May 7- the Big Objective
Today my guys headed for the prize of Smith, the King Line as Sharma would say, the West Face of the Monkey Face. I say my guys loosely, it was our rocket team of Cat and Sean out in front getting an early 7am start. Following this was Myself and Martin B climbing between and then Thompson and Ioannis bringing up the rear. We crushed the two funky 5.8’s, navigated the bolt ladder, surged up Panic Point and summited, la cumbre. We chilled on top, managed to not block up the route on the raps when the millions of public swarmed the lower pitches and had a great day getting off the ground on funky volcanic crack climbing, figuring out A0 bolt ladders and massive 180 foot free hanging rappels. Total success…
May 8- today was our more moderate multi pitch day for my Lads. We had some speed issues the day before, so today we resolved to work on anchor efficiency and leading strategy on a relatively moderate route. Super Slab was our line, three pitches, 5.6 on great red stone. We easily ascended, reaching the summit in 2.5 hours, a high mark for us. Watch out Dean, the Nose is next. After rapping the route we cragged at the base, setting up a 10a, 10b and 10c. Martin and Thompson did some good lead efforts on the 10a and Ioannis tr’ed his arms off. We hid from the sun up there all day, up high on the Red Wall, narrowly missing a solar scorching. Tomorrow is our final day in Smith, and we’re heading to the Lower Gorge as a group to top rope more difficult cracks to get some final training in before hitting Yosemite.
May 9- today we packed Monstro with everything we didn’t need, all the food bins and cooking stuff and headed down to the basalt gorge crack climbing area of SmithRocks. If you’ve never been here and think Smith is a weird, runout olde school sport climbing area…think again. Down the Deschutes River are walls of basalt columns which make the absolute perfect place to learn and train basic jamming and crack climbing for places like Yosemite and Indian Creek. We headed down late to miss some of the scorching sun and brought 9 ropes with us to litter the cliff, making it an outdoor crack climbing gym. All in all the students got a working but definitely climbed better than I’ve seen them up till this point. Many did some great leads, some found out they were worked from three days in a row, and Graeme and I scampered up as many pitches as possible to satiate our bellies with some good crack training. I also climbed a few sport lines down there, some really unusual sculpted basalt and thin slab and also a crazy arête with double hand sloper work. Fun times over all and I slept better being tired from some more pitches. We ate out that night and remember why I don’t love cheap fast food Chinese. Argh.
May 10- woke at 4 and packed Up the tent etc. We met at El Monstro at 5am and were driving by 6. Long day of driving and it just gets hotter and hotter as we slide south through Oregon, on down Cali and into our campsite above Yosemite for the night. California, you got a really unfair share of amazing weather and rock, that is for sure. We have a campsite booked just insie the Valley gates and we’ll climb tomorrow at Swan Slab. Let the Valley experience begin….