Monday, September 6, 2010

Black Cliffs

"Number Nine" at the Mids

We decided to try to get a couple pitches in at the Cliffs since the weather cooled off. We were wanting an early start, but there was shoe shopping to do. So we got up there about 1:30 and it was pretty warm. There were four others climbing on the Short Cliffs so we went to the Mid Cliffs. Last year, I started to try to climb the "obscure" routes out there. We climbed some cool routes, we climbed some routes that might not have been the right grade, we climbed routes with "good pro" and generally had fun! The Project Obscurity routes are mostly gear routes and sub 5.11 so they rarely get done these days.

"Prominent Crack" with bush

Today's selections were "Number Nine" (5.8) and Prominent Crack (5.9). Due to the heat and the poison ivy-like bush, we didn't attempt Prominent Crack. We almost didn't start up "Number Nine" because the rock is black and south facing. But I geared up and started up.

The route starts out easy on in-cut edges and flakes. The seam in the dihedral is micro small so there is no real opportunity for pro and I didn't want to place anything behind a flake. You could probably get a couple micro-nuts in the seam, but the climbing isn't too hard down low. I placed a cam horizontal in a flake that was wedged in the dihedral. After the edges and flakes, the pro is great! Plenty of constrictions in the crack for perfect nut placements. This is good because the climbing gets into the meat of the 5.8 about then. It's a really fun route because you do everything on it. Starting with easy, positive edges into a stance to place gear. Then a face section that takes some balance to another nice stance to put in another piece. A short finger/hand crack to a fist crack to Fixe anchors. Nice. I did have to do some gardening on the upper crack to get a cam in, but I won't complain!

Bonnie at the finger/hand crack

We climbed it three times. Highly recommended. As I've said before, if you climb gear routes at the Black Cliffs, you will rarely be around other climbers. And who cares if you are! We are all just there to have fun! Like the Bible says, "Love thy Neighbor as you love yourself". I personally like Anton LeVay's, "Do unto others, as they do unto you."

The first ascent of "Number Nine" was in 1973 by Charlie Crist and Barry Dewane. "Prominent Crack" was first climbed around 1975 by my friend Bob Jahn. The norms that were broken in the past should serve as a guiding light to us now. When I climb a route that is now obscure (not covered in chalk or bolts), I think about the mental fortitude these guys had to push harder. I try to push, but it is over known ground. Not nearly the same ground those before me covered. They serve as an inspiration to me. Thanks for shining the light...

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