Back in February, I headed down to SoCal to hang out with some very, very rad ladies: Kam Altar, Oshie Magturo and Shawnté Salabert. I think it was my first real ladies’ trip. No dude friends, no boyfriends, no men. I’ll come out and say it: female friendship is something that’s very new and different for me. When I talk about “ladies’ weekends,” my long time (male) friends mock me and ask “What girlfriends?”
Three day weekends are not for sitting around. With the constant downpour California has been receiving, there was no place dry this past weekend within a reasonable driving distance. Josh and I got out on Sunday for a little bit, and suddenly, I remembered what it was like to be outside and not sloth-y. Josh had school on Monday so I was stuck at home sans car. Try as I might, I laid in bed, watched TV, made biscuits… but by the time noon rolled around, cabin fever had hit. It was time to get out of the house. Luckily, there’s a good number of parks within walking and biking distance of where I live. I put on all the waterproof stuff I own and headed out into the downpour to Laurelwood Park.
It’s basically been raining in the Bay Area for the last 2 months. Save for a couple patches of sunlight here and there, I’m beginning to think I live in the Pacific Northwest. The gloomy weather has made outdoor climbing more or less nonexistent. Our favorite local crag, Castle Rock, is soaked. Yosemite Valley and Bishop have mostly been under snow, or just too wet to climb. Most of my free time has been spent training or hibernating or some combination of the two. Finally, this past weekend, we decided to get out and stretch our legs; rain or shine. Our pick was Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve just south of Half Moon Bay.
The first time I ever led trad was about a year ago. I got a crash course in placing nuts right before. My friend mumbled some stuff to me, patted me on the back, and headed up the pitch with another friend. I would meet them up there. I nervously adjusted the sling containing the alpine draws and nuts. I thumbed through all the cams and started to climb. My first piece was a nut, right off the deck. My second piece was another nut, perfectly slotted into a constriction right before a lieback. I didn’t trust it. I don’t know why. I was afraid of kicking it out. I froze. And then I lowered off it, too unsure of myself and my abilities to continue. The pitch was a 5.4 on low angle slab.
Matthes Crest is one of the iconic, classic High Sierra climbs, and it’s been on my todo list for god knows how long. A granite knife ridge cutting straight through the sky, this beast of a rock is tucked away in the backcountry of Tuolumne Meadows away from Highway 120 and any main trails. This was my one sufferfest this summer that didn’t feel too much like suffering. We somehow ended the long day still smiling and laughing.