Fossil Falls – Trip Report

Upper FF with Evan & Rebecca The Peanut Gallery

On Saturday, Dennis & I drove up to local crag Fossil Falls. By the time we got there (9:30am) the gang was all there. They were finishing setting up 4 top ropes. And, a group of highschool students on a fieldtrip were hanging about gawking at the gear/ropes. Their instructor informed us that they would quickly be out of our way. Good, because it’s hard to communicate to your belayer with 30 highschool seniors mulling about below!

Tim V. accompanied by his step son and a friend had set up ropes on Bird$hit Crack (5.7) and the 5.10 directly to it’s right. Greg, Rebecca, Evan, and Matt were finishing up the ropes set up accross the East side of the canyon-one on the 5.7 arete and one on the 5.11 crack (thin up top). I set up a rope on the 5.8/5.9 wide crack to the left of Bird$hit Crack, then Dennis & I rapped down into the canyon.

Tim Belays His Friend on the 5.9 Fingercrack After the crux

Randy was also there-but he didn’t set up any ropes-he just came to climb for a couple hours. He had helped Ted out with removing some graffitti at our beloved Wagon Wheel earlier in the week, and the paint remover fumes got to him.

April's Climbing! April's Cruising-Pretty in Pink

Another Ridgecrest local, Jay, showed up with his friend April. She hadn’t climbed in 5 years, and as such, was excited to be out climbing. She was a trooper, trying out many of the routes, and having fun.

Jay Jumps on Finger Crack Jay Higher Up Jay Working the Crux

With approx. 10 folks and 6 ropes, we were assured to get some good climbing done. The day was a little on the warm side, so some of the cracks were a bit greasy later in the day. In general, there was a laid back feeling and lots of smiles going around. It was great to hang out with a group, gosh knows it’s been such a long time since we did some social climbing! I was sad we didn’t see Barry, Gina, Ben, Roy, Ted, Curtis & Fam, or Walter out. Their presence was definitely missed.

Rebecca Working the Crux Evan on the 11

Above are pictures of Rebecca working out the sequence, making excellent progress. I think she knows what she needs to do for next time, and I’m sure she’ll get it then. Also of Evan pushing the limits on a 5.11. Exciting!

Back to climbing: I had a bone to pick with a very short 5.9 finger crack (the one in all the pictures above!), so I went over there hoping to get a redpoint. I had all my gear ready for leading. I got to the crux, put in a small black diamond cam-but when I was jiggling it to test the placement, I saw the rock on the inside of the crack BREAKING. That’s not a good sign. Suddenly, I did not feel so confident in that placement. Risk mitigation is an important part of climbing!

I put something higher up, and then I told Dennis to take me tight. I did not want to continue climbing with that heeby jeeby feeling. So I stood at that spot for a second, took a deep breath and then punched my way up to finish the climb. I’m happy I lead it right off the bat and very satisfied about my technique being so solid, but sad I didn’t get the clean redpoint. Next time, I will get it for sure!

Randy cleaned the route for me, he didn’t think he’d climbed it before, so it was amusing for him. Of course he looked flawless as he went up, hardly even pausing at the crux. After him, plenty of others tried it, some working through the crux and others giving it their all only to be denied. It’s a thin finger crack, with a high reach up to a flare in the finger crack, if you get your feet up high in the crack, you can reach inside the flare, and there is a beauty of a pocket in there-deep and big enough for several fingers to curl around.

If you can’t get your feet up, you pump out with the left hand in the crack and right hand on a crimper. The feet are key-at the crux, you can stem or put them in the crack, but if you are short then stemming makes it hard to reach the pocket. So you need to shift your feet into the crack, which is ultimately a tricky thing to do because you have to trust that left hand.

After the 5.9, I climbed the 5.8/5.9 to the left of Bird$hit crack. It was still fun, but I did better when I lead it. With the rope whacking my face as I pulled the bulge, it was just not the same. Also, I did some amazingly stupid moves that I would never do on lead-but I guess that’s okay. It was just sloppy. Dennis TR’d it after I did it, and he did very well. He looked much more solid than the last time, only dropping F-bombs at the crux because he greased off a hold. Frustration!

I climbed the 5.10 smoothly, much more so than ever before. I think I have it pretty much dialed down. I just love the top, steep pocketed section of this climb and I wish the whole thing was just like the last 8 feet! Another feat I’m proud of is that for the first time, I did thumbs UP hand jambs in that crack-in the past I’ve had to use thumbs DOWN because the jam didn’t feel secure. But this time, I stuck with the UP, and it was fine. Taped hands helped immensely.

Matt Cranking Hard Tim Prepares for Crux Randy Belays Tim on 11

Accross the way, I watched Matt, then Tim V., then Greg get on the 5.11. The sun was almost hitting that side of the canyon, so it was time for me to give it a shot. I stepped up to the plate, and ALMOST hit a home run. Okay, so I made it to third. Then I tried a couple times and made it home-to use a baseball analogy. The top part of that crack is very sequence like, and I think I’ve got it figured out for next time. The bottom half of the climb was fun, but the top is just super thin and sharp. I was able to smear on a nearly vertical surface and stick! It reminded me of some of the climbs I had done up at Mt. Charleston.

After getting up the 5.11, I was ready to call it a day. I grabbed my rack and ran up the 5.9 again, on TR so that I could clean the anchors. Everybody else packed up to head for home as well. After cleaning the 5.9, I used the line on the 5.8/5.9 to pull my backpack up, and then cleaned those anchors. Dennis met me up at the top, and we sorted gear.

Heading back to the Parking lot, we were both happy to have spent a day with the ‘Crest Crowd. What a great way to spend a Saturday, and how nice to see everybody again!

2 Responses to “Fossil Falls – Trip Report”

  1. Steven says:

    Is this crag in southern california?

  2. climbergirl says:

    Fossil Falls is approximately 35 miles north of Ridgecrest and 100 miles south of Bishop, just off of HWY 395. It’s 200 miles northeast of LAX (if you were flying into So Cal). It is on BLM land, and the dirt road is well maintained-not necessary to have 4wd.