Trip Report
"Random Blessings" A Slab Happy adventure on a griddle.

by bob
Monday October 22, 2012 4:15pm
If you put hot rocks in a cool room its going to warm up.

This is what I kept saying to myself as I enjoyed a refreshingly cool hike up to the Slab Happy Pinnacle in September. I tried to tell myself otherwise. Running thoughts about how moderate the temps are and how its a random blessing to be climbing this route when usually, it is way too hot for direct sun scaling in this environment.
Its a cool day.....
Its a cool day.....
Credit: bob

We were not cool by any stretch by the time we reached the base of Slab Happy. Slumped in the shade my partner closed his eyes and took a nap for a bit while I characteristically hopped around to the base of all known routes in the area. Thinking of when past forays to this killer climbing destination yielded fine corners and absurdly traditional face climbing. My brain also created pictures of myself ascending the other routes that have yet to be ventured to. Routes created with very traditional ethics yielding what appear to be some of the better looking old school face lines the park has to offer in my opinion.

On this day our goal was a route by the name of "Random Blessings" which was co-established by Rob Dillon aka our very own Rhodo-Router of the mighty Taco.

This particular route goes up left of SHP a couple hundred feet. To me the line is awesome in that it, for the most part, follows an intersection of gold and grey rock the entire way to the East Ledges. You can find it here and zero in. http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/49244

I came across this route while reading through some old threads on recommended climbs. In this case ST's Cultureshock received some feedback from Rhodo on their line.............. I emailed Rhodo immediately to see if he would oblige me in handing over a topo of the climb.

Rhodo pretty much instantly responded and I had the topo for Random Blessings spewing forth from my printer in minutes. This topo is drawn over a rough photo (don't have terminology) and is a pleasure to look at. I may try this technique next time I participate in a first ascent.

I was excited to do the route as soon as I found someone interested and fortunately for me that doesn't take long. An old partner of mine who I've done some of my best personal accomplishments with stepped up. We hadn't climbed together for over a year. Awesome!!!!!!!!!

THE GO GETTERS
Uhhhh its not really that cool out.
Uhhhh its not really that cool out.
Credit: bob

THE ROUTE
Credit: bob

P1. A right leaning seam shining in the sun just as if a ten ton barrel of coconut oil was left at the top of the pitch to melt upon it. The rock was as hot as it looked, but thankfully not as slippery. An issue we faced was not being able to feel our toes for they were cooking. I can only compare this to climbing with extremely cold feet. When the toes lose all feeling and the climber just goes on trust that the rubber will work. This situation was pretty much the same, but with a looser shoe and a bit of a different pain masking any feeling that would lend a hand to really knowing what your toes are up to. It was a bit more of an intrusive pain than pain from cold.
Secretly, as I belayed my partner up the furnace-like fun of side pulls and locks, I was hoping it would prove too hot for him and we would go down. Well, this did not happen. We are not known to share these sorts of things with each other until after the fact so we pushed on up the 900 foot broiler plate. 10a.
First pitch seam and up and up and up pretty much following the top of...
First pitch seam and up and up and up pretty much following the top of the seam then trending left at the skyline.
Credit: bob
Seconding pitch 1
Seconding pitch 1
Credit: bob

P2. My partner seemed to be adopting the wise technique of getting the f*#k off the belay and up the next pitch as fast as possible in order to be all the closer to finishing with this chosen torture festival. He cruised to the plan thankfully.
I found out as I followed that the pitch consisted of incut after incut aka smile after smile. I like those incuts in the heat. I can perceive a bite in the rubber better than a smear while my feet swim in lava. 10a
Beginning pitch 2
Beginning pitch 2
Credit: bob
Higher up on pitch 2
Higher up on pitch 2
Credit: bob

P3. Some interesting overlaps were overhead and the topo shown a line crossing to a small head-wally looking feature with seams and grass. With that said I certainly wasn't looking forward to hard grassy, hot as the core of the earth climbing, but was pleasantly surprised by ultra positive underclings (in a shade pocket no less!!!!!!!!!) to sinker locks that those first ascentionists made sure to clean out. The "grass" were just some dried flowers to which some smelled very nice. Great work FAists. It was hot, but the positive locks and airy position made up for it. i can still feel the cool from the undercling. An oasis in the middle of the Sahara. 10b
Sorry, no photos on this one. I was the only one to carry the camera, this pitch kicked back after the business, and we were melting. My ass and everything else was painfully infested not only with heat, but lovely little needles from this beauty.
Like gnats with needles
Like gnats with needles
Credit: bob

