Opening the climbing season at Pinnacles NM

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Scott and I kicked off the year's climbing escapades with 6 pitches of routefinding, runouts, and commitment. We pulled it off basically without a hitch. We rule. This was going to be such a good year. We climbed Old Original, a 5/6 pitch traverse of the length of Machete Ridge. We slogged up the track, and had a good bit of fun exploring around the base, trying to decide where the start was, before finally making our minds up.

I won the first pitch, something I normally hate doing, but I sucked it up, bouldered up and left, and climbed right up to the first bolt. Yay for me. I normally hate running it out off the ground. Climbed up to some anchors, and then decided to rerig on the ridge itself.

Scott led the next pitch, which started off with just a walk, but had probably the hairiest climbing. This involved some not straightforward downclimbing, and leading out over a gap back down to the ground. Then it's a walk again. There's a belay station right before this, but we did this as a long pitch. Who knows where the real belays are. By the time we did our second, we'd passed three other sets of anchors. Seconding this pitch was scary. The bolt that protects the hair sequence is in the middle of it, and it's definitely a sequence, not just a step across or anything. The next bolt is not just a long way off to the right, it's also below you. BIG fall for a second to take :)

My next pitch was basically a very long walk downhill. Clipped a bolt on the way, and took up all of our rope. This took us to the top of a rap station. Three very nice rap stations here, we only made two raps, we're pretty sure we needed two, even with half ropes. Beautifully camoflaged hangers, thanks to Mark Fletcher. Also thanks to Clint Cummins for making it so easy to thank people.

Next, another fairly easy lead for scott. He got to climb up to a notch, and then downclimb with a toprope about 15m down the other side. Fucking joy. I sat up in the notch, at the bolt, with a backpack, and decided that the bolt had a ring on it for a damn good reason, as I rethreaded it so I could have the rope security too. Scott was belaying from a ledge which was plenty good enough to stand on, but if I came barrelling down the chute, there was a reasonable chance that I'd continue over the edge, and pull him behind me.

That was the end of the original route. We were at the base of middle tower. We had a rap station. But we had done so well. Why not continue. Reading "Summit Register" on the continuation did us in. I psyched myself out of it, as I often do. It wasn't in our plans. It was rather exposed, there looked to be an interesting move a few metres up before you got to the first bolt. It was getting late. (Not really, we had plenty of time, but we couldn't dally) Scott was keen. I pulled another usual trick, which was to say, "If you lead it, I can surely follow, and it would be kinda cool to get that register" Scott fired up. Good old Scott. It actually turned out to be some very straightforward climbing. Then a scamper over to the final tower. Scott was a bit ticked off. I raced off and found the summit register while he was still playing with ropes :)

Managed to get the ropes stuck rapping off middle tower. I'd managed to thread them on top of each other. Scott somehow ended up being the one to prussik/climb back up and free them. I think I convinced him that it was his fault as he came down last.

From there it was a wonderful exploration, and some more interesting scramble traverses to the "Grassy Ledge" The description in the guide takes a lot of faith. We made it. But we found a superb topo, again thanks to Clint. He the man when it comes to useful information. Just the facts ma'am. We ended up traversing the top of some sketchy cliffs above the track, and made a crazy short abseil rather than walk back up hill. Pretty close though. And we hadn't seen the good topo either.

Hooray for us. We climbed well, smoothly, and in good style, after a winter spent skiing/boarding. We even found a wonderful pizza place in Gilroy on the way home. Happy Dog Pizza, they'd just opened, and it is delicious. Good food, a firemans pole to slide down, good beer on tap, reasonable prices. 55 5th St, just off the main drag at the north end of town.

The start of Old Original (up and left)

Up to the plant, the L to the bolt, then up to the ridge

You'll go over there later

Scott at the first belay

Scott at the second belay

Flumes and the trail

The fourth pitch

Karl sitting at the fourth belay