Crane Mtn’s Latest Hotspot

Bruce relaxes on the upper ledge

Bruce came up last week to sample the newest “classic” line on Crane, a multipitch run up the South Corner Cliff. I’ve eyed the cracks on the higher walls of this area for decades. Slowly, those lines have seen traffic: way back when (2010?), Tom & I made a late-season onsight of Solar Grace, a route offering good 5.6 climbing with poor protection: the crack we chose turns out to be shallow and flaring for much of the way. I took a few better stabs a year later, adding Solo, GraciasNever Alone, and with Peter Whitmore leading, On the Fence. to that same patch of rock. Last year, Tom & I worked a face lower and to the right, putting up Riprovando, a nice 5.10b; and in the waning days of 2012, I cleaned up the natural crack line to its left and posted Provando, at 5.7- a kinder, gentler way up the same wall.

But I thought something more could be added. This last project area narrows at the base, providing only about 25′ of rock to work with, but it opens up quickly. A preliminary survey (involving climbing a tree and traversing onto the cliff from a long branch) of the right side of this upper section revealed wonderful knob-climbing potential. We looked over the base and found a crack running through an overhang before reaching an easy stepped ledge leading rightward toward those knobs. It looked very hard, but hidden holds unlocked the bottom moves at a moderate 5.7+, and we blasted off 2013’s FA season with Fireworks.

At the top of this wall is a comfortable ledge, a very short face, then another spacious ledge, followed by another 70′ wall. We would spend the next several weeks working on these rock patches, eventually putting up additional pitches for all three routes below. These make up the current popular climbing area here that Bruce came to see.

 

July 2013 002

We chose to begin from the East Path, at the now well-known Stairway to Heaven. Bruce had led the SA of this way back when, before it was clean, an experience he hasn’t forgotten. He enjoyed leading that pitch in its much-improved state. We swapped for the second pitch, then walked 60′ over to the base of Fireworks, breaking new ground for Bruce.

Bruce climbing Fireworks

climbing the knobby prow of Fireworks

We moved rapidly, climbing the newer second pitch of Fireworks, a crack pitch with a hard start and several 5.7ish moves along the way. At the top of that pitch, we rested awhile, enjoying the view and occasionally cheering on Tom, who was toiling away on a project about 70′ away from us.

Tom toiling on his project "Stand Your Ground", 5.7

Bruce heads up Firework's crack 2nd pitch.

Before calling it a day, we decided to attempt a meandering crack system on the upper face, in hopes of reaching the very top of the South Corner Cliff. While we pushed a decent route – another 5.7+ish one – up to a ledge, but tree branches and dirty slab rebuffed our efforts, so we didn’t quite get there. Not to worry, we had plenty enough tree to rappel, enough ledge to belay, and enough satisfaction to call it a day.

Bruce tops out on p1 of Fireworks.

Long time since my last post: some combination of computer problem, programming bloat, and internet crowding has rendered my home dial-up almost, but not quite, useless.

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