Taking the Leap

July 7-9 2003

random trip report
Photos by me and Rob Vaterlaus. Click on images for hi-res versions.

Rob V. and I decide to expand our multi-pitch climbing skills, so we hire a guide for three days from Alpine Skills International. The guide is Tom Carter, a veteran of Yosemite in the 70s and an extremely knowledgeable and friendly guy. We spend two days at Donner Pass and one day at Lover's Leap.

Donner Lake

The two days at Donner are a mixture of instruction (mostly on protection-related stuff, some on climbing technique) and actual climbing. We do a few easy crack routes, and I lead a 5.8 with Tom climbing beside me and coaching.

Rob and I stay in Reno.

We stayed here

Our hunger pushes us to the buffet at El Dorado, which is a mistake. After dinner we wander around; in a park by the river is a dance performance (four marginally-talented young men) attended by a large crowd of locals. We browse at an art/retro/hemp store, and I buy a 1950's cookbook: 300 ways to cook eggs.

On second day we do anchor-setting in the morning, then Jelly Roll (two pitches, starting with a tricky diagonal traverse).

Jelly Roll from below

Where the hell is my left arm??

Other climbers doing Jelly Roll

It's hard to remember all the stuff Tom covers, but here are some of the high points:

Anchor setting

  • Use of anchor 'shelf' (clip through one strand from each loop) to reduce clutter on main anchor point.
  • changing orientation of bottom protection piece when role of anchor changes from upper to lower
  • combining two pieces of gear into one anchor point; using additional biners/draws/slings to approximately equalize
  • fine-tuning the direction of a hard knot by adding loops around biners
Belaying a follower
  • Attaching to anchor with clove hitch (easier to adjust than 'hard knots' like overhand on bight ).
  • Use of 'redirect biner' attached to anchor
  • Use of Munter hitch (looks like Sticky Fingers tongue) instead of belay device
  • tying off the Munter hitch (frees up hands)
  • Z pulley for hauling up climber
  • Autobrake: 2' cordelet loop clipped to leg loop, wrapped 3-4X around brake rope.
  • Use of kleimheist (or several, with ladder slings) to ascend belay rope in case of trouble
  • Use a sling to move ATC farther away from you (easier to brake)
  • To lower a semi-incapacitated partner: attach to anchor; set him up for rapel; rapel down below him.

We drive to South Lake Tahoe (note to self: if you want the cheapest motel, search off the main drag). The next morning we drive to Lover's Leap and meet Tom at 7:30 (to make sure we're first in line). We climb Corrugation Corner, which is among the world's 50 Klassic Klimbs. It's four pitches of 5.7, fairly steep and with exposure, but easy because of the corner and the horizontal dykes in the rock.

Me on second belay ledge

View from second belay

We're done by 2 PM. We decide not to start another climb, and instead chat with Tom for a while, then (acting on Tom's beta) drive down 50 and turn south on Silverfork Rd., and drive a couple of miles to a wonderful swimming stop in the river. It's bracingly cold.

Rob braves the icy water

A nice horizontal surface

On the way back we stop at Pipeworks in Sacramento and climb for a couple of hours, including some 5.11A. Then it's on the Murder Burger in Davis for some of their famous Salty Fries.

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