Trip Report
Machete Direct Trip Report 1/10/09
Sunday January 11, 2009 7:19pm
Machete Direct Trip Report 1/10/09,
(Edit; Pinnacles National Monument, CA)

Iíve always looked up at the Machete Ridge northwest wall and thought it would be cool to be up there but it wasnít until I started really looking at the routes in Bradís new guidebook that I thought Machete Direct would be reasonably within my ability. I wasnít going to do it the 5.12 way but 5.8 A1 sounded good. Jaybro and I were going to do it in December but we both got sick that week. Saturday it worked out for Bob and me to give it a go.
It was really cold anywhere out of the sun. There was a lot of frost and ice on the walk in. As we approached the climb I took this pic.
The climb tops out at the right shoulder of the second point from the left.
We started climbing around 9:30. We decided to do the direct 10b start instead of the tree. The 10b is shown on the topo as between the first and second bolt but I think it may be just above the second bolt. Or maybe it was just because my fingers were so cold by then. By moving a few feet to the right I skipped this difficulty. I havenít done much aiding so it took a while to get up the bolt ladder. I couldnít find the 5.8 move at the top, though I tried a few different ways, but by putting a 12Ē quick draw on the bolt I stepped high enough to get to easier ground and the belay. Hereís a pic of Bob following.

The next pitch is 5.7 and more or less R. Bob thought it was maybe the best pitch of the climb. All about the same difficulty with the distance between the bolts requiring close attention.
Later Bob commented that the whole climb is about the same on the attention scale. Where the climbing is hard the pro is good and as it gets less hard both the pro and the rock quality gets less good. So full value all the time!
This is Bob leading up from the P1 belay.

P3 is a 5.2 and easier traverse, which doesnít have a lot of pro but was pretty mellow. Though Iíve heard it can be wet it wasnít this time. Hereís a pic of Bob coming around the corner towards the belay.
In the distance behind him, Clint and all are rebolting Lava Falls, one of the black water streaks.
P4 is supposed to be hard right off the belay. Itís harder now because two footholds broke off as Bob was negotiating this section. Fortunately I had him on a very close belay. Iím guessing that this is no longer a 10b move. When I followed I put a big biner in the bolt and then using it as a hold got up to the jug. Hereís a picture of Bob a few feet above the jug trying to spy out the right way to go.
The rest of this pitch is just more .7 fun cruising, especially if you are following.

Hereís a picture looking west at Elephant Rock.

The next pitch starts with a bolt ladder. I had figured out the aiding thing now, more or less, and soon I was on the top bolt.
The rest of the pitch is a gully sort of thing with easy climbing. It took a bit of care to find good pro but it is there. You take a sharp step to the right to get to the belay. I almost missed it. Hereís Bob even with the belay.
The rock is a bit funky here and for the first third of P6. Fortunately there are some good bolts and a few crucial pro placements. Hereís a picture looking down from about a third of the way up P6.
Hereís a pic looking up.

The route ends on top of Machete Ridge with big drops on both sides. I think it was about 3:00. I had done the Machete Ridge climb before and it was a lot of fun so instead of doing the standard descent we reversed the Machete Ridge route. Hereís a pic on the ridge looking back.
Just a beautiful day.
Hereís a pic looking back at the route on the way to the car. You can see the gully on P5 toward the top.
Hereís a pic of the setting sun on Machete Ridge.
We got back to the car about 5:00 or so. It was just a great day. This is an adventurous, very Pinnacles type route.
We took a 10.5 and 7 mil ropes. We brought some micro stoppers and some Tricams, which we didnít use. We had one set of BD stoppers, which we did use, though nothing over #10. We took TCUs, grey to orange but didnít use the two smallest. We had camelots #.3 to #4 with extra #1 and #2. You could leave behind the two smaller ones probably. We brought two aiders, which we passed back down on the bolt ladders. We had four quick draws, three screamers and seven 24Ē slings with two biners each.
See ya on the rock.

  Trip Report Views: 1,540
About the Author
Zander is a trad climber from Berkeley.

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lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Jan 11, 2009 - 07:41pm PT
Way to go Zander. Nice pics and great run down. It's been a long time since I've done Machete Direct. Looks like I'm due for a repeat.



Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jan 11, 2009 - 08:02pm PT

Mountain climber
  Jan 11, 2009 - 08:08pm PT
Great TR. Looks like a great spot to give aid a try. Thanks for the great pics and beta.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jan 11, 2009 - 08:26pm PT
Nice stuff Z-man & Bob! I was thinking about you guys yesterday hoping you were having this much fun.

A long way from where I started
  Jan 11, 2009 - 08:32pm PT
Thanks for the TR. Always enjoy posts like this, but...

...but I haven't got a clue where this is. Enlightment would be appreciated.

Author's Reply  Jan 12, 2009 - 12:23am PT
Hey Ghost,
Sorry about that. Pinnacle National Monument is south of San Francisco a couple fo hours or so. Here's a link.

Mighty Hiker

Outside the Asylum
  Jan 12, 2009 - 01:19am PT
I don't think I'd ever seen a photo of the Pinnacles before - not that I'd ever really looked, but still. Very nice!

Is it conglomerate?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Jan 12, 2009 - 02:18am PT
"Is it conglomerate?"

That would be a charitable description...
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Jan 12, 2009 - 02:25am PT

Nice report, especially with the photos. We saw you up high on the route. Nice choice of descent, too.


The rock at Pinnacles National Monument is volcanic breccia. It looks sort of like conglomerate because there are some medium and large sized stones in the mix.
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Jan 12, 2009 - 10:15am PT
nice send Zander. Brought back good memories for me. Cheers.

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Jan 12, 2009 - 10:25am PT
Excellent trip report. I can sure relate to the part about not being able to feel your fingers on the cold morning starts.

Mountain climber
  Jan 12, 2009 - 10:47am PT
Nice TR, I was the loud mouth up on the top with the 8 noobs doing Old Original. You weren't kidding about the rock down there, but it still looks like a fun route. I will have to try it someday...
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
  Jan 12, 2009 - 10:51am PT
Nice TR and photos, Zander.

Although I climbed there a little in the late 60s when I was a college student in San Jose, I only have vague remembrances of how pretty the place was, the wild hogs that could be spotted, sometimes on the road, and a few memorable pitches.

Pinnacles is a very cool place--cold in the winter--even if the rock is a little strange in comparison to granite.

Trad climber
  Jan 12, 2009 - 11:01am PT
Really nice! Thanks for posting up, looks damn cool!

Trad climber
Tunneling out of prison
  Jan 12, 2009 - 12:46pm PT
Hay Zander and Bob, nice TR. Sounds like a fun route.


  Jan 12, 2009 - 01:36pm PT
Nice work !

Trad climber
  Jan 12, 2009 - 05:08pm PT
Nice stuff! Funny indeed, chill on the tips and the toes certainly spices things up doesn't it!

Author's Reply  Jan 13, 2009 - 10:42am PT
Hey Steve,
I heard you and David were on Lava Falls Sunday. Any tales to tell? I remember the last move of the climb being runout and spicy.

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Jan 13, 2009 - 12:46pm PT
Zander, when you're up for a similar but shorter day try either version of Bill's Bad Bolts, or either version of Rock Around the Clock. Each is about half the length of Machete Direct, similar in nature, and probably a little easier. (Bill's "Bad" Bolts has been rebolted.) These are fun routes which also lead to the top of Machete Ridge. When you're feeling bold, try Daedalus, a relatively unknown Denny/Colliver route which is longer than Bill's and Rock Around the Clock, but shorter than Machete Direct. Daedalus starts by chimneying between the rock and a Digger pine!

Social climber
  Jan 13, 2009 - 01:58pm PT
Nice TR; volcanic breccia is also found at Camelback Mtn in Phx AZ. It looks like I'd feel right at home.

Trad climber
  Jan 13, 2009 - 02:10pm PT
When I did MD I went too far to the left looking for the second pitch (or third ?) and went up an unprotected water chute for 60+ feet. It was a bit scary.

