Sunday, June 16, 2013

6.15.2013 Lover's Leap and Phantom Spires

Two hundred and sixteen days.  That is how long it has been since I last climbed outside.  There are plenty of reasons for this length of time without outdoor climbing, but I still could have made it out a few times.  First, my main climbing partner (Cam) who also taught me everything I know about climbing went overseas for a semester abroad.  I had climbed with other partners, but Cam was always there.

Then there is the rainy weather that came through Upstate NY most every weekend that would have been ideal for climbing.  Rainy weather is something that I don't have to deal with any more.  Shortly after graduation in May I made the move to Sacramento, CA.  Some people give Sacramento shit because there isn't too much to do around the city, which I don't really agree with, but nobody can deny that it is in a perfect location.  San Francisco is a 90 minute drive to the west and Tahoe is a 90 minute drive to the east.

Rewind back to March when I found out I'd be moving to Sacramento.  I posted up on Mountain Project to ask about the climbing scene in the area and got some promising responses.  After emailing back and forth with a couple of people I began to look forward to heading out west.  

With just one week under my belt living in Sacramento I met up with two guys at Pipeworks, the local gym.  I must have made a decent impression because shortly after I was driving to Tahoe with Eddie.  The goal was to get on some nice and easy multipitch routes so we could get used to climbing with each other.

First stop: Lover's Leap
The scenery on the drive out here was amazing and it only got better once we gained some elevation on the climbs.  Eddie took the first lead of the day on Knapsack Crack, saving the better pitch for me to experience.

Eddie out on the sharp end.
Looking out in the distance from the top of the route.
Instead of rappelling, it was quicker to just walk down the back side of the cliff and join back in with the climber's trail.  From the top of the first route, two pitches long, we could already see more people hiking up to the base.  We decided to start "early" to avoid the crowds that were on the way.


Hiking down the back side to get on the climber's trail and walk to the base.
Unknown climbers finishing up P1 of a different route.

The second route of the day at Lover's Leap was a combination of Harvey's Wallbangers Center and Harvey's Wallbangers Right.  I got the first pitch on this one.  Not really sure if I was still on route about half way up the pitch, I decided to down climb and traverse left to what ended up being HW Center.
Obligatory self shot at the top of the pitch.
At the top of the route we caught a good view of the Main Wall in addition to approximately twenty people at the base of Hogsback gearing up for the routes we just finished up.
Unknown climbers taking a break up on the wall.
Climber coming up from the second pitch of Harvey's Wallbangers Right.
Main Wall panorama.
Waiting in lines to climb wasn't really on the agenda for the day, so after a quick look in the guidebook we decided to drive over to Phantom Spires.  The turnoff for this area was just about 20 minutes down the road towards Sacramento and then there was an access road which required slow and careful driving to navigate in my VW Jetta.  It was well worth it though and the spires could be seen clearly from the parking lot, just a 10 minute hike away.

Spires seen from the parking lot at the end of the access road.
Approaching the Middle Spire.
The Middle Spire has the most amount of moderate routes and was an easy choice for our first time at the spires.  Two guys were sitting at the base when we arrived and they immediately asked me if  I was from the east coast.  Ends up that they are friends with the creator of Climberism and I was wearing a Climberism t-shirt.  Small world.


They just got done climbing Over Easy and suggested we do the same.  After getting some beta about an awkward start that you don't want to fall on and needing to sling knobs I didn't want to lead the route, but Eddie wasn't about to let a 5.7 get the best of him.  He made it to the top with some "interesting" moves.  I made it to the top with some aid moves.

Slinging knobs on Over Easy.
The are so many rock formations here.  Some have single pitch sport routes, others have multi pitch trad, and some are more suited for bouldering.  Either way there is plenty of rock to go around.

Looking out in the distance.
Climberism friends on a multi pitch route.

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