Author Topic: Tahquitz  (Read 448 times)

Offline Mike_B

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« on: August 18, 2006, 11:34:02 am »
This past week I was visiting family in San Diego. My Dad and his wife were out there for the month of August escaping the Arizona heat. I figured a visit was an opportune time to get on some CA rock, so organized some climbing partners thru I met up with a guy named Tim on Sunday morning and we climbed Sahara Terror, a 5.7 on the North side of Tahquitz. It had some interesting, varied climbing and some route finding that held our attention. One 5.3 dogleg offwidth provided particular entertainment- which my partner aptly described as  a monkey humping a football, to which I added  on vacation. It was a fun, solid climb overall.

On Tuesday, despite feeling a bit tired and ambivalent about climbing, I met up with a guy named Nathaniel to climb Whodunit, the classic 5.9 route there. I figured I wouldn,t be out this way for some time and couldn,t pass up the opportunity to do what looked like an incredible line. We met up at 7:30 and headed up to the climb, and had the north side of Tahquitz to ourselves. He offered me the first lead and I was happy to take it, although nervous about tackling the crux of the climb without any warm-up. When I got to the crux, I discovered it was substantially more challenging slab climbing than I anticipated. Royal Robbins and company were some bad asses.

The crux moves come after an overlap about 80 feet up or so. Just before the overlap the crack thins to fingertips, and shortly after goes to a seam that you can get some friction on. I slotted one nut (BD #5?) on my way over the overlap, and a BD #3 after getting a stance above the overlap. I then moved up to the last good stance before the crux, my feet probably 2-3 feet above my last stopper. After that the fingertip crack becomes unsuitable for gear, and you just have to go for it. At that point, down climbing ceased to be an option, so I just nutted up to make the moves. The slab crux consisted of about 7-10 feet of climbing before getting any kind of reasonable handhold (or gear), and I could see the few footholds available to me. I knew that once I got my foot on a dish next to the seam, I,d be in good shape, so I proceeded to take the terrain in small bits.

The only foothold that resembled anything more than a smear was a little knobby crystal-like hold off right, just before what looked to be the thank god foothold, and the hands were more or less balance only holds. I nervously got to the knob, put my foot on it and began to shift weight to it, when I felt a few small grains of rock roll under foot. Next thing I was airborne, falling on a #3 nut. It caught me and I swung into the lower angle rock about 20 feet below, gifted with the worst sprained ankle I,ve ever sustained.

My partner asked if I thought it was broken, and I somewhat incoherently asked for a second to regain some composure. When I looked, my ankle had already become discolored and was swelling over the edge of my climbing shoe, so I figured I must have broken it. After getting some time to rest before trying to walk down, I began to think I may have only sprained it badly, which the x-rays confirmed the next day.

The good news: I only sprained my ankle, and I know a very small stopper, when placed properly, will hold a 20-footer. The bad news: I missed an opportunity to climb the rest of what looked like an awesome line, I wasted a stranger,s time, and sprained the s—t out of my ankle. I need to get to Whitehorse more often I guess, because that slab definitely accentuated my weaknesses in climbing. The flight home was quite painful, but I did get through security quickly by taking advantage of the wheelchair perk.  ;)

By the way, go climb Tahquitz if you're out that way- it is a stellar piece of rock!