Sunday, April 21, 2013

Returning to a Vertical World

April is a time to re-connect with the high country's limber pines, streams, swallows and sweeping granite.  It's warm, but not hot.  Most flat-landers are still sitting in fog.  The warmer temperature this week guaranteed there wouldn't be much snow or spring drip on Tahquitz Rock, so I loaded my pack and headed out for an adventure.  It's early afternoon and the sun is warm.  I pull up to the parking area at Humber Park and do a quick scan of the rock.  Still a little shady on the North and Northeast faces.

I hike to the Northwest face and find a huge pile of snow at the base of my route.  Luckily there is a three foot gap between it and the rock so I can easily start the climb.  I adjust all my gear, double check everything, take a few deep breathes, cover my hands in chalk and scamper up the first moves of a 400' climb.  The rock is cold, and my shoes stick perfectly to the sharp granite edges.  Winter has cleansed the rock and it makes me feel comfortable and confident as my hands bite into the holds.  After 100' I enter a giant, shadowed corner that is capped by a small roof.  This is one of my favorite pitches on Tahquitz.  I take my time, moving slowly and precisely.  Using opposing pressure with my feet and hands, on opposite walls of the corner, I stem to it's top and pull through the overhanging roof moves as smoothly as I can.

After the roof is lunch ledge, I rest here, and enjoy the view.  It's 150' of easy climbing to the summit, and all of it's in the sun.  The breeze picks up and just before the top, a hummingbird swoops in to check me out.


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