onto or even mantel over unless I wanted to resort to a beached whale maneuver. But not for a casual outing. I would die if I screwed it up. I found another way up, and enjoyed a little more light for the last non-black pictures:

Credit: NutAgain!

Credit: NutAgain!

Now that whole headlamp thing started to absorb some of my attention. No moon in site...
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 15, 2014 - 11:30pm PT
I didn't think I would die from the dark, but it might take me a looooong time to get down and get more complicated than I had expected. Before it got too dark, I snapped this pic of the way I had envisioned getting down. From below on the other side, I imagined this backside would've grassy. That's what it seems like when driving by. In actuality, this thing requires some commitment no matter which side you choose to approach it.

Here's the back:
The backside of the beast
The backside of the beast
Credit: NutAgain!

So I wouldn't be going down that way in flip flops in the dark. That meant I had to make tracks over the far summit and hope for something better. I did recall that the grass slope was closer to the summit on that side, as visible from the road.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 15, 2014 - 11:44pm PT
Well, not to drag it out any longer since I'm getting bored of uploading pics... I scrambled my way over to the westernmost summit, almost committed to a 5.9 OW descent into an expanding chimney about 20 feet above the bushes. Decided to err on the conservative side. I did somewhat morbidly solve one of my concerns- I thought of posting up a bit of a report from there with where to look for me in case I didn't post back within the hour. It didn't come to that ;)

I found an easier scramble down, with only a short section of easy 5th with minimal exposure. From there, it was a scramble down to the grassy hill, to a ranch access road, and a pleasant run down to the car, with a few bRbed wire fences to slither under, squeeze through, or clamber over. No cow sightings in the dark. Where did they go?

Back at the car, I stripped my clothes in front of the oncoming headlamps, and used up a gallon of water and liquid hand soap slathering up my legs and face. I've been trying not to itch. Cross your fingers!

That's all folks. Half Moon's rising now at 11:40, glad I didn't have to wait it out on the summit!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Aug 15, 2014 - 11:52pm PT
From the DeLorme Atlast & Gazeteer/California.
From the DeLorme Atlast & Gazeteer/California.
Credit: mouse from merced

http://www.trailheadvagabond.com/maps/view-map/lovers+leap/37.0343899/-121.3004852/3/

u have been climbing on lover's leap, man!

NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 16, 2014 - 12:12am PT
Edit: thanks for the info mouse! Yep, looks like the second Lover's Leap I've climbed.

I should add one more thing... All the reportage was about what I did, not what I was thinking. In a way, I decided to do it on the spur of the moment as a rebellion against all the depression threads, a rebellion against my own pattern of inactivity of late. It just boils down to making a decision to break out of a rut. Once that barrier of activation energy is overcome, oftentimes our natural inborn joy takes over. We make excuses for not doing stuff, create illusions of difficulty, and use that to justify inaction.

Different people choose to fill their lives with differing degrees of responsibilities and commitments that compete with outdoor play time, but we can all choose to make time, even a little time, on whatever terms we are able.

Keep the flame alive, find a way to do something that makes your heart sing!
Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
  Aug 16, 2014 - 12:08am PT
Git yer self to the drug store for some tecnu. It's not too late.
Good postin. I, too have been ogling that Pile o Choss for decades. Way to make it happen.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 16, 2014 - 12:36am PT
Ok, in another traffic jam near Lebec right now:
Credit: NutAgain!

So here are a few pics I overlooked before
The general way I came up
The general way I came up
Credit: NutAgain!

More detail on the gully I chose
More detail on the gully I chose
Credit: NutAgain!

Nice view along the summits:
Credit: NutAgain!

Credit: NutAgain!

Tecnu, will try to find it. Hmmm... Driving in my undies... Worth putting on the poison coated shorts if I find an open drug store?
mrtropy

Trad climber
Nor Cal
  Aug 16, 2014 - 07:05am PT
Driven by it and wondered a hundred times....
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
  Aug 16, 2014 - 07:26am PT
I've driven by that formation countless times, From SC to anywhere in the Sierra, Yosemite and south. For some reason, I have the name Shakespeare Rock in my mind for that hunk o' junk.

And there's one particularly interesting looking buttress on the lower right, steep looking and featured.

