You may ask yourself, where in the word does this crazy Texan go to climb rocks? Well, that depends. Last weekend I headed out to Quartz Mountain in South West Oklahoma. This is both one of my favorite and least favorite places to climb. This giant mound of granite jets up out of lush farmland (mostly cotton) in the middle of nowhere. You can see the rock from miles away on a clear day. This behemoth of a rock attracts climbers from all over, but mostly Texas and Oklahoma.
Quartz Mountains, also known as Mount Baldy features mostly slab and crack climbing with classic face climbs like Amazon Woman (5.10b), recently voted one of America’s 10 best rock climbs. But if long run-out slab and crack climbs are not your thing, then Quartz likely isn’t the place for you. Granted you can find several good, well-protected routes, most climbs can scare the bejeezes out of you! That is why I have such a love-hate relationship with this mound of granite.
I have been fortunate enough though to be able to follow some more experienced trad climbers up classic routes such as Snakes Head (5.5x), that offers little to no protection. The crux move is a long airy jump to a boulder after you have reached the anchors. This was my first experience at Quartz; the previous two pitches went at 5.7-5.8 and also offered little in way of protection.
But it’s places like this that get you tough mentally. Since climbing here my confidence as a climber has gone way up, but at the same time a man still has to know his limitations, and believe me, I do. I am often told that the routes here are all “sand bagged”, but other old-school climbers just tell me they are old-school ratings, they way climbs should be rated. Either way, I believe climbing on such intimidating rock will prepare me for places like Lumpy Ridge (where I will visit this Summer) and Yosemite. Quartz Mountain is the real thing!
If you have never been here before, I would highly recommend making the trip out, but bring your lead head, even the approaches can be intimidating. On one cold morning I bashed my head on a boulder on the approach to the climb. I stood there stunned for a moment then kept moving because of the trail of other climbers behind me.
Once I got to the base of the climb I took off my hat because I was hot and my partner pointed out that I was bleeding. He broke out the gloves from his first aid kit and inspected the cut. He suggested I head to the ER. So, a fellow climber hiked down with me and drove the 30 minutes to the closest small town with an ER. There I received three staples in my head. (It is for this reason I wear my helmet on approach climbs here now)
After being made to look like Frankenstein I returned to the rock around noon, had a few bites to eat and then climbed several pitches (I had to, I made the 3.5 hour drive, I wasn’t going to waste it). The day even ended with a mini epic of being stuck on the head wall after dark, but that is a story for another day. But for now enjoy a couple photos from this past weekend.
Please note that the site layout will be changing in the near future (hopefully). I am working on a logo and a site design, but was so eager to start blogging I head to go forth.