Monday, June 6, 2011

Where Do You Start?

I have been in Idyllwild, CA now for several days.  Meredith and I continue to find the climbing game here challenging.  In fact the challenges presented are less about the difficulties of the rock climbs and more about the approaches, descents and simply finding the start of the routes! Yesterday we wanted to climb a recommended route on the North Face of Tahquitz Rock - a 5.7 hand crack called El Whampo. The approach trail on this side of the rock is a bit less steep and long making for a welcomed relief from the trudge trail to Lunch Rock.  On a beautiful Sunday with the parking lot jammed and bustling with climbers and hikers, we expected the cliff to be busy.  No such thing on the north face - only one pair of climbers seen and they were already on the route we had planned to do. This was welcomed as routefinding is no trivial matter here - climbers above us would aid in showing the way.  But we were snuffed again. We studied the route description and topos in the guidebook. We studied photos on Mountain Project (yes, I got a 3G signal on my iPhone up there!) We walked along the base of the climb and simply could not find anything that remotely matched the descriptions and photos of the start, yet we could see the handcrack on the 2nd pitch high above us.  Without knowledge of the start or finish of the climb, no known options for rappelling down once we committed to climb up, and the increasing lateness of the day, we felt it was not prudent to wing it and climb and unknown section of rock just to get higher - playing it safe can be frustrating, but you know you will live to climb another day. Score: Tahquitz Rock - 3, Meredith and Jean - 0.

Later that evening a further study of the photos in the guidebook revealed to me that I believe we were not standing at the base of the climb but still 60 feet below it. It appears that there is another scramble up to a large ledge above to access the start of the route.  Since the start of this scramble was not obvious we missed it and presumed the large ledge we were standing on directly at the base of the route was where we should start.  Hind sight is indeed 20-20. We will go back to Suicide and a known route with rap stations tomorrow and the next day before moving on. This is all a part of the adventure and we are learning from it.

No comments:

Post a Comment