Sport Climbing at Echo Cliffs, California
I recently had a conversation with my dad (post-epic bike crash and stitches in my forehead... more to come on that one later) in which he asked me when people like me (climbers, thrill seekers.. etc.) stop doing what they do... what age are typical climbers? I answered, "well shoot dad, I know climbers from age 8 to age 60"... "ya, ya, but when do most climbers stop climbing?".... I think I answered, "well unless they've fallen out of love with climbing, then never... unless their wives make them."
Either way, it got me thinking about how crazy I've become about this lifestyle I've adopted since moving to California. It's epicly rewarding, consistently challenging, and altogether unpredictable. I've become rather addicted to it. I'm really looking forward to doing a sort of "lookback" on 2014 at the end of the year. I've had the pleasure of experiencing some of the highest points of my life this year... and meeting some of the most life-changing people. But I will save that for another post.
In the meantime... I am still way behind on my posts!! I blame the guy in the picture above... just kidding. Back in mid August Michael and I took a day climbing trip up to Echo Cliffs in the Santa Monica Mountains. I've been here before though... twice actually. Once I came here to hike, and I was here last year to climb, before I started this blog thing.
It is well worth the trip to this place. It's gorgeous.
120+ sport climbing routes to choose from and a bitching approach hike make for a very rewarding day. The hike in takes about 40 minutes to an hour depending on where you're headed on the Echo Cliffs wall. Take a look at this breath taking cliff below. The rock balancing on the top of the cliff is called Balance Rock, and supposedly has a couple climbs on it too... but it was too out of our way for a day trip, we didn't pay a visit.
Instead we headed towards the furthest away wall, Easy Street, through this tunnel and under a cave to warm up on an easy graded multi-pitch climb. Don't be tricked by the topos in the guide you look at... it doesn't take as long as you might think to hike to Easy street. We almost passed it if we hadn't of asked some other climbers.
I dream of alpine days and long multi-pitch walls. They are what keep me up at night. I want to spend all day hiking and climbing up towards a summit. I've got a bit of training to do though before I get there. Getting comfortable doing multi-pitch with a partner I trust being one of them. Easy as it was, it was nice to hop on our first multi-pitch together. We climbed Golden Years (pitch 1: 5.6, pitch 2: 5.9). I lead the first pitch, Michael the second. It was awesome! and fucking hott! Our feetsies were burning up by the end of the climb... so we hiked the fuck out of there to find some shadier climbs.
I only remembered to take pictures when Michael was rappelling the last pitch. Maybe because we were too distracted by these guys we met out there who were telling us all about how they learned how to climb through you tube... and proceeded to make mistakes. They made us nervous. One of the guys told me he wanted to start trad climbing soon... so I asked him please to not learn how to trad climb from you tube.
Refueling necessary after the long hiking and the multi-pitch climb. Cherubs and sandwiches with this guy.
We found shade at this beauty of a climb. The Guillotine 5.10b. Follow the flake to the top. It was so much fun. Michael lead it flawlessly, and I should have lead it but was being a pansy and just top roped it. This was my favorite climb of the day. It really flowed well.
Then we saw these older guys crushing it on some 5.12's on the next wall of shade we stumbled on.
If older men crushing it on 5.12s doesn't get you out of bed... I don't know what to say. I want to be that way when I get older.... crushing it on 5.12's for lunch.
I didn't manage to really get any pictures of the climb that we did, but its right above my head here... on the boulder I am sitting on which made for an interesting belay station. The climb was called Cloud 9 5.10C. I'm not going to lie, the first part of the climb was a freaking bitch. It was horribly hard for me... big pumpy boulder-y moves. However, the last 3/4ths of the climb was really cool! It was slabby and stemmy.. very fun! Kind of a sketchy one to lead though because of the way the bolts are set up doesn't allow for the cleanest fall.
We didn't jam pack our day with climbs, but mainly because there was a lot more hiking involved than we anticipated... but it was beautiful out there, and a perfect day none the less.
I'd be in great shape if I did this every day...
It started to get dark and scary out there though... we had to leave.
We got to see the marine layer over the ocean on our way out!
The day was awesome. Complete with Chipotle burrito bowl and Starbucks to fill our bellies on the drive home. Life is good. That's all I've got to say about that.
California continues to not disappoint me.