The fact is, there's rock scattered all over that area, all of it looks about the same type of choss. Driving West from the pass, going down the hill on the right, just as Shakespeare Rock comes into view, there's a formation down to the right, near a pull out. It looks like great bouldering, and if solid, it'd be an indicator of the quality of the crags in the other nearby areas.

I pulled over one time and braved the PO, going down into the dark cove formed by the overhanging rock and oaks.

Pure choss, I couldn't pull off the ground without breaking the holds. Yech.

Out by 156 & 101, same story. Outcrops all over. You take Crazy Horse Road, winding back around. You can get real close to some of those up on the hilltop.

Yech.


EDIT

Dang, I didn't see the TR because of Mouse's whitespace... that is not until I posted the above.

Lover's Leap, eh? Sounds like an adventure. But would you go back with ropes?
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  Aug 16, 2014 - 12:21pm PT
Got some crap like that in Griffith Park if your sick in the head enough, we'll try it sometime.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Aug 16, 2014 - 10:27am PT
In the lower right of the DeLorme map ^^^^

See the Los Banos Creek canyon and there you will find Cathedral Peak.

I viewed several peaks (Twin Peaks would have been the closest) with the Rev three years or more ago on one of our drives here and there. We were at the Arbrura Road undercrossing on I-5 south of the 152/I-5 junction, due south of Los Banos.

We drove up the road and found the gate locked after a bit, but the view from there of these peaks you seek is quite good.

If they weren't choss, someone would have gone in there and climbed some and made some noise, you bet.

It's DMT country, New Idria country.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
  Aug 16, 2014 - 10:41am PT
So traffick sucked out of SF Bay on a Frozay night. Took about an hour to go 2-3 miles around the 85/101 junction. I was getting antsy.
You really are NUTZ
again

85/101 is hopeless on Fri/Sun nights. Get outta Dodge by 3 or else take the surface roads.

However
Well done. Better you than me. Far better!

Yeah, we've all ogled that pile of half cemented pyroclasts for years. The Poison Oak revetments have always repelled the sane amongst us (an oxymoron?)

Did you sign the summit register?
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Aug 16, 2014 - 11:02am PT
Too much!

We climbed this on the way to the Valley when I was at San Jose State, probably around 1964.

The true Casa de Fruta era, a real fruit stand and little traffic. Acquired the worst case of poison oak ever with this crazy adventure.

Every time I drive past I can't help but hear, "Gotta Get a Lotion, A Calimine Lotion......."

Brave soul there Scott to ascend this at night. Now your bucket list is complete!
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  Aug 16, 2014 - 11:06am PT
In the quest to climb every fricken rock in our line of sight this was a good one. Like everyone said I've checked it out many times on my way to something more important. This is its own adventure and good job for bringing us into it and solving yet another rock mystery!
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 16, 2014 - 04:50pm PT
With big deep bolts there is climbing potential. Maybe not good enough rock quality for little nuts in crenelations on the face, but possible. Keep in mind it's on private property too. Any development would be ridiculous without owner's permission. As for summit register, I assumed there wasn't one, and only gave a casual glance- didn't find one. But I did accidentally leave evidence of my passing. I dropped a water bottle in a little abyss between rocks on one of the summits, I think the westernmost one.

It might be like a blockier version of Middle Cathedral rock, in terms of angle of slabs and size/angle of holds for the 2-pitch route potential, with sharper/flatter surfaces than the cathedral rounded holds. And rock not as sturdy, and way more lichen/moss covered.


I bought a bunch of Tecnu at 1:30am in Burbank, and by 3am I was finished with full-body slather, including a quarter of a bottle just in my hair. Don't know if it's too soon to tell, or my natural resistance has improved, or that Technu stuff is just a miracle drug, but so far so good- no poison oak rashes. I hope this doesn't jinx it.


Definitely crossed this one off my bucket list for now, but could be talked into going back there. P.O. during normal water years would be an obvious barrier, but the western approach is much cleaner than the northern approach.

Savage-man, Griffith Park is definitely on the to-do list with you at some point.

Hahaha Guido, where haven't you been? I think there are some lakes covered in Antarctica that are begging for you to bring your scuba gear.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Aug 16, 2014 - 05:37pm PT
Talk about scuba diving in Antarctica Scott, an old old friend of mine Art Devries was working on his Phd at Stanford back in the early 60s. His thesis was the discovery of the chemical in fish blood that prevented them from freezing in the winter. Fish antifreeze to be specific. Makes sense hey what.

