Trip Report
Wigged out on Tollhouse Rock (A Hair Raising TR)
Sunday August 30, 2009 1:22am
I am growing older. As we speak. I am a fairly fit 36 year old who thinks he is somewhere in the range of 16 to 23. Unlike most of my old partners of climbs gone by I still wake up stoked to climb. You know your stoke has outlived your contemporaries when your partners are getting so young they have to skip class to come out and climb with you or they say "Who?" when you mention Pearl Jam or Chris Bonnington. I need more Advil than I admit and my hairline is beyond visible in the mirror no matter how hard I point my chin down and look up.....I just.....can'

The secret to youth is not new sticky rubber, Red Bull or Hip Hop....though I indulge in each of these more than my wife would like me to. No, The secret to youth can be purchased for around $19.00.

It's chocolate in color and curly and radiant and robust. It give me wings. It is the OVERSIZED AFRO WIG. Children run in its presence and women find themselves inexplicably drawn to it. It makes blue runs Black Diamond and 5.5 at least 5.9. I took it out for a stroll this morning and thought you might like to see it in action.

Lets do it.

Alpine start from Fresno because we all know that summers in Fresno are about as friendly as a Yuppie at a Suburban Bay Area Starbucks. You better be off your route by 9am or risk the wrath of a sun so hot it will give an armadillo melanoma.
Power up on Powdered Donuts and Peets...A winning combination. Little known fact, 2-2-4 Trimethylmaltoactivedextromalate, the active ingredient in common powdered donut dust, is the same compound used to strengthen industrial grade plaster. It is also a powerful catalyst in exothermic reactions and is traded and sold in vast quantities to meth labs. I should know....born and raised in Fresno.
We approach by the subtle glow of a skinny moon. Hoot owls hoot. Bats skim the earth gorging themselves on chubby August skeeters. Things move and twitch in the dry summer grass. The rattlers are out so watch your step Kid. The rock looms above us, massive, inviting, stoic in the warm night.
The AFRO gives me strength. Its powers course through me. It shows me the way through the black. I'm 16 years older than The Kid but he struggles to keep up. It's either my lifetime base of alpine fitness or the fact that he is deathly afraid of snakes and creepy crawlies in general, but I stop often to let him catch up. Kids are lightweight these days. Its up to the older generations to show them The Way.
We arrive at the base as the first glow of a new day begins to think about peeking its head over the High Sierra directly behind us.
Pitch one falls quickly. Two pieces in 160 feet. The AFRO tells me to skip the bolts and place a nut then run it out like Shaft would to the anchor.
I bring up The Kid...this is really his first multi-pitch route ever and he is groovin'.
Upwards we soar. A thousand hands have been here before, but how many full scale Afros has this crack seen? Not many methinks. Not many.
I make The Kid lead a pitch so I can get a good photo of The AFRO in action. Good Job Kid. Nice composition and lake of camera shake. Your Mom would be proud.
We blast through the rest of Tollhouse Traverse in style. The route doesn't even think about putting up a fight. Not with the AFRO on board. No snagged ropes, no belay clusters, I even run out the section above the crux mantle all fifty feet to the bolts because Its not me behind the wheel but three square feet of brunette shiny, flowing mane. Ron Burgandy would be proud.
(By the way, I forgot my ATC so I used a six oval carabiner brake for the first time)
"Thank you Tech Tip #245"

We tag the summy and straight up rock a summit pose.

Back to the car as the oven dings! 95 degrees before 9am. Love it.

You know, a lot of people cluelessly rag on Fresno. Sure we got some of the nation's worst air, a staggering teenage pregnancy rate and the majority of the nations methamphetamine production, but I love this place. I can trout fish before work, climb before church and ride my dirtbike to the store for red meat. I got great friends, a classy 1920's house in a chill neighborhood and more family camping within an hours drive than you can shake a stick at. I don't trust hardcore liberals, tapwater I can't smell and people who have been born and raised in any city over a million people. Tollhouse rock doesn't amount to a hill of beans compared to the vastness of Kings Canyon, Shuteye, and The Valley, but this is OUR stone, and this morning, Tollhouse Traverse and its 5.5 action is OUR beans. Speaking of beans.....I DARE YOU....I FREAKING DARE find a better breakfast burrito than Taco Grande in North Fresno.
You know its good when you are the only two white guys in the joint and the only two not on a lawn crew. These are my people. This is our reward. I go with the Chorizo, potato, cheeze and frijole, while The Kid mans up and orders the Chile Colorado. He will regret it later but this morning he is my hero. Death Red Chile Colorado for breakfast? Are you mad son?!!!!!!
We spend the rest of breakfast discussing Hayden Kennedy's work on the Bachar Yerian and Alex Honnold's insanity. Some days I wish I was nineteen again....but this morning I am very much content to head home, take a nap, then waste the day away swimming with the wife and kids. "Stay Classy Fresno. Micronut, Channel 47 News, signing off. "

  Trip Report Views: 1,816
About the Author
micronut is a trad climber from fresno, ca.

