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Rock II - North Face
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El Centro T 

El Centro 

YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a R

   
Type:  Trad, 7 pitches, 900'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a [details]
FA: Stronge and Marc Hirshey, April 1973
Season: Spring and Fall, Sun in the morning
Page Views: 705
Submitted By: Chris D on Oct 16, 2011

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El Centro. Showing the descent-approach and the a...

Description 

From the end of the rappel to the forest, a huge chimney is visible to the right. El Centro begins pretty much right in front of you, about 40 feet to the left of the big chimney.

The route climbs a crack system up to and over the right end of a ragged arch about 200 feet off the deck. Once you're above the arch, traverse above it to the left into a crack that diagonals up and right. Follow this crack up to a system of ledges that you can see go back to the descent route. You could escape the route here, but instead, continue up and right over slab, following a big left-facing dihedral. Eventually, climb over the dihedral onto slab (runout) that leads to a roof split by a big crack. Up through this crack and onto a slab brings you to a huge, unprotectable slab covered with big, black xenoliths. Very cool! The ridge is about three pitches above the roof.

Descend by scrambling down the ridge to the left which takes you back to Middle Saddle.

The crux is probably either route-finding or just not being able to trust anything. Handholds, smears, gear placements...all of them feel like they could fail.

I'd call this route "good" based on the adventurous nature of it, not the quality of the rock or the climbing, though there are a few fun moves. Allow a lot of time for the approach and finding your way to the route.


Location 

This route begins at The Forest. Getting to The Forest is accomplished by following the directions to the North Face of Rock II


Protection 

A light rack of cams and a set of nuts should suffice. The granite is decomposing, flaky, and grainy. When cracks are available for pro, they're usually pretty wide, so small gear is not terribly useful. Test all placements well. Most cam placements will rip out once or twice taking grains of rock with it, leaving a slot sized well for the next larger cam on your rack. This may rip out too, but eventually something should hold.

Since the placements are so disheartening, the occasional 50-100 foot runout on gravelly slab seems less dangerous that it probably actually is. When we climbed it, we had to simulclimb twice (on a 60-meter rope) because there was simply nowhere to build an anchor. Build a belay at every opportunity, or be ready to run it out simulclimbing with maybe two suspect pieces of pro between you and your partner.

We found one fixed pin on the route, which was pretty solid.



Photos of El Centro Slideshow Add Photo
A fixed piton, somewhere on El Centro on Owens Ridge.
A fixed piton, somewhere on El Centro on Owens Rid...
Leading up the second pitch of El Centro, on the North Face of Rock I of Owens Ridge
Leading up the second pitch of El Centro, on the N...
Joe coming up to one of the rare belays high on the El Centro.
Joe coming up to one of the rare belays high on th...
Looking down from the belay near the beginning of El Centro.
Looking down from the belay near the beginning of ...
This photo was taken near where the rappel to The Forest ends.  El Centro begins just above the shrub visible in the lower right corner of this photo.
BETA PHOTO: This photo was taken near where the rappel to The ...
Comments on El Centro Add Comment
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By fossana
From: Bishop, CA
Oct 17, 2011

Thanks for scouting and the write-up.

By Chris D
From: the couch
Oct 17, 2011

My pleasure!