It ain’t great, but it’s the best we’ve got

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Precariously perched boulders atop the Crab Eyes formation

Yesterday, my friend Michael and I did a day trip to the Wichitas for some rock climbing.  The weather conditions were sunny and warm, but with higher winds than I’ve ever climbed in (sustained 30-40mph).

We started the day at Lost Dome and finished it at Crab Eyes.  Here are the routes we did:

  1. Larry’s Folly (5.8+) — A long crack climb on the south face of Lost Dome.  A good lead by Michael, especially considering that the crux move was wet.
  2. Come Get Your Love (5.10) — A decent sport climb on the east face of Lost Dome.
  3. Crack-a-Lo-Lo (5.10c R) — The guidebook rates it at 10c and then goes on to describe a 5.11 start.  The thin, runout face moves at the top were “interesting” in the high winds.
  4. Blades of Steel (5.10D R) — I bailed off this one.  This route easily has the thinnest face climbing I’ve ever been on — not a good match for my size 13 feet and trad shoes.
  5. Women on Mopeds (5.10a) — This was my first time to visit Crab Eyes, which is one of the most interesting geological formations I’ve seen.  We started on the lesser-climbed west face.  However, I had to bail yet again because the crack was wet and super-slick.
  6. Karl Birl Crack (5.8+) — This is the easiest route on the east face of Crab Eyes and, like many climbs in the Wichitas, the rating is sandbagged.  The opening moves are burly 5.10.

Overall it was a frustrating day for a few reasons:

  1. I had to bail off of two routes, which I hardly ever do.
  2. We only finished 4 pitches even though we were moving from 10am to 6pm and didn’t break for lunch.  Usually I’m able to knock off 8-10 pitches in a day trip.
  3. I was reminded again that the climbing in the Wichitas just isn’t that great.  The fact is that 80% of the routes in the Wichitas wouldn’t even get climbed in a “real” climbing area, and only a small handful would be considered multi-star routes.  But it’s the best we’ve got, so I’ll keep coming back for more.
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