P4. The crux on the topo. My partner again adopted his proven technique of getting the hell out of there. We were pretty much down to a few mutterings back and forth to each other with no similarity to any sort of conversation. We were roasting embers on the tip of the dragon's tongue. The last bit of moisture steaming out of us with an almost audible whine.
The climbing proved continuous, but positive the entire way much to our joy. My partner was waiting and waiting for it to get hard and it never did. Continuous it was yeeeeeeessss, but not hard. Oh praise sweet Mother Earth!!!!!!!! We pretty much thought it was over. Heh heh.
My partner opted to pass up a nice bolted anchor on this one and gunned for the sanctuary of a small tree. A very cramped belay, but the shade exquisite in its life giving energy! Yay 70 meter ropes. 10b
A bit grassy in the crack, but positive and clean on most of the pitch...
A bit grassy in the crack, but positive and clean on most of the pitch which is face and 200 feet long. Yeeeeeeeeah.
Credit: bob
A ways up pitch 4
A ways up pitch 4
Credit: bob

P5. We sat looking up to what was called the "mungearete" and couldn't really figure it out. All we could see was a nice looking corner with a wide crack in it and, wait, what was that? Oh my God its, its like a gift from the heavens cast in that unmistakable sanctuary of..................................... THE SHADOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As it engulfed us we could feel clarity of mind replacing thoughts floating in a mire of liquified grey matter and volcanic mud. This was a refreshing feeling to say the least. It was a happy feeling.
The Shadow Knows!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Shadow Knows!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Credit: bob
I took off with renewed vigor. I tried to find the mungearete, but passed on the only possible option getting to what it might be. I deemed it too sketchy and went up an unprotected, left facing Valley squeeze rig to a fist crack that all increased the existent smile on my face. I will mention the cool air exuding from this fissure coupled with the shade upon us took the already high level of comfort to an even higher place with a giant ledge to boot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This pitch was rated 5.8 and we felt at that point in our adventure that it was the crux. Go figure. 5.8ish ish
No pitch photos, but damn what a view!!!!!
Ahhhh shade and a view
Ahhhh shade and a view
Credit: bob

P6. Kicking back on the shady ledge it was apparent that many options existed from this point, but I was looking for a bolt and there it was! Yeah. The bolt appeared to be way the hell up the face, but in this case the face yielded some fine gear in seams and such. Very enjoyable. We had shade, smiles and what appeared to be the new crux of the route for us. It wasn't really tricky, just kind of hard so the crux it was at that point in the game. Honestly, my most vivid memory from this pitch was belaying my partner and simply basking in the shade and it offerings. 5.10
Coolness.  Cool.   Refreshing.  Just plain nice again!
Coolness. Cool. Refreshing. Just plain nice again!
Credit: bob
Crux of pitch 6
Crux of pitch 6
Credit: bob

P7. Yeah, sick brown and grey rock with a flake to boast about. Along with that all so lovely rating of 5.9 I was certainly out of there! East Ledges awaited! I climbed smooth up the flake thinking how it seemed as hard as anything else on the route near its termination. Then, I went out right to supposedly easier ground and found what my partner and I felt without a doubt was the crux of the route. We were cool, comfortable, and our feet were happy. It was the hardest part of the route for sure!!!!!!!! I had a whoa moment because my guard was down. Yikes, but on I went to the East Ledges. 10c
No photo of pitch just looking down.
Credit: bob

My partner and I shared quite a few laughs at the top about the heat, the ratings, and our various states of mind. The light in the Valley was starting into its late afternoon phases and the colors were letting loose.

We met some other fellows who were coming off the East Buttress of the Captain and passed the topo on to them with some of our thoughts. Maybe they'll go do it sometime.........

The descent of the East Ledges was the best one I've had. I wasn't in pain, the lighting was just right and my body simply felt refreshed as opposed to the usual complete exhaustion, fatigue etc that I usually feel when I'm coming down the East Ledges. We were only medium rare instead of well done. Ahhhhhh.
The light was so much better than this photo shows.
The light was so much better than this photo shows.
Credit: bob

We both felt this route to be fun and a great way to get up this section of rock and actually top out. The position is sick. A nice aspect of this route is that its not a runout death festival. It is most certainly not a sport route and gear is a must not to mention the ability to climb above said gear, sometimes well above it, So it is an adventurous route, yet doable.
The ratings for us were very different from the FA party. We never thought 11a existed anywhere, but the 5.9 pitch held the sting at what we thought was a 10c boulder move tradski style.
Definitely save it for a cool day or just be fast in the afternoon on longer warmer days. Blah blah. Everyone knows what they have to do for their own situation.

