In keeping with our new year’s resolution of exploring new climbing areas, Shirley & I found ourselves in California’s Lovers Leap on a Saturday morning following a Friday night flight to Sacramento. Having spent the last month “on the sofa” (due to some frustrating and largely weather-related failures) we were both looking forward to sampling some sunny moderates (easy’s?) at the Leap. As it turned out we got the “moderate” part but not so much the “sunny” component (shady cliff of course but also windy conditions).
On Saturday we started up The Groove (5.8, 2 pitches) and after a touch of hiking continued up Traveler's Buttress (5.9, 4 pitches). The former allows one to avoid much unpleasant uphill hiking while the latter makes the Fifty Classic Climbs Of North America list. Though I’m not really sure if the honor is deserved (Outer Space in Leavenworth is a climb of similar nature but is more enjoyable IMHO), the climbing was mostly very fun. The one exception of course being the grovelly off-width on pitch 2 - slick and hard we thought. I should also mention that we found the climbing at the Leap to be quite funky in general: if you cannot reach a key horizontal dike, then all of the sudden you are forced into some unexpectedly thin moves. On the hike down, The Line (5.9) caught our eye and so we did the (excellent) first pitch before calling it a day.
On Sunday, we got on Surrealistic Pillar Direct (5.10-). We both found it hard and hung some (I on the lieback up top and Shirley on the opening wideness). We then continued up on Surrealistic Pillar route (proper) in one rope-stretching 70 meter pitch. A quick hike up and once again we were shivering in the windy shadiness of the main wall under the Hospital Corner (5.10-). The first pitch offers some nice easy climbing while the second is the reason to get on this route: a beautiful, 100+ foot dihedral with a variable crack. No-stress pro and fun climbing! Perhaps it’s more in line with the type of climbing we’re used to but the rating was of a confidence-building sort on this one (I’ll probably hear from someone that the thing is/was rated 5.8 and I’ll have to eat my words here but oh well… : ). We thought about Corrugation Corner but it seemed to have a party of three at every belay. Instead we hiked down to Strawberry Lodge for some eats and then headed to Sacramento for our flight home. A very nice climbing area but I guess Cali is chockfull of them (& the weather does not suck).
PS Thanks for the camping beta Rob.