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jan 13, 2009 - 02:17pm PT
Good job guys! I'll ride the coat-tails of your trip reports til I make time to get back out there :)

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Jan 13, 2009 - 02:22pm PT
Manny, I climbed once on Camelback Mountain. Holy wow, the rock was kitty litter! You'd certainly feel at home at Pinnacles. From what I saw of Camelback, you'd mostly think you were on really good rock. Camelback rock seemed as bad as the worst Pinnacles routes I've ever been on.

Trad climber
  Jan 13, 2009 - 03:38pm PT
Nice report Zander.
I didn't know about this place. I'll have to add it to the list of places worth visiting. :)


Trad climber
Berkeley, California
  Jan 13, 2009 - 07:06pm PT
This was the first climb I ever did. Actually we didn't do the direct variation. Anyway, this was the climb that got me hooked. 9 years later, I'm still hooked...



Author's Reply  Jan 13, 2009 - 08:37pm PT
Hey Hamid,
Long time!
That pitch is now rated 10b X! We were pretty careful not to go over there.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Jan 13, 2009 - 09:20pm PT
So, I may be hittin' the Pinns this weekend for the first time. The better rock quality is West side, right, as well as the camping?

Anything I should know, must do routes, etc...

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jan 13, 2009 - 10:06pm PT
You'd dig it, Manny! Many climbs there are even more solid than Bomberos Away! It's not for everyone, but you've got the skill/experience set to feel comfortable there from the beginning.

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Jan 13, 2009 - 10:11pm PT
cheers to a good TR

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Jan 13, 2009 - 10:33pm PT
Can I get some f-king beta, please?

Don't make me start a political thread....

Social climber
  Jan 13, 2009 - 11:06pm PT
Thx for the TR Zander! Makes me want to get up there.

Yup, Steve & I climbed Sunday.

Brad thx for the beta in the parking lot. Clint & Dennis thx for the beta on the missing crux bolt on Lava Falls! The bolt is there now I'm sure.

It might have been 6 yrs since I was at Pinnacles last. Fun!

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Jan 13, 2009 - 11:48pm PT
Bluering: camping on the East Side only. Good rock on both sides, depends on what you decide to climb (likewise, you can find bad rock on both sides). Large concentration of good climbs in Bear Gulch (close to parking lot on East Side). Also huge concentration of climbers in same place. Super hiking, location and climbing (mostly moderates) to be found in the High Peaks, which is accessed from either side.

That's a thumbnail. Ixxnay on the political thread?

Author's Reply  Jan 14, 2009 - 12:11am PT
"Don't make me start a political thread...."

My life passed before my eyes for a minute there... Gotta go sit down.... try to recover.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Jan 14, 2009 - 01:00am PT

> Clint & Dennis thx for the beta on the missing crux bolt on Lava Falls! The bolt is there now I'm sure.

Yes, we placed all the glue-in bolts (1/2" x 6") on Sunday just before sunset, including that one which was missing when you and Steve were on Lava Falls. Sorry about that!

Of course, the bird nesting closures at the Balconies (also High Peaks, Yaks, and other places) start this Friday, so Balconies routes will have to wait until next fall.


The beta in Brad's guidebook is very good - just look at the stars if you want to start on some of the better routes.
Most people start with Discovery Wall or Monolith - better rock quality and fairly short approaches.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Jan 14, 2009 - 11:32am PT
Mtnyoung and Clint, thanks, that helps.

(sorry I got a little bitchy)

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Jan 14, 2009 - 06:24pm PT

Is this the original Machete Direct route of the early 60's you are talking about?

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Jan 14, 2009 - 06:57pm PT
Guido: I think you're talking about a different route, The West Face. This route was done in 1963. It uses a bolt ladder to get up onto The Machete, but then traverses way north on a third class section. The West Face then finishes to the top of The Machete by way of two more pitches.

In 1974, Glen Denny and Gary Colliver put up a four pitch, more direct start to The West Face (hence the name "Machete Direct"). These four pitches connect with The West Face at the end of that route's third class traverse. They then share the last two pitches.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Nov 12, 2013 - 01:01am PT
Bump for a pretty spot in season now. I hope you're having good adventures these days Zander.

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Nov 12, 2013 - 11:32am PT
A worthy bump for Zanders tale.

It's a little like Riglos?

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