We met up with Gretchen and Jax near
the trailhead to Knob Hill, located near the series of three bridges as you
make your way along the Merced River down into The Valley. The short but steep approach led us to the
climbing area, and to some struggles as to where the climbs we wanted were.
After starting to climb, the leaders both
found themselves off route. Gretchen
was actually on the climb we were intending to lead, and Dave was leading a
dirty gully. A few times, he yelled down
for Alex to put her head down as he brushed away dirt and pine needles in order
to make a gear placement. Grethen found
herself on a climb she would have said “no!” to climbing based on its
description of liebacking, hand cracks to fist cracks. She did a great job of persevering on
uncomfortable terrain, and found herself sitting at a tree belay after crushing
the route. After a fall on an off-route
finger crack, Dave lowered to the ledge he had climbed the dirty gully to
reach. Turns out this ledge was the
start of the climb Gretchen was on, Chicken Pie (5.7), and was the climb we
wanted to be on. Alex climbed up the
gully to join him on the ledge before he continued up the nice hand and fist
jams to the belay tree with Gretchen and Jax.
Alex followed, cleaning the climb, before all four rappelled down to the
ledge. We each climbed it a few more
times, lending Alex’s tape gloves to Gretchen and Jax in order to help them
gain more comfort and confidence with the cracks.
Jax gained so much confidence on
this one, that she decided to lead Pot Belly (5.8). The climb started with an unprotected
undercling traverse to a hand crack.
After, an initial fall getting into the crack, which Dave did a great
job of catching, Jax immediately got right back on the route and crushed it.
After Gretchen followed and cleaned
the route, Dave lead it, with Alex following and cleaning. Off the same anchors, we were all able to
top-rop an unnamed/5.9 variation. The
finger crack, split from Pot Belly a few feet above the undercling
traverse. As the three ladies climbed
the route, we all verbal acknowledged that Dave was not going to like this
route… his fingers were not going to be a good fit! Grumbly Dave made his way up the route,
trying to stay in the larger hand crack for as long (if not too long) as
We all decided that we had enough of
the hot sun that felt as if it were burning our feet through our shoes. So, when Dave finished cleaning the route,
we packed up and headed to the river for a refreshing swim.
We drove off in our cars towards the
Valley to get cold beverages and make dinner.
Being a Saturday, it was VERY busy, so we temporarily lost each other
while finding places to park. Finally,
we rejoined, made some purchases at the store and prepared to make dinner. We had grilled cheese sandwiches as
appetizers (thankfully we made the sandwiches before Gretchen could maul BOTH
blocks of cheese as she claimed she wanted to do), followed by rice noodles
with peas and red curry sauce.