Sunday, May 30, 2010

Enchanted Rock to Pace Bend-- The Ceniza Trip

Our annual trip to Lake Travis is always a nice time to unwind from the chaos of school while enjoying the lake. Now i'll never be one to turn down a trip to the lake and indeed there's no time like lake time. But in the spirit of Alpine Summer my good friend Jordan and I decided to up the annie this year, and what else could make this trip any better than spending a few days rock climbing?

So we loaded up the car one morning and headed to Enchanted Rock which is home to the best granite crack climbing in the great state of Texas. The trails at E-Rock are extremely easy to follow as there are colored stakes in the ground leading climbers to the each of the popular climbing areas allowing even the most navigationally challenged individuals to find their climbs with ease. 

Unfortunately on our way to Motorboat Rock we took a wrong turn and ended up at the Triple Cracks Sanctuary. "No biggy" I thought as I started hoping over boulders bushwhacking my way towards Motorboat. "You might not want to come that way. There's a huge rattlesnake down there!" a local climbing guide thankfully shouted while waiting for his clients to show up. We backtracked our steps and located the appropriate trail. After chatting with the guide for a few minutes he invited us to jump on the top ropes he had already set up. We thanked him and used this opportunity to warm up on a nice 5.6. By the time we were both down another guide showed up with about 15 clients. We asked the guide for a good 5.7 that would be out of their way and he pointed us to Can Opener 5.7+. I stress the plus part of the grade but that's probably just because the climbing was a much different style than I am used to. 

After our warm up climbs we headed back to the Triple Cracks to climb Middle Crack 5.8, a beautiful off width leading to a bulge followed by a hand crack which later turned into a left leaning finger crack. It is an excellent route and I hope to climb it again someday. Jordan was unable to make it past the crux, so I lowered him down and cleaned the route on rappel. While packing up I noticed Owl Crack 5.9, an awesome looking off width in a dihedral which can be easily protected by a hand crack on the face, which I'm defiantly going to come back to climb.

We decided to head over to the Backside and climb the Sweat Crack 5.6 to warm down for the day. This route was especially fun for me since it was my first trad lead just a year and a half before. My improvement since then was especially noted by the fact that I only placed 4 pieces and a year and half ago I placed nearly 13! Before calling it a day I decided to repeat Pro Sweat 5.9 which is a super fun, well protected slab climb. 

On the way back to the Jeep we ran into the guided party we had seen earlier. We thanked the guide once again and headed back to the lake. We decided to stop in Llano and let Leard's BBQ (the best BBQ in Texas) satisfy our well deserved hunger. I don't care if you don't agree about the best BBQ. Once you try all the BBQ places in Texas you will agree that I'm right and that Leard's is the best. 

After a few days at the lake, my climbing itch returned. Jordan was diligently tending to his studies, so I decided to go soloing. Deep water soloing that is, which is a form of climbing in which you climb over water rather than over a rope. My Mom graciously agreed to drop me off at Pace Bend park so I could satisfy my climbing itch and explore a new facet of climbing. I easily located the top of the cliff and walked along looking for top anchors. AFter a few minutes I found two routes both ending with old rusted piton rappel anchors. I walked past but after finding nothing better decided to turn around. As I turned I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to keep going. Reluctantly I turned back around and continued along the top of the cliff. About five minutes later I saw a group of about five old climbers working on a beautiful overhanging pillar. I asked if I could join them and they invited me into the water as though I was a good friend.

I got on the route they where working on and threw it down with ease. They were impressed, and they made it their goal to find something I couldn't climb. They took me around to a smaller bouldering wall and we climbed a few good routes there.

After I flashed their projects they pointed me around the corner to a 3 bolt climb over the water. I hopped on it but couldn't figure out the first few moves and slipped off about five feet up. I tried it again and easily topped out at the chains. After the bouldering wall we went across the cove to a taller wall that was probably close to 30ft hight.

There were several really good routes there. I gave my Mom a call to come pick me up and as I looked at the time I decided I had enough time to try one more 

One more route offered a worthy challenge and had been attempted by one of the climbers who was forced to climb out right instead of going straight up over the cruxy top out. I jumped on it and after a few minutes I pulled over the top out to the applause of the climbers below. I jumped down and retrieved my life jacket. 

I packed my stuff and hiked back to the road to be picked up. 

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I love life and aspire to be all I can be in everything that I do.