This past Saturday provided us with an amazing day of climbing along the Brazos River. The weather was perfect! The sun was shining, the temperatures were in the low to mid sixties all day and there was almost always a small breeze blowing. This is another one of my “secret” climbing areas. Not that the location of this particular stash is not known, it has just closed to the general public for several years (and still is).
The climbs here are all very short, the tallest climb is around 40ft high, most range from 25-35 feet in height. Some routes only require clipping two bolts. About six quick draws is the most you will need, unless you are a hard-man and can handle the 110ft, 5.12b traverse. All the climbs are also easily accessible and allow you to easily tick off 15+ climbs in a long day. By the end of the day I had climbed 15 routes, at least half of them, if not more were on lead. Others in our group ticked off even more climbs than that, all of which were on lead.
This place is also sort of special to me, as it was the crag were I bagged my first outdoor sport climbing lead. The climb was Corrins Corner (5.6) a short dihedral climb ending with a short traverse over to the anchors. To celebrate being back at the crag after four years of being closed out I warmed up on this route. My impression after finishing was that it was the hardest 5.6 I had climbed in a long time, but it was my warm up route too, so I couldn’t let that intimidate me for the rest of the day.
After finishing that climb I moved on over a few routes and lead a 5.8 that gave me a few problems, after that I moved on and lead a 5.10a that I had previously never been able to climb; all was going well until I was making the moves up from the last bolt and took a fall. I found out after being lowered down that I had actually broken off a foot hold. So, I didn’t feel as bad after that. After climbing several other routes I was already starting to feel tired and it wasn’t even lunch yet, so I decided to take a break and drank some water and fueled up on fruit. It was about this time that Mark was gearing up to lead Alamo Arête (5.11b). I have previously photographed this climb but wanted to shoot it again with a wider angle and ended up with the shot you see above. The previous photo I took of the climb looked much better in terms of background. The light must have been hitting the water just right to make it look blue. I didn’t have any such luck today.
By the time I returned to the ground Bill was getting ready to lead the climb. I assumed he would only top rope it, otherwise I would have stayed up top to shoot him as well; he was wearing a bright yellow shirt and was wearing a red helmet. It would have made for an awesome shot. But since I was down there I figured I would watch Bill climb it to see if I might possibly be able to climb it as well. After seeing Bill ease his way up the route followed by a stellar 50 year old climber named Gary I figured I would give the route a try on lead.
Even though the route was rated a 5.11b I somehow managed to send the route, even though my hardest lead prior to that was a 5.10d and I didn’t even climb it cleanly. It turns out the crux moves were just a couple bouldery moves at the start of the route and were well protected. After making the two hard moves you move up to a ledge and then clip another bolt, from there you make a couple other moves requiring a heel hook to clip the next bolt just a few feet above the other bolt. From here you make the second crux move which is rated at 5.10b. It took me a while to figure out the sequence but after making those moves you were up on another good ledge. From there you make a couple more easy moves up to clip the last bolt then move around on the face to easier terrain and then move up to the anchors. Even though it wasn’t a clean ascent, I feel confident I could go back and lead it clean. I still don’t think there are even a lot of hard 5.10 climbs I could lead, some how this climb just suited my style fairly well.
After climbing Alamo Arête my forearms were even more pumped, yet I continued to climb. I attempted a 5.10d on top rope, but failed, I climbed a 5.9 dihedral after that on top rope to clean the anchors for some other people in our group. After finishing up that Naren and I ticked off several easier climbs on lead. At this point I had climbed and/or attempted 13 routes. We finished off the day by climbing a 5.8 and then getting shut down on a 5.10b. Although I worked the crux move I was too tired to finish out the rest of the route, so rather than leading one last route I decided to call it a day. I ended up walking further down the wall, only to find Mark, Gary and Bill hang dogging their last route of the day. After seeing those guys flail around it was evident our day was coming to a close.
It was also a sad day of sorts as this was possibly my last time to ever climb out there. I’m just excited that I was able to return to the place I learned to sport climb one last time before moving off to Colorado. That of course is still pending several factors, but it looks like everything is lining up quite nicely.