Sunday, February 6th, 2005

Castle Rock and Table Mountain

This Saturday, I went to Castle Rock with Hal, whom I met at Pinnacles last weekend. Not being able to raise Robert on the phone, we left Palo Alto around 10:30 AM. It was a late start by my standard, but Hal's driving made up for it. Our first destination was Indian Rock, only 5 minutes away from the parking lot. I had thought it would be a hot day, so I left my jacket at home, which was a decision I regretted dearly throughout the day. While I was not climbing, I was shivering. The climbs we got on were South Face (5.8), Puckered Starfish (5.10a), Blowing Bubbles (5.10a), Viscious Circles (5.10c), and Donkey Dong Right (5.11c). It took me a few tries on Viscious Circles to finally figure out the move to the first pocket (a slopy one). And I did not make the dyno move on Donkey Dong — too powerful for me. After Indian Rock, we went to Castle Rock hoping to find Robert there. We didn't find him, but he found us eventually. I was happy when he showed up because the first thing he pulled out of his pack was a down jacket. A few boulder problems and lots of chatting later, we left the park in dusk. We were the only two cars in the parking lot by then. A policeman came up to us and issued a verbal warning — no parking after sunset. Huh, Sunset? Was the sun ever up?

Sunday, before I left home, I stuffed two jackets into my pack. It was a long drive by myself — a 2.5 hour ride to Table Mountain where I met up with Allen around 11 AM. Earlier during the week, just when I thought I would probably not climb with him again, he mentioned Table Mountain to me. That excited the climbing bug in me and I decided to go up for a day trip. I guess our climbing partnership, having gone through numerous tests, is proved pretty strong. I made sure I had the two jackets in my pack. We headed out to the Far Side. According to the guidebook, The approach trail leaves the mountain top near three oak trees. We either couldn’t count, or couldn't tell what oak trees looked like — we down climbed a steep and dirty cliff side to find no where further to go and had to climb back up. During the process I climbed through branches of poison oak (yike!). After we tried almost all the trees on the top of the Table Mountain (thank god, there are not many), we found the correct trail. It was a quiet place and the sun was toasty — I felt quite drowsy. Allen led three climbs (5.10 or 5.11'ish), and I climbed four. Maybe I should explain the discrepancy. After I cleaned a route and rappelled down, we found the rope was stuck. I self belayed my way up with a Grigri and found the rope was stuck in the gap of one rap ring. See, the way they make the open ended rap ring is they bend a thick metal bar into a loop and let the two ends overlap each other. At this anchor, the gap between the two ends is so wide that a rope can slide in and get stuck. Still it was my fault that I didn't examine the rope and anchor condition closely before I rappelled. We cut the day short because we were pumped, our finger tips were sore from the sharp rocks, and there was a Superbowl party we were invited to. But I went home instead and didn't go to the party because I knew that the later I got on the road, the sleepier I would get (and I didn't even know wearing green is for Eagles anyway). So it was 5 hours on the road and 4 hours of climbing. Was it worth it? Well, I did enjoy my day, but next time I will definitely try harder to find a companion to ride with me.

On Saturday, I was too cold to bother with my camera much. On Sunday, I was too toasted and lethargic to bother with my camera. So, I'm sorry. No pictures.

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