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A Big Day Out at Lover’s Leap

Alex reached out to Lover’s Leap Guides wanting a big day.   A few of his route requests were  climbs that he hadn’t climbed before and with hopes to eventually lead them.

The Strawberry Station General Store

Meeting at the Strawberry Station General Store on Hwy 50, Alex bought a few last minute items that he needed for the day.  The store is well stocked with climbing and outdoor gear, snacks for the day, and a great beverage selection for the end of the day!

The Climbing Plan!

We headed out to the East Wall and racked up at the food box just off the Pony Express trail.   We left extra food and water in the box for later in the day.  With plans on climbing Traveler Buttress off width, we wanted to be light.

The Lower Buttress of Lover’s Leap

We are the first ones to arrive at the Lower Buttress and head straight to Surrealistic Direct.  One of Lover’s Leap Guides favorite 5.10’s!  Since this is our first pitch of the day, we opt for the 10a variation.  Climbing past the bolted station for the direct, I setup a belay  on a nice dike stance in the middle of the face to the left of the wide left facing corner.  Alex climbs the corner with out a problem and is soon at the belay.  A 170 foot pitch of mostly easy “Dike Hiking” brings us to the top.

Next up is Traveler Buttress.

Surrealistic Direct

Traveller Buttress!

On top of the Lower Buttress we head left hiking towards Tombstone Ledge where Traveller’s starts.  The first pitch just might be the hardest 5.8 at the Leap!  Off the ground there are two options,  the one on the left is a big reach to good handholds.  A big crank brings you to a good stance. The right option starts with good holds but they quickly disappear.  The rock pushes you out, and you have to balance as you negotiate around the corner to the left.  From the stance you climb a fantastic serrated flake.  Great hand holds from the flake combined with big dikes, makes this steep section surprisingly moderate.  Passing a couple fixed pitons, you end up just below a steep wide crack. Lieback or jamming?  I usually do a combo of both.  Passing the final bulge brings you to Main Ledge and just below the intimidating Offwidth pitch of Travelers.

Finishing the first pitch of Traveller

Crash Landing!

Bringing the local knowledge of guiding at Lover’s Leap for over 25 years, we head over to Crash Landing.  The plan is to climb this runout 5.10 and leave behind our water, approach shoes, and any extra gear that won’t be needed for the offwidth pitch.  Crash Landing has three well spaced bolts that lead to a three foot long crack.  At the base of the crack, a .5 cam goes in, but does not inspire confidence.  One more move brings you up to a bomber .75 cam.  A couple more tenuous moves lead to easier climbing and eventually to the belay bolts of Travelers.  Alex climbs the pitch and is surprised at how pumpy it is.  Joining me at the belay, I transition to a quick lower and send Alex back to the base.  A 35 meter rappel brings me down.

Crash Landing

Pitch 2 of Traveller Buttress

Pitch 2 Offwidth!

I get back on belay and head up the pitch.  As I’m about to enter the offwidth, I turn to Alex and say ” Remember, this was your idea!”.  Squeezing into the crack, I do a combination of arm bars and heel/toes.  I plugged in a three inch cam, grunt a bit more and reach for a hand jam.  From there I do an 180 and leave the wide crack.  Once fully out of the wide crack you are rewarded by one of the nicest hand cracks at the Leap.  This brings us back to the anchor where our gear awaits.

Pitch 3

If the hand crack wasn’t enough of a reward from the battle with the offwidth, then the third pitch is.  Trending left and up you gain the arete.  The higher you get, the steeper it becomes.  Near the end of the arete, you step around left and the exposure hits you.  Hundreds of feet above the valley floor, you find yourself grabbing a little harder.  The East Wall and Central wall now come into view, as you do a traverse left into a shallow corner.  A powerful lie back brings you to a stance and easy dike climbing from here brings you to the top
We coil the rope, change shoes and head to the East Wall.

Pitch 3!

Fantasia!

The next route Alex requested was Fantasia, which I’m always happy to guide.  This is one of my favorite routes at the leap and I probably climb it 20-30 times a season.  I always think of Royal Robbins walking up to the base and just leading up this improbable wall.  We make quick work of this three pitch classic and head back down to the box for a quick snack.  Stay tuned for a beta intensive trip report on Fantasia.  I’m often asked which way to go on the third pitch.

It is Fantastic!

Psychedelic Tree

Finishing Psychedelic Tree

Alex’s final request for the day is Psychedelic Tree.  This is on the far right side of the East Wall. In Chris McNamara’s Supertopo Guidebook, he describes the climb as “the Line’s ugly Sibling”.  This climb is far from ugly, though there are some hollow flakes and blocks you have to climb cautiously around.  I lead off and the pitch starts steep and stays sustained for almost 150 feet of vertical climbing.  Before the ledge, the angle kicks back and so does the technical climbing.  Almost 200 feet from the ground you reach a nice ledge to belay from.

The final pitch is steep and has great crack crack climbing in the beginning.  Finger and hand jams with the occasional dike rest lead up to the intimidating summit overhangs. Wild lie backs and mantels bring you to the top of the East Wall of Lover’s Leap.  We sit on top and reflect on the day.  Alex is stoked on the day we just had, and so am I!

STOKED!

“Climbing with Lover’s Leap Guides is getting three days of climbing in one” says Alex as we head down the trail.  I take this as a huge compliment, thanks Alex!!

Looking for a full day plus of climbing?  Want to check out a climb you are not ready to lead?  Self rescue, learn to lead, big wall training, and more,  Let the local guide service show you the ropes!

Petch

Petch has been climbing since 1989 and has passion teaching and guiding as much as he does for climbing. At the end of an eight month climbing trip that took him and his partner from Joshua Tree in Southern California to Devils Tower in the eastern part of Wyoming, and everything in between, the final stop turned out to be Lover’s Leap. The right turn towards Lover’s Leap landed Petch in the campground in 1993. Climbing for eight months and a bank account of zero, he quickly found a job at the Strawberry Lodge. Falling in love with Lover’s Leap and Strawberry he found making a home easy. A guiding job opened in 1996 with teaching youth backpacking and rock climbing. The exciting future of guiding as a full time profession led to the opening of Lover’s Leap Guides in 2003. With his enthusiasm and knowledge of Lover’s Leap, Lover’s Leap Guides has become the most popular and busiest service to climb at Lover’s Leap. He has spent countless hours working with the Access Fund, CRAGS, and the Forest Service to maintain trails, protect nesting raptors, and community outreach. Climbing most of the routes at Lover’s Leap, he has also added numerous routes of his own. From 5.5 to 5.12D, some of his first ascents have become modern day classics. A good chance you will probably climb one of his routes when you climb with Lover’s Leap Guides. Petch is certified by the AMGA as a Rock Instructor and holds his certification as a Wilderness First Responder and CPR.