The weather in the morning looks gloomy and discouraging. We get ready to climb slowly, with no enthusiasm, and head for the dark cloudy mountains. In Inyokern we nearly turn around, but decide to go to Kernville even if it’s just for lunch.
It turns out to be much nicer at New Directions, where a big hole in the clouds is letting some sun through. A bunch of the Ridgecrest climber crew are already there: Roy, Barry, Bud, Tim, Randy, Mike, and his fiancee Alisha. It’s a regular Garden Party, which is also the name of Ann’s first-ever climb. We’ve come to do an anniversary ascent of it today, but we never get there.
Tim is on Garden Party when we arrive, so we wander over to some other climbs nearby.
I start up the thin edges of the first pitch of Nowhere Man, 5.10b, with Ann & Tim spotting me to the first bolt. Its been a while since I’ve led a hard climb (for me), and I’m happy to make the moves up to the first bolt. I get mixed up there and take a little fall trying an unbalanced move, but do it easily a different way the second time. The rest of long (160-ft?) route is supremely enjoyable climbing on edges and crystals. Tim follows me and we set up a TR with two ropes.
Ann tries Nowhere Man but tires her fingers out at the bottom trying to get established on the tiny edges. When she moves over to Crack To Nowhere, 5.10a, she finds climbing just right for her. The tough spots stop her for a little while, but she works through them. I enjoy that route too, and also a new one just to the left put up by Herb Laeger since we were last here, Man-o-man, 5.10d. It start with very thin edges to the first bolt, and steeper than Nowhere Man. The difficulty then tapers off as you go up. A nice route, but I’m not sure I have the nerve to make the first two clips on lead.
Randy meanwhile has picked out a glassy piece of slab to create a ground-up, hand drilled route on. Tim spots him until he wears out his drill bit, which happens before the first bolt is done. He returns unsatified and plays on a 5.11 route right of where we’re climbing. The setting sun on him climbing would have made a great pic, but we can’t find the camera.
The camera was just buried in my pack of course. It was a good, if pictureless day.