Saturday, September 12, 2015

Moderates for Owltoberfest!

Santa Maria is not known for its moderate climbs. There is one 5.11a at the Owl Tor (the left-most route), but then the climbing jumps to stiff 5.11d. What most people do not know is that about 20 years ago we did put moderates up at the back area, a.k.a. Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong. These routes were never given the love and attention that routes in the area need and thus fell into obscurity. But thanks to some elbow grease and a little teamwork, they have been revitalized and are better than ever. There are 14 routes (and counting) between 5.8 and 5.11d and here is your guide to them.

The Doom Wall
Arthur just before flashing Super Shotgun.
Named after popular video game, this wall is an easy 2 minute walk from the parking lot. From left to right, the routes are:
  1. Slough of Despair (5.12a) - No, I'm not counting this as a moderate, I'm including it so that all the routes on the wall are listed and thus each is easier to find. Fun moves to a definite crux; 45' long; consider stick clipping the first bolt.
  2. Shores of Hell (5.11b) - Definitely the most popular moderate, and maybe the best. 45' long with 30' vertical climbing on embedded cobbles leading to a 15' crux section that overhangs slightly. Always a bit sandy, hence the name (also a level in Doom.)
  3. Tower of the Damned (5.11d) - Micah: "Start matched on slopey embedded and head up through some pockets, pinches and incredible crimps. A nice combination of power and tech for the grade." An excellent route. 35' long, 5 fixed draws.
  4. Super Shotgun (5.11b) - A low crux at the first bolt is not the end of this route - it stays engaging; 35' long, 5 fixed draws; consider stick clipping the first bolt.
  5. BFG 9000 (5.10c) - More than any route on this wall, this route had fallen into serious disrepair. Micah worked hard and did an excellent job fixing it up. 35' long, 6 fixed draws.
  6. ADK9 (5.10b) - Fun moves on cool embedded rocks. 30' long, 4 fixed draws..
  7. Deathmatch (5.8) - The right most route on the wall. More embedded cobble climbing, 30' long, 3 fixed draws.
The Hondo Boulder
Named after the legend himself, this boulder is about 50 feet right of the Doom Wall. There is currently only one moderate on this wall, it is the left-most route:
  1. Oh Shit Take! (5.11c) - Another Steve Edwards masterpiece? Too early to tell, but it has some fun moves, cool  holds, and a crux right before the anchors. 30' long, 5 fixed draws.
The Sea of Love Wall
The Sea of Love Wall
Follow the trail another 75 feet after the Hondo Boulder and straight ahead you will see an arching arete. Left of the arete is a cave with a very long fixed draw; left of that is...
  1. Housequake (5.9) - Always in the sun, so a decent route to start on if it's cold. Some loose rock. (Housequake by Prince.) 50' long, 6 fixed draws.
  2. Thai Dheva (5.11b) - Carefully scramble up into the cave to clip the long first draw. This 55' route has a powerful crux between the second and third bolts. For additional mileage, finish on Genesis (below) after the crux. 6 fixed draws.
  3. Genesis: Rebellion (5.10a) - This route completely fell apart, it has been restored as much as possible with an extended traversing finish. Starts on the first 4 bolts of Sins (below) and traverses left into Thai Diva. 60', 8 fixed draws.
  4. Sins of a Solar Empire (5.10a) - This is the longest moderate route by far. Starts just left of the arete. Destined to be a classic, but still needs some traffic. The climber and belayer should be alert for loose rock; nothing large, but expect some small stuff to come off. 65', 9 fixed draws.
  5. Sea of Love (5.12b) - Just to complete the wall, I'm including this route. It is hard. More than one climber has called it "the hardest 12b I've ever done." It has never (to my knowledge) been onsighted or even flashed. Boulderers should give it a try as the crux is only 4-5 moves on this 30' route.
The Main Wall
The Main Wall is just 30' opposite the Sea of Love Wall and you'll know it when you see it. The moderate here is a last minute, and very exciting addition. It was bolted by John Perlin, creator of classics like Chips Ahoy and Wild Kingdom.
  1. Hell of the Horny Dragon (5.10b) - This route is about 10' left of the huge oak tree that has fallen against the main wall. Just past vertical for the first 20' and then slightly less than vertical for the next 15'. 30' long, 5 fixed draws.
The China Boulder
The approach begins at
either of the two arrows
This is the big block(s) at the base of the Main Wall. I am quite partial to this wall; it usually gets morning shade and then all day sun. To get to the base, climb through the little canyon between the boulders, down-climb the escape ladder, and traverse to the base. From left to right, the routes are:
  1. Call the President (5.9) - Start by pulling left on to the slightly sketchy looking block. Excellent. 40' long, 6 fixed draws.
  2. Central Junction Box (5.10c) - Shares the same opening move as Call the President and then veers right. Fun to the finish and always a bit thrilling finding the best holds. 40' long, 6 fixed draws.
  3. China Is Here (5.11a) - The arete on the right. A few pulls on the starting overhang ease into more moderate climbing. One of the best routes in the area, in my opinion. 40' long, 6 fixed draws.
A lot of time and effort was put into making these routes climbable. If you're curious as to just how much, check out the "rock" right of Deathmatch. We hope you enjoy the climbing and we look forward to seeing you at Owltoberfest. Below are all the routes listed above sorted by rating.
Route Rating Wall & # First Ascent
Deathmatch 5.8 Doom Wall #7 Phil Requist, 1995
Call the President 5.9 China Boulder #1 Requist, 1994
Housequake 5.9 Sea of Love Wall #1 Requist, 2016
Genesis: Rebellion 5.10a Sea of Love Wall #3 Dr. K, 1995
Sins of a Solar Empire 5.10a Sea of Love Wall #4 Requist, 2015
ADK9 5.10b Doom Wall #6 Kathy Lasky & Hans Florine, 1995
Hell of the Horny Dragon 5.10b Main Wall #1 John Perlin, 2015
BFG 9000 5.10c Doom Wall #5 Steve Edwards, 1995
Central Junction Box 5.10c China Boulder #2 Requist, 1994
China Is Here 5.11a China Boulder #3 Requist, 1994
Shores of Hell 5.11b Doom Wall #2 Requist, 1994
Super Shotgun 5.11b Doom Wall #4 Florine, 1995
Thai Dheva 5.11b Sea of Love Wall #2 Tom Ruddy, 2011
Oh Shit Take! 5.11c Hondo Boulder #1 Edwards, 2012
Tower of the Damned 5.11d Doom Wall #3 Micah Elconin, 2016
This year's Owltoberfest begins Saturday, October 17th at the Owl Tor - so that's not really a day for moderates. Still, you could watch the excitement, get motivated, and have a martini. The next day, Sunday, October 18th, we will head to Mr Lee's. Any updates about the event will be posted to the facebook event page. Thanks again to our sponsors:
Maxim Ropes
Fixe Hardware
Misty Mountain
Kilter Climbing Grips
Santa Barbara Rock Gym
Getting There:
Most of what you need to get to the Owl Tor and Mr. Lee's are marked on this map. A truck, 4WD, or similar is recommended for Mr. Lee's, although not usually required. The parking lots for both areas are marked on the map.

We will probably camp just a few minutes drive from Mr. Lee's. There are almost no accommodations, just an outhouse. So bring everything you need.