Trip Report
TR 2011-02-05 Sugarloaf - Pony Express, Morticia->Lurch, Hyperspace
Friday February 11, 2011 3:49pm
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.

Next morning:

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:
Jay Wood, Dave, and m'lady
Jay Wood, Dave, and m'lady
Credit: nutjob

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!

  Trip Report Views: 2,688
About the Author
nutjob is a climber from Berkeley, CA.

Some people call me the space cowboy yeah
Some call me the gangster of love
Some people call me Maurice
'Cause I speak of the pompetous of love

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the Fet

  Feb 11, 2011 - 03:53pm PT
Awesome post.

Trad climber
  Feb 11, 2011 - 04:00pm PT
Hell yeah ! Good job!

I love all those climbs.

I remember when I first climbed Hyperspace a few years ago. It is deceiving because the first part looks so solid but the second part is pretty dicey in terms of pro, and you get pumped by then! I was young and trying to show off and just walked right up and went for it, and very nearly fell off at the top, which would have been bad considering I ran out most of the traverse and what small cam I did place probably would not have held.


Trad climber
Lake Tahoe
  Feb 11, 2011 - 04:10pm PT
You fixed a #4... !!!

Then again,
you finished the pitch.


Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  Feb 11, 2011 - 04:15pm PT
enjoimx, you hit the essence of the experience :)

Footloose, what can I say. I got tunnel vision and that damn thing just got more stuck the more I fiddled with it. I knew a hammer would dislodge it, and Jay took care of me the next day. When's your birthday Jay?

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Feb 11, 2011 - 04:24pm PT
Good times!

Trad climber
Central Coast
  Feb 11, 2011 - 04:35pm PT
Here's looking up at the second pitch, which I gather is less frequently done:

ha ha, yeah I guess! Nice job!

Social climber
Oakland, CA
  Feb 11, 2011 - 04:48pm PT
nice going handjob! Love the loaf! Just did the 2nd pitch of Pony for the first time the other day, also flogged my way up Self Abuse. Quality!
Scott Thelen

Trad climber
Truckee, Ca
  Feb 11, 2011 - 05:32pm PT
How do you know your a gym climber? You climb at Sugar loaf with twin ropes and rubber on the back of your hands;.)

Good Job
looks like fun

  Feb 11, 2011 - 05:45pm PT
Yes, I like that chimney behind the Podium. I like the second pitch of Pony Express too. Done it a couple of times. It's scrappy.
Thanks for the TR.
Jay Wood

Trad climber
Land of God-less fools
  Feb 11, 2011 - 11:10pm PT
If I ever punched someone for making fun of me and my hand-jammies

At least my knuckles wouldn't get scraped!

Here's a few more shots:
Credit: Jay Wood
Credit: Jay Wood
Credit: Jay Wood
Credit: Jay Wood
Credit: Jay Wood
Credit: Jay Wood

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Feb 11, 2011 - 11:40pm PT
yeeha, good times.

That laser vision is going to be useful....

  Feb 12, 2011 - 02:55am PT
Nice, thanks!

Someone mentioned gym climbers and double ropes. I think a pure gym climber would get very confused if confronted with double ropes. Would probably think "cool, two of the new Ultralite SuperSharma 8.7 SendItDude ropes".

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Feb 12, 2011 - 04:13am PT
That Sir was a fine TR! The loaf is a great place. Dig the hat too.

  Feb 12, 2011 - 09:48am PT
Nice stuff! Classics, all
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Feb 12, 2011 - 04:49pm PT
Nice go, mate. Like the shots of your girl in her 'jammies.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Feb 13, 2011 - 12:01pm PT
Beautiful TR and awesome pix!!

Too bad someone we know is suffering from Bad Hat.......
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Feb 16, 2011 - 10:48pm PT
Great TR and Pics you Nutjob!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Feb 17, 2011 - 01:40am PT
Nice TR! I remember Morticia is fun above the roof!
Chris Cunningham

Trad climber
San Francisco
  Feb 17, 2011 - 02:23am PT
Great report and inspiration. Was the snow a bivy or approach problem?
Thanks for the great photos!

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  Feb 17, 2011 - 05:06am PT
2-3 weekends ago practically no snow. I'll bet it's interesting now with the storms. I'm hoping it's clear by tail end of this coming weekend. We're planning a hit and run day trip.

Trad climber
  Feb 17, 2011 - 08:02pm PT

nice stuff. So sporting a beard now too eh? Yeah, thinking this weekend would be UGLY up there....perhaps to aid.
scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
  Feb 17, 2011 - 08:22pm PT
Mighty Fine, Mighty Fine

Trad climber
Northern California
  Feb 17, 2011 - 08:26pm PT
Just had the time to check this out. I am not surprised Jay got that cam back for you. It's his favorite part of climbing. Looks like fun, but the pic of your foot in the snow in flips gave me the heebeegeebees. THanks for taking the time to post this!

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  Jan 23, 2013 - 04:32pm PT
Bump for climbing content, Sugarloaf fun, and hangin' out with good buddies. And a note that I've upgraded my headwear to a proper DaBrim. Definitely takes a beating better than those disposable straw hats.

  Jan 23, 2013 - 04:33pm PT
mmm, breath of fresh air...

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Jan 23, 2013 - 05:48pm PT
Good stuff.
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