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Climbing near San Francisco, California

February 19, 2010 -  Natasha Barnes    

There is a little known cliff southeast of San Francisco, CA that features very steep and blocky basalt climbing. It definitely has a style of its owns that usually takes most people a few trips to get used to. The blocky overhung nature of the climbing requires a lot of endurance and knee-bar technique. Knee pads and aggressively down-turned shoes (my Dragons!!) are mandatory on many of the climbs. It's a steep learning curve here. The climbing starts at 5.12 (warming up on 5.12) with most of the climbs being 5.13 or harder and STEEP! It can be VERY intimidating. This is where I have been spending most of my weekends. 


Hard to tell how steep it really is but here is one part of the cliff.


Until last summer I considered myself a "boulderer," being interested only in the undiluted essence of bouldering; hard moves on (relatively) small rocks. But lately, I have been finding myself increasingly drawn to sport climbing, especially the  intriguing style of sport climbing that this place has to offer. I have been climbing here almost every weekend for a little over 2 months ever since the Yosemite Valley season ended.  I have been enjoying my transition into what feels like a whole different sport. Some of the most fun climbing and interesting moves I have done have been on routes here. I am looking forward with anticipation to the rest of the season. 


So far in the last 2 months I have climbed 

-Chain Gang (12a)

-Whipping Boy (12b)

-Soap on a Rope (12d)

-Insecurity (12d)

-Cell Block (13a)

-Fugitive (13a)

-Alcatraz (13b)


Not bad considering that I used to be afraid of climbing above the clips and falling on lead. Alcatraz has definitely been one of my most memorable and favored climbs yet. Multifarious in its movement and rather bouldery in sections. 


Currently I am working on a climb called Assassin (13d) which is absolutely the hardest sport climb I have ever attempted. It is a very interesting and sustained route with one bad knee-bar rest about half way up. It has become a trend that every subsequent route I get on at this cliff proves itself to be the new favorite and this one is no exception. Emily Harrington sent this in 2007 3rd try falling from one of the last moves on the flash. Having heard that back then was very impressive but having climbed the difficult moves myself now it seems even more so. The climb is very sustained with a powerful and shouldery ending on slopers. Great effort by Emily. 






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