So Wrong Feels So Right

Selfie looking straight down On the Fence

Selfie looking straight down On the Fence

ROCKCLIMBING on February 2nd. That just isn’t expected. I might go out on one of those rare, barely-possible days to prove a point, crazy as it seems. But to go out and have a great time, warm fingers, sunny views?! This winter has a few nice surprises up its sleeve.

I slogged out to the South Corner Cliffs – not much of a slog, though traction devices (Katoola Microspikes in my case) were needed. Heading out a little after 9 a.m., the crust was solid enough to carry my weight, and those few times I did plunge through, there wasn’t enough depth to slow me down.

Remnants of ice on the Upper Measles Wall

Remnants of ice on the Upper Measles Wall

Passing by the Measles Walls, I noted a few strips of ice remaining. At that early hour, the sun hadn’t yet delaminated them from the rock surface, so they might have been climbable – though such antics would be risky.

Looking up the long slab of First and Second Amendments

Looking up the long slab of First and Second Amendments

Arriving at the Upper Walls, I noted how clean and dry the Amendment Wall was. Both First and Second Amendment were in fine shape, and Second Helping and Second Chance were manageable. Saratoga and Solar Grace would’ve been a bit tricky, necessitating a start on the left, since their usual start was an ice flow, and here and there I spied some wet streaks that would’ve made the cruxes a bit more interesting.

Looking south from near the top of On the Fence

Looking south from near the top of On the Fence

View looking southwest from the top of On the Fence

View looking southwest from the top of On the Fence

A little bit of postholing as I hit the edge of the cliffs themselves, but otherwise, no difficulties. I set out first climbing On the Fence, Pete Whitmore’s discovery of a few years back which, now that it is cleaned up nicely, logs in at 5.3 or 4. No problems on this route; everything was dry and free of ice all the way to the top-out. The final walk to the belay tree was snowy and frozen, so I chose to step right, crossing the tops of the two short sport 5.10s to rappel off a tree down to the Jammer Wall Ledge.

And a little ice in the starting crack of Stand Your Ground

And a little ice in the starting crack of Stand Your Ground

My second climb was Stand Your Ground, Tom Lane’s lovely 5.7-. The start required some modification, since ice lay thick in the crack. However, it is only a bit harder to utilize face holds alone. At thirty feet above the start, the route was clean, dry, and warm.

I rigged a rappel down to the right, in order to tackle one last pitch, the third and uppermost one of Provando. A bit of postholing required to get there.

A little postholing at the base of Provando

A little postholing at the base of Provando

But looking up, a clean, dry crack system. A few tattered leaves lay deep within at a few spots, so it looks like I’ll need to do some housecleaning this Spring.

The starting crack of Provando's third pitch

The starting crack of Provando’s third pitch

Topping out on that, I took time for a few scenic pictures before rapping down and packing up.

...and looking NE from high on Stand Your Ground

…and looking NE from high on Stand Your Ground

A similar view

A similar view

Wonderful few hours, may never get this chance again in February.

My exit followed the East Path for awhile, before scooting downward through a groove and luckily avoiding the need for more rappels before reaching the Little Ravine. Still some ice there, though not enough to warrant a trip with gear.

A thirty foot ice flow in the Little Ravine

A thirty foot ice flow in the Little Ravine

I left the house at 915, hitched a lift to the shortcut, and walked the rest of the time. All told, the trip took about four hours.

One more view, looking down and NE

One more view, looking down and NE

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