A group of us headed up to the Tahoe region to climb this past weekend. We stayed at the campground at Strawberry, but after seeing the crowds a couple of us decided to go hit up some new spots that were in an old guide book I had found for Tahoe.
Saturday found us in South Lake Tahoe climbing at the Pie Shop. This place was awesome for the easy approach, lack of crowds, and easy to moderate climbs. Just what I needed to get my head back into the game of leading trad. I hopped on a funny 5.7 corner (two pitches because of rope drag). Rob found a 5.8 to warm up on. I followed up with another awesome 5.8 corner. Just to the left of that was a 5.10a slab problem into a layback flake. Rob hopped on it and after a nervous first five moves he floated the rest of it. Our last climb at the Pie Shop that day was a 5.9 which I lead -- I never felt any 5.9 (except maybe at the beginning) but the top sure was run out. Climb 30ft, sling a chicken head... climb another 20ft, sling another chicken head. But it was awesome.
We (Rob and I) had left at 6am Saturday morning so we were bushed -- headed back to camp, made some pasta and zonked out in a heavy food coma. I remember reading a book in my tent and making it to the last page before the end of the chapter. I'd doze off and dream that I was still reading the book. Then I'd wake up and be like -- but I was TONS of pages past this point, realize what happened, try to make it through the last page, and promptly fall asleep, dreaming a different ending to the chapter. I did this 3 or 4 times before just going to sleep.
Sunday we got up, went to where the rest of the group was and made breakfast. Brad and Rob wanted to climb some more challenging routes and the place with the best concentration of 5.10-5.11 routes is at Eagle Lake. So it was back down to 'da lake, over to Emerald Bay, and up the trail towards Eagle Lake.
The approach was easy -- the views were spectacular -- the Eagle Lake Cliff was formidable. We approached it and, while it was only 35 meters tall, we were awe struck by the awesome lines that just popped out at us.
Rob and Brad both lead a 5.10b as their "warmup" route -- a very committing layback into a very loose set of flakes. I was glad I wasn't leading as every move I made sounded and looked like I was going to peel huge flakes of granite off the side of the cliff.
Then they both lead a 5.10a which has to be one of the best 10a's I've ever climbed. Start liebacking one direction, reach a ledge, lie back the other direction, a short section of hand jams into a finger width traverse over the the anchor bolts. I could easily see myself leading that in the near future. For now I was happy following it and cleaning.
Rob and Brad both really wanted to get on the 5.11c/d that was on the cover of the guidebook. A spectacular line with an amazing view. So I offered to run up a chimney to the top of a pillar sticking out from the rock to get some good pictures. Up I went. The chimney was protected by bolts but I didn't take enough draws so I was having to unclip bolts at my feeet to clip one above my head. But hey -- it was only a 5.9 chimney -- AND it was protected by bolts. Can't ask for a more chill way to the top of a pillar. Both Rob and Brad followed -- I think mostly to get a look at the climb they wanted to do -- but from above.
Then it was time for da bidness.
Rob was up first -- cruising through the first crux. Getting up into the narrow chimney, out to a finger crack and up to the second crux. The route was very beta intensive. It reminded me of climbing a route in the gym. If you didn't use certain feet and certain hands you were coming off. Rob fell just below reaching the next jug/resting spot. His gear was solid and the fall was really quite mellow. He got back on and after figuring out the foot sequence he was able to make it to the next cruxy pumpfest section. Again, without using the correct feet he came out and took a good fall on a small cam. It was impressive watching him just go for it. He figured the sequence out and flashed on up to the anchor bolts.
Brad had a hard time getting off the ground -- the finger locks Rob had found were just a little wide for Brad's fingers. But once he got goin' he cruzed right to the same spot Rob fell the first time and took a fall. He rested a bit and fired up to the same exact spot as Rob's second fall where his feet picked and he took a nice fall. After another short rest and a study of the moves, Brad made quick work of the third crux and got up to the top without any problems.
Both Brad and Rob were climbing HARD!
My favorite pics from the trip:
Rob and Shadow climbing a 5.10a slab problem at the Pie Shop
Me committing to the layback on a 5.10b
How far back can I stick my arm? (5.10a)
Rob hitting the end of the 5.11c/d
And Brad hitting the end.
Look! I have a muscle!!
More Pictures Here!