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¡Mira Muchacho El Diablo! (Look Boy, The Devil!)

I had a burning desire to get out climbing last weekend, but couldn’t convince anyone do any aid practice or to hit the Grotto (which apparently is sporting a big loose death block, which may or may not have been car-jacked off the wall yet), but I coralled my friend Matt R. into getting out somewhere.  We decided on Mt. Diablo because neither of us had been there for many years, and we were planning to hit the John Bachar slideshow in Oakland which started at 6:30PM.  Mt Diablo was just the ticket.

The last time I was there, I was a newbie leader.  It must have been 2002 or so.  I remember being completely sketched out leading Amazing Face (5.10a).  I don’t remember hanging on it, but I do remember that it was a very hard lead.

Fast forward a few years (wow, maybe six or seven years, damn!).  We arrived at Boy Scout Rock around 9am and hiked down past the poison oak to the base.  It was chilly and nary a climber in sight (which remained true all day!).

I’m a much stronger climber now, so as I racked up for Amazing Face I thought it would be easy as pie.  Well, it certainly wasn’t scary at my limit climbing like before, but it certainly wasn’t easy either!  It was hard in a mental, “what the hell do I do now!?” sort of way, not in a “I’m too pumped out to make the next clip” sort of way.  Luckily some of my rusty crimpy face climbing skills decided to resurrect themselves from wherever they got buried and I made it to the top with my pride intact.

Next up was Bolt Route (5.10b).  Five-Dot-Ten-Bee, my ass!  This was way way harder than Amazing Face (which I now notice has been downgraded to 5.9+ in the same Falcon guide that rates Bolt Route as 5.10b).  I was shut down heavily on this one.  I bouldered out the sequence to the first bolt before tying in then had a go at it.  First bolt, no problem.  Then I had a fall trying to figure out how to get to the second bolt.  I finally figured out that sequence and cruised on up to the good no-hands rest on the tiny ledge.  In my eagerness to get my feet onto the ledge, I totally spaced and missed clipping the bolt just above it.  I didn’t see the bolt until I was standing up and clipped into the following one.  The route is pretty easy through the middle section, then it gets hard again near the top.  I moved into the crux (small sloper knobs) and clipped the bolt-that-points-down-and-is-rusty-and-wiggles-in-the-hole-and-I-can-see-a-lot-of-the-shaft-in-the-worn-out-hole-behind-the-hanger (argh!).  I have to commit to the crux moves, clipped into this crappy bolt before getting the good bolt just above.  I putter around here for quite a while, starting then reversing my moves many times.  Finally I unlock a sequence to get me to the good hold by the next bolt.  I clip the bolt (phew!) then without warning as I’m moving up off of it POP! I’m falling.  Completely. Unexpected.  Without further mishap, I reach the anchor with my tail between my legs.

Next up, we toproped Earthcling (5.11b) the next climb to the right.  It was really fun, but I couldn’t figure out the crux moves just off the deck.  I fell many times and finally cheated my way through one or two moves before working my way up pretty far before falling once or twice more up high.

Then (and this was my favorite of the day!) we toproped Dinosaur (5.11b).  This was a really fun route up the arete and then rails on the face to the left of the arete. I made it all the way to the final moves without falling, then got lost in a mossy jungle that I had to scrub away to find hidden edges and bumps.  Bummer, I had two falls here before gardening enough to get through it.

Matt then setup a redirect as he was coming down so that I could toprope Stegoasurus (5.10b).  This route was interesting, but I didn’t care for the crack part (and wouldn’t really trust much of the gear if leading the crack).  It was mostly blown out pin scars.  The face below and above the crack was interesting.  This route had an even worse bolt on it — it looked like whomever drilled it had no clue what they were doing because it hung half way out and was bent all to hell.

After I lowered off of this, Matt toproped the 5.11d face with only a single fall!  Very impressive.  Ozone looked wet and mossy, and it was getting late, so we packed up.  I couldn’t resist getting on one last route called Pebbly Face (5.10c) on the upper tier.  I set a TR on this and after one false start (use your feet, Luke!) unlocked the start (without using the bolt hole!) and enjoyed the delicate slab moves above.

We were back in the parking lot and on our way out by about 5:30pm.  A quick jaunt into Oakland and we were at the show where we met up with Kathleen and Joe.  The presentation was excellent, John Bacher is quite an amazingly climber.  Many of his stories revolved around his free soloing accomplishments and his mindset while on the climbs.  The audience was full of big names like Alan Steck, Hans Florine, and Dave Yerian.

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