Sunday, May 15th, 2005

Church Bowl and Five Open Books (Debby’s TR)

What make a climbing trip perfect?

Compatible climbing partners

  • Climbing abilities match (or not as you get to follow hard routes or do more leading)
  • Personalities complement each other (or match)
  • No need to turn on the radio in order to fill in the uncomfortable silence in the car
  • When one did not get chance to use her camera to document the trip, the other will write up a trip report at lightning speed
  • Good weather

  • Warm on the climb, cool on the descent
  • If it rains, it rains after all the climbing is finished
  • Sleep is comfortable even without a tent
  • Safe

  • No injuries. The numerous bruises do not count. The numerous mosquito bites do not count either unless they carry West Nile Virus.
  • If a lead fall happens, the highest piece catches the fall
  • If the car dives into the only mud puddle in a 20′ wide path in the middle of the night, it can get itself out
  • Say, you end up rappeling a 120′ line with a 200′ rope and only find out about the potential disaster near the end. But right there and then, there is a guy standing at the base with an extra rope, a fairly good stance to stand on, and the perfect pieces on your harness to plug in to the few but good openings in the otherwise very dirty crack in front of you. Everything combined, you make it down safe and sound.
  • Good climbing

  • A good variety that has it all — lieback, splitter, face climb, finger crack, hand crack, chimney, and offwidth
  • When route and trail finding skills are poor, good luck makes up for it
  • On a multipitch climb, there is no one in front to slow you down and there is no one behind to pressure you on
  • This weekend, I made a perfect trip to Yosemite with Debby. And here she tells you all the details:

    Trip Report

    –written by Debby

    Finally, a full weekend devoted to climbing. As soon as I committed to climbing with my friend Mei, I got invitations to five parties. Oh well, I had made a commitment. Given my weather luck this year I figured that we’d end up having to cancel the trip anyway… but as of Friday the weather looked perfect so away we went to the Valley. As soon as we left the Bay Area, I felt happy about my decision.

    Mei had volunteered to handle all of the meals if I did the car. Friday night we drove up, and tried to find a spot to crash in at Hardin Flat. The first place we tried was a wee bit muddy, and my car got just a tad bit stuck. After some careful rocking and wheel spinning, I managed to extract the car, with only one side of the car covered in mud… Our second spot worked much better.

    Saturday morning we got up fairly early. By the time I was standing, Mei was already cooking, and soon had prepared a delicious egg sandwich, cooked to order. We packed up, and drove to church bowl, where we had our pick of climbs.

    Mei, having just returned from a several day crack clinic, was on a chimney/off-width kick. I was happy to humor her, since few of my partners will climb crack at all, and fewer still are willing to consider offwidth climbs. She first picked Church Bowl Lieback (5.8). Despite the enormous clouds of ravenous mosquitos (Mei’s note: Among the big crowd in the area, mosquitos decided I was most delicious), she led it, with just one exciting moment where her feet popped, but her nut did not, and I followed. We rapped down. Emboldened by her success (and claims that it was safe), I then led Uncle Fanny (5.7). Although I grumbled and grunted a lot, it was indeed well within my abilities, and we quickly finished that. Pole Position, a 5.10a bolted sport climb, was finally open, so Mei led that. When I followed, I was astonished, because it involved a fair bit of standing on nothing, holding on to nothing, and praying (Mei’s note: Debby was not even religious).

    Having exhausted that part of the area, we moved over to Church Bowl Chimney, a 5.6 chimney that Mei had an interest in leading (Bishop’s Terrace, our other possibility, had a line). On the way over, we spotted Church Bowl Tree, a 5.10b pin scar thin crack, which neither of us wanted to lead. The British couple on it offered to set an anchor on it for us when they finished though, so we postponed the chimney, took a rest, and then climbed it. Fun, but really difficult. Then it was our turn for the chimney. It looked awfully scary to me, but Mei led it with no problems at all (despite not being able to put in anything until quite high up; our biggest piece was my #4 camalot). We rapped down over a 5.8 flaring chimney, which Mei had also been interested in climbing; this climb I had noticed before and had had no interest in clmbing. Ever. Luckily, when we rapped down, she saw it was dirty and wet, and so decided to skip it. It was my turn to choose a climb. Bishop’s Terrace still had a line, so we went over to Black is Brown (5.8), a climb I had previously gotten off-route on (5.10b?), and felt the need to do properly. This time, I was more careful, and the climb seemed ever so much easier. Go figure. (Mei’s note: Debby’s warning did not register in my mind and I decided without consulting the topo that only one rope would be necessary. I could still be hanging there if this weekend had not been perfect.)

    We almost had enough time for another climb at this point, but were done with that area. We tried heading over closer to Camp 4 Wall (Mei wanted to try Doggie Do, a 5.10b off-width that I had tried (and failed at) last year), but there was no parking to be found near there. So instead, we drove to the campground. After a large amount of car shuffling and shuttling shenanigans, we ended up with a spot for the night in one of the Cragmont Club campsites. Mei cooked an amazing dinner (wild salmon, couscous, and vegetables), and we went to sleep at 10.

    Sunday morning we got up at 6:30. Mei ensured we had a proper breakfast for the day, cooking not only egg sandwiches but also oatmeal with raisins, nuts, and soymilk. We headed to the Five Open Books area and were pleasantly surprised to find nobody on The Surprise (5.10a), and it dry. Mei quickly ran the first two pitches together, and got us to the base of the beautiful splitter crack. I had been a little grumpy about the quality of the first two pitches, but the third (5.8) was really fun. After kindly complimenting me on my lead, Mei took the fourth (the 10a pitch), and climbed it with no problems at all (Mei’s note: except that I plugged in three pieces at one awkward stance right before the “psychological face move(s)” (plural for short people) at the end of the finger crack). She ran the fifth pitch together too, and we topped out at 12:30, four hours after leaving the car.

    From the top, we headed up to Selaginella (5.8). It was my turn to lead, and we swung leads uneventfully the whole way up. The hike down the falls trail was quite pleasant, since the sun was behind clouds and we had finished our two liters of water at the top of the climb. It was only 5pm when we reached the car, so we decided to make another attempt at Doggie Do. This time there was parking, so we walked over and started the hike up. The dense clouds of mosquitos, darkening skies, thickening clouds, and approach soon convinced us that our time would be better spent heading over to Generator Crack (a classic 5.10c off-width climb, that Mei had a vision of being able to climb). I could hardly walk at that point (I’m out of shape), but I was quite willing to belay, especially since the climb is located approximately 30 feet from the road, easily top-ropable, and has the sweetest belay spot imaginable. After watching Mei valiantly struggle for a while, even discarding her knee pads in an attempt to beat the climb ((Mei’s note: I tried), I thought perhaps I should give it a go before we left. As I stood up from my belay spot, I realized that I could barely walk, and decided to give it a pass. Why ruin an awesome day of an awesome weekend?

    We drove out, and just as we were leaving the park, the skies opened up and rain started to pour. We found out that the park had flooded overnight… Our timing couldn’t have been better.