Cheesehead Ranch Climbing Festival – Mural Wall

Cousin DougieI’ve been fighting a cold all week, but I’m determined to make it down to Shelf Road with Ann, Doug, Liz, Kate, Mark and many other climbing friends for the annual gathering at Cheesehead Ranch, a generous climber’s spread near the crag. I’m still watery-eyed and runny-nosed as we set up camp Friday night. Saturday morning I’m feeling a little better, and by the time we arrive at Mural Wall in The Gallery I’m feeling up to some climbing. Everyone ends up getting their fill, and Doug sends his first 5.10 lead outdoors. Then it’s back to the ranch for smoked tenderloins, beer, games, a distant lightning storm, bright stars, and a brighter moon.

Evening PrimroseThe flowers are always a highlight here in this subalpine desert landscape in the spring. Today I see one that’s new to me in an arroyo. It looks reminiscent of a columbine to me, but I later identify it as a variety of Evening Primrose.

My climbs for the day:

  • Morrocan Roll 5.10b Thin, sharp, and slabby, with one significantly harder move at the top. The kind of climbing I’m better at, was a perfect warmup for me.
  • John Cruiser Meloncrimp 5.10a/b Pumpier and more sustained than my first route, I’m happy to finish this one without a fall.
  • Block Party 5.10a/b Pure fun pocket pulling with a sweet lieback at the end to a tough anchor clip. Lovin it, and I think Ann felt the same on TR.
  • Mother of Invention 5.10c I decide to go for this lead when my rope snags on the way down from another climb. It tests me! Continuous moves between decent face pockets and arete holds force me to continue climbing above my last clip on pumped arms. Happy to pull it off! Doug got wrangled into cleaning this later, ensuring a good workout for him.
  • Pi 5.12a I take a dangle on toprope just to see what a 5.12 feels like. I’m surprised to get through the moves with a few tries at each. Linking them together is still hard to imagine, but the climbing at least seems possible now.
  • Anguish and Fear, 5.10a – A newer route, still a little dusty but a good pumpy jug haul. I’m spent and do it cleanly on TR just barely. Hard anchor clip! Kudos to Doug for doing this as a first 5.10 lead.

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