Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Devil's Gate Boulders, 09/15/10

Jeez! When was the last time I went bouldering twice in one week?!? Many moons, my friend. Many moons, but that streak done got broke. Last Sunday it was a little tour on the ridge at Pine Mountain. Yesterday was even better. To begin with, it was Dave Rivas and I, which, due to scheduling issues, doesn't happen very often. Also, we got to check out Devil's Gate and the random boulders that litter the Sespe creekbed. This had been on our radar for a while and it was good to finally satisfy that itch.

Getting up to Devil's Gate is mostly a pain in the ass, starting with the parking on Goodenough Road, and then there's the goatf**k descent down to the Sespe, followed by about 2 miles of athletic creekbed to negotiate, after which one arrives at the Gate, which is just an acute narrowing of the Sespe Creek, flanked on either side by towering, jagged buttresses of burnt sandstone. Seen it, been there. But the boulders, that scattered jumble of goodies, they were worth the trip.
The first boulders we shoed up for were overhung, with bad feet and awkward angled holds. Adventure bouldering! Bad landings, vegetation, insects, dirty holds, and best of all, no crash pad! Oh, man. This was a lot like all those years wandering the desert, dirtbagging my way up high-ball, no name grit piles. We hucked ourselves at good old "bad feet and awkward angled holds" for a while before admitting that it was just a bit out of our range (at least for now). Moving down the creek we found a totally do-able line, but backed off after a few tries on account of the crux being way high and an ominous man-eating boulder parked in the crash zone. Rocks: 2
Humans: 0

After these first losses we started finding what we were after, a few big, tall, & uglies. We worked a few different problems. One, I'm sure, went at a V3 rating (below). It had a tricky start and a horrifying, bald mantle top out. Later, we found a some other stuff to fool around on. My biceps tendon is actually responding well to the abuses of climbing (so far) and I'm starting to get the idea that bouldering is actually fun for me again. I could say alot about injuries and such, but I've stayed away from climbing mostly because it wasn't really fun for me anymore. I had fun yesterday. I'm already starting to think that my old Boreal's (climbing shoes, on their 4th resole) are overdue for retirement.
As for what's actually at Devil's Gate for boulderers, I assure you that while it is no bouldering mecca, there's enough the to have a good day. I make no claims regarding what may be further up the Sespe. The stone itself is the same grippy, pockety, edgy stuff that the old Tar Creek Boulders were made of before they died in The Flood of '95. Other similarities to Tar also apply, bad landings on man-eating boulders, for example.
And the last climbing problem of the day is called,
"Hop DeFence"

1 comment:

  1. To David Stillman,

    I've read your blog post and seen your pictures that you posted about the "Devils Gate Boulders." I realize that you are an experienced hiker and are most likely respectful of the areas that you explore i.e. not leaving any trash, staying on trails, and covering up any camp fires you may have. However, the area you have posted information on is more delicate that you may think. "The Devils Gate Boulders" lie within a state condor sanctuary. You are probably already aware that California Condors are an endangered species and there are less than 181 living in the wild, (reference Wikipedia). Every time that my fellow climbers and I go into this area we always come out with more trash than we brought in. Condors use their keen eyesight to track down what looks like shiny pieces of bone fragments, which more often then not, end up being pieces of trash. This would not pose much of an issue but when condors take these pieces of trash to their babies, their babies eat them, suffocate, and die. Condors have also been killed from people leaving their rappel ropes hanging from some of the higher cliffs. Condors have played with the ropes, which were hung off of one of their favorite hang outs, and have strangled themselves and died. Also, the climbers who have been climbing there for the past ten years have a precarious agreement with the land owner who’s property you have posted specific instructions on how to trespass on. The proximity of this area to L.A. already makes it very difficult to protect for the long term and when people begin posting information on the internet, thus potentially opening up the area to even more impact from people, it makes me and my fellow climbers wonder how long we will be able to climb there, and how long we’ll be able to enjoy the solitude and the condors. On behalf of all of the climbers who frequent this area, and the condors who do not have a voice, please remove your post on this area and do your best to maintain the secrecy of it.


    -Kelsey. F.