Sonja and Vale joined me for the 4th of July weekend to experience multi-pitch rock climbing.  Previously they had been strong gym climbers with a bit of outdoor top-roping experience.  So I took advantage of their fitness and experience to head for several routes that I haven’t climbed.

On Saturday we went to the PSOM Wall in Pine Creek Canyon.  PSOM stands for the Palisade School of Mountaineering, a guide service in the 70’s and 80’s that used this wall to teach multi-pitch climbing.  I was hoping to climb Running Lizards, a 3-pitch 5.7, and PSOM Pinnacle, a 3-pitch 5.8.

Running Lizards was great!  There was a little of everything – slab, face, crack, underclings…  Greg Barnes and partners had established the route in 2001 and had placed bolts in the blank sections and at the anchors.  We took our time, talking about gear removal, rope management, and rappel techniques, finally getting back to the ground at 2:00pm.  With three more hours to go, I was ready to jump on PSOM Pinnacle but they opted to go swimming in Lake Sabrina instead.  It was a hot, sunny 4th of July -how could I argue with that logic?  So we made plans to meet at the office in the morning, and went home to take my girl out to dinner, BBQ, and fireworks.

On Sunday I took them up to Cardinal Pinnacle, where we hiked up the talus field to the bottom of the rappel descent, dressed up, and traversed to the far right side of the tower to climb a link up I’m calling Red Face.  Red Face is a link up of the 5.9 finger crack pitches of Red Bush and the West Face (or Cucumbers).  For us, it turned into a 5-pitch route, going at 4th class, 5.9, 5.9, 5.8, 4th class to the summit blocks.  From there we took advantage of having two ropes to descend via the rappel stations down the Prow of the pinnacle.

These two routes have become my favorites for the grades – in fact I started a “Favorites” list at the bottom right hand corner of my blog.  Especially Red Face – what a classic link-up!!  I hope to get to climb PSOM Pinnacle soon to see if there may be a perfect progression.

Thanks Sonja and Vale for a great weekend!

Chris is an AMGA Certified Alpine Guide and a Rock, Alpine, and Ski Guide for SMC.  More about Chris’ adventures in the Sierra and around the world can be found on his blog, Climb.Ski.Run.Sleep.Repeat.