A Small World
Posted by sibylle in Italy, finale ligure, Mexico, Yosemite, Europe, Canada and PNW (Monday September 1, 2008 at 12:16 pm)

In Squamish, we continually come across climbers I’ve met at distant climbing areas, many of whom live on other continents. When I started climbing, the climbing community was much smaller and everyone knew most local climbers. Today, I don’t come close to knowing many climbers in Boulder, Colorado, despite living there since 1984.

But I continually encounter the same climbers at different areas around the world. Yesterday at the Smoke Bluffs, Squamish ( it’s still raining and everything else is wet), I was struggling at Penny Lane. A voice yelled up,
“Is that Sibylle?”
I looked down, to see Enga, who Tristan and I had run into in Finale Ligure (Italy) in 2001, and whom I’d last climbed with in Yosemite in 2003.
After that climb, we went to try Penny Lane (my lead) and Crime of the Century (Tristan’s lead). At the base here, I met Ian and Erin, two climbers I encounter in Portrero Chico and last saw at Indian Creek, Utah. Since we’ve been in Squamish, we’ve come across David Goldstein, with whom I went to Portero Chico and numerous climbers that I met in Yosemite or Indian Creek. It’s still a small world!
There’s a circuit many climbers travel: Portero Chico in winter, Indian Creek in early spring, Yosemite or City of Rocks in late spring or early summer, Squamish in summer, back to the Creek, and repeat. More affluent climbers add a mix of Europe, Thailand, and Australia.
At Penny Lane, we met Gerhard Schaar, a world-traveler specializing in climbing writing and photography. His card reads:
“Climb Around the World”. We invited him to our campsite, so “Climb Around the World” now shares a site with “Fun Climbs Around the World”!

Energy nuggets, recipe
Posted by sibylle in Mexico, food (Saturday March 11, 2006 at 8:32 pm)


Energy nuggets

When Dave and I decided to climb the 23-pitch Timewave Zero in Potrero Chico, Mexico, we needed food to take on the climb that we could easily carry in the pockets of our Camelback; that was fairly energy-rich, and that we could buy (or make) while in Mexico.

We couldn’t get any type of granola bar, Cliff bar, or Luna bar at the store in Monterrey, but a woman staying at our same campground, Rancho Cerro Gordo, was making ‘energy nuggets’ as climbing food. She gave me her recipe, and before the climb I made a supply of energy nuggets which was our food for the route. The nuggets are easy to carry in plastic bags in your pockets or a pack, travel well, and are much moister than many commercial bars.


1/2 c. pumpkin seeds

1/2 c. sunflower seeds

1/2 c. oats

1/2 c. sesame seeds

1/4 c. flax seeds

1 T. peanut butter (unsalted, natural works best)

1 - 2 T. sweetened condensed milk

1 - 2 T. water

Optional: 1/4 c. shredded coconut flakes
Grind dry ingredients separately in a blender. Mix ground, dry ingredients in a bowl. Add moist ingredients, adjusting amount to achieve the right consistency.

When mix is slightly tacky or sticky, roll ingredients into a ball. Roll balls in coconut if desired.

You can substitute ground nuts for one or more of the seeds, or add carob or cocoa powder, adjusting the water to achieve the correct consistency.

After the nuggets are done, store them in a zip lock bag in the freezer until ready to take them skiing or climbing!

Potrero Chico, Timewave Zero
Posted by sibylle in Mexico (Wednesday March 8, 2006 at 9:21 am)

PotLandof Free.jpg

Dave Goldstein on the ultra-steep Land of the Free

Dave and I decided to climb the 23-pitch Timewave Zero, the longest sport climb in North America, as our final route in Potrero Chico. To prepare, Dave climbed Land of the Free, “the steepest new climbing in the Potrero”, while I made “energy nuggets” (like energy bars, but round. You can make these instead of granola or snack bars; recipe to follow.)

