8-9 October 2009

random trip report
(sorry, no pictures)

I pick up M. and friends at the Oakland airport. We drive through San Jose, Gilroy, and Hollister. The overcast gives way to glorious sun.

The visitor center and campground at Pinnacles is tattered and run down - has their funding been cut? We find a good camp site and set up. It would be perfect except that little flies are everywhere, buzzing one's eyes and ears.

We get the guidebook and rope, and head to Bear Gulch to look for routes. The High Peaks trail is quite spectacular. We pass Tourist Trap, which has climbers on it. Later we pass another large rock, swarming with teenagers top-roping in their sneakers. (This turns out to be Top Rope Rock, which we're looking for). Finally we come to a beautiful artificial lake, and realize we've come too far.

We go down into Bear Gulch Cave and back along the east side of the ravine. It's getting too late in the afternoon to climb, but we still haven't found the routes so we head back up High Peaks trail again. We check out Discovery Cliff, which has a lot of anchors but apparently you need a 70m rope. We finally identify Top Rope Rock, and make plans to return the next morning before the teenagers get there.

The next morning we get an early start, but a gaggle of adolescents is there before us. No matter. We set up a rope on the 3rd anchor, which is the hardest route (5.8 or so). The rock - brecchia - is real nice, with lots of little blocks sticking out of the substrate. We do a couple of laps on it, then a lap on the rope of the teenagers, who are taking a lunch break.

Next up is Back Door. It takes us a long time to find this. The bolts are right next to the trail at the point where it starts descending to the reservoir. The hard part is getting down to the bottom - you have to pick your way down some dicey ledges. The route itself is a bit of a disappointment.

By now it's 2 PM and we need to start heading back. We stop for a hike up to the lookout in Condor Gulch. It looks really enticing above that point - huge stone fortifications looming high overhead. Maybe next time!

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