Josh's Birthday Challenge: 2012

Josh's Birthday Challenge: 2012

So... I turned 33 this year.  Each year I'm battling more mild chronic pain, I'm sore longer, and it takes more to warm up.  But... I get smarter, more motivated, and have more experience to build on.  I always try to accomplish something that I couldn't do the year before. I've done a couple spectacular one day birthday challenges like 30 routes in J-Tree 5.10 or harder, and last year some friends and I led our age in routes in Mesa Rim.  The latter challenge was extra difficult because I did a pyramid of routes from 5.10 to 5.13a.  Most of the routes were 50+', and it took 6.5 hours.  I didn't recover for almost a week.  This year, I want to try something a little different.  Erin, a friend in LA, had the goal of 12 5.12s in 2012.  This got the brain rolling a little, as did the pyramid challenge in MR, and I came up with my own little challenge.  I was born in Jan, so I roughly have the calendar year to accomplish this goal: I want to lead 30 pitches of 5.12, and 3 pitches of 5.13 clean that I've never redpointed, before by my next birthday.

This is going to be hard.  Due to school related time constraints, I'm not strong enough to climb 5.13's right now, and I haven't ticked one off in a while.  Also, the 5.13s will require projecting which is a heavy time sink.  I'm going to try to diversity the climbing, and while some will obviously be at the Riverside Quarry, that's my style and I don't want to make this easy.  I want there to be trad climbing, bolt clipping, overhung limestone, splitter sandstone, thin granite, volcanic pockets, miserable offwidth, punishing finger cracks, and more.

At Roberto's suggestion, I'm going to keep coming back to add to this blog post throughout the year to update where I'm at: I'll log climbs, add photos, route descriptions, and my experience on the route.  It should be a fun way to summarize all those climbs that usually go under the pullharder radar since it isn't an epic trip to the mountains, or a crazy long or hard route.  It will also keep me accountable.  There's no better way to force yourself to accomplish your goals than to spray about them on the internet!  ;)

Two pitches that are definitely on my radar at the moment:

1.  3rd 5.12 pitch of Moonlight Buttress.  That's right, I'm headed back for it AGAIN in the spring if all goes well.  I'm hoping I clean that pitch up and get the whole thing free this time.

2.  Ghetto Blaster: 5.13a/b.  I had the pleasure of climbing in Malibu recently with a friend, and loved it.  Not my style, so it's hard, but the routes are great!  Time to start projecting...

I will do my absolute best to accomplish this goal in the coming year, starting with this weekend in J-Tree!  I'm going to try to check out some of the 5.12s up on Queen Mountain with Shay.

Please feel free to post in the comments, and let the fun begin!

1/28/12  First blood!


Shay and I had a blast running/hiking out to Olympic Dome.  It's buried around the left side almost behind Queen Mtn, but very worth the trip out there.  Shay lead Icon, then I gave Black Diamond (5.12b PG14) a go ground up on lead.  I'll call it PG 14 because it's nebulously between PG 13 and R.   Some retrobolt out right got me a little off-route, and I whipped, but other than that the route is one of the best I've ever done in J-Tree.  It's about 80+' with 6 bolts, heady, and very powerful.  It's endless lockoffs on great holds on a dark patina face that's vertical to gently overhung the whole way.  I can't recommend it enough.  5/5 stars, for sure!  Make the hike!  There are rap bolts/rings on top.  Anyways, I pulled the rope and redpointed, without the detour, 2nd try.  First route DONE!  I tried Bloodline but the traverse into it was dangerous, on loose rock, and the bolts were relatively crappy.  Not five stars, as advertised in the guide, and I bailed.  Perhaps I'll come back and replace the bolts someday?  Day two I wanted to get another 5.12 ticked off and tried Zombie Woof, "5.12b".  I dropped into full on aid.  I think this thing is a TR, and not really a lead.  Oh well, at least I got one route this weekend!

2/18/12 Echo Cliffs

I've been climbing in So Cal for ~12 years now, and until last weekend I'd never been to Echo Cliffs.  I was never much of a sport climber until the last few years, and I have no idea why not since sometimes it's just so damn fun!  My friends had an e-mail tread going about the trip last weekend, and somewhere in there I replied to all, "Mo tights mo betta!  Just sayin...."  We descended on Malibu in STYLE!


Never having been to Echo, there was endless potential for ticking off new routes for the challenge.  We warmed up on a couple of easier routes, and then I quickly jumped on The Stain, 5.12a.  It follows a black streak up the wall, and has a beautiful bouldery start to sustained but easier climbing to the anchors.  It has solid rock and beautiful movement and is extremely fun.  I highly recommend it!


