Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Perfect Conditions

Yesterday, Nick and I ventured up to Black to see what lower elevation areas might be climbable. Basically the entire west side of the mountain is in perfect condition probably all the way up to the Boulder Basin. We were able to drive the unnamed and unmarked road up to the Republic, which was snow free, and climb all day around Twilight of the Idols at 6600'. 45 degrees, sunny, and patches of snow in shady spots made for perfect conditions to climb many unknown lines in this area.
Nick contemplating the sequence under Twilight of the Idols

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Gate

Good news from the Forest Service today. Officers at the Idyllwild ranger station have been given the green light to install a gate near the Ok Corral, pending financial support and volunteer labor from the climbing community. At our meeting with the Forrest Service earlier this year this was one of the main points discussed: How can access be achieved for a larger part of the year, particularly in the spring when lower parts of the mountain are in good climbing condition. Their main concerns about opening the gate earlier in the season are erosion to the road and the probability that people will go up in the snow on the 10 miles of unmaintained road and get stuck and need assistance. A reasonable conclusion that we suggested was to install a gate that would allow access just to the Ok Corral so the lower gate could be unlocked. This would open up a huge area of some of Black Mountain's best climbing during the optimal season. We figured that as a community we could help raise funds and rally the labor.

As of now it sounds like logistics will be worked out with the forest service in the spring (location, NEPA related planning, raw material, etc.) after the snow recedes and installation will commence in the summer. In the meantime Alan and I will need help organizing a fundraising event(s). Let us know if you have any ideas, like a dunk tank for Alan, or auctioning off the naming rights to unnamed climbs, or swag to raffle off. Initial quotes on the gate were around $2400, a manageable figure but not a cheap gate. Fingers are still crossed with all things this bureaucratic, but for now I think the community can chalk this up as a victory to be celebrated. We will keep you posted with further updates.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

End of Season

People were able to make a few more cold and sloppy trips up to the Ok Coral and the Republic after lasts week snow, but this most recent storm surely has dropped multiple feet of the white stuff. With several storms lined up in the Pacific, and forecasters calling for above average snow pack, it looks like Black is out of commission for a few months. Alan and I will be back out at the lower elevation spots as soon as possible and in the meantime, we are focusing on the literary section of the book and maybe even roping up for some Jtree trad.