Monday, April 26, 2021

Sandstone Peak - 4/17/21 - (Class 2 thru Class 4)

Sandstone Peak (Secondary)

Sandstone Peak and Monument Peak

View Northeast from Sandstone Peak Climb

Dihedral Climb

Jerry and Cheryl sent this review of climbing Sandstone Peak recently. (Sandstone Peak is found in the Red Rock Escarpment or Sandstone Bluffs between Indecision Peak and Monument Peak.) It sounded like such an adventure, I wanted to place the photos and story on the blog. Below, find a quote from a rock climbing blog to explain what a dihedral is in rock climbing. Go to the link for the page and an interesting Dean Potter (famous rock climber guy) video!

What Is a Dihedral (in the Rock Climbing World)?

If you pick up any guidebook to pretty much any climbing area, the chances are good that you’ll see the word “dihedral” used to describe a climb or part of one. So what is a dihedral, exactly?

It’s a cliff feature where two planes of rock come together at more or less right angles to form a corner. 

There is usually a crack of some sort in the corner of the dihedral, and this crack can be used for jamming, laybacking, and placing protection. If there isn’t a crack to jam in—or if it’s too thin to do you any good—stemming, palming, body tension, and smearing will help you get up the thing.

Jerry with East Monument Peak in Distance

Cheryl with Spring Mountain Ranch State Park in Distance

The Climb

Cheryl having fun with the Camera

Sandstone Peak is a difficult but super fun scramble. We parked at the Black Velvet parking area and hiked two miles across the desert to the base of the peak avoiding private property and Spring Mountain Ranch State Park land. From there we started straight up toward the summit. Our class two eventually became 3d class and finally 4th class some of which was exposed. The rock was solid but there were quite a lot of cacti, bushes and trees to negotiate. Unfortunately one of the cactus, an agave, decided to attack me and stuck several needles into the fingers on my left hand. One was imbedded so deeply into my knuckle I couldn’t bend my finger. Jerry sprang into medic mode and using his tweezers/magnifying glass, he expertly and calmly removed them. 

Easy part! Bonnie Springs and Oliver Ranch in Distance

Worth the Climb!

Just a little Scrambling Remaining

Crazy kids!

We made our way to the sub peak and had a brief snack. We had made it to this point last November but had to turn around as we were losing daylight. This time we had longer days and knew we’d have plenty of time. After our short break we hiked and scrambled along a 4th class ridge that eventually led us to Sandstone Peak. We had great views of Little Zion, East Peak and Monument Peak to name a few. 

Going Down

Bushes in the Way

It's a long way down there!

Super Cheryl!

After signing the register, taking some photos and having another snack, we headed back. We scrambled our way back down a lot of fun spots without incident. At the last section before we made it to the desert floor, we encountered very loose, slippery dirt. Going up wasn’t a problem but going down....well, we’ve all been “there”!  We slipped a few times and got some minor bruises and scratches. 

We had a really fun time! It was a blast! 

Stats: 7 miles; 2600' gain; 7.75 hours

Super Jerry!

Well, there's a slow way and a fast way!

Down the Ancient Rockslide


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Calico II Peak Loop - 4/22/21

View Northeast from Calico II Peak

Trail down the Steep Descent

Rooster Rock from Calico Tanks Trail

Mike leads out from Sandstone Quarry
It was time for a short scramble! So, the Fit Five started out of Sandstone Quarry on a beautiful morning. We started out the old familiar Calico Tanks Trail that a few of us could probably do blind folded! Nevertheless, this trail is always fascinating with all the colors and views and small scrambles. We got to the CCC steps quickly and soon came to the point of trail departure. There is a small rise in the tanks trail where a small secondary trail leads off to the right. The small trail takes hikers up to a rock boulder / wall where you can climb up onto the plateau above. This is a wide intermediary plateau where you can find the next way up the sandstone to the higher plateau. We found our way over to the rock that dips down to take you to the climb up.

Redbuds in Bloom

We all did our impressions of a fly as we scaled our way up the beehive sandstone. Memories of Bridge Mountain danced in our heads.

Enjoying the Calico Tanks Trail

At the initial level of the high plateau we crossed up to the Asterisk Tank. We did not choose to view all the tanks that can be found up there.

