It probably occurred to me on one of the many drives up and down the highway 108. Probably it was on the way back; when the sun does funny things to your eyes and shadow lines create open books with splitter cracks. You know that time of day.
The overlook stares up into the Emigrant Wilderness where granite beckons from far off lands, but my eyes were immediately drawn to a ridge out North West of there. A frenulated ridge with turrets, rooks, and sand castles. This region is home to volcanic history. Formations with names like 'The Three Chimneys' connote still smoking stacks. Years and years of erosion have left the geology to fend for itself against snow, wind and rain, leaving hunched gargoyles and open ridge lines that don't permit trees to grow too well.
Some are of these are really quite large. But trying to get even a seasoned mud master to commit to the barest of looks is no small task. So I set my sights a little lower. Something attainable. But even so, I needed someone that knows how to deal with crud.
An email was sent...
Open forest approach.
I've done the approach before.
Just a touch longer than going to Grey Eagle type of distance. But less
steep most of the way.
The road goes damn close to it.
60' on the uphill side at least
100' on the downhill side.
Nice and high to keep things cool temp wise.
The spire is visible from 108 miles away. It will be seen by millions. Glory
is ours! Ahahaha
Need ya on this one Mucci. Need someone not afraid of mudhumping a spire.
Bunch of punters don't want any part of the SPH volcanic. They will be
lies and half truths
but the weekend started out nice enough with an AAC gathering at Gianelli. Quality high sierra craggy granite.
Keys to my shell fell out and became a problem, so I missed most of the AAC event at Royal's cabin. But I did get to see him and a bunch of friends very briefly before heading out to camp up the hwy and get an early start on the next day's adventure.
14 miles in, you make a right turn and drive some 4x4 to park near a creek.
Mostly open forest gradually climbs to an open ridge line. The last little bit is loose and sits at 9k feet.
Upward we trudge. Good temps. Bit of breeze.
And to the south, the evil comes into view.
It's grotesque deformed face capped by two horns.
It's backside too, overhung, loose, with only the barest of compressed ash and cobbles keeping it from sliding down the hill.
The only way to slay the beast? Long bolts. Tap tap tap! thunk thunk thunk. The whole thing is a reverb. The crack near the should not safe to pound pins in. More tapping, selecting the least offensive of the sounds. The first one goes in...
The next one goes as well. The drill's vibration can be felt throughout the rock. In case of collapse, the belay is set back. Besides it's the only place to anchor from on the disintegrating shoulder.
It's steep. Back hurts. feet hurt. Rest step only does so much.
The third gets me to the lip. But the rock turns to pumice like conditions. Every hammer hit is hollow.
The only option, stand high in the aider and look for gear. The crack up high is obvious, but requires a free move to reach it. I'm not ready for that. Fear that I'm going to commit to a free move on crap rock and can't get a decent bolt in permeates.
A small seam yields an angle placement. I pound the sh1t out of it, not knowing if I'm going to pry loose the whole side I'm bolted into.
With that in, I think I can get something else going, but it turns out to be a series of free moves. There's a lot of distance to the top and I don't know that the rock will take a bolt.
I'm there a long time. The wind is gusting at 40mph and pushing me around on my stance. What I thought was good fighting weather is now just p!ssing me off. I'm holding onto an alien pod that isn't secure.
Tapping yields only hollowness. I succumb to a need. The need to do something other than stand there swearing at the wind gods. A fourth and final bolt goes in so that I can make the final moves.
The terrain above looks like mud stacked on mud cakes. I can get away with a couple good feet holds, and the hope that the lower angle will give ground that I can stand on.
It's garbage. I move blocks and scoop dirt and make it to the top.
Mucci cleans and frees sections
A true summit is ours.
Thanks to Mucci and Miwok for making it happen.
Name: Devils Head
Rating: 5.6R/X A1
stars: none, unless you like loose rock
FA: me, mucci, & ground control, sherpa and heckling by Miwok 9/9/2012