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A long way from where I started
  Aug 30, 2009 - 01:29am PT
Not bad for an old dude.

Keep it up for another twenty-five years and you'll be allowed to join Supertopo.
John Moosie

Beautiful California
  Aug 30, 2009 - 01:38am PT
LOL, classic. Nice helmet. Can you pick up radio signals from outer space with it?


Nor Cal
  Aug 30, 2009 - 01:43am PT
good old fresburg, great story

Trad climber
SF (via NH & CO)
  Aug 30, 2009 - 01:44am PT
My friend, that is not a carabiner brake. (Though it appears to have worked regardless.)

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
  Aug 30, 2009 - 01:45am PT
where did you get the afro?

  Aug 30, 2009 - 01:56am PT
Great fun TR.

But I agree with slobmonster. I started climbing long before ATC's and rapped miles on 6 biner brakes, and none of my ever looked like that... glad it worked.
Mighty Hiker

Outside the Asylum
  Aug 30, 2009 - 02:06am PT
Carabiner brakes, complete with pictures.

Best of all, from Largo's "How to Rock Climb!":

Nice and fun report, though. How far is the cliff from Fresno?

Social climber
Cat Box
  Aug 30, 2009 - 02:26am PT
Good TR albino Shaft.
Nice to see you're "Feeling good about Fresno".

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Aug 30, 2009 - 07:12am PT
Sweet job!

It's 4 in the morning and Me and the old partner just got done leading all of the big trees in the nighborhood!

Big fun, got like 250 feet in with the old hip belay.

Some of them trees up there were like HUGE AFROS!

Nice TR


Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 30, 2009 - 08:30am PT
Great fun! Thanks for the tr, but I have a quibble. From my 58-year-old perspective, a 36-year-old is quite young.

smith curry

  Aug 30, 2009 - 08:38am PT
FUN! ps... the Munter rappel is prob. safer.

Trad climber
  Aug 30, 2009 - 08:40am PT
Great TR. Did you plan the wig before hand with this thread title in mind?


Trad climber
Lee, NH
  Aug 30, 2009 - 08:48am PT
Fun TR.

Like the other fogeys here, I picture something quite different as a "6-biner brake."

I gather the one shown is meant for belaying, not rappeling (as a usual biner brake
would be). On a long 5.5 like TT, I'd just have reverted to my fogey roots and used
a hip belay if an ATC or such weren't at hand; but the setup shown certainly does
look redundant.

Trad climber
  Aug 30, 2009 - 11:43am PT
best tr since jefe/nature romped (or not) on Babo!

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
  Aug 30, 2009 - 12:35pm PT
Mighty Hiker, could you tinyURL that long link? You blew out my sidewall, man. Go here:
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Aug 30, 2009 - 01:14pm PT
Fess up: you were chugging the R-Bull when you wrote up the TR, eh?

Nice go, mate--good on yah! 5 star TR.
Only 1 star for that carabiner (not) brake thingy. If you were really old, you'd have that rig down.)

Gym climber
the ground up
  Aug 30, 2009 - 01:23pm PT
cool man, white guys get funky and go with the natural pro.

bold is beautiful!


Trad climber
Hustle City
  Aug 30, 2009 - 01:56pm PT

  Aug 30, 2009 - 02:11pm PT
That was a hoot! thanks for posting it up.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 30, 2009 - 02:40pm PT
You wasted a perfectly good Fresno morning, micronut, and you have just ruined any climbing cred you ever had. But you sure "got da moves" with your playful attitude and entertaining writing. Enjoyed every word.

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Aug 30, 2009 - 05:12pm PT
Great TR as usual!

  Aug 30, 2009 - 05:20pm PT


Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Aug 30, 2009 - 05:26pm PT
Great TR! Love the Afro.

Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
  Aug 30, 2009 - 06:15pm PT
Doc J,

Great TR and a fine "fro" to boot! Good job. If you think 36 is "old", wait until you get to MY age ;-)
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
  Aug 30, 2009 - 09:17pm PT
Great trip report Micro.

You know its a bunch of old fogies when you show them something a little different - your six caribiner brake - and they just start WIGGING out! I thought it looked pretty interesting and just tested it out. Works fine, just like an atc or stitch plate. Definitely has to have three carabiners on the bottom though or the upper carabiners will pop right over. Looks like there is some risk of failure with less than three on the top as well. Two carabiners seemed okay, but one popped. The more carabiners the more friction as well. Easier to rig than the standard 6 carabiner rap. Maybe easier to add friction.

