Today I hit another milestone in my rock climbing career. I went on my first multi-pitch rock climbing adventure in Tahquitz (located in San Jacinto Mountains, CA)! Before accomplishing this, I had muscled up boulders, led on sport routes, cleaned up single pitch routes, top roped all over Southern California, free soloed up The Eye in Joshua Tree at night; but I had never had the honor of following someone on a trad multi-pitch route. When my friend John P. asked me to climb with him in Tahquitz I could not pass up the opportunity!
I’m wearing: Roxy Souk Paisley Crop bikini top
Prepping for my first multi-pitch on trad
The day before my trip, I was learning how to rappel with my friend John V. and Steve L. John V. and Steve are both experienced trad climbers and have tackled many multi-pitches. During our breaks in between training, John V. and Steve briefed me on the process of multi-pitch rock climbing on trad routes. We reviewed safety guidelines and my friends gave me tips on how to be a good partner for my first multi-pitch adventure.
What to do at each belay station
John and Steve also went over what to do when I arrive to each belay station. Whenever I arrive to the belay station, I need to hook my personal anchor system into the anchor and double-check that the PAS is locked. Afterwards, I can tell John P. to take me off belay. I would then remove the gear I had cleaned from the route and give them back to John P. After we organize the gear, John and I would get ready to climb the next pitch.
Meal prepping for my first multi-pitch adventure
I consider meal prepping for my outdoor adventures one of the most crucial parts of my trip. If I don’t have enough food and the right kind of food, I will not be able to function and enjoy my time climbing. For breakfast I made two hash browns and 2 eggs. I like to make sure my climbing partners are well-nourished so I packed lunch and snacks for both me and John P. I packed: avocado, 4 apple sauce packets, 2 coconut waters, water, beef jerky, turkey wrap, cliff bars, and apples. Eating an avocado before the ascent was yummy but it was troublesome having to cut open the avocado and scoop out the insides. I won’t be doing this again. Next time I’ll bring packaged guacamole instead!
What to pack for my first multi-pitch
- Osprey Sirrus 36 pack (to carry my gear during the hike in)
- REI Flash 22 backpack (a lightweight backpack to climb with)
- CamelBak Antidote Reservoir 70 oz. hydration bladder
- Petzl Tikka R+ headlamp
- Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated jacket (on sale as of June 2016!)
- Black Diamond Siren Harness
- Petzl Grigri 2 + locking carabiner
- Petzl Verso Belay Device + locking carabiner
- Personal anchor system
- Climber’s tape
- Rappel backup system
- Five Ten Anasazi LV rock climbing shoes
- Petzl Meteor Helmet
- Krieg Special K chalk bag
- Sunscreen from Trader Joe’s
- Sony a6300 camera (I attached this to my harness and climbed with it!)
Me at the top of Tahquitz! I covered up most of the climb because the sun was shining with full force.
Starting the day early
I was pumped up for my first multi-pitch adventure so I woke up at 5:45 am to eat breakfast and made sure I had packed everything. I met John P. at his place at 7:30 AM in Costa Mesa. We drove for a couple of hours and then found parking in the Humber Park parking lot by 10 AM. The parking lot was almost full by the time we arrived but we managed to find one spot.
FYI, if you’re planning on visiting, you need an Adventure Pass to park here so don’t forget to bring your pass!
Bushwacking to the start of Fingertrip (5.7)
John P. gave me the option of taking the longer approach to the climbing route or the shorter approach. The longer way is less steep and stable, but we would have to walk more. The shorter approach is steeper, had loose dirt, and is filled with switchbacks. I opted for the longer approach. Little did I know I was in for a real adventure! The hike in was scenic and shaded. The hike (approach) was relatively easy until we encountered some large fallen trees that we had to climb over.
We went the wrong way (haha)
John P. began to go off trail to make the approach shorter. I had to fight with many bushes and jump over more trees. This was really fun at first but my Onzie Tuxedo Capri were not made for off-trail hiking so they quickly got torn up from losing my battles with nature :(. John P. and I scrambled over loose rocks for what seemed like miles until we finally approached the base of Tahquitz. Once John P. and I arrived, we realized we had gone too far north of the wall and we needed to be at the south end.
Btw, stay on the trails as much as you can to avoid damaging Tahquitz. We should not have went off-trail!
