Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pedrick's Chimney

Climbed Pedrick's Chimney last weekend.

It's named after Ben Pedrick, who first climbed it in 1947. Gary Driggs' 2008 book on the history of Camelback has this picture of Pedrick and another early pioneer of local climbing, Ralph Pateman. In this screen shot from the Google Books version of the Driggs book, there appears to be a mistake. Pedrick's Chimney, of course, is not on Bobby's Rock, but on Gargoyle Wall, just down the lane a bit from Hart Route. There's a Pedrick's Split, 5.3, on Bobby's Rock, but I've never bothered to climb it because it's so short. Someday I should do that one, though, and a Pateman first ascent, the 5.7 Pateman's Cave.

Here's the description of the Pedrick's route on Google Boooks. And here's the one from Rock Climbing Arizona.

Both of these sources, like the venerable Phoenix Rock by Jim Waugh, (cover of this awesome book, which supposedly is selling for $49.99 on Amazon, at left), rate Pedrick's Chimney at 5.1, and it is, by straight-up climbing standards. However, note that it's got a "consensus" rating of 5.2 on Mountain Project. I can see why. In the rock gym, it would be a 5.7, partially just due to its length. But for the leader, which I was last weekend, the climb becomes something more than a mere walk-up.

I hadn't intended on climbing anything on lead -- my pack was rigged for free-soloing. I'd intended to climb the 5.1 I did in 2008, or, more likely, the Headwall, then rappel down Pedrick's (after the 5.1 into August Canyon) or Rappel Gully (if I'd done the Headwall). Instead, my buddy Brian decided to join me, and I wanted him to do something that got us into the stratosphere, since he's done mostly short outdoor climbs. That's an important reason I love climbing at Camelback so much -- the walls there are nothing to sneer at, with some routes going well over 300 feet.

Anyhoo, because doing that route hadn't been on the agenda when I'd thrown a few things in my approach pack that morning, I didn't have enough quick-draws to properly lead the route. That didn't stop me, mind you, but it did make the lead feel a lot more like an adventure. Yeah, I know what you're thinking -- isn't that the whole theme of this blog? Well, sure -- but I'd have liked to have had two extra draws and maybe a cam or two to really sew it up. As it was, I used up the first quick draw to give myself a modicum of protection on the lower part of the 80-foot climb, so when I got to the overhang in the crack, I only had one left.

The bolt that quick-draw went into is a good 35 feet or so above the last one, so if it pulled out, there'd be a strong possibility of decking out. At best, it would be a horrific fall with guaranteed extreme injury -- again, that's if the bolt pulled. It's a fairly new, still shiny bolt no doubt left by the Arizona Mountaineering Club. Maybe in the 2000s, probably in the '90s. It probably wouldn't pull out. But I led Pedrick's as if it would have. I don't really like trusting my life to one bolt in Camelback rock. And there's a way to climb in the crack by wriggling in it like a caterpillar. Not pretty, but it's a no-fall method, as far as I'm concerned, meaning that at no point would a slip of any one hold result in a fall. I knew Pedrick's could be climbed like that because I free-soloed it a few years ago.

I've also climbed Pedrick's two or three times on lead, with the requisite number of quick draws, and found it quite easy and enjoyable. It's best to stay out of the crack near the top, it should go without saying, and stem on the outside. The rock quality here is pretty good, with all -- strike that -- most of the loose stuff in the main portion of the climb having been washed out or pulled off by climbers over time.

This is an incredibly enjoyable climb for a moderate leader like myself because it's tall, but never scary. Just a fun, vertical walk in the park. Being in August Canyon is another of its rewards -- I've written of the joys of that hideaway before.

The route is only a one-star, I'd say. But as always, that's pretty good for being in the middle of town. It would be a great confidence builder for a beginning leader. Brian, who had a few outdoor climbs under his belt before getting on this one, had a great time.

Most experienced Camelback climbers know Pedrick's as the way down, not necessarily a way up. It's the standard descent for Hart Route, Misgivings and other Gargoyle climbs. My friend Mike and I, back in the day, tried to make our way over to Pedrick's once after climbing Suicide Direct. Our path through the maze of August Canyon was blocked by bees. A galaxy of them. This was before killer bees were widespread in the Valley, but we beat a retreat and decided to rap the route we'd climbed. That turned out to nearly be a hell of a mistake. With only one one rope, we had a dreadful moment while clipped into slings on the bolted ledge mid-way up the route's 2nd pitch, when we pulled on the rope to get it down and it got stuck. Somehow -- perhaps untangled by the sometimes helpful, sometimes gremlin-like "rock gods," as we cheekily call the mountains' unseen forces.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Roadrunner Greets Crowds as Fall Hiking Season Finally Arrives

Camelback was an anthill today, as expected. That's fine with me. The weather has finally turned and it's great to see so many people out enjoying the day.

A couple of dudes pointed out a roadrunner on the way down, not too far from the top. First one I've seen up there. It had a small lizard, maybe a grasshopper, in its mouth.

Circle of life, man.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bike and Climb

In the interest of ramping up the adventure and exercise quotient, a few weeks ago I committed to one of my favorite tortures -- a bike and climb. I live 10 miles from the mountain, so it's a decent work-out.

The Papago hills seem to be made out of the pink substance as Camelback, and I think they are conglomerate like the Head area, which has most of Camelback's climbing routes. The vertical terrain at Papago is much more crumbly, though.

When biking in this area, I always try to make it up Galvin Parkway and over the hills on McDowell. The Valley's mostly flat as a bicycling town, of course.

Even though this was in September, it was still darned hot. Hate to keep returning to this theme, but not long after I'd locked up the bike and begun hiking, I saw a guy carrying a dog on his back. About a 35-40 pounder, kind of a cute mongrel with a black snout. It was panting heavily.

"Is he okay?" I asked as they went by.

"He's just tired." Said the guy.

Almost as annoying as people who push their pets to the limit -- people who leave dog's crap in a little bag on the sides of trails. Do these people honestly think there's an official, and free, poop pick-up service? It's an outrage to see these reminders of mankind's haughtiness.

Not that I bother to pick them up. Someone else will do it.

Below, coming back on McDonald, looking south. Unless you're a CEO or use McDonald to get from south Scottsdale to central Phoenix, this isn't your typical view of the mountain.

All in all, a fun few hours. Except for nearly passing out from heat exhaustion on the way back. I felt incredibly drained. The humidity was high and the temp about 102, with strong sunlight since I began this one at about 11. After a long summer of hot hikes, this late-summer bike-and-hike tested my internal temperature controls.