Super Pooper, Tahquitz Rock, CA

May 18, 2008 / 5.10a, 3p, trad.

We're up early (7AM) to avoid the sun on the climb. We renew our campsite at the Idyllwild County Park for one more night, and drive to the trailhead with the Jeep. At least now they accept the new interagency pass ($80) we'd bought at Red Rocks (note that you can park on the side of the road, just short of the sign, and avoid the fee).

Steep hike to Lunch Rock, fortunately still mostly in the shade, but it's hot anyway and we're sweating like pigs. We gear up at Lunch Rock, then hike another 100m or so to the base of the West face. Here starts a long (maybe 500ft or so) diagonal traverse ("From Bad Traverse", 5.6 sandbag) to FBT ledge and the base of Super Pooper. We short-rope on a doubled-over 60m half-rope for this. Some tricky moves on this thing… I'd say more like 5.8... We get to FBT ledge (large, multi-tiered ledge with trees and bushes) and rope up for the route.

The first pitch is about 165ft and is clearly the crux. Starts friendly enough, up a wide crack just right of a thin flake, but quickly gets to a series of tricky, somewhat awkward and burly moves, up the slanted crack/corner/slot to a small ledge at the base of a good looking finger crack in the left wall (the second finger crack you run into). Somehow, 30 ft short of the belay, I clip a fixed piton just below a small roof using a short sling which causes the blue rope to run tightly past the lip of the roof, where it eventually gets completely pinched and stuck. No choice but to untie from the blue rope and finish the pitch on green. No biggie, only it leaves it to Lucie to sort out the mess and carry the second rope up the pitch. She manages to free the rope pretty early, coil it and put it in her pack. This makes her pack unpleasantly heavy for the hard moves above.

Click for high resolution
The route is hard to miss: the obviuos corner crack at the center of the picture.
Click for high resolution
Eric starting up p1.
Click for high resolution
Higher on p1, nearing the multiple cruxes.
Click for high resolution
Lucie following p1.
Click for high resolution
Views to the south.

The second pitch is pretty sweet; starts up the finger cracks (rated 5.8 but definitely one 9+/5.10a move to start), then gets to the base of a short but striking left-facing dihedral capped by a small roof. I found out later, after looking at the topo that I should have belayed here… but I have only gone maybe 80ft or so, so I keep going.

Above the little roof, the cracks disappear and you end up running it out some, until you traverse a few feet right, under an overlap (some small pro in horizontals in this section), then back left and step onto an unprotected slab to the top. By this time, Lucie is calling for 20ft left, and I am pulling rope drag from hell, while tiptoeing up the slab, well above my last placement… scary. I should definitely have cut this into two shorter pitches. Anyway, I manage to find a half-decent anchor at the end of the short slab (a bush and a questionable #2 Camalot in a horizontal), and bring Lucie up.

She continues another 20ft on Class 3 terrain to a great flat slab of granite at the top. The sun is now hitting hard, and it is getting hot very quickly.

After a few snacks and some water, we go in search of the Class 4 friction descent. We find it without much trouble. It's a bit exposed in spots but not bad. Only takes a few minutes of scrambling before you find yourself in the gully on the South side of the rock. The trail leads down and around the base back to the start of the route (and my approach shoes, which I had decided not to carry up the climb).

Click for high resolution
Starting up the sweet finger crack on p2.
Click for high resolution
Higher on p2.
Click for high resolution
Sunny California granite... hard to beat.
Click for high resolution
Looking back at the route from the approach trail.
 

We chat with some "locals" whom we had spied on the striking "Vampire" (11a), to inquire about protection on that route. It is reportedly fine, but requires some extra green camalots for the first pitch. Hopefully we'll get to do this route in a few days…

We get back to the bus around 4:30PM. It's very hot. We re-rack and refill the water bottles for the next day's climb… but later decide to make tomorrow a rest day. We have to move the bus to a free spot in the morning anyway (this county park is way too expensive). It's too hot to cook inside, so we light up the barbecue. I go to town to get some corn and pork chops, which added to our chicken breasts and italian parsley salsa should make a fine meal. And it does.