Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Climbing Texas Limestone - Seismic Wall

I went climbing on Sunday...here's the story :)



Seismic Wall Posted by Hello
It was a sunny, warm weekend. Sean, Brian and I decided to hit up Seismic Wall on the Barton Creek Greenbelt. We met Brian at the parking lot next to the Barton Creek trail access off of 360, but he said the creek was high, so we headed up 360 just past the bridge and parked on a gravel area. We hiked down a concrete drainage ditch that lead to huge rocks. A bit of a precarious hike down...I had thought of strapping on my climbing shoes!


We got to the creek level and hiked a bit to the Seismic Wall. Brian had been there a few years previously, but it was Sean and my first time there and first time climbing Texas limestone. There were three other climbers when we got there...the guys were climbing, and their family..wives/girlfriends and kids were playing in the creek. The creek was pretty high. Brian said that he had belayed on routes under the roof, such as "Magster" and "Diving for Rocks"..but the spot he would belay was now underwater. We went to the far right side of the wall, and started from there.


Brian lead "Roo Dog", a 5.7 or 5.8 depending on which guide you look at. He seemed a bit nervous...moreso out of practice, as it had been about two years since he's lead outdoors. The way to the first bolt of Roo Dog was a bit tricky. For one, the route goes by a tree with a thick broken branch that points up...if you fell off before the first bolt, chances were very high that you would get a tree enema...ouch! And secondly, there was a nice ledge..but it was so slickly polished, that it may have been useless. Brian lead the route well for being rusty. When coming down, Brian had cleaned the route up by taking the quickdraws out of the bolts. I told the boys that I wanted to top rope the route first, then see if I was confident enough to lead it.



Me on Roo Dog Posted by Hello
After Brian got off the rope, I geared up and top roped Roo Dog. I felt like an idiot at first, because I couldn't figure it the bottom part out. I tried to use the ledge, but it was way too slick for my skill level. I tried a few more things and couldn't get a good start. I decided to cheat and use the tree, since I didn't want to risk getting a tree enema. After that initial part, it was pretty nice. Limestone climbing is much different than the granite climbing that I've done before. Nice huecos here and there, but no pink granite crystals to look for. I do like the texture of the limestone. About half way up, I got to a nice ledge that I used for a resting spot.

Me on a ledge on Roo Dog Posted by Hello
From there, it was pretty easy. Actually, I think the most difficult part of it was the beginning. Otherwise, it felt really good as a first limestone climb.
Sean climbed the route next, and I belayed him. He struggled and struggled in the beginning of the route as well. The rest of the route was a cinch to him. He cleaned the top, got the gear, and rapped down -- his first time, and what an excellent job he did! I'm..well..a bit too chicken to do that for now. Maybe next week ;)


The first climbers gathered their gear and left. But a second group of people came to the area. Two guys and a lady, and 2 young boys and a young girl. They weren't climbing, but I saw they had gear. They just sat around with the kids. The lady took off her shirt and sat there in her bra. Not exactly a beautiful site to see. I heard her say that it was too hot to have her shirt on.


The three of us rested for a bit, took a look at the route map, and decided that "Butt Scratch", a 5.8, would be our next climb. Sean decided to lead it, his first outdoor lead climb. I belayed him in the efforts. He climbed to the first bolt pretty easily. Then struggled a bit after that bolt, rested, then got back on the rock. A successful effort. Sean finished the climb, and cleaned the route along the way down.



Brian on Butt Scratch Posted by Hello
Brian climbed the route next. He did pretty well. We're trying to get him whipped back into climbing shape, so we can all climb together. While Brian was on the wall, I noticed that two of the kids of that group, a little boy and a little girl, were running around butt naked. The lady had put her shirt back on. But naked kids? It was well, kind of strange. Both kids were about 4 years old, while the older boy (with clothes on) was about 6. They were just running around, playing in the creek, and whatnot. The naked little boy ended up riding on a tree branch. The older boy was shaking it up and down. Hmmm...can we say..."Ouch!!!" But it didn't phase the little boy. Climbing with naked kids running around..kind of strange. It's not Hippy Hollow...but then again, the adults with them were smoking a joint earlier.



Me stuck on Butt Scratch Posted by Hello
I jumped on Butt Scratch, and effortlessly climbed it. It was much easier than Roo Dog. There's one huge ledge on the route where Sean said that it was so big you could have a picnic up there. And truely, it was a huge ledge. Butt Scratch was a nice route.



Belaying Posted by Hello
We rested again for a bit. Then decided to tackle "Jiggle Butt" aka "It's a Wiggle Butt", a 5.8 or 5.8+. Sean, Mr. No Fear, decided to lead this one as well. It took him a while to finish it. Looked pretty tough. And surely, I really wouldn't feel comfortable leading this one if he had that much trouble on it. While he was still leading Jiggle Butt, another group came - a fairly large group. I had seen one of the guys at the rock gym before. They were working on Roo Dog. And the other group, the ones smoking a joint with the naked children running around, started to climb "Over Easy", a 5.9.



Sean leading Jiggle Butt Posted by Hello
After Sean cleaned the route and came off of it, I climbed Jiggle Butt. It seemed easy at first. Well, until I got to a ledge, and looked around...everything around me looked pretty polished. I started feeling around the rock, to see if there were good hands that I couldn't see. I stood there, bewildered, for several minutes. Wondering..what the hell should I do? I looked for the chalk, marks of previous climbers, but could not reach any of them. Sean yelled to me that it was all crimps around there. Great! Crimps I can't see, and can't really get a good foot on anything either. By feeling around above me, I finally found a decent crimp, pried myself up, tapped my foot up to a little crystal, and pulled out of the polished area. That was the crux. After that, it was easy.
Brian went climbed after me, and came to a halt at the exact same spot that I did. While he was climbing, the stoner's little girl (now with clothes on) came to talk to me. She wanted to play with my chalk ball, so Iet her for a bit. Then she just kept on patting it, like annoying kids do at the gym. So I took it back from her. But she wanted me to put some chalk on her cheek, so I dabbed some from my hands on her cheek. It was really cute. She told me that she forgot her swimming suit at home (hence that would explain why she was running around naked). Then she practically crawled on my lap to talk to me and play with my hair. Then she went and told her mom that she had to pee. Her mom told her to find a place to squat. The girl said, "Like in grass?" The mom said, yes. So the girl goes behind the big group of climbers, and finds a tuft of grass - out in the open for everyone to see - and pops a squat right there. It was so hiliarious! Mind you, this is a 4 year old girl I'm talking about. It was pretty comical.


After Brian came down, we were all pretty exhausted with the heat. So we sat around, rested a bit, then called it a day for the Seismic wall. We headed back up the rocks and drainage pipe to the cars - a tricky hike and a calf workout!

And even after the outdoor climbing, I wanted to practice leading, so Sean and I went to the south gym and climbed even more!!! I lead one route that I had top roped. I felt comfortable, except at the very top, where the hand holds were smaller, I started to get nervous. I was pretty tired, too, then it kicked into my brain..oh, grab for the top of the wall..duh. then I clipped the rope into the top clips, and was done! My first lead climb!

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