Climbing Mt Diablo

One of my favorite things about living in California is the copious abundance of natural beauty that surrounds us. From the oceans and cliffs to the mountains and valleys to the redwood forests and crazy hot deserts that stretch on as far as the eye can see. I don’t even think you need to be an outdoor enthusiast to be impressed with the glory this state has to offer.

Alex Mt Diablo

In early February a group of us went climbing on Mt. Diablo—as the name perhaps suggests, it can be quite sweltering there in the summer, but at this time of the year it’s pleasant enough for some serious outdoor activities.

Group Assesses

The day started off sunny and we were all enjoying basking in the warmth of it. Here the guys are assessing where to setup.

They all decided to tie into this face first. All of those grooves you see next to Mars’ feet are remnants of climbers past. When you climb on a top rope, the rope runs through an anchor at the top of the rock and can rub against the rock as you climb. Sandstone is such a soft rock that it easily erodes like that. I wonder how many climbers it takes to wear away just an inch of rock?

Mars Mt Diablo

Here you can see it even closer. Our crew made sure to set the anchor over the side of the cliff so the rope would not be rubbing against it, to prevent further damage so that everyone who comes after us can also enjoy the same rock. Also, I should point out that Mars is just sitting there on the edge of a 90 foot drop—that’s like standing on the ledge of a 9 story building window. It makes my stomach flutter (and Alex’s feet tingle) just thinking about it.

After the anchors were set and the rope was tied in, we headed down the hill to start climbing. Mars was first.

Spiderman!

Batman!

And then it was Tim’s turn. This particular face was very difficult and no one made it all the way to the top. However, where you see that girl climbing in the top right is the Amazing Face, which had some better holds and everyone was able to climb to the top.

Then it was Alex’s turn.

He was almost there, but it got super tricky at the top and impossible for our group to accomplish. If you look closely, you can see how wide of an angle Alex had between the rope coming from him, and the rope going back to Tim, his belayer. This meant, when he finally lost his grip, he swung like a pendulum all the way over to the other side and had to jump over the rope in the middle.

Later we ended up tying into Amazing Face, which you can see is aptly named.

It’s such a high climb that it took each of them about 40 minutes to complete.

Because the rock is sandstone, many of the hand-holds were just tiny little flakes, so small that you would never imagine you could hold onto them, let alone support your whole body weight. But when all that’s keeping you from falling 70 feet straight down is the tippy-tips of your fingertips, somehow your body makes it happen. (Oh, sure, there’s the rope too, but it’s not really there—just for emergencies.)

Tim Amazing Face Mt Diablo

So by the time Alex started to climb it, evening was setting in.

You can see it starting to get darker here and by the time we packed up and hiked back to the cars, it was completely dark. The park closes at sundown and we were just inside the gates so Mars and I rushed ahead to stop them from locking us out. Phew! No problems there—they hadn’t closed the gates and we were able to sleep in our warm beds that night enjoying the memories of our adventurous day 🙂

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