Spring Trip to Shelf Road, Part 2

March 29, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Sunday morning was cold and overcast. We initially decided to pack up and head back to the Fort, but as we made breakfast and cleaned up, the sky began to clear. By 11a, the sky was completely blue, the desert was warm, and our excuses for not climbing were running out quickly. As usual, there are pictures from the weekend up in the gallery.

As the sun peeked out, we decided to check out the Vault Area, which Mark and I both thought was east facing. As we wandered around the base of the cliffs to the right of the 2150 wall, we did not come upon any of the Vault climbs until the wall curved around and began to face north east and even north. So, we got in two (chilly) climbs on Sunday. Better to come back and climb this area in the summer.

Kate climbing Chip Off the Ole' Block (5.9)

Chip Off the Ol’ Block (5.9) – We found another 5.9 that we’ve never climbed! This one had a ton of stars in the guidebook as well, and Mark and I did enjoy it. The end of the route pulls you towards climbing out on the very edge of an overhanging section of rock. Below your tiny footholds is nothing but 80ft of air. It was very exciting! Unfortunately, it was on a section of the Vault that faces northeast, and we had no sun on the rock that morning. We all climbed quickly, with shivers and numb fingers.

Adam surveys the crux above

Flight Simulator (5.10 b/c) – Adam decided to start out his morning with a lead of this thin and tricky looking climb. It was still in the sun. The crux was about 3 bolts (15 feet) above a huge ledge, and clipping that 4th bolt looked nerve-wreaking. Adam tried it a few times, and then Mark gave it a go. He eventually worked his way through it to finish the climb amongst large flakes with a swarm of swallows flying in and out.

I was aware of the birds as I climbed this route, but not how close they were to me. As I stood at a rest and considered the crux, and I heard Mark’s voice float up from below me.

“Um, Kate, there’s something I should tell you…” He said.

“Oh, no Mark, don’t do it. I don’t need any advice!” said I. And I set off into the crux, climbing strongly on tiny feet to my left, using the flakes to my right and difficult body tension to balance my weight between them. I moved, pulled, grunted, twisted, and then reached high, pulled and reached higher, reached for a higher crack that would signal the end of the harder climbing….

“THERE’S A BIRD IN THAT CRACK!” Mark yelled from below me.

“What??” I said as I gratefully sank my hand into the giant hole in the rock, and then immediately thought better of it. Uh…

“Oh, don’t worry about it. If nothing has happened to you yet, nothing will. Maybe the bird left,” I heard Mark say below me. I decided to trust (or ignore) him and continued climbing to the top. It was a great route. And nobody got pecked.

After the two climbs were summited all around and we had removed all of our gear from the wall, we hiked back to the car. This time, we walked down the hill to the Cactus Cliffs trailhead and then back to out parking lot on the lower trail. This was much faster. We ate lunch sitting in the sun, enjoying the desert and mountain views from the parking area.

A tired group heading back to the fort