Years ago we used stop in for chinese food in Clovis at the "Gay Way".

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Aug 31, 2009 - 11:17am PT
Ok, just got to work and noticed a few of you liked this TR but some of you had some comments that need a response. I will respond to each accordingly soon.

1. I plan to enlarge the photos a bit so as to display the fullness of the FRO.

2. A detailed explanation of my carabiner brake improvization.

3. Hints on where to pick up a wig of your own and keys to selection.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Aug 31, 2009 - 11:23am PT
You simply cannot be playing the age card at 36.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Aug 31, 2009 - 11:44am PT
Sorry Jim.....but I'm feeling like an old man these days. My back hurts on monday mornings at work after a weekend of playing hard, most of my old climbing buddies are victims of domestic marriage and self inflicted hiatus from outdoor fun, my abs no longer have the look of a bronzen Trojan chestplate and I often get scared ten feet above a solid bolt. My bedtime is now about 9:30.

Next it will be prune juice and mowing the lawn in my boxers, black socks and penny loafers.

How do these older dudes keep the magic alive into the forties, fifties and beyond? What's the secret to playing hard in the mountains as age creeps up on us?

  Aug 31, 2009 - 11:52am PT
"Next it will be prune juice and mowing the lawn in my boxers, black socks and penny loafers."

Are you surveilling me?
Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Aug 31, 2009 - 11:57am PT
The power of the'Fro!!!!
Funny, I've been preachin' that very thing for years.
Nice TR.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Aug 31, 2009 - 11:59am PT
I'm 66 and climbing as much as ever. I'll agree that certain things are harder. Partying and even modestly late nights and climbing no longer go together. It's probably a function of staying keen and fit and having the right partners
An example would be a five day trip I took to the Sierra's last month with George Lowe who is 65.
Day 1- Fly from SLC to Bishop in George's Cessna 210. Get rental car, drive to Cardinal Pinnacle for some warmup climbing then on to a motel in Bridgeport.
Day 2- Hike into the Incredible Hulk, set up camp and climb the Red Dihedral.
Day 3- Climb Positive Vibrations.
Day 4- Hike out, lunch in Bishop then hike into Temple Crag.
Day 5- Climb Darkstar than hike out and spend night in Bishop and fly out the next morning. Fun trip with little wasted time and, more importantly, no sore muscles.
You're climbing career is just beginning- enjoy!


Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Aug 31, 2009 - 12:20pm PT

I had to rig one of those biner-brakes once. Handy tool to learn but makes you feel kinda stupid for forgetting your ATC...I did anyways.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Aug 31, 2009 - 12:45pm PT
Jim, guys like you and George are my heroes. Really. One of my favorite all time climbing articles was one Creg Crouch wrote about you two guys going after some big old route in Alaska and seeing a photo of you barfing in the snow. He did a great job of capturing your alpine stoke on paper.

Thanks for continuing to get after it and being an inspiration to all of us punters. And by the way, I know a guy who can get you an afro cheap. Please specify brown or black. Or grey.

  Aug 31, 2009 - 02:34pm PT
Bump for the TollCasa !

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Sep 1, 2009 - 01:26pm PT
ok, I looked at the correct 'biner brake set-up and feel kinda dumb for the way I improvised it. But it was totally bomber. I cannot find a problem with it and would contend that it would hold equally, if not more weight in control than the standard way. I mus be purdy smart. Thinkin' on the fly like that and all.
Nate D

San Francisco
  Sep 1, 2009 - 01:45pm PT
"I mus be purdy smart. Thinkin' on the fly like that and all."
Twas the fro, brother micro. My hair is getting there on it's own, no wig needed. Need a haircut, but maybe I should reconsider...

fun TR, as usual.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
  Sep 1, 2009 - 01:56pm PT
Probably better you came up with an alternative to a biner brake as those are for rappelling, not belaying - trying to belay with one would suck. I'd also throw my vote for a hip belay with a single non-locking biner through your harness loops and clipped to the side of the rope going to the climber (and keep the rope down on your hips, not up on your waist).

Entertaining TR, and Jim, thanks for that cogent tip about late nights, partying and climbing - as a newly minted 57yo I've been trying to figure out what has been holding back my climbing. Thank god you didn't saying anything about younger women or I'd never be able to get my mojo back.

Trad climber
  Sep 18, 2009 - 08:50pm PT
bump for afros on old dudes. although your younger than me.....

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Jun 21, 2014 - 12:30pm PT
Self bump for some TR nostalgia. 2008. Whoah. Seems like so long and so many trip reports ago.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Jun 21, 2014 - 01:37pm PT
Great fun Micronut. Thanks for the bump!

I must have been off climbing and missed it the first time around.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Oct 10, 2016 - 02:20pm PT
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