Before the climb, we practiced simul-rappelling. Neither of us had simul-rapped, so we climbed Treasure of the Sierra Madre to practice. I was nervous, but to rappel 23 pitches quickly, we had to do it at the same time. After several rappelling pitches to hone our technique we were ready to try our climb.

Before the climb, we hiked to the base to reconnoiter the trail and the start of the route. We planned to approach in the dark so that we could climb at first light and didn’t want to miss the trail at night. We stashed water and gear at the base, so that we could run up quickly in the morning.

We lacked certain essentials, as neither of us had a watch, and our only functional timepiece was my car’s clock. We borrowed a spare headlamp and camelbacks from Ian and Erin, two Canadian climbers sharing our campground. Dave woke me at 4:00 am, thinking it must be later. We arrived at the base in the dark and organized our camelbacks, stuffing them with energy balls and headlamps.

As it was getting barely light, Dave ran up the first pitch in his usual style, while I put on my shoes and then belayed him on the next 5.11 pitch. Following it, I felt the additional weight of water, food, headlamp, and clothes, as I struggled over the bulge. Our pitches worked out well: I got pitches three and four (both 5.9) and Dave got five and six (5.10 and 5.9). Low down on the wall, we climbed beautiful, clean, mostly less-than-vertical limestone. The rock here had large incut features, almost like handles, and very positive.

Dave charged by without stopping after following my pitches, and crowed, “Zero belay delay!” and continued charging up the cliff.

For pitches nine, ten, and eleven, Dave thought we should run all three together, “We’ll both be belayed on pitch 10, the hardest one,” he explained, “and we’ll be simul-climbing only on the easier pitches.”

Dave led pitch nine (5.9+), placing one draw on the anchor and then placed draws on pitch 10 (5.10b), and we simul-climbed pitches nine (me) and 11 (Dave). I felt tense, as there was a hard traversing move and he had no draws in. Falling here was not an option.

I next led a short pitch to the bivvy ledge. Two Canadian climbers had started up the day before and bivvied here to get an early start on the headwall above. We stopped here briefly to eat a snack and left behind extra clothes and headlamps, to save weight on the steeper climbing on the headwall.

I then climbed pitches 13 and 14,now getting into the sun, and Dave zoomed up pitches 15 and 16, both 5.10 and steeper and more strenuous. As the rock steepened toward the headwall, the large incut buckets disappeared to be replaced by smaller holds. I led pitch 17 (5.9+ to 5.10) and crawled into a deep hole (almost a cave) at the end, out of the blazing sun. My excuse for stopping after climbing only one pitch was that the Canadians were at the next belay.

Dave then led pitches 18 and 19 and caught up with the Canadians. By now, I was running seriously low on energy, and volunteered to let him lead the coming hard pitches. Dave negotiated with the Canadians that we could pass, and forged ahead up pitch 20, a steep 11a that I wished I’d done about 15 pitches ago.

Next was the crux: pitch 21, rated 5.12a. Before going up on the route, we asked who had freed this pitch, and no one knew anyone who had. Dave decided to try it, and I asked him to leave some slings for me. Dave, after much effort, with the Canadians impatiently gritting their teeth next to me, decided on a few aid moves to expedite our journey. I didn’t try to free this pitch - I struggle on 5.12 on the ground, much less after 20 pitches.

After two more pitches we reached a beautiful summit from which we overlooked the valley in all directions. Now we wished for shade in the blazing afternoon sun. After finishing off our remaining food and drinking most of our water, we started the rappels down.

Our descent went smoothly, with us simul-rapping all but one or two wildly traversing pitches. At the bivvy ledge, we retrieved our stuff and wished we’d brought more water. The eighty–degree Mexican sun parched us, but luckily I’d stashed extra water at the base of the route on my exploratory hike.

After a few more rappels, we touched ground, now practiced at unweighting the rope. Our first move was toward the stashed water bottles. Devon was at the base, photographing climbers on the nearby Surf Bowl.

