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The Odyssey Grade V 5.9 C2+ a Trip Report

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That first visit to the Donnell Vista in the early 90s was an awakening. It was a time of school, philosophy and climbing. A trip the Owens River Gorge by way Sonora Pass etched something in me. Later, I was given a proper tour of the granite on the Stanislaus. The few routes that were 'established in the guidebook' could almost be counted on one hand. Over the next few years I would make my way down canyon. Following the dirt road that hugged the side of the mountain, much like a road into Gasherbrum or some far flung mountain, I was drawn down to the reservoir. Timid at first, we eeked out adventure on impeccable rock on the Weeping Wall. Then in 2014 the urge to do a Wall in my proverbial backyard got me thinking about how to make it happen. I talked with Tim Tuomey, who I have had many an adventure with. He was into it after some coaxing and reassurance that I could get a canoe.

I had originally met Tim on Sonora Pass proper. I can't remember if we were going to climb or just planned to meet shake hands and chat about climbing over a beer like we had been doing online. Around that time internet websites were becoming easy to purchase and free hosting had become immensely popular. So I started a bare bones informational page to supplement the paperback guidebook that Hope, Brad and Jim had put together. Connecting and talking to climbers about climbing online was new and amazing. rec.climbing was in full swing and Supertopo would soon become the virtual campfire that many grew to love (and later only grudgingly sign onto). So "IRL" we met and started working on projects together. 

That evening the cold temps were creeping in so we moved to the Hippopotabus (a green Volkswagen bus with a pop top) to get out of the cold. Tim's passion for "The Pass" was pure. I saw him as a kindred spirit escaping the cluster of humanity that coagulated on North Side Drive. No rangers, no people and the climbers were all about the very same thing; new routing and not being jammed in a line fighting over who starts the Regular Route first. We jibber jabbered til late. And I think we climbed up at The Fortress the next day.

Many years later sitting here now, I'm thinking about how last season's rains washed out the road to the reservoir in multiple places. I am reminded that getting in and out of the canyon to Donnell Reservoir is an adventure in itself. It is at the courtesy of the mountain and her consort, the weather, that we obtain access. Donnell's would otherwise be a miniature Yosemite Valley if  it hadn't been flooded for irrigation and agriculture. 

However, once you are there, seeing Atlantis for the first time, your only thought must be "That would be so cool to start a route right out of the water!!!" 

No climber worth their sea salt, hasn't thought of the metaphor of sea-faring and sailing off into uncharted waters to go after their great white whale! Crossing water to reach tall granite so close to home was like having Baffin in your backyard! Only, 50 degrees warmer!  :)


So we prepared for battle on the high seas. PFDs, paddles, floatable throw lines, Black Label, rock gear, dry bags and a change of clothes just in case we went into the drink.

Our schooner was the "Tangerine Trip" so named by Nurse Ratchet, Brutus of Wyde and Dingus Milktoast on their ascent of "Sirens of the Stanislaus" many years earlier. We felt so proud to have Brutus's naval warhorse. Felt connected to the place. Brutus had invited me on the Sirens adventure, but being on-call for emergencies are work that week blew my chance. I regretted not being able to go for a long time. This Odyssey though, it would be redeeming of course. Hell, we had the Tangerine Trip! I drove out to Marin's annex of the Old Climber's Home to pick it up from Nurse Ratchet and drove it up to Tim's place.

We were UNSINKABLE now!!!  :)

That first weekend getting the boat down was a learning experience. I didn't want to carry the damn thing on the low road to the damn, so we used the high road 4x4 approach and got to a point where we only had to carry it down hill about 300 yards. And yes, carrying it back up would have been a problem, had it not been stolen in the interim. I mean, who the fuck steals a canoe?  Low life fuckwads, is who.

So we're not used to carrying this beast. We've both kind of off the couch. This humping loads to the water business turns into a crux of sorts for me later when I strain ligaments in my shoulder. And the TT is NOT light. It's a Coleman, meant for car campers dropping a boat from the back of the truck into a flat reservoir.

We rest and recover in the heat of Summer.

Eventually we're ready. The cool breeze off the water rejuvenates the spirits. And the task at hand of paddling into a windy canyon presents itself.

The open seas!!  It takes us no time to get into a paddling rhythm. Tim's experience on zodiacs means he's knows how to paddle. My overnight canoe trips on the flat water sections of the Colorado prepare me for a smooth adjusting feather-j stroke. Soon the real size of the Atlantis Wall is on us...

Brad Young:
This site doesn't get ENOUGH trip reports. Keep it coming! (Photos too!)


--- Quote from: Brad Young on October 12, 2017, 08:35:37 PM ---This site doesn't get ENOUGH trip reports. Keep it coming! (Photos too!)

--- End quote ---

lol, true. Now if only there was someone else that climbed on the Pass that took pics and new how to type up a good report. Be the change you want to see! :) lol

In other news, I saw rumors of a new line being established on 108, and it wasn't either of us! lol

We paddled around quite a bit looking for the right line. We had scoped many lines from a spectacular peninsula of rock opposite Atlantis Wall. We thought we knew what we wanted to get on. Several lines looked appealing. Motivation wavers. It picks up again. Two more beers. Then Tim gets fired up for the big inside corner on the left edge of Talus Island.

100ft out after duking it out with some wet slime and leaves he finds an old bolt on the side wall. What does it mean?  Was it a bail bolt? A single bolt? Was a belay? Either way, we aren't keen on following in someone else's footsteps when we've schlepped all the gear and a boat down there.

We look out right and there is another splitter crack system, but with much less wyde climbing. However, the bottom is barred by some face climbing. It looks do-able. We have time. "Let's get a face pitch started and head up that way!" It yields a few easy moves, and then it pisses on our parade with either the need for a lot more bolting on 5.11+ moves or a lot more bolting as a bolt ladder.

Meh, not in for it, we back off the one bolt. Instead we look at this sweet hunk of the wall.

Corners, ledges, and seemingly clean rock... from the ground. So we had lunch. Racked up with our "Spaniard Friends" and started to see what it would take to get up a ways and not waste the day looking a flowers.

Note "Spaniard Friends" center position on the rack. Such great pieces for walls.


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