Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A further examination of Reyes Ridge and Haddock Peak. 07/11/12

Okay, back to the SLP, that hot, steep and prickly wilderness that I call my back yard but will never quite be my natural habitat. Yeah, we can't often make a living where we vacation, which is one of two reasons why I don't live in Bishop. I already miss my East Side.

Enough of that pity party. I was racking my brain for something different to do with my day off when I remembered that I'd made a commitment to myself to learn more about the environs of Reyes and Haddock Peaks and the ridge between the two. I'd been up here bouldering on Pine Mtn a few days prior, run into an old friend who I've mentioned previously, Juan Carlo, developer of much of the bouldering on Pine. This got me thinking about all the sandstone I'd seen on the Reyes ridge and I figured I'd spend today exploring that neck of the woods.

I've known about some rock climbing development out on the ridge, namely two sites, one before and beneath the Reyes summit, and another further down the ridge past Reyes. I wanted to find those sites. I had other reasons for going, namely that I wanted to see the actual crest of the Reyes Ridge. In other words, I wanted to hike the ridge and not the trail, which roughly parallels the ridge but lies below the actual crest for most of it's length, a route that kept me off-trail for greater than 60% of the day. I had one additional goal in mind, a little recon for future consideration which I suspect will  become a post of it's own someday soon.  

This low angle face lies east of the Reyes summit. 
More bolted routes on the boulder west of Reyes.
I had no trouble finding the rock climbing sites I mentioned. The site on the west side of Reyes was an easy find. The climbing at this site has been developed on a magnificent boulder that is about 40 feet in height. The crew responsible bolting up this rock include Darren Ogden of Cheap Sports (who I've known since '93, both of us being veterans of Sport Chalet) and friends. Next time I'm at the shop I need to ask him about the routes and names for this beautiful block of quality stone. I identified six bolted lines of various difficulty and I admit that I started getting itchy fingers while staring at these lines. The routes here are short, steep and looked fun. I look forward to dragging a partner up for a day of clipping bolts.

Fun and overhung.

Done with Darren's big rock, I headed uphill until I met the trail to the Reyes summit. After a brief break in the morning sun atop Reyes I started heading cross-country across the ridge, moving east toward Haddock Peak. I kept my commitment to myself, which was to travel the true crest of this ridge. I just kind of sauntered through the pines, navigating around patches of undergrowth, taking time to enjoy the views of the southern face of the ridge. I frequently pulled out to check out any ole thing that caught my interest. I enjoy being off-trail and seeing the stuff that most others don't have the immagination to go look for.

Atop the Reyes summit.
Wandering the sun-dappled ridge.
I'd gone out today despite the high heat warnings across Southern California and the probability of an afternoon thunderstorm.  My rationale for picking the high country today, that I'd be at 7,000ft and have a breeze and shade, worked out well. It was plenty hot alright, but not unbearably so, and the breeze was very much appreciated. Several times I got tangled up with the forest (see below) but for the most part, the trees and undergrowth were fairly spread out and travel was enjoyable. The forest floor was matted with six inches of dead pine needles which made travel cushy, except on slopes. On the ups and downs those pine needles were slippery as hell. Thank you trekking poles. I was reminded of the death of a climber from Italy in the early '90s, a model and medical student who was walking across a wide and routine ledge, but fell to her death after slipping on just a few pine needles.

Close encounters with plant life.

As I roved the ridge I explored several small boulder fields, looking these over with the eye of a life-long boulderer. I climbed rocky outcrops of crumbly sandstone and peered down the great scarps of the southern side of this fantastic ridge. In the course of my wanderings I found over a dozen sites with Chumash bedrock mortars and the same number of places were critters had bedded down or found a hollow under a rock to hide in. I discovered two ancient fire rings, their circles filled with twigs and needles. In one place I found the remains of some old static rope tied a round a tree trunk. The rope had been there for years and the remains of the rope trailed off the southern face of the ridge.

As the day progressed the temperature and humidity continued to climb. I enjoyed watching cirrus clouds being drawn into a huge thermal over Lockwood Valley. These wisps of moisture coalesced into small cumulus clouds which continued east toward the desert.  While watching clouds in the shadow of a large ponderosa I caught site of a small raptor winging straight for the tree I sat under. The bird, which turned out to be a pretty Harris Hawk, finally saw me about 20 feet from the tree. It immediately flared into a dramatic air-brake, back-flapped a couple times and flew off.

I found several long abandoned fire rings on the ridge.
Haddock Peak from the west.

Staring down the Potrero John watershed

The ancient remains of a rope thrown over the southern side of the ridge.

So as you can see, I had a complete day of adventurous fun. I now know this ridge pretty well and committing to staying off-trail worked out well. I will say that the views make hiking the ridge a true treat, that and the sense of being out there on your own. As in all things out doors, most of what's out there isn't on a trail. This was a fun day. Oh yeah, that little recon I did paid off and Jack Eliot and I have some new material coming soon, something burly, bloody, and no, there was no trail. 

No comments:

Post a Comment