Thanks to Rob and Ned for their hard work.
Peace out ST and thank you for your time. Hope you enjoy.

Bob Jensen

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bob
About the Author
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Comments
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scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Oct 22, 2012 - 04:40pm PT
Good report. This sounds like a good climb.
WyoRockMan

climber
Flank of the Big Horns
  Oct 22, 2012 - 04:51pm PT
Sweetness!!!
bob

climber
Author's Reply  Oct 22, 2012 - 04:57pm PT
You can zero in on the route doing the Gigapan thing.

http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/49244
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Oct 22, 2012 - 05:00pm PT
Get...it... on...!@!
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
  Oct 22, 2012 - 05:14pm PT
How close to the actual E Ledges raps does it get? I've always wondered about that bolted face pitch out left of the fixed lines.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Oct 22, 2012 - 08:24pm PT
Way cool, Bob - thanks for sharing!
Pretty wild to go up there in a September heat wave.

Slab Happy Pinnacle, Never Say Dog, Golden Years area
Slab Happy Pinnacle, Never Say Dog, Golden Years area
Credit: xRez
Will, this is left of Slab Happy Pinnacle, on L side of above photo.
On the boundary between the gray and gold rock, as Bob described.
It's about 1000' feet left of the East Ledges Rappel routes, which are on the right edge of above photo.
The upper bolted face pitches just left the East Ledges "West" Rappel route are Tucker Tech routes, mostly in the 5.10d/5.11a range.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
  Oct 22, 2012 - 05:48pm PT
Ah, now I get it. Boy, I'm a little slow today. Thanks Clint. Nice outing Bob.
bob

climber
Author's Reply  Oct 22, 2012 - 08:09pm PT
bump
RP3

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Oct 22, 2012 - 08:34pm PT
Beautiful stuff! Dillon and Ned are great fellas. I have been hearing them talk about this route for years. It is nice to see it get some attention.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 22, 2012 - 10:05pm PT
Great TR, you made my day bro!!!!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Oct 23, 2012 - 12:13am PT
hey there say, bob... neat trip report!
thanks for the bump... had not seen it yet...

also:
i LIKED the wild plant-life note...
smell of flowers and time with nettles...

:)
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Oct 23, 2012 - 12:21am PT
SWEET BOB!!

That looks like a classic YO broiler outing.

Thanks for the look at the route and great writing.

le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Oct 23, 2012 - 01:52pm PT
Grrrreat TR - always rocks to read about a lesser known Valley line. Cheers!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Oct 23, 2012 - 01:58pm PT
Nice! I've always wondered about what could be done there, but was too lazy to do the actual exploring. Thanks for a fine TR on what looks like a very good effort.

John
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  Oct 23, 2012 - 11:19pm PT
Bob, you're a man after my own heart - charging off the beaten path again!


Funny that route is apparently easier than The Left Side of Slab Happy, and way longer. Thanks for the cyber adventure, keep it up!

Kevin
Hoots

climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
  Oct 24, 2012 - 01:01am PT
WooT! That Rhodo-Router fella sure can climb, and Ned ain't no slouch off the couch neither. Glad this thing is getting some action, the topo I have has been a bookmark for the past year and I keep postponing it.

Nice work Bob J!
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Oct 29, 2012 - 05:53pm PT
Thanks Bob! fun read.

So imagine this: move to the Valley. do all the usual stuff. Eventually poke around and find a fun project, work real hard to make it fun for folks- safe, some bolted belays, gardening here and there. Write up a topo, hand it our to your friends.

No one climbs the route.

[ crickets ]

Two years later, having moved back to Colorado, I drive over to the Sierra to visit friends and climb some. Plop down in the meadow, binocs in hand, to relive some old times...Egads! Someone is actually ON OUR ROUTE!

In the middle of the September heatwave, no less. Must've been 110 on the rock that day. We put that up in the winter, mind you, and that's when I'd tell you to get on it.

Thanks for the pictures Bob! You took more than I ever did. And to all the folks who've tarred me with the 'sandbagger' brush, take note: he downrated half the pitches, including the crux. Glad that's settled.

