Trip ReportTR 2011-02-05 Sugarloaf - Pony Express, Morticia->Lurch, Hyperspace
This was a great trip with Dave, Jay Wood, and my love. More or less the standard gym posse.
I forgot my hiking boots at home, but it was cool:
My first main climbing buddy used to own a cabin right across the street from the gas station, and we only roped up together at Sugarloaf once! Years ago we did Fingerlock on the Sugarbun formation. Of course he bought the cabin there because we were en route to ticking the 50 Classics' "Traveler's Buttress" at Lover's Leap. Our very first time going for Traveler's Buttress, we failed because we drove past a curve in the road and said "Holy smokes! What is that amazing chunk of rock?" A quick application of foot to break, some rubber left on the road, and a query to the convenience store clerk informed us it was called Sugarloaf. Instead of our planned itinerary, we scrambled up the hill and hiked up the 3rd class backside and stood triumphantly at the summit.
Our second time on Traveler's Buttress we failed because we were wading hip-deep through snow in our jeans and hiking boots. We resorted to walking through the river because we were already soaked and it was faster. By late afternoon we had negotiated the snow gulley and found ourselves within 20 feet of the route, when my legs poked through the crust and my feet hit the twigs at the tops of the trees underneath the snow bridge. I hastily scrambled out, and stared into a black abyss. We had about 1-2 hours of daylight left, and we opted for another day. Third time was the charm, but I digress....
On the hike up the hill, the first thing that caught my eye is the aptly named Self Abuse (5.10b). I look forward to visiting this puppy:
On this trip, we were more focused on milder fare. Pony Express! (5.8? 5.9?)
Here's looking up at the second pitch, which I gather is less frequently done:
I tried to get onto the face straight above the wide section, Pony Expresso 5.11a, but I was shut down. So I went back to the wide comfort zone:
But I got a little too plugged in and made a grievous error. I pushed a #4 Camalot a little too far, and proceeded to lock it into place with my efforts to extract it:
After I admitted defeat and finished the pitch with the piece welded down there, I took this self portrait:
But stuff happens, we finished Pony Express:
And I just stood there looking sexy. Lucky for you, not too sexy for my shirt:
The walk-off is pretty quick:
We had arrived a little late, but we still had time for a wide adventure in The Podium (that chimney to the left of Pony Express). The first part of this was pretty exciting... I got a #6 up high in the first OW part, then back-cleaned it after getting up on the ledge. If you climb this route, just leave the #6 in place.
also note the headware: the lightest jacket I have is that ninja hat.
The chimney above that is too wide for a #6. It's too wide for VGs or bigbros, too wide for back/knee chimney, it's more like sideways squatting between opposite chimney walls the texture of glacier apron rock. No little wires, no pro to be found here at all, not even a pretense of psychological pro. I'm curious to hear how many people actually climb this thing. It's not that technically hard, but it seems a lot harder when you're gradually moving up and left toward the chockstones with the ground sloping down away from you and jagged rocks waiting to complete whatever punishment gravity doesn't finish with you. I wish I had a camera to capture the position because it is beautiful and a little deadly looking. I remember my hands barely an arm's length from a sloping arete on the chockstone, forcing myself to proceed methodically and not just make a mad dive for it. Keep it together. And I did.
Here's a pic of this top part from far away, but it doesn't capture the essence of the experience:
That chasm under the chockstone is about 30-40' high depending on which part you measure, and it goes all the way behind the whole formation at a near-constant width of wide chimney, with two smooth parallel walls in a slight curvature. It would be a cool place to bivy.
We closed the session with a smoldering sunset, and then off to Strawberry Lodge for a nice sit-down dinner, and a nice little campfire out on Wright's Lake Road.
Dave and Jay had told us good things about Morticia and Lurch, so on day2 we trade places with them. Jay graciously brought a little hammer with him to unweld the #4 Camalot I had left behind in the top of Pony Express. I'm happy to announce he retrieved that bugger and turned my frown upside-down!
Morticia and Lurch share the same first half; Morticia goes up left and ends at rap chains. Lurch goes up right and then a second pitch run-out to the top. We linked Morticia into the second pitch of Lurch and topped out. The pics:
Oh yeah, those gym slabs are decent training for outside face moves!
The second part of the 5.9 face pitch was more spicy than I expected, about the same as a hard 5.11 slab climb in the gym. I took my time to suss out the moves, wander around, and pieced it together. I highly recommend the route!
We topped out a little after Jay and Dave on Pony Express, and we wandered down together:
The day before Ms. Nutjob and I ran into Trad(the user formerly known as Trad Munter). He seems like a nice guy, and he turned us on to Hyperspace (5.10b). So on this day it was time to git 'er done:
Should this go on the spotting photo evidence thread?
It's a beautiful line at the start:
Plugging some pro:
Launching into the first traversing mental crux, just committing to the undercling and smearing for a couple steps:
Then a couple of weak placements and a longer stretch of the same:
And a sporty lower-off from the fattest clip-through anchors I've ever seen:
It was so fun, I didn't even notice this until I was down:
Jay and Dave did some shredding as well:
Jay goofed around in a little Chimney:
Be careful of pissing off Jay now, or he will use his new laser vision and burn a hole right through you! Luckily he's a pretty mellow dude:
Ms. Nutjob and I packed up early to head home and take care of some work.
Jay and Dave finished out the day on West Buttress, which looks like a fun place for some short face climbs.
Sugarloaf is a great place, and we'll be back again soon!
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