Departure from Calico Tanks Trail

Cheryl does her Fly Impression
The weather has been very dry for the last few months so none of the tanks or tinajas have a drop of water in them at this time. Up and over another level of sandstone, we saw the Exclamation Point Tank. Then we climbed up to view the Hidden Tank. Next, we dropped down into the Brushy Descent portion of the route. Today, the Brushy Descent was even brushier than before. I don't think anyone has been using this route lately. We all decided to bring clippers if we ever do this route again. Somehow, we got through the scrub oak and cacti then weaved our way down next to the wall on the left side. The rotting log that crosses a crack is still solid and covered with a blooming redbud tree. From there, we climbed on up to an overlook.

Up on the Plateau

Squeezing through another overgrown scrub oak, we came to the base of a very large sunken tinaja. But, you would never know that it is there until you climb up the side of a wall!

Taking a look at Hidden Tank

This is where we have changed our normal Tank Discovery route and scrambled over to the Calico II Overlook passing a very long tinaja that is very photogenic when it is filled with water.

Did someone bring clippers?

Crossing the Old Log
Today, however, we used the old route up the rockfall to climb Calico II Peak. It's all fun! On the peak, we took our photos and rested for a few minutes. The views from this peak are outstanding with sandstone at every angle. There are four largish tinajas surrounding the peak. And, also, one small round one that has been dubbed the Hot Tub Tank. After the rest, I suggested that we descend to the Main Tank via the Crack versus the "over the side of the cliff" descent. All were agreeable. So, we hiked past all the big tanks and the tilted beehive and dropped into the crack. A small up and around has to be done to get past the scrub oak bushes there. Then the downward scramble begins.

Approaching Sunken Tank

It is an interesting scramble going over a log and down a rock obstacle. The view of Turtlehead Peak is great! Then, the final slip 'n' slide at the end of the crack!

Climbing up from Rockfall

We each took on the slip 'n' slide in our own way. I have to say that Cheryl's method was the most daring! (See the photo collage a few photos below.)

Fit Five on Calico II Peak

Cottonwood Valley from Calico II Peak
The Crack Descent bottoms out high above the Main Tank on a wide level of dark sandstone. From there, we made our way down and crossed above the Main Tank to the other end. Now! The big descent from the Main Tank to Calico II turnout area! This is a route that the club used to do once or twice a year but we had not done the route for a while. So, the descent turned out to be a review for us. First, we started at the top of the hill at the end of the Main Tank. One trail leads down and one trail leads to the right. We took this one. A good rule of thumb here is to not go down too fast. Stay high but not too high. There is a red rock outcrop that comes into view soon in the near distance. The correct route goes just to the right of this outcrop.

Descending from Peak above Tank

If you don't stay high enough, you end up having to climb up and over this particular outcrop. There is a little scrambling to get there but when you get to the outcrop, there is a clear trail and the real descent can begin!

View from Crack Descent

Now, the trail comes in handy but some of your own creativity might work. For example, there is a trail down through rocks and dirt but a parallel route down next to the wall on the left works, too.

Jerry & Cheryl on the Slip 'n' Slide at Bottom of Crack

Overlook at Bottom of Crack
The trail is good but sometimes it is replaced by scrambling down boulders, etc. There are only a couple of places where a clear choice faces you. Either one works ... or, if it doesn't ... go back! Anyway, it is a long tedious descent but fun and beautiful! In the second part of the descent route, you begin passing by and through some popular rock climbing routes. Today's hike was the first time I've gone through here without seeing rock climbers! Maybe we were too early. Rock climbers are sometimes later risers. Anyway, we dropped down below the chalked up walls and, finally, stepped into a basin of bushes webbed with paths. We made it! We were at the bottom of the Angel Carving Canyon and not far from Calico II turnout.

Crossing above Main Tank seen Top Right

Turning right, we hiked into a Thru Way from here to the Calico Hills Wash. There is a use trail here that is interpreted two different ways!

Fun on the Steep Descent toward Calico II Turnout

At the wash, we turned to the right and hiked up until we found a nice trail leading out of the wash on the left side. This hopped us over onto the Grand Circle Trail where we continued in the same direction.

Mike's Impression of a Fly - Superfly!

One well-used Climbing Wall
At this point, we were almost a mile from the cars using the Grand Circle Trail (or Loop). This is another point in today's hike that all of us know very well. I started up the trail and decided that "laying it all out there" was a good option! I chose a steady rapid pace and tried to stick to it. Ugh. Well, I tried. Anyway, we sailed into the Sandstone Quarry parking lot 3 hours after our start time with a great workout under our belts. What a wonderful way to start the day!

Stats: 3.5 miles; 1000' gain; 3 hours

Thru Way to Wash

Calico Hills Wash

Return on Grand Circle Trail