Next up was the Kamekazi Cave where there was supposed to be a wicked good 12d: Crash and Burn!  I gave it a good onsight attempt, but fell past the last bolt where the route has a show stopping crux if you don't have enough power and accuracy to make a crucial deadpoint to a small hold.  It projected it a third of the day, giving it a total of 4 burns before I finally sent it.  I climbed past the anchors, and jumped up and back as hard as I could for my first victory whip ever!  This sport climbing thing is fun!  You don't get the chance for many victory whips on granite domes trad climbing!  Roberto took this awesome photo:


Sending a 12d pretty quick let me know that I'm getting stronger, which is great.  Next, I decided to tick a couple of easier 5.12s working toward my 30 5.12s.  I joined a bunch of our crew on the wall to the left of the cave, and  I managed to onsight Geezer, 5.12a and Carnivore, 5.12b back to back with no rest in between.  Both were fantastic crimpy vertical routes that I really enjoyed!  Our photographer friend, Ben Horton, snapped off this one of Geezer:


At the end of the day, I jumped on Devotion, 5.13a, and made it most of the way up with a couple of hangs before my biceps started cramping and exhaustion set in.  I'll DEFINITELY get on it next time I'm out there!  In the meantime, go get my bail biner near the top!  ;)

The day was spectacular.  I had a blast laughing with our crew of about 15 great people, and felt strong climbing hard routes all day.  I sent 12d pretty quick and have a new 5.13a project.  With all the training, this challenge may be a little easier than I thought it would be.  I still have to tick off 3 5.13s, which will be non-trivial, but I'll get it done!

2/25/12 San Diego Backcountry Multipitch

A friend from LA wanted to hit up some San Diego rock so I decided to show her the spectacular El Cajon Mountain.  It was absolutely beautiful this time of year.  We cruised up the approach, and it was a little warm, but once on the rock a slight breeze kept the temperatures perfect as we ascended The Commander.  It's a 5 pitch bolted 5.12a up the center of the wall, finishing on an unbelievable gently overhung crux headwall pitch.  I'd been on it years ago, but fell on the last pitch, one of the best in San Diego by the way.  This time I managed to redpoint the route, and had a great day on the rock with an awesome partner who smiled and laughed her way up the route with me.  For belay commands I did wookie screams, and she yodeled.  Good times for all!  Another 5.12 pitch ticked off, and I'm a little bit closer to the goal.

If you're curious about El Cajon Mountain, the Allied Climbers of San Diego have put together a GREAT guide to the area, as well as Eagle Peak and Corte Madera.  All three are ~400-500' faces with hundreds of well protected pitches and no crowds.  The guide is a measly $20 and if you buy it directly from ACSD (see the link on the front page) or Mesa Rim Climbing and Fitness, 100% of the profits go toward your climbing access in and around southern California.

3/10/12 Mellow day at the Riverside Quarry

Armed with the new RQ guidebook, Roberto and I needed a study break and headed up on a Saturday morning for a quick session.  There's not much to report about the trip besides adding to the ticklist.  We didn't even wear tights!  I managed an onsight of Raging Raptor, a really pleasant 5.12a with fun cruxes, and missed one hidden but massive hold on Choss Goggles, 5.12c, to blow the onsight but trivially took it down 2nd try.

This post should start to get a little more interesting in April.  I've got multiple Utah trips planned, heading to Indian Creek and Zion.  Trad climbing and freeing bigwall are infinitely more interesting than writing up clipping bolts.  There might even be some spectacular photos too, if I'm lucky!  In the meantime, this goal is keeping me focused to stay strong and get on hard routes.  Hopefully at least one of the 5.13's for this birthday challenge will be on gear...

4/4/12 5.12 in the desert

As I hoped, I did manage a single week out in the desert during our spring break from school.  I thought I was in much better shape than I was, and hoped to pull down pretty hard, but I didn't live up to my expectations.  I was onsighting 5.11+ in Indian Creek, but managed to climb only a single new 5.12 pitch on the entire week-long trip!  Oh well, I definitely can't complain since it was an onsight of Slice and Dice, 5.12, one of the more beautiful lines I've seen out there.  Nath was also out there, and managed an onsight of it as well!  Strong work!


It's about 60' of 0.75 C4s, rings or thin hands depending on what works for you.  Amazingly enough, the route felt pretty easy for me since I could actually handjam that size!  Who knew?  There are a few more pictures in the gallery below, and for a link of all the fun that pullharder had in the desert this last spring click HERE.

Totally ruined, Adam and I ran a lap on Moonlight Buttress.  I fell on the two same pitches that give me trouble, but that was expected with how tired we were.  It was supposed to be training for another attempt in two weeks.  However, the temps soared to 90F and that never happened....  Perhaps again in the fall?

