This is a report of a new route Thomas and I did in Rock Canyon today.
If you’re looking for specific route beta, click here.
I’ve been on a 4 month climbing hiatus because I’ve been working on Blogging Bookshelf. But the weather has been getting nicer and warmer, and I’ve been getting more and more anxious to get outside. For a while now I’ve been wanting to climb this one line on Bad Bananas (one of the larger quartzite walls in Rock Canyon). I’ve put up new routes on a lot of the cliffs in the canyon, but nothing on Bad Bananas.
I took a walk up the canyon on Friday to scope out (with binoculars) conditions on the route and to pinpoint the exact route up the face I wanted to take. It looked good, so I gave my buddy Thomas a call. Thomas and I have been on a number of adventures in the last year, including climbing Black Streak, Death By Chocolate, and of course Squawstruck. He’s been calling me weekly, trying to get me to go ice climbing, but it hasn’t worked. Anyway, Thomas was up for it, so we made plans to climb the thing.
I figured it would go without bolts or pitons, so we didn’t take any. Plus it’s just more fun and sporting that way, isn’t it?
I guessed that the route probably wouldn’t be harder than 5.9, but I knew the rock would be questionable, and the protection would be scarce or not very good. I was a little bit worried about this because I’m not in the greatest climbing shape right now, but figured I’d be able to get up the thing anyway.
The approach to the base of the cliff was a slog, as always, but before too long we were ready to climb. The route shares the first pitch with another route, and since I’ve done that route 3 or 4 times, Thomas set off on the first pitch. Instead of following the bolt line, though, he cut left after the traverse and climbed up and over a bunch of loose rock to the base of the first pitch. Not recommended.
I knew the second pitch would be the money pitch, so I was excited to climb the thing. It took me a looooong time to climb it, though. At least half an hour, maybe even 45 minutes. It took so long because the rock quality was questionable and I had to feel around for the best holds that wouldn’t come off in my hands. The gear I got into the crack was acceptable but not great, so that added to my caution. The best part of the pitch was the crux at the end, where you have to make some exposed moves over a bulge. Very cool.
I brought Thomas up and he asked if he could have the third pitch. I assented and he took off. He faced some serious ground (ledge) fall potential (which could have been minimized a bit), but he pulled it off well for a great lead.
The fourth (and last) pitch was mine, and it was nothing special. It did get us to the top of the formation, though. We spent a few minutes on top and then hiked off to the west.
The route itself wasn’t anything super special (it clocked in at II 5.8 R, 400’), but it was great to be back outside and to do a boltless first ascent on such a classic formation. And more than anything, it was a great first climb of 2011.
Oh, and we called it “Early Retirement” for two reasons: 1) This was my first climb in 4 months, and my friends thought I’d retired from climbing. Not true. 2) This route might force you into early retirement if you’re not careful. It’s dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.