We would venture onto frozen lakes near Glen Aulin, Mattie Lake to be specific, in early spring, break thru the ice, catch several trout and centrifuge the blood right then and there.

Art, while working with the National Science Foundation, and later as a professor at the University of Illinois, spent many seasons in Antarctica and was the very first person to scuba dive there. He has some very interesting stories about Leopard Seals!

Here is a short blurb on Art, fascinating man:
http://sib.illinois.edu/headlines/DeVries.htm
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 17, 2014 - 03:21am PT
You need to submit to the American alpine club, a new FA WOHOOOOOOOO!
looks easy from here

climber
Ben Lomond, CA
  Aug 18, 2014 - 01:46pm PT
P.O. ever pop up?

Back at the car, I stripped my clothes in front of the oncoming headlamps

Heh, I know that feeling-I did the same on the side of 140 after deliriously swimming through a couple giant poison oak plants on my way down to the Merced to cool down after a day climbing at Parkline when it turned out to be 108 degrees (all of us just though we were being babies and didn't want to complain until we saw the thermometer at the end of the day). Back at the cabin a cold-water-and-Dawn shower did the trick and I got off clean (pun slightly intended), but I was nervous.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 18, 2014 - 01:57pm PT
I fell asleep last night with itchy skin,
and had nightmares of poison oak running amok over my corpus.

But I woke up, gave myself the once and twice-over, and nary a pustule!
It may be too soon to declare all clear, but my hopes are high.

I do have skin peeling off my face like a sunburn,
I think from the Tecnu immersion.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Aug 18, 2014 - 02:35pm PT
You had me at 152 and choss.

I too have gazed upon that heap and said to myself, "Self, that thing is probably coated in poison oak and only an idiot would venture up there."

Thanks for proving both points. I love this kind of adventure. The "prolly shouldn't but by golly I'm gunna" kind. You have the heart of a true adventurer my friend and may it always beat strongly inside you.

Thanks for the fun ride, and call me if you need a shot of prednisone in three days.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 29, 2014 - 03:12pm PT
Bump for my first drive-by with happy memories
Credit: NutAgain!

Credit: NutAgain!

I went up the easiest way facing the road last time, looks like lots of tasty possibilities still.

Surprisingly, I didn't die from poison oak. Did get some spots on my legs, but not sure if it was poison oak or small Psoriasis rashes. In any case, it appears I stared down death with my steely eyes and it crawled away whining for it's mommy.
Joe Metz

Trad climber
Bay Area
  Sep 3, 2014 - 11:32pm PT
"I stared down death with my steely eyes and it crawled away whining for it's mommy." Badass as always, Scott. When I saw 152 in the title, I knew exactly what you were talking about. Shorts and sandals, eh? PO makes me turn around and Run Away.
~Joe
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Sep 4, 2014 - 03:47am PT
Very very cool. A man after my own heart.
moosedrool

climber
lost, far away from Poland
  Sep 4, 2014 - 04:02am PT
What a cool little adventure. Probably would be an epic for me. lol

Like your reports, man!

Andrzej
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
  Sep 4, 2014 - 06:11am PT
Ah, the spirit of adventure.

We explored the highest point of that choss range south of your peak.
Yes, it was chosstacular.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Sep 4, 2014 - 06:48am PT
Nutagain! You nut! Great report. I just came through there late Monday and we were talking about that rock ;)

My own experience in there had me tapped on the end of my index finger by a scorpion. I felt something sharp in a crack and when I looked in there I was looking at the business end of a scorpion. Lovely creatures. Didn't hurt too much I think it muffed the delivery.

It's DMT country, New Idria country.

Aye. Henry Coe for starers. Better have your up and down shoes on for that place. Then there's Spikes Peak on Pacheco Pass state park land, just off Dinosaur Point Rd I think. A nice little hike on a P.O. free trail. :D

There is Upper Cottonwood Creek wildlife area, just off the side of the highway on the east side of the summit. An old ranch converted to wild life area (hunting IS allowed), its a pleasant diversion from traffic and central valley monotony. I've hiked that area many times.

