We were the first car on the lot at Pinnacles National Park. We had camped nearby and managed to get all packed and on the road as early as we actually said we would. Plus it was Superbowl Sunday, so the park was going to be a little lighter than usual. The weather was perfect and the view was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The park is filled with little caves and towering pillars of rock. Though I think it’s technically a desert, there’s actually lots of colorful vegetation this time of year. We spent most of our day in near the beautiful reservoir.
We started with “The First Sister” on 5 towering pillars that really define Pinnacles landscape. Our friend Eric lead most of the climbs and set up the anchoring system for the rest of us. The routes were well bolted, which helped keep my mind at ease. Typically afraid of heights, but the seen from the top of this Sister was super enjoyable. I took a panorama from it that you can see here (requires Silverlight).
Next up, we headed to The Hatchet, another one of the park’s dominant features. This rock, situated on a cliff atop a hill, is hard to capture in a single photo. Wide from one point of view, super thin from another, the climb runs mostly along the “blade” which hovers way above the valley below.
There are a few tough spots on this route, but what really gets you is mostly psychological. It’s just spooky climbing on this thin rock, which hangs off so high above the rest of the park. Most of the features were solid, but there were parts where you could knock on solid rock and hear this hollow sound… like tapping on Styrofoam or something. There was even one part, just over the crux where a huge piece of rock broke off under my foot, leaving a jagged chunk in it’s place. I swear the piece that fell off was probably larger than my fist. Bring your helmets!
Near the top of the Hatchet is a little nook, called “The Nail Biter”, which is perfect spot to stop and take a break (physically and emotionally). I felt a bit bad for Christine who was belaying from “the most uncomfortable belay shelf ever”, but the view was great. And I saw a freaking condor!
By the time our climb was over, we hoped to catch one more wall on the walk back, but the routes were all packed. If we had it to do over again, perhaps we’d start with the more popular climbs near the entrance, then hit the more hidden routes later in the day. The day was fantastic and mellow, I can’t wait to climb it again! I’ve shared a Lightt video from our day below.
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