“What, did you guys give up?” he asked. “You didn’t do it?” He sounded surprised that we’d give up so early.

“No, we’re done, I replied. “We already climbed it and got back down.”

Apparently he had not counted on Dave’s simul-climbing enchainment, because no one expected us back down at 4:00. But then, they didn’t know that Dave, the Energizer Bunny, recently led every pitch on Astroman.

I figured that we’d actually climbed 14 pitches, if you counted the number of belays. But 14 pitches or 23, we were both tired and ready for several rest days.

Energy nugget recipe

Potrero Chico, Space Boyz
Posted by sibylle in Mexico (Friday March 3, 2006 at 2:54 am)


Sibylle on the Mota Wall

After our auspicious beginning, of accidentally climbing 13 pitches of Yankee Clipper when we intended to climb the four-pitch Jungle Mountaineering, I felt more confident in trying longer climbs. Dave Goldstein wanted to climb two classic routes, Space Boyz and Snott Girlz, and thought that enchaining them would be fun.

There’s one difficulty with combining these climbs. You want to get on both routes early - Space Boyz so that you’re the first party up, to avoid rockfall. Snott Girlz gets hot in the afternoon, and you want to get up it before the sun hits.

We got on Space Boyz early, beating several other parties. Since the pitches ran 100 feet, we combined two pitches whenever possible. Our fifth pitch traversed and pitch six was harder than the other pitches, slowing us down. On Yankee Clipper, the pitches seemed easier than rated, but here the grades were stiffer. As I struggled following pitch six, I decided to let Dave lead pitch seven, another 5.10 pitch.

We’d zoomed up Yankee Clipper so fast that I expected this to be easy, but here the climbing got harder. Pitch eight, my lead, was another 5.9, and then Dave got our last 5.10 pitch. After two easier pitches we reached the summit, in reasonable, but not outstanding time. Maybe I was tired? Perhaps a few rest days might help?

Our descent was less straightforward, as we had to rappel traverses and clip bolts on the way down to get around the corner. Our rope just barely made it to some stances – with the ends dangling several feet above some ledges. We started rapping with daisy and biner in hand, quickly reaching down to clip the anchors before landing on the ledge.

Dave wanted to do one of the harder routes– El Sendero Diablo (5.11c). Described in the book as “the site for many epics, ranging from a hellish five hour dangle in space to a cardiac seizure,” I was really glad to be left out of this adventure. Dave got on this with Rick, who shared our campground.

I climbed Snott Girlz (only seven pitches) with a Canadian climber. He’d never done a multi-pitch climb, so was happy to try an easier climb. From Snott Girlz, on the prow of the Mota Wall, we could look across the Valley toward the Outrage Wall and El Sendero.

As we climbed higher, we saw Dave and Rick moving up the cliff. After a while they stopped moving up. After some time at this spot, they started moving sideways. I’d heard horror stories about the descent, which was one reason I didn’t want to try that climb. The guidebook’s description of the descent is almost twice as long as the climb description – not a good sign! The book suggests, “The first person to descend must clip the single rope through all the bolts to reach the anchors on the ledge” which reminded me of fixing pitches on El Cap long ago, but wasn’t something I wanted to try here.

Dave told me that he traversed right to another climb in order to descend, and I was glad I’d missed that adventure. Our next big goal was Timewave Zero, a 23-pitch route to the top of one of the peaks. We both wanted this climb: I liked long routes and the idea of 23 pitches of continuous non-stop climbing. Dave likes anything long and hard, especially if it gets to the top of something.

He planned another hard outing with Rick, the 10-pitch Land of the Free, a route that no one we knew here had done. I planned to rest and make “energy balls” to eat on the climb. Another woman climber gave me a recipe for what were basically bars, except when you make them yourself they turn out round, not square.

I hiked up to the base of Timewave Zero to reconnoiter the trail, since we’d be hiking up in the dark on the day of our climb, and to stash water at the base. After borrowing two camelbacks and a headlamp we were ready for our big day.

