A trip to Castle Rock

May 31, 2002

random trip report

Rob Vaterlaus and I drove down to Castle Rock (near Saratoga and Los Altos) to do some top-roping. It was a beautiful hot day. We went to Goat Rock (about a 25 minute hike from the parking lot). Few bolts were in evidence. Our first anchor was two slings around a giant rock, on the right (easy) side of the rock. We did a couple of 5.6 laps. The sandstone is a fantasy of giant curvy handholds.

Then we crossed a narrow ridge on the top of the rock and anchored to two bolts. The rope hung down over a 60' overhanging face with a cave at the top. Getting past the roof of the cave looked real hard.

I went first and made it up almost to the cave, then barndoored and fell. Suddenly I was swinging over 50' of empty space, with no hope of getting back on the wall. I was scared, and screamed at Rob to let me down. Then I went back up, and took the chicken route, around the side of the cave and up the final slab. On the way down, I noticed excellent jugs right above the roof.

Rob went up the chicken route also. Then I went back up and managed to get into the cave. I surveyed the holds necessary to get across and over the roof. It would involve hanging way out over the void, and one slip would send me swinging. Fear surged from the pit of my stomach. I wanted to commit, and make the move, but I just froze. After about 3 minutes I gave up and down-climbed, cursing my lack of guts. Then Rob went up and did the exact same thing.

On returning to the parking lot I realized I had removed the wrong keys from my chain, and we had to call AAA. Fortunately there was a very chatty female ranger in the booth, who was reading Lord of the Rings and began reciting its plot in great and tremendously boring detail. I asked her if there was a race of Small People called the Dorks, a hybrid of Dwarves and Orcs.

Rob was tired but he humored me by going into San Jose to see a production of Queen of America, by C.D. Payne (author of Youth in Revolt). Rich Kraft and Paul met us there, and we went to a hip cafe afterwards.

The moral: a bad day rock-climbing is better than a good day working, and a good day rock-climbing is better than anything, period!

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