Trip ReportLOST in TIME (on 'the Edge of Time') - an offering at THE CITADEL
Late-summer (or any season for that matter) has a way of sliding into your psyche and steering you towards an objective, a send that has been waiting... or an adventurous new exploration while the wind is still and the sun's warmth lingers.
There's so much to be seen on the eastside, and we revel in being total nerds of the storied names of the range, from early legends to the modern ones, as well as the ST'ers of California who have kept us inspired, and filled with (probably too much) beta.
I'll try to make this TR brief.
We planned the objective while visiting the Hulk at the end of August. a truly talented new friend Alex Satonik needed someone for a trip up Sunspot. I belayed him, and struggled my way up while following, having to do some heavy yanking and even stepping into slings a few times. I don't pretend to be able to climb 5.11, but my follower pack was heavy, and I was fully tortched by the higher pitches.
On the walk out down little-slide canyon, we got to talking about the many fun potential next objectives, in our beloved Sierra Nevada. Alex had already done nearly all the standard-classics (Literally the entire SUPERTOPO High Sierra book minus-Goode) and a few other things like the Evolution Traverse. The hype became legitimate when we brought up The Citadel, with it's stellar looking 'Edge of Time Arete'. We would plan for a 2-nighter.. driving on the hike-in and hike-out days, and sending on a full day, Saturday.
Things aligned and we were in the Bishop ranger-station parking lot, making final adjustments to the gear. Alex left behind some older, heavier small-cams. We were approached by a very kind, very helpful local from the Inyo County Sheriff's Search & Rescue... who recounted distant memories of Tahquitz, The Needles, & the high-sierra. He gave us some good veteran insights, and near the end of this send we would conclude that having an in-reach type device is a solid idea moving forward, especially with our ideas for winter objectives and ski-accessed goals this coming season : )
We humped our packs along the beautiful Bishop Pass trail, passing the stunning N arete of Goode, and zig-zagging our way up the rocky pass as picture-puzzle loomed beside us. The slew of deer carcases that tragically died in a rockslide or wet-slide right near the pass still lie grotesquely baked onto the rocks. We mourned their end.
The views into Dusty Basin were stellar. I had never been over the pass, and it was a treat to see the Palisades from the backside.
Our stoke was so high we barely noticed the mileage. We pushed to the pass in one go, and then rode the downhill from their to the next bench-edge fairly quickly.
When I saw the vertical-relief we were approaching, I started to get a sinking feeling in my stomach... We'd be going all the way 'down there?' ... We'd have to re-earn all of that gain on the way out, after sending?
Langille Peak was stunning. I kept thinking how it looked closer, and better... But the sun was scortching the south face so hard that I remembered, shade is preferable for long sends.
The Citadel came into view. Hard to distinguish, unassumingly sitting just in front of the more massive Devils Crag.
We crossed the Kings, and started working our way up 'the bushes'.
Our bivy was established. We surveyed the panoramic vistas on the warm summer night. The last-one, really- with our send-day saturday being the Autumnal Equinox.
The full moon was so bright it kept us up against best efforts to be asleep by 8pm. Eventually it passed in the sky- as did several satellites, and even a massive-broad & bright one that Alex thought was some sort of new transmitting-flat/wide satellite he had heard of. That or the IS.
- - -
The morning's talus-trudge had us feeling like we were in a truly untouched wilderness. Alaska, we imagined... yet doubted the comparisons. The Citadel loomed overhead, yet its elegant and broad face seemed inviting
The rock was more beautiful than I expected. I was thinking it would be a dark-grey granite reminiscent of Temple Crag. But that was just the lichen seen from far away. The true colors of the Citadel were a beautiful pale-grey/pink... densely solid almost like a marble. Some of the most colorful and gem-like granite I had seen. Sections of water-run or deep grooves showed the glassy and bulbous nature of the dense and ancient granite.
We headed towards some roofs, and zig-zagged back and forth across the dihedral. The routefinding was fairly straightforward, if you were expecting the occasional 'traverses' and following the pitch guidelines reasonably.
Pitch after pitch, the line seemed to go on longer than we thought. Tons of variety, beautiful positioning, and shade all day made for a superb experience. after passing the final 'crux' roof, the last scary traverse, and a stiff lieback/hand crack- we reached the 'money' pitch (which wasn't that money, but made it easy to tell you were still on-route)
Reaching the ridge, we scampered along as a sliver of orange light remained on the distant palisades, and taller peaks to the east. The panoramic views were massive. multiple deep river gorges spiraling out from below us.
We had been living, thriving, moving- on the edge of time. What seemed like a few hours turned out to be 12. what seemed like summer-light, turned into that of fall all around us. We were lost in eternal climbing bliss, balanced on a weighty hunk of granite on an even bigger sphere that was reaching a noticeably peaceful solstice equilibrium.
We missed the descent by one-gully (I think) and that tacked on a good amount of time to our descent. We ended up making several raps over big roofs, contouring down and left endlessly until finally hitting the 'class 2' talus slope. I think when Alex saw the downclimbing past the summit, it seemed illogical- though for other parties, that may be the best way. Finish up a bit earlier than us, and you'll have more time to make better decisions and have better light. Live and you learn.
I'll wrap this up by saying, It was a bitter-sweet send. I did let down my wife, by not fully having the trip OK'ed by her before I departed.. and that added a tinge of failure, or at least internal turmoil to the experience. It reaffirmed to me why us climbers appreciate the style, as much as the objective. I only want to do things in good form (by her) from here on out. She by no means holds me back. She is always looking out for me. She's gone up Tahquitz a few times, Cathedral peak, and made a pass at the Whitney Buttress. I think she might dig ski touring by the time we (God willing) have children and they get older. She's a trooper, my everything, and the citadel for my religion of love.
We especially want to pray for the soul and family of Ben Horne, who perished doing what he loved in South America, climbing 'Pulcaraju', along with his partner Gil Weiss. We wish their souls eternal bliss in the heavens, and their families a feeling of closeness to these stellar beings and infinite souls.
Ben's PullHarder writeup is the link we kept coming back to for psyche, and motivation for the route. It can be read here: https://www.pullharder.org/trip-reports/2012/06/14/almost-out-of-time-on-the-citadels-edge-of-time-arete
Bless up ST'ers. Love thy family. Send thy routes. <3
PS - here are some GoPro snippets
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