Dan has been bugging me for some time now about getting out to Tahquitz. Well, the stars finally aligned and we found ourselves in Humber Park at around 8am this last Saturday. An early start, but with few cars in the parking lot we were excited to go tackle Finger Trip (5.7) and possibly Left Ski Track (5.6.)
After an exhausting hike (for me) up to the base, we found ourselves at the bottom of what I thought was Fingertrip. And that’s when things got interesting. I set off climbing on what was actually The Slab (5.8 R)–a strenuous layback crack with few spots/stances to place good pro. I should I have figured I was on the wrong route when about halfway up I noticed a fixed cam that had obviously been used to bail. Ignoring this, about 3/4 of the way up I found a bail nut with biner still attached, and yet, still didn’t realize I was off route. Shortly after this nut, a guy on a neighboring route sees me struggling a bit and asks “Hey, do you think you’re on Fingertrip? Because you’re not.” “Oh great,” I think, and he explains to me how I can get back on the real Fingertrip. I finished this grueling pitch and we traverse right onto Fingertrip proper. I lead the next half a pitch correctly but somehow mislead us onto what I believe is Fingertrip Traverse (5.3,) following this route up to Lunch Ledge.
On Lunch Ledge we took a breather while two climbers climbed above us. After their leader hit the top, his partner started cleaning the anchor but had seriously overcammed a .75 camalot. After fiddling with it for 5 or so minutes, she asked me if I could take a shot at it. After about 10 minutes of serious wiggling, the bastard popped free and she was quite excited. She asked me what kind of car we had parked in Humber, and promised us a cold beer. “Yeah right” I thought, although it sure sounded good at the time. Thankfully, pitch 4 went down without issue, finishing up on a variation 5.6 finger crack that was fantastic.
Topping out, Dan was exhausted. We hiked down the friction descent, and noticed no one was on Left Ski Track. Dan was tired, but I talked him into giving it a go. I led the first pitch without issue, a fun pitch to be sure, and started bringing Dan up. About halfway up, Dan’s energy finally gave out on him, and he decided he didn’t have another 2.5 pitches in him. I lowered him off, and rapped off the (thankfully) bolted anchor, cleaning my cams on the way down. The rap was a rope stretcher, and I deliberately rapped off the ends of my rope, dropping the remaining 2 feet to the ground.
*Phew* What a day. As we hike down I ask Dan for the booty gear from pitch 1. He looks at me, puzzled, and says “Oh you wanted me to clean that gear too? I thought you just meant the gear you placed.” I roll my eyes, but can’t really fault him for leaving it. The first pitch was brutal, and he was probably unconsciously trying to punish me for misleading onto what was really 5.hard, despite the actual grade.
Arriving at the car around 5pm, we discover a cold Fat Tire and thank you note from our friends on Lunch Ledge, our only booty for the day. Tired, but happy, we roll into town for some pizza and beer before heading home.