Saturday, January 26, 2008

East Cochise Stronghold

We decided to head further south, to the Dragoon Mountains, so called for the soldiers who were sent to hunt down the renegade Chiracahua Apaches. Cochise Stronghold, obviously, is named for the Apache warrior Cochise, as he was able to escape the US military by hiding out in the maze of valleys and mountains. It's also the pride of Arizona climbing, so great prized by southern Arizona climbers that only a few of the many routes done here are documented. The rest they leave up to your ingenuity to find or perhaps you can have your own adventure.
I decided to climb the route "Nightstalker" on Owl Rock (shown to the left). There are only 4 bolts on the entire route, which is a little sparse. I was able to get in some good gear and tie of 3 or 4 chickenheads to protect the rest of the route. It's a great route and I recommend it if you're in the area.
We only stayed in the east a few days because the sun went over the hill pretty early in the day which made for some cold late afternoons and nights. Now we are in the west, which has sun longer in the day and thus it's much warmer.

Pictures of My First Route

This is me drilling a bolt at the top of the route.
And here is me climbing the top of the route. And below is a full picture of the route, which you can follow by the rope running up the rock.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

To Catch a Mouse

Inspired by Mike, I decided to try my hand at route development also. I picked out what I thought would be a good route while waiting for Mike to finish his route. Since this was my first time drilling bolts (BTW - we bought a power drill!), Mike drilled the anchors for me.
Then I rappelled the route to pick out the bolt placements, and clean some of the loose rock off. I was ready to start drilling, but I wanted Mike to check out the bolt placement first, to make sure they were in a good location for clipping, and also to make sure the rock was solid. So he rappelled, and adjusted some of my placements, then gave me the go-ahead to start drilling.
I got on rappel and went down to my first location. I used a prusik to back me up at the spot, and I also wrapped the rope around my leg to hold me in place.
The first 3 bolts drilled relatively quickly, for a novice like me. But the last bolt gave me a heck of a time! First, it was in a location where I had difficulty getting leverage on the drill, and the rock was particularly hard there. It took me probably 2 hours to get it drilled properly. I was worried that the hole wouldn't be straight or too wide due to drill wobble, but Mike checked it out and pronounced it OK! So I tapped in the last bolt and headed up on the first ascent.
Apparently the route still needed some cleaning, because the rock broke between the first and the second bolt and I fell on my first bolt! Luckily, it held my fall!
I call the route "To Catch a Mouse". The picture uploading isn't working on blogger at the moment, so I'll have to upload pictures later!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fossils and such

One of the cool things about the Homestead rock is the all the fossils and shells in the limestone. You can see complete crynoids sitting on the rock like in the photo to the left. Also, there are really cool shells and other fossils everywhere. These two fossils were at the top of the cliff on the new routes Mike put up. But you can see them all the way up the climbs and in the rocks along the creekbed up to the climbing area.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Year, New Routes

After Christmas, we returned to the Homestead for some more sport climbing. Although a staunch trad climber, Mike decided to put up some new routes. To the left is Mike drilling the hole for the first bolt hanger. On the right, Mike blows the dust out of the drill hole. Unfortunately, we only have a hand drill and so it takes quite a long time. Things would go a lot faster with a power drill. Each bolt takes close to an hour to place, which means for hand drillers like Mike, it takes almost a full day to finish a route. Mike made me do the first ascent of this route, which he calls "Pocket Mouse", probably rated 5.8.
Today he did the first ascent of another route he put up, which is yet to be named. I think it will be rated 5.10b. I was unable to get photos of the first ascent because I had to pay close attention while belaying.