Trip Report: Adventure Climbing in the Sierras
“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down…” -Chumbawumba
An entire trip rained out? How could this possibly happen?!
When Team Psyche (Brent Smith, Heather Gilbert and Wendy Low) won the Earth Treks Avi Sengupta Staff Climbing Scholarship, we knew we wanted to make the absolute most of it. However, on the third day of our Sengupta trip, our objectives never seemed farther away. We were frustrated by the volatile weather and devastated after getting hailed on, leaving gear on routes, and only completing three of the routes on our long tick list.
After the third day of rain, we made the tough decision to adjust our plan and leave Lover's Leap for dryer skies at Castle Rock. While we no longer had Lovers Leap’s tall granite cliffs to inspire us, we were still able to achieve many of our goals.
Among our successes, Wendy lead her first trad route in Cragmont, an incredible crag in a Berkeley suburb. Heather lead most of Knapsack Crack in Lovers Leap before getting caught in the rain. At Cragmont, Heather also lead an entire pitch of climbing with all passive protection. Brent learned how to guide a party of two up long routes and taught Heather and Wendy techniques to safely climb in a group of three. We were able to turn shorter routes into multi-pitch climbs to practice anchor building and transitions.
More than anything, climbing every day for a week made us more efficient, from quickly loading belay devices to quickly flaking the rope, route-finding to smooth belay transitions. All of these skills will lead to huge gains as we tackle larger objectives.
So much in climbing is out of our control: the weather, our health. Everything can impact your plans. Throughout the trip, we reminded ourselves that this was one trip in a lifetime of climbing. Even though things didn’t go entirely according to plan, once we adjusted our expectations and had a new plan in place we accomplished so much! Post-trip, we are all still pursuing our goals.
- Wendy attended the Seneca Women’s Climbing Summit and has completed six more trad leads. She is grateful for the continued mentorship of Brent, as well as Erica Espanek Patrick, the director of Crystal City, and previous Earth Treks Avi Sengupta Staff Climbing Scholarship winner. Currently, she is Shift Supervisor at Crystal City.
- Heather spent her summer in Alaska doing fieldwork for the National Ecological Observatory Network. During this time, she was able to introduce two female co-workers to rock climbing and guided them through their first outdoor climbing experience, in Valdez, AK. She is currently living in Golden, CO.
- Brent accepted a Shift Supervisor position at ET Englewood, where he looks forward to pursuing climbing instruction and guiding. In his first week in Denver, he's already climbed at Eldorado Canyon.
In all our adventures moving forward, we know that the best laid plans don’t always work out, but you can’t ever let it keep you down.
Written by: Wendy Low, Shift Supervisor at Earth Treks Crystal City.