City of Rocks – Stripe Rock

On top of Stripe RockWe determine from talking to people and mining the guidebook that City of Rocks has a rare offering: easy bolted multipitch routes. Inspired to take advantage of at least one, we head to Stripe Rock to climb Cruel Shoes, a 3-pitch bolt party. It will be in the sun during the morning, but we hope a reasonably early start will offer cool enough climbing.

The hike in is a little further than the guidebook indicates, about a mile, but the temperature still feels okay. The first pitch starts in a notch with some less than positive crack moves that are bolt protected. It then moves onto a steep face on nice chunky crystal holds, with a bolt every 10 feet. It’s a chocolate covered strawberry of a pitch, delectable, but when Ann follows she says she can’t get her head right. I figure it may be toprope syndrome, and suggest that she lead the second pitch. She does it, her first multipitch lead, and it seems to cure her. She climbs pitch 2 perfectly.

The third pitch is not as good, but it gets you to the top, where the view is fabulous. Stripe Rock sits in the center of the rock formations of the City, but down in the Circle Creek valley, so you look up at many of them. It’s just now starting to feel too hot.

I choose to rap down the next route south, Poly-Stick-Em. I figure I can reach the third pitch anchor rapping from the bolts on top. This turns out to be true, but just barely. We have to clip into the anchor from above, being careful not to let go of the (knotted) rope. Ann is not amused. Thankfully the next three rappels go smoothly.

I leave the rope up on the first pitch of Poly-Stick-em so I can toprope it when the shade comes. It’s now unbearably hot in the sun, and we have a nice lunch and siesta under a tree. We have to wait until 3 pm for the shade to arrive. It’s worth it, though. The first pitch of Poly-Stick-Em is full of interesting moves. A committing lieback on a flake could be protected with gear, then a bolt gets you up some friction slab to a sinker finger crack, followed by two more bolts on very dicey slab. My feet are greasing off on the last move, but I make the ledge. I figure this would be a worthy lead for me in the future. Ann makes it up as well, and then we head back to camp feeling sated.

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