|Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)
This route follows a striking feature up the left side of the Black Wall. Despite being an eye-catcher from the road, the rock quality is merely okay and the climbing is not that interesting.
What is very interesting is the protection on this route. First of all, the gear on the traversing first pitch is scarse and hard to place. The second pitch provides an exhibit of many of the different types of harware-store-variety gear (bolts, nails, you name it). Obviously, all of it is suspicious. Fortunately, the climbing on the second pitch is rather easy and the gear becomes a curiosity rather than an objective hazard. The top anchor above pitch 2 is difficult to build.
From the top of the route, make an exposed 3rd class traverse left until reaching a gully(some parties may want to belay this as a third pitch). Descend the gully to a large rappel tree. I believe that a 60m rope is required to reach the ground. Be sure to top-rope Half Ascent (5.5) which is directly beneath the tree.
In summary, this is a real adventure route--the kind that you're glad you did and glad you'll never have to do again.
Gear: micro to 3.5"
Most/all fixed gear is sketchy.
|By Jeff Mahoney|
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Dec 3, 2007
If you're really wanting to test your gear placement and "expeditionary" trad skills this is a good route for it: manky, chossy, lichen-y, awkward, flaring seam-y, and runout-y (up to 20'+)---but still moderately fun. You might get 3 bomber placements on the route (and get to place nuts in diagonal opposition---not once, but twice!)
On a more helpful note, you can run this in a full, single pitch on a 60m, then rap off the smaller (stout) pine at the belay ledge without crossing over to Half Ascent. You'll still need two ropes for the rap, though.