The cosmic Wall
The Mt Hubris climb is an annual fall Obsidian club outing. Doug Nelson was the trip leader. Doug decides to recruit the help Of Wayne Deeter who claims to know the way through the manzanita maze at the base of this classic route known as the Cosmic Wall.
Dougs enthusiasm for this climb is contagious and I know the whole group was anxious for this opportunity.
I have been driving by these gorgeous granite spires on Interstate 5 for years. I have camped at the Crags state park and even tried a solo hike in a couple of years ago. I was turned back out of the fear of an unknown creature tailing me as I made my way in to the Castle Dome. I think it was a Juvenile cat because it revealed it’s presence by a strange whining and crunching through the brush.. I also seen fresh scat on the way back down. Never been spooked out of a hike before.
Anyway back to the climb, we all met at Sue Cary’s house. She offered to drive and off we went to Nor Cal. It’s about a five hour drive with stops and we arrived 9:30 pm on a Friday evening. We set up base camp at the Castle Crags State Park. The Camp space came with Picnic table a bear box and even some shed bear fur to make it real.
No bear arrived in the night to freak us out. We woke up broke down camp and arrived at the trail head at 4:30 a.m. It is a long day I am told with a four mile approach and five pitches of climbing.
Dawn came and went as we approached and scrambled up on to the plateau between Sixtoe Rock, Castle Dome, and our objective Mt Hubris. We have been regaled by the horror stories of cross country travel through the manzanita. It was going to be a priority to find the climbers trail through this maze. Wayne Deeter was the one participant in the group that was here last year and was able to lead us through the nasty thickets of flesh tearing manzanita.
The beginning of the climb starts at a lone cedar tree perfect for hanging gear while we racked up and roped in. We flip a coin and Wayne and Chance get to go first. Doug, Sue, and Myself will go second.
First pitch: As it turns out is no more than a 5. 3 with a crack system featuring some easy stemming low, then easy slab to a large ledge with a tree as an anchor.
It was slow going for our team as three of us would complete the pitch and get the two ropes organized for the next pitch. We also were held up because Wayne and Chance were overly considerate and waited for us at couple of belay stations. When I was climbing the climbing was great. I have not had the opportunity to climb on granite and every hold and protection point was bomber. Further more It is a gorgeous area with views of Mt Shasta, countless minerets and spires.
Second pitch: This section featured difficulty at 5.6 with some slab climbing low. As you traverse up the climbing transitions to jugging, stemming and side pulls. finishing off with an airy step to the second belay. This is a small belay ledge featuring bolts for the anchor but complete with a little tree. This section gave us our first real exposure and got the adrenaline going
Third Pitch: You take the airy step in reverse and climb some run out slab for probably 40 or 50 ft, At this point there are shallow knobs to sling and the beginning of a thin linear flake system to pop in a cam. There is a precarious and hard to find belay station here. We opt to bypass this station and move up along thin flakes to a large ledge which is used as the standard fourth belay station with a tree for an anchor. The run out here was unnerving as the consenquences were real. The linear flake above this point was razor thin but fun side pulls.
Fourth pitch: This pitch in my opinion is the hardest keeping sustained at 5.6 to next belay station. It features combo of linear cracks, flakes to set protection, mainly cams here. It as well features exceptional exposure as you work your way up to a saddle. The climbing is stemming, side pull, jugging some finger jamming to successfully reach the saddle that requires the slinging of a rock and one cam to complete the anchor.
Fifth Pitch: The Final Pitch by it standard route follows a gully to a short airy traverse. We opt here to make the whole pitch an airy traverse with major air off to climbers right. This pitch by far is the climax of this sweet climb. It is a sawtooth ridge narrow for palming and friction for your feet. There is also a fair amount of stemming required as well to reach the summit and the rap rings.
The finish requires either a two raps to a saddle below or a double rope rap off to the saddle. The rappel was just about as much fun as the climb with some air rapping and spots were you launched away from the rock to catch the outer edge of large flakes to continue downward progress. The down climb out of the saddle was third class loose talus, probably the most dangerous part of the climb.
This climb is probably the finest 5.6 trad route in the state of California. I know big claim, You just have to try it out.
The climb started in the dark and ended in the dark. The trip was not complete until you stop at the Big Bear Diner in Mt Shasta city for dinner and drinks.. Good Times!