There is Lovers Leap, yep. If the land owner catches you, its a trip to the courthouse FOR SURE. Imagine if you owned that land, and had to deal with the flotsams and jetsams of humanity crawling over your fences, stealing your cows, shitting in your creekbed, etc... In lawsuit happy California why I guess many of us would do the same.

There is LaVeaga Peak, the high point of Merced County (did you know that Mousey?).... and if you get caught on THAT land you'll be lucky to make it to the courthouse. The summit, though... the summit, oh the sweeter for sticking it in the eye of those people. I climbed your mountain, yes I did. HAH! to hell with lawsuits!

:D

And then there is New Idria.....

The Diablo Range isn't a rock climber's range, no. Its not much of a peak bagger's range either.

But then again.... there are 7 county high point summits up there in the Diablos, and 3 of em are 'no access!'. (Contra Costa, San Benito, Merced, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Alameda.

There is Mt Oso, a familiar sight to any Modesto or Patterson resident. Lots of other stuff up there in that canyon too.

A most prolific range.

Keep in mind there is no natural summer surface water anywhere in the range.

DMT
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Sep 4, 2014 - 07:03am PT
Point of order.

Is it/they, or should it/they not, properly called "the Diablo"?

MostConfused than ever in Merced

Ranging far and near I've never even heard the mention nor seen a map with the name you mentioned.

There is LaVeaga Peak, the high point of Merced County (did you know that Mousey?)

Also:
Glad you escaped the Wrath of Poison Oak so handily, NA!
Banquo

climber
Amerricka
  Sep 4, 2014 - 07:20am PT
20 years ago when my kids were little I used to take them camping in Soyo, I had them convinced for awhile that this choss heap was Power Ranger Mountain. Back in those days I had them believing lots of fun stuff like that I knew Paul Bunyan, I was raised by wolves (in the Hoodoo Mountains of Idaho) and that I once had a pet fish that drowned.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Sep 4, 2014 - 07:50am PT
Point of order accepted, Sir


The DIABLO!!!!!!! it is!

As to Laveaga.... Quien Sabe??????!!!!11111 (seriously!)

Mouse, an interesting read for a Merced man of the world....
East of the Gabilans : the ranches, the towns, the people--yesterday and today



Mexican land grants and the history of a California that preceded the Gold Rush. The Rancho Santa Ana Y Quien Sabe (San Benito Cattle Company now) remains largely intact from the Mission Days. Steinbeck mentioned them in a few of his novels. Pierce does a good job at this local history.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabilan_Range

Laveaga was some Spanish dude with Mexican ties and finagled a land grant to this ranch. These many decades later the current owner allows no trespass and no visitors.

Lastly, check out this stealth trip report from the mighty Bob Burd, Sierra Club Peak Bagger and Trail Runner Extraordinary!
http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports/laveaga_1.html

I may be mentioned a time or two in that TR... it wasn't me!

DMT
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Sep 4, 2014 - 10:42am PT
The Gabilan Mountains seem like a mythical and fictional place to me, an idea more than a place. The word holds magic and mystery for me. John Steinbeck's book East of Eden wasn't about anything in particular that I remember, but it was an encyclopedia of insights, and the mood and impression is still there with me. One of the main characters, the lady who took over the brothel, was a gateway to me better understanding someone very close to me. I still remember where I was when I read that book, when I had the dawning realization of a pattern and creeping sense of fear or foreboding, seeing this character fleshed out in the book and having that "aha!" moment that explains a set of observations I hadn't made sense of before. The actions in the book were exaggerated to define the archetype of the personality, but all the exploration of that mind working was quite enlightening for me. Fiction as the gateway to understanding reality.

Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Sep 4, 2014 - 11:00am PT
WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA!

Let's just hold our horses here a minute.

You mean I wasn't the first to onsight that thing in my mind?

Every time I drive by it, I see a new corner or crack that looks good. Much like an auditory hallucination, the optical ones can be very realistic.

Well done Nut! That 'barrier to entry' wasn't so high after all. But your story has pulled the Guido out of retirement story telling, so I'm complete and at ease that the route has had a real First Ascent, a highly coveted and mostly poison oak free Second Ascent. All is well, and I will keep driving by it, but now I will tell anyone in my car that it has been done... a couple times...

:)
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Sep 4, 2014 - 11:09am PT
Dingus, that Bob Burd trip for Blue Ridge is priceless!

""One of life's greatest disappointments lies down that path." "
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