4/22/12 Multipitch at the Quarry

Adam and I had never done much of the multipitch at the Riverside Quarry.  One day, planning to head out there, I had the itch to get on The Zone.  It's a 2nd pitch up the wall, and pulls out a massive roof.  A great picture of the route is HERE.  We warmed up on American Dreams, a 4 pitch 5.11, which would be a spectacular route if it weren't so shitty.  And by that, I mean it quite literally.  It is covered in layers of bird shit to the point of being disgusting.  I would never recommend anyone climb this route despite being one of the longest at the quarry and taking a fun line.  Next up, we led Leviathan into The Zone, 5.12b, and I managed to onsight the pitch.  It was pretty badass to dangle out the bottom of that roof, and before I figured out easier beta I clipped a bolt hanging off a single arm.  I've never done that before!  After getting our multipitch on, we played on Vertigo, 5.13a, but it felt pretty bad in the warm conditions.  I managed to slowly figure out all the crazy technical the moves, but by that time putting them together was out of the question and we took off as the sun came over the top.

5/20/12 Malibu with a Boat!

A large contingent of the Pull Harder crew descended on Malibu in May to play in The Ghetto.  There was the typical ridiculousness that included many of us in tights or fun outfits, and we even brought a boat!  One of our friends tagged along after breaking her wrist.  A kid's boat was purchased, and "paddles" so that she could avoid the traverses.  Good times!


In short order, there were ropes all over the place.  I managed to jump on, and onsight Urban Struggle, 5.12a, and redpoint Ground Zero, 5.12a, after reading the crux wrong and taking a short fall.  Urban Struggle was great, Ground Zero was OK.  Here's a picture of Pete leading Urban Struggle, like a boss:


Next up, Ghetto Blaster, 5.13b, which was the objective of the day.  I'd run one lap on it months previously, hanging all over, but it felt doable.  I worked out the beta, and found a way to climb the upper crux on my first go, then gave it 3 redpoint burns.  All three of them, I made it to the upper crux, rested out, and blew it.  I tried different sequences, and none of them worked.  I one-hung the route multiple times, but couldn't put it together.  I had the endurance, but not the strength for the boulder problem at the end.  When I got home, I watched a youtube video of someone sending the route, and realized I had botched the sequence at the top every time I tried it, and never tried the sequence I found in the video once.  It looks like a little bouldering and a proper sequence will get me the send in the fall when I head back up there.

6/16/12 Two More Down!

Nothing too interesting to report, but two more ticked off.  School was busy, so I rolled out and managed to onsight a pair of 5.12 routes, Choss Revolution, 5.12c, and Burning Desire, 5.12b, out at the Riverside Quarry.  I'm definitely getting stronger, and have Quarry granite dialed at this point!

8/15/12 Over The Hump...

I made it over the halfway point today.  I've ticked off 17 of the 33 intended routes.  Granted, none of them have been 5.13, but that'll come with cooler temps and hopefully more time.  Sad I didn't really make it outdoors for some good leading for almost two months.  This challenge is harder than I thought with the time constraints of school.  8 of the 17 completed routes have been at the Riverside Quarry due to convenience, but I'll try to mix that up a little in the coming months.  Anyways, all three routes were onsight, all mid-5.12.  I'm definitely getting stronger, and training paying off.  There was Vendetta, 5.12b, the very powerful Triple Trouble, 5.12c, with poor rock on the upper half, and the very fun Critical Mass, 5.12c.  I'm really looking forward to lower temperatures when working a 5.13 becomes more reasonable out there.  I'm also looking forward to heading to J-Tree as temps drop for routes on gear!

P = G


The Tick List:

1.  1/28/12 - Black Diamond, 5.12b PG14, Joshua Tree, Queen Mtn (Redpoint)

2.  2/18/12 - The Stain, 5.12a, Echo Cliffs (Onsight)

3.  2/18/12 - Crash and Burn, 5.12d, Echo Cliffs (Redpoint)

4.  2/18/12 - Geezer, 5.12a, Echo Cliffs (Onsight)

5.  2/18/12 - Carnivore, 5.12b, Echo Cliffs (Onsight)

6.  2/25/12 - The Commander, 5th pitch, 5.12a, San Diego, El Cajon Mountain (Redpoint)

7.  3/10/12 - Raging Raptor, 5.12a, Riverside Quarry (Onsight)

8.  3/10/12 - Choss Goggles, 5.12c, Riverside Quarry (Redpoint)

9.  4/4/12 - Slice and Dice, 5.12, Indian Creek (Onsight)

10. 4/22/12 - The Zone, 5.12b, Riverside Quarry (Onsight)

11. 5/20/12 - Urban Struggle, 5.12a, Malibu Creek (Onsight)

12. 5/20/12 - Ground Zero, 5.12a, Malibu Creek (Redpoint)

13. 6/16/12 - Choss Revolution, 5.12c, Riverside Quarry (Onsight)

14. 6/16/12 - Burning Desire, 5.12b, Riverside Quarry (Onsight)

15. 8/15/12 - Vendetta, 5.12b, Riverside Quarry (Onsight)

16. 8/15/12 - Critical Mass, 5.12c, Riverside Quarry (Onsight)

17. 8/15/12 - Triple Trouble, 5.12c, Riverside Quarry (Onsight)