Monday, March 8, 2010

California Cragging

We escaped the Vancouver Olympic mayhem with a quick trip to Northern California. Since we live in Squamish, we were trapped between Olympic venues in Vancouver and Whistler and feared the worst, but people who stuck around said it wasn't that bad at all. In fact, Squamish was kind of deserted...

We'd spent some time in Sonora area over a decade ago and always wanted to go back. It's about 1.5 hours from Yosemite and the landscape is riddled with bands of basalt, some very overhanging. The weather was good and we enjoyed two weeks of physical climbing on the steep crags. I cracked off a few 8a's fairly quickly, but the weather and timing didn't allow for me to try some of the longer and harder routes, which looked fantastic by the way. I hope to go back with a bit more time. I did discover that on-sight climbing is quite difficult here due to the tricky and beta-intensive nature of the climbs. It's good to go with a local - it will save you a lot of energy!

Access is a big concern in this area as many of the cliffs are on or accessed through private land. If anyone is thinking of planning a trip, be forewarned that there is very little climbing information out there due to the sensitive nature of the relationships with the various landowners. The best approach is to befriend a local climber who can then advise you as to the proper etiquette for the various cliffs and inform you as to what the climbing guidelines are. If it doesn't work out, you can always bail to Yosemite...

If you visit Sonora, respect the wishes of the locals and treat the area with respect. It would be a shame to lose such a tremendous climbing resource.

Marc Bourdon - Squamish, BC

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