Mt. Wilson has one of the best-looking rock faces that I have ever seen. Combination of steep walls, massive buttresses and multicolored bands of sandstone compliment each other in such a way that makes this particular peak look like a cathedral from a sci-fi movie. Inti Watana (12 pitch 5.10+) linked with the top of the Resolution Arête (24 pitch 5.11+ when climbed in full) seemed like a very aesthetic link up and a fun climb of high quality. After my partner sprained his ankle I thought my dream to climb Wilson would have to wait till next year, but the Internet came to rescue! One of my facebook friends Wayne (thanks a lot by the way!!!) passed my number to Lisa. She was looking for a partner and seemed excited about Inti Watana. It did not take much convincing to get her excited about linking it up to the last six pitches of Resolution Arête. I was a little nervous when she said the longest route she has climbed was 11 pitches. Grade V with a stranger…sounds like a great idea! This time I was in the luck, she moved so fast on the approach, the climb and through the descent that it seemed like she has been crushing grade Vs for years!
Mt. Wilson and I. Decide for yourself which face is more BAD ASS! :) #SH#TZABOUTTOGETREALBRO
Some Big Horns around Calico Basin
A climber from PNW on Birdland (5.7). # EPICPITCHBROSEF
Roof high on Inti Watana. Looks hard, but in reality goes at 5.9 with huge jugs
A few days prior Mark was nice enough to hike over and belay me on a few climbs around Calico Basin. Atoman (5.10a) was a good warm-up. Yin and Yang (5.11a) was the main event. Y&Y turned out to be one of the best single pitch cracks I have climbed outside of Yosemite. Pumpy, intimidating, right leaning, thin crack with a spicy move over the lip. If Yin and Yang was a bit taller it would make any Indian Creek climber drool. Even though it requires a hike to approach and would be easier for those with smaller hands, I was glad we made it out there. On my first attempt it spit me off. Mark lowered me to the ground, we pulled the rope and I got it clean on my next attempt. I was fairly happy to get it clean and ran another lap on top rope. I was surprised because even than the route felt fairly hard. After that we made our way back to Canibal Crag and I got on a bolted climb named Baseboy (5.11b). This is where the real ass kicking started. At the crux I hung like an apple. I think this climb has cured me of any ego I had left. Mark made me feel a little better when he climbed the crux with a sprained ankle/approach shoes and labeled it “very hard.” –“Yeah man, I thought so too.” : ( Than I realized it was my fourth day of climbing in a row. Prince of Darkness, Epinephrine, The Fox and a bunch of bouldering got me tired and I needed rest.
Warming up on Atoman (5.10a). Sweet but short.
Crushing the gnar on Yin and Yang (5.11a)
Having a good time on Birdland (my active rest day)
Mark is a big Marilyn Manson fan
Rest was the logical thing to do since forecast for Wednesday was showing rain anyway. However, Mark’s ankle felt a bit better and he wanted to try it on something easy. We decided to wake up early and run up Birdland, a 5 pitch 5.7+. It was a perfect choice for a rainy day. We met a few cool climbers from PNW and had a good time talking and snapping photos. Mark and I managed to finish our climb and get down to the ground before the storm hit. We were back at the hotel by noon.
"That pinnacle looks a little less intimidating!"
This is the BAD ASS face I was talking about earlier
Some boulder got in my way on the approach. He was more messed up than me. Covered in blood after I was done with him :)
Lisa tunneling through the final chock stone on the approach.
Thursday was the big day. With numerous people complaining about the approach being burly we were planning to start it by 6 am. As a LV neophyte I got a little lost on my way to pick up Lisa and we ended up starting the approach close to 7. Not a huge deal, but both of us wanted to avoid the shiver bivy on top of the peak, which was a real possibility if the route took us longer than we anticipated. We found the approach to be fairly well traveled and easy to find. Even though I banged my shin on a boulder and lost some blood, we got the approach done in just under two hours.
Inti Watana tops out on the giant buttress that overhangs above
Lisa warming her hands on P 1 or 2
Cool rock on route
I guess I ran it out a little here. But look at that crack!
The crux of the route ended up in the first few pitches. First was a 5.10 and second is supposedly 5.10+ per guidebook. The rock was soooo cold that we had to find stances after every 20 ft of climbing and do our best to warm up our hands. I don’t think it was that cold when I climbed the Third Pillar of Dana in winter a few years back. Or maybe these are the signs of me turning into a cragger?! : / Due to cold temps the first two pitches went slow and I pitched them out,. After that I was able to link 3rd with 4th, 5th with 6th, 7th with 8th, 9th with 10th and 11th with 12th pitch of Inti Watana, using a 70M rope. The climbing was great and since the middle section of the route is less sustained, we were able to move fast. The difficulties of the route kept the climbing fun, but not difficult enough to make things desperate. There were several memorable pitches, including the S crack and a pitch with a giant roof which goes at 5.9 on huge jugs. However, my favorite pitches were the last few. The angle kicks up to slightly overhanging, the climbing becomes a little more sustained, but stays fun and on positive holds. As you climb closer to the final belay station you have to get over the last crux, a 5.10c roof. As you belay the last pitch of the climb you see the whole route beneath you. Not only the temperatures reminded me of the Third Pillar, the exposure and position makes Inti Watana a must do classic! This day I felt fairly rested and did not have trouble with climbing the route clean. Aside from Arctic temps and annoying wind, the climbing was pure joy.
Not a bad view
Lisa crushing the last pitch on Inti Watana. Exposure here is great.
Lisa happy on top of Inti Watana. Still quite a bit of rock left to climb.
View from Resolution Arete
Cool class two walkway high on Mt. Wilson
Upper pitches of the Resolution Arête were not as interesting as Inti Watana’s but I was glad we have continued to the top. There were a few interesting sections and it allowed us to see and understand the geography of the mountain in greater detail. The route finding on the upper pitches is the biggest challenge, and arguably, I ended up doing the hardest moves I had to perform all day here. First was when I took an overhanging wide crack to get up the first giant leaning block (below the 5.8 offwidth – which protects well with a BD #3 and a BD#4 cam that I ended up not placing here at all – the climbing was fairly secure). Second hard move was when we started to simul climb after the giant pine tree which marks the end of sustained climbing. Without much description of what route to follow I went up a ways than saw two wide corners that seemed direct. I protected the first with a BD # 4 cam and left it behind. When I got to the next corner I had to pretty much solo a difficult offwidth. It was about 20 ft tall and I was confident that there would be something big to grab once I reach the top. To my surprise, I found nothing of value, just a giant block that moved towards me when I grabbed it. Moving the block back with my left and changing my diapers with the other hand, I came up with some way to climb the corner. Even though I was blaming Yosemite for not having much overhanging face climbing earlier in the trip, I was glad the Valley taught me to get up wide cracks. I belayed Lisa on top of the offwidth and we unroped a few feet further when we realized the climbing transitioned into second class walking.
Top of Mt. Wilson
Lisa on top of Wilson
Both of us on the summit
Descent from Wilson was actually quite enjoyable
We hiked to the summit proper, had a few bites of food and continued down with plenty of sunlight left in the day. There was not even a chance for a freezing bivy. We had so much daylight that I think we could have climbed the mountain twice if we wanted to. When we got back to the car without needing to use the headlamps all day, we ate more food and complimented each other on the job well done. Having an amazing time on Mt. Wilson with Lisa and climbing a few good pitches with Weston a few days prior made the trip even more fun than I expected. It reminded me that forming new friendships and sharing experiences with people that we would not have met otherwise is just a small part of why I got addicted to climbing.
This was the second part of a report about a week long trip to Red Rock. One more to come...