Wednesday, October 3, 2012

War of the Wall Grade IV 5.10+, Calaveras Dome, CA

For the last week of September we headed to California to visit my family. My parents were kind enough to watch Dylan one afternoon and the following day so Linda and I could get out and climb a long route together, something we had not done in quite some time. We can't just leave Dylan hanging out at the base of the wall all day while we are out of sight, 1,000' above...can we?

We drove out to Sutter Creek and had a nice diner seeing as it was close to our anniversary, then headed back to the hotel and set the alarm for EARLY. In the morning we drove up Hwy 88 to Cook's Station and fearing we had missed the turn stopped to check. They were very helpful and we still had a ways to go before turning off the highway. Once we turned off we started to drop steeply down into a deep canyon on a very windy road. After 15 miles and countless potholes we parked below Calaveras Dome. The rock rises only a few minutes from the road and is 1200-1500' depending on what part of the wall you climb.

We headed up the trail and quickly came to the wall, only later to find out that it was not where we needed to be to approach our chosen route, War of the Wall. Needless to say we wasted a bit of time trying to figure out the best way to get to the base of our route that started off a ledge system. We ended up climbing a very long and runout (meaning scary and a fall could have very bad consequences) pitch where it seems other climbers had made the same mistake.

Once on the route things improved greatly. The first pitch is an amazing full rope length of splitter granite crack, starting at finger sized and slowly getting wider over its 200' to hands. After that an interesting traverse under a roof got us to the next section go crack which took up up another 200' to a very spacious ledge. Here Linda and I are on the ledge looking up at the next pitch which is an absolutely amazing 200' corner.
 We had a quick bite before heading up from here. Upon reaching the belay I had some concerns about the next pitch, it was face climbing and I could not immediately see the first bolt. We had brought plenty of gear for the route but if we were going to bail we would need 2 ropes or have to leave a bunch of gear to set additional anchors. Well I only keep one rope in CA and had not brought a second so it was onward and upward. Eventually I saw the bolt and headed off, the pitch was great, fun climbing on knobs that stuck out of the wall. Here is looking down on that pitch.
 The next pitch was mostly face climbing as well, but this time on dikes that criss crossed the face.
 Here Linda and I are at the top of the route with Salt Springs Reservoir in the back ground. The dam is the reason for the paved road leading down into the canyon.
 Most parties rappel after the long corner that Linda and I had our snack below, but I would not have missed the next 2 face climbing pitches, after that the climbing went from absolutely classic to just OK, but with only one rope we had to go up to hike off. There was really no good description of the hike off, just that it was possible. Now I know why. We spent about an hour navigating through manzanita to get to a treed gully between Calaveras Dome and Hidden Wall behind. Then another 2 hours to trudge down the gully without the benefit of a trail. Here is Linda on about the easiest bit of the manzanita.
After hiking out we still had to get diner and drive 3-4 hours back to my parent house, needless to say, a very long day, but one spent with my wife doing something that we mostly enjoyed (except the descent).

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