Cragging at Suicide Rock, CA

June 5 & 8, 2008 / Various, 5.9 to 5.11a, mixed

Flower of High Rank (5.9, 2p) & Etude (5.11a, 1p):

Today we climb at Suicide Rock for the first time. We try to stay in the shade, starting on the Northeast Buttress. We warm up on "Flower of High Rank" (5.9, 2p). Amazing splitter crack climb on a steep wall. Very varied and subtle. Really good.

Then we climb the very short "Peer Pressure", a 3-bolt, 5.10a slab to a rap anchor. After a short rest, we climb the stunning "Etude" (5.11a). Very thin climbing on double seams, protected by pins and some tiny pro (including a crucial Lowe Ball in a KB scar right at the crux). I almost onsight it clean, but end up putting one foot on a pin while putting pro in at the crux. Lucie avoids this but slips inadvertently in the same section. Note that the traverse move from one crack to the other is very easy (and well protected) if done low enough. The crack above this is the crux (3 pins and tiny gear). I climb it straight using flared foot jams and very thin finger holds… tough. Lucie has the better idea (I think) of stemming between the main crack and another one to the right. A great route!

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First pitch of "Flower of High Rank" (5.9).
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Following the second pitch.
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Etude (5.11a) follows another striking twin crack.
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Eric starting "Etude".
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Just below the crux.

Revelation (5.10a, 3p):

To round up our day, we walk around to the Weeping Wall and climb "Revelation" (3p, 5.10a). Pure slab climbing, very insecure and significantly runout. Probably deserves to be rated PG. Not dangerous, just ballsy. The hardest pitch is the third in our opinion. Our feet are screaming by the end of this route.

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Starting the easy first pitch (5.8) of Revelation.
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Following the first pitch.
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Pitch 2 climbs to the flake then traverses left.
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Eric higher on pitch 2.
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Lucie on pitch 2.

To get down, we traverse to the left edge of the wall and use the bolted rap route there (there is no fixed anchor at the top of this route). Not the most convenient descent… chimneys and flakes. By the time we're down, it's late and we're wasted.

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Smiile! Click here for Lucie's impressions.
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Looking across the valley at Tahquitz Rock.
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The third pitch (10a) is another quintessential slab.
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Scrambling down to the first rap anchor of the Bye Gully descent.
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Rapping the Bye Gully.

Johnny Quest (5.10b, 2p) & Sundance (5.10b PG, 5.6R, 3p):

Two days later, we hike to the base of Suicide Rock again. It's very hot in the sun. Our main objective is on the Sunshine Face, which won't be in the shade until mid-afternoon. We head up the sweaty trail late (about 11AM). Everything is still in the sun so we hang out in the shade of trees near the North Face for some time. Eventually, we climb "Johnny Quest", (5.10b), in two pitches, via the direct 5.8 start. Short, burly route, but very good climbing.

After rapping down, we move around the crag to the Sunshine Face to climb "Sundance" (5.10b, 3p). The first pitch is strange, up and down wide corners/flakes. The second (5.9) wide corner protects well with a #4 Camalot near the start, then #4.5 near the top. I had both, which is probably overkill. I'd probably take just the 4.5 if I had to do it again. The corner is very short and only requires two moves of actual liebacking.

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Starting pitch 2 of Johnny Quest.
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The first pitch of Sundance starts in a 5.9 corner.
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Lucie following pitch 2.
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Looking at Eric through the offwidth.
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Pitch 2 (5.10b). A tough pitch.

The next pitch starts with a very difficult, insecure crux move (10b) right off the ledge (sidepulling from a shallow hold, without any footholds). A good bolt at full reach provides some protection through this but I doubt you would avoid decking on the ledge if you fell. I do not have the nerve to finish this move without holding the draw. Too risky. Above this, the climbing remains tricky, with a couple of difficult mantles. At the last bolt, one makes a thin traverse to the obvious corner, where a decent small nut placement can be found before moving out of the corner and onto the face at right and running it out 60ft (5.6R, fairly secure) to the anchors. Tough pitch.

The third pitch starts with another runout. Some distance above the anchor is a bolt, then a thin flared finger crack (mostly pinched shut). Delicate climbing up this crack (tricky, not-so-good pro) leads to a couple of good placement and the anchors at the top.

Two raps (with double ropes) bring you down. It's quite late by the time we make it off this route, but I feel like doing some more, so we go back to the Weeping Wall and climb the first two pitches of "Serpentine".

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High on pitch 2, on the runout 5.6 section.
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Looking back at the amazing hard crack of the area: "Insomnia" (5.11c).
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Climbing the tricky 10a crack on pitch 3.
   

Serpentine (5.9, 2p):

This is apparently a popular route. It is sort of fun, but pretty generic slab. I actually take a fall on the second pitch after not paying attention on a thin traverse... We rap down from belay #2 in one shot (double 60m).

We're now both pretty tired and out of water. We hike down quickly, hoping to find a place to eat in town. Unfortunately, every restaurant we check is closed (it's only 8PM). Even the supermarket is closed, and we don't have any food left at the bus. Fortunately the smaller grocery store on the main road is still open. We get some asparagus and mushrooms, go back to the bus and cook this with spaghetti. Late evening...

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Pitch 1 starts up the flakes, then "serpentines" left and right.
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High on pitch 1.
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Following the first pitch.
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Eric starting pitch 2 (5.9).
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Lucie on pitch 2.