Friday, November 28, 2008 by Daniel

Dayventure: Climbing at Cosumnes

Our friend and climbing addict Kat is back in town for the holidays, and when she asked us if we'd like to spend the day after Thanksgiving going climbing on REAL rock with her, we jumped at the chance. We didn't read the fine print: Must wake up at 6am.

I don't know if it was all the bad food I ate or what (probably it was), but I had a bad night's sleep. My first nightmare in more years than I can remember. And getting up that early always sucks. But once we were all bundled into the car and hit a Starbucks, things looked better. Coming with us were Kat's friends Bryan and Erica, the narcoleptic. (She's not really narcoleptic. She just falls asleep a lot.)

Cosumnes River Gorge is a REALLY nice spot whose only real fault lies in its distance - about a 2 - 2.5 hour drive from home. But it's nice granite, with an easy 15-minute approach and bolts that are, on the scale of bolt accessibility, somewhere between ridiculously and very easy. A profusion of routes, too. All this led Kat to believe it would be very packed, but it really wasn't too bad. There were a few other folks, but not too many. The skies were clear by the time we got there, but there was a cold breeze blowing up the gorge, so we were often quite chilled.

We had enough gear between us to set up three routes, and we were the first ones there, so we went ahead and picked three. Our first was "Training Pants" (5.8), a nice large crack with some lie-backing that, unfortunately, Rebecca could not sort out the start for (Rebecca had a frustrating day, which I assume she'll detail later).

After that we did the first of the two "big-name" climbs of the area, "Unconquerable" (5.8). A tricky bit of crack leads to a man-sized chunk in the wall, presenting an awkward bit of roof to get around. After that, it's pure lieback to the top.

We traded ropes with a couple guys so we could do the other famous climb, "Dinkum's Crack" (5.9). I don't know how to crack climb, but I'm beginning to suck less at it. This climb had a super-easy beginning, and then narrowed to a tricky stretch of 10' or so with only a finger-width and frequently-shallow crack to work with. Apparently this is a good spot to practice trad leading, as the crack just eats up protection. I was not able to do the middle third gracefully, though the beginning and end went fine.

We sat down for lunch to watch a pair of climbers on the opposite wall of the gorge do the first pitch of what looked like about a three-pitch climb. The leader was using a combination of bolts and protection, and it was fascinating to watch him work. When he got to a comfortable ledge, he clipped himself in, pulled the rope tight, and belayed the follower up, who cleaned the protection as he went. I was bummed they didn't keep going, but we had an excellent vantage point to watch them work.

Finally, I climbed "Chamberlin's Chimney" (5.8), a fun combination of crack and chimney climbing that I think was ultimately my favorite. By now, however, the sun was going down, we were tired, cold and fairly well scraped up, so we trundled back to the car and then back home.

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