Sunday, July 6, 2008 by Daniel

MAS Anchor-building seminar, day 2

Day 2 started out much the same as day 1 - breakfast at the Headwaters Cafe (great coffee, good quiche, pretty crappy sandwiches - thankfully the second day we got our sandwiches from the deli in the general store instead, and they were great.) and then heading over to the MAS offices. Today we'd be climbing at Spicer Terraces, about a 20-30 minute drive south on Hwy 4. We parked at the dam on the Stanislaus river that is responsible for Spicer Reservoir and headed out across the dam on a warm, sunny day with hazy skies (smoke from the wildfires).

We would be climbing on the middle level. Brandon showed us the upper level (and we even climbed it later on), but we never saw the lower level. We also hiked past a climbing site called Dynamite Wall that required some leading to climb.

The first thing we did was revisit our lessons from Saturday - each of us building a quad, grabbing a rope and then heading up a climber's trail on the side to set up topropes on some different routes, and then Brandon came around and checked our work. He left ropes on three climbs for us to try - two on the middle terrace called Lightning Crack (5.7) and Venus Flytrap (5.9), and then an unnamed 5.8 on the upper level.

We each got to climb one route before moving on to the next lesson. Rebecca and I climbed Lightning Crack, which she found to be much more challenging than the slab on Saturday. She also scraped up the pad of her finger, which sort of put her out of the mood to climb further. I found the start to be a bit challenging, but the rest was straightforward.

Brandon then sat us down and went over the various forms of protection out there, and how to use them. We learned about nuts, hexes, cams and tri-cams. Then we headed out with a rack of gear to find some area and try to build a toprope anchor on it, using what we'd learned. I really liked playing with the gear, particularly the static stuff like nuts and hexes, but felt a bit nervous about cams - I don't really trust the moving parts, and placement seems quite voodoo. I wound up not even using any in my anchor, though Brandon reinforced my hex with a cam.

Once that was done, we got to climb some more. I climbed Venus Flytrap, so named because of it's curved shape and crack in the center that can lure unsuspecting victims in and trap them, when they should instead be stemming off a small curved ledge. The start was quite simple, but once you got to the stemming it grew quite challenging. Although I quite like stemming, this turned out to be harder than usual due to the negative incline on the right face (forcing you to use a LOT of lateral pressure to keep your foot there) and the ledge on the left diminishing to nothing just a bit too soon to grab the good holds hidden in the crack above. I tried a bit of lieback at the top but, looking at the pictures, did it quite poorly - I needed to get my feet up! Good climb.

Next was the 5.8 on the upper terrace - had a good mix of stuff. The crux was a crack halfway up with almost NOTHING on the face on either side. Brandon wanted me to use a handjam in the crack and smear up to the next handhold, but I could not figure out how to do a handjam without killing my hand. Eventually I sidestepped the problem by finding enough of a ledge up to the right that I could use to balance against with my left hand and feet in the crack - once again being very tall saved the day. No pictures of this one, sadly - forgot the camera down below.

And then we were done! After two days in the hot sun we were feeling pretty beat, and had a hideous drive through the smoke-drenched valley ahead of us, so we said our farewells and headed home to the comforts of a firm bed, shower, dinner and kitties.

No comments:

Post a Comment