RD

PS: was gonna call it The Gift of Water. Tee hee.
bob

climber
Author's Reply  Oct 28, 2012 - 07:10pm PT
Ha! We couldn't figure out how you knew what car to put the note which you left us on.
Good stuff.

Salamanizer

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
  Oct 29, 2012 - 12:31am PT
Totally badass. Never heard of the route. I've looked up at that wall many times and knew there was more to be had up there. Wanted to get up there for a long time but kinda fear the Woodward routes. Glad to know there's something up there that isn't gonna finally do me in.

Bob/Roto, send me that topo. I'd like to get on that thing sometime soon. Looks like an awesome position to do some climbing.

Anyone want to rope up. Need partners!!!
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Oct 29, 2012 - 09:59am PT
I had this route topo since summer as Rhodo gift and safe for cool spring 2013...
Bob, thanks for TR, very interesting to follow you.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Oct 29, 2012 - 11:11am PT
Spring you wanna bring a raincoat. If Horsetail is big, you'll get blessed a bit.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Oct 29, 2012 - 04:46pm PT
Hey Rob, so the options only to do it now? Otherwise scorching sun in summer, or freezing short day Nov-Feb? Can be March- early April good too. I remember this fall was screwing us on East Buttress of El Cap in April, but we escaped by early start and finishing middle part before noon
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Oct 29, 2012 - 06:06pm PT
Yeah, it's got a short ideal season, unless you have a Bob-like tolerance for broiler conditions.

September was rough because the sun was so low in the sky. Springtime afternoons you get random gleeking hanging in the air, which occasionally falls onto the route. The water is what created the whole thing, so you just need to work around it. So late fall and winter are best. The bottom pitches stay in the shade of the pinnacle for a couple hours in the morning, especially in the spring/summer, and the whole thing goes in the shade by 3p.m. as the aspect is SSE. The diorite soaks up a fair bit of heat, so you might not be as frozen as you think then. And yes, March-April would be great, as long as the falls aren't going off.

It's not a super-long climb, so doing it on a short day is OK, especially if you've found your way to the base before. Rapping the East Ledges is fast. Returning to the base is a chore, so don't leave anything there.
David Wilson

climber
CA
  May 14, 2013 - 05:25pm PT
We did this route on Sunday and it was a hot one indeed. It's a great route and hard to imagine it's so new given the prominent line. We thought the pitches were pretty heads up in terms of run outs etc...overall very reminiscent of Middle Cathedral routes ( We did Stoner's Highway on Saturday ). Thanks for the TR and the topo ! Here are a few more pics.


great views from the base
great views from the base
Credit: David Wilson
looking up pitch one
looking up pitch one
Credit: David Wilson
on the second pitch
on the second pitch
Credit: David Wilson
the sixth pitch
the sixth pitch
Credit: David Wilson
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
  May 14, 2013 - 06:08pm PT
Very timely bump I was just thinking about this route. Are there any parts on Random Blessings that are scary for a more inexperienced follower? David, are we going to get a TR from Stoner's? I've been meaning to get on that thing. Perhaps even this weekend...
bob

climber
Author's Reply  May 14, 2013 - 06:30pm PT
Nice! Its a great way to head up that wall for sure. Where did you think this route was heads up? I really felt it to be pretty well protected.

Thanks for the pics.

Bob J.
David Wilson

climber
CA
  May 14, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
HI Bob, It seemed like the long fourth pitch was a bit run, but not unsafe due to the steepness. For me, the others had some moments as well. I agree on not finding the 11a - we thought 10+ was the right grade but we thought that applied to pitch 3, 4, maybe 5, and 7. Great route for sure !

Culture, I'll try to post some pics of Stoner's in next few days.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  May 14, 2013 - 11:11pm PT
Sweet! we wanted this thing to get done. I'm glad you enjoyed it. P. 4 felt heads-up but not R to me, like PG-13 if you know what you're doing. You're on your feet so you have time to figure things out. Looks like you missed the pro in the hole on p.2, maybe it doesn't have to be so run out right there;) As far as .11a goes, I think I mentioned being tired of people calling me a sandbagger. Mind you this route represents about the only face climbing I did while living in El Portal so maybe I was just out of practice.

Funny I've always been too scared of Stoner's to get on it.

hey Luke, about the inexperienced follower: I think it's pretty OK. My wife is like a 5.9 climber tops and she hiked the first 4, even the sideways bits.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Sep 11, 2013 - 01:25am PT
Great photos, David. They give an entirely different impression of the route.
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