Next: Timewave Zero

El Potrero Chico
Posted by sibylle in Mexico (Friday February 24, 2006 at 4:25 am)

PC sunrise.jpg

Dawn at El Potrero

David Goldstein wrote that he’d like to read more about “something related to the fun climbs”. Last year at this time, Dave and I went to Potrero Chico (Read about Dave’s famous ‘Passive Head Restraint System for Road Trips’ in “The Mountain World”).

Neither of us had visited Potrero Chico, but Dave had a hit list of long, hard routes, whereas I wanted to start on easier climbs. We went to the Mini Super Wall and climbed one pitch routes. After three climbs, Dave tired of “grid-bolted” routes and suggested we cross the road to try a longer climb.

We walked to “The Jungle” where he’d scoped out the four-pitch Jungle Mountaineering. The guidebook states: “tradition demands that this be your first climb in the Portrero.” Though not our first climb, it would be our first multi-pitch route, with pitches at: 5.9, 5.9, 5.9r and 5.10a. By the time I’d put on my shoes, Dave was halfway up the first pitch.
“Put me on belay when you’re ready,” he yelled.

The pitch seemed easy so I felt comfortable swinging leads. The second pitch continued on slabby limestone with good holds on solid rock, with bolts whenever I wanted one. I’d heard about Portrero Chico’s run-out sport climbs, but the bolting seemed fine.

Dave quickly followed my pitch. “Those pitches both seem easier than 5.9,” he said. I agreed that the grading seemed soft. On the next pitch, Dave clipped every other bolt “to add a bit of challenge.” After my fourth lead, at the next belay, a line of bolts continued up the rock.

Why would bolts continue past the fourth pitch? Perhaps someone added a pitch? We assumed each stance after 100 feet indicated the end of a pitch. Perhaps the pitches were 200 feet long, and the intermediate bolts were for rappelling?

I continued up. If our pitches were 200 feet, I might as well run it out. I feared running out of draws, so I skipped clips whenever I could. After another 100 feet, I arrived at a belay stance. More bolts continued up.

When Dave arrived, we discussed our predicament. We’d climbed five pitches, and faced a sixth pitch ahead. He thought we must be on another climb.
“That could be why those pitches seemed so easy,” he said. However, we had no idea what route we could be on. We saw Space Boyz to our right, and Jungle Boy, left of Jungle Mountaineering, had only two pitches.
“Let’s keep climbing as long as there are bolts,” Dave suggested. This was fine as long as any hard pitches we encountered were his – Dave was comfortable on 5.11s and easy 12s; I was happy leading 5.10.

Dave led pitch six, which seemed somewhat harder and I led pitch seven on excellent rock with abundant pockets. By now, I was hungry and thirsty. At the end of pitch eight, we saw two climbers rappelling down. Finally, someone could tell us how many pitches were left, and how hard they were.

“What route is this?” I asked.
“You’re on Yankee Clipper,” they replied. “It’s 15 pitches, but most people skip the last two. The register is at the top of pitch 13 and two pitches, 10b and 12a, go to the summit.”
“Let’s do the rest of the climb,” Dave enthusiastically suggested.

They gave us their topo. When I remarked that we’d brought no food or water, they shared their water and gave me some chocolate goo. With seven pitches remaining, Dave combined pitches 10 and 11 and I combined pitches 12 and 13.

At the top of pitch 13 we reached a notch with a view down the other valley. Clouds rolled in, making it windy and cold. We’d done 16 pitches, including the warm-up climbs. As it got colder and nastier, Dave agreed that we could sign the register and descend. I was happy to reach firm ground, with water and snacks.

After managing 16 pitches on our first day, we both felt more optimistic about Dave’s ambitious climbing plans, which included trying both Space Boyz (11 pitches, 5.10+) and Snott Girlz (7 pitches, 5.10+) in one day. That would total 18 pitches, only two more than we’d done today!

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