May 1999
Lover's Leap Day Climbing
Steve "Fitz" Fitzmorgan

All of you that were thinking about joining us at "The Leap" but decided not to, really missed out! This may have been the best weekend to go climbing at the Leap. As we found out from one of my buddies in Sacramento, everyone in that area thought that there was still too much snow to get access to many of the climbs. There was still some snow there, but you had to really look for it.

After our standard banana pancake breakfast, which we shared with our friends Stu and Kara, Kimber and I started out on "The Line", a wonderful 5.9 pseudo-crack where several parties are normally ahead of you. We got to the cliff at 10am, and there wasn't a soul to be seen on the climb. After finishing the climb, which was great, and walking off (the only way off most of the climbs here), we stopped for some lunch. Our second and final climb of the day was "Preparation H", a 5.8 that went great except for some nasty weather that rolled in just before starting the final pitch. After I led the pitch in near-record time, Kimber, who thought that the skies were going to dump cold rain any minute, flew up the pitch after me. With the wind howling and rain starting to fall, we got our gear together and headed back to the base to pick up our packs, only to find that the weather had passed and was calming down.

Sunday started out the same way as Saturday, with banana pancakes of course! Del and his daughter Ashley arrived on Saturday night, so we all wanted to do climbs that were near each other. We figured Del & Ashley would do "Psychedelic Tree", Kimber & I "Fandango", and Stu & Kara "East Gully". As it turned out, this was the only area that still had snow and the rock looked pretty messy too. Del & Ashley did the first pitch of something in the general vicinity, then rapped off after finding too much mud and water. Kimber & I moved over to "Hornblower", only to back off after finding out that I needed gardening tools to place pro, and Stu & Kara moved over to "East Wall" after taking one look at the running water on their climb. I'm sure this area will be much better to climb in a couple weeks! In the end, Kimber & I did "East Crack", a challenging 5.8 with lots of overhangs and bulges, and "Haystack Crack", another 5.8 that I think is the best climb on the cliff.

On Monday we all woke up a little sore and decided to head back to Del's gym in Sacramento to loosen up and get a jump on traffic. While at the gym, Kimber and Stu decided to sign up for one of the many specialty courses they offer, namely Aid climbing and Big Wall climbing. It looks like the gear closet may need an addition! If you're interested in seeing what they have, check out their web site - Granite Arch. Not only is Del a good friend of mine, but you can get all the beta you need if you're climbing in Northern CA, and it's a great place to make a pit stop too.

Overall, I think that "The Leap" was a great place to climb this weekend - no big crowds, plenty of good routes in a variety of grades, fairly short approaches, and don't forget the FREE CAMPING. Just remember that this place is a day trip destination for many in the area, and if you want to get on a particular route, plan on getting to it early. This place is very popular in the warm weather season.




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