Prepping for the ascent
After another 30-40 minutes of battling with bushes, we reached Lunch Rock! Lunch Rock is close to the base of our climbing route. It was 12:30 PM when John P. and I arrived so we quickly shoved food in our faces and prepped our gear. While John P. was organizing his gear I whipped out my REI Flash 22 backpack from inside of my Osprey Sirrus 36 pack. In my REI Flash 22 pack I packed: snacks, Patagonia Nano Puff jacket, sunglasses, tape, Salomon Ellipse hiking shoes, John P.’s approach shoes, water, and coconut water. Since John P. was leading the route by climbing up first and placing protection, I had to carry the pack. It’s important that the leader is not weighed down while he is climbing up.
After I put on my harness and clipped on all of my gear, I taped up my hands to prevent my hands from getting scraped up from the cracks. I flaked out the rope next to the base of the route to make sure the rope doesn’t get tangled as we climb up. John P. went over our game plan to prevent any miscommunication and then we were ready to start climbing! YAY!
Climbing up Fingertrip (5.7)
John P. and I climbed on one of the classic routes at Tahquitz called Fingertrip (5.7). John P. figured since this was my first multi-pitch climb, I should climb on a classic route. Fingertrip is a trad route with 4 pitches and we would be climbing up 400 ft.
A fast leader
John P. climbed up the first pitch quickly and soon he was out of my view. I had to pay extra attention to the movement of the rope and listen closely in case John P. said anything. After what seemed like a few minutes John notified me that he was anchored in and that I could take him off belay. I waited for John to take up all the rope and set up for me to climb up. In a few short moments, John P. tugged on the rope that was attached to my harness and yelled for me to climb up.
Getting my crack climbing skills on
I don’t climb cracks very often and I did not realized that for most of this climb, I would be using cracks. I didn’t know what I was doing so I just giggled, jammed my foot in the cracks, stuck my hands in and prayed what I was doing was correct. With a combo of poorly executed hand jams, poor finger jam techniques, sub par foot jams, and perfect lie back techniques (at least I know how to do lie backs!), I was able to climb all 4 pitches quickly.
Major improvement in cleaning protection
I’ve cleaned up trad protection here and there but it wasn’t something I did consistently. I had to remove a lot of on my first multi-pitch adventure and I am proud to say that I’ve improved greatly on this skill. Before this trip, I had a little trouble removing gear from the cracks. But on this trip I smoothly removed almost all the gear and got to spend more time climbing than trying to remove gear!
Exciting features on the route
In addition to the exciting cracks, I had the opportunity to climb over some bushes/trees. I have never done this before. At some points I thought I was climbing trees instead of rocks haha. At the end of pitch 4, there was an easy slab section. I barely used my hands and just ran across and up. This sounds risky, but I mean whatever, I was being protected by a top rope!
Hanging out at the top
John P. and I hung out at the top for awhile so that we can take pictures for this blog, rest, and find an area to pee (haha). My friend John P. is no photographer but he did the best he could to take good photos for me. John P. even strutted his stuff in front of the camera while I composed how to frame the shots! Thanks John P.!
Scrambling back down to the Climber’s Trail was a real treat. I LOVE scrambling and this descent was a fun addition to my first multi-pitch rock climbing adventure. There were many sections where you can easily fall and seriously hurt yourself so be careful! Some parts of the descent were difficult to just walk across so I had to put on my climbing shoes for security. John P. easily cruised through these sections since he had his approach shoes on.
Falling down on the hike back
We walked down the Climber’s Trail to get back to our car. The dirt was loose on the path and I fell down 3 times! I fell very hard on my tailbone on one of the falls and badly bruised it. It hurt for the entire way down. I’ll have to be more careful the next time I’m here!
My Rock Climbing Outfit
Beach Babe Rounded Aviator Sunglasses from Urban Outfitters
These sunglasses are super cute to belay in and rest in however since they are cheap, they are terrible for climbing. The lenses are not clear enough to safely rock climb and they are quite heavy.
Roxy Souk Paisley Crop Bikini Top
Yes I wore my bikini top out like a sports bra! My boobies don’t require much support so I can get away with wearing bikini tops to climb in. This top is adorable however it definitely wasn’t the most comfortable to climb in for a long period of time–but then again bikinis are made to be worn for a few hours at the beach or by the pool. This top is best reserved for short adventures and not for all day adventures.
Onzie Tuxedo Capri and Five Ten Anasazi LV rock climbing shoes
Onzie Tuxedo Capri in Black Mesh
This capri is a real neck breaker and perfect for hot temperatures since the material is lightweight. I wore this to Tahquitz however I wasn’t prepared to run into vegetation on the hike in. Unfortunately for me, the capri easily got damaged from fighting with bushes. I recommend this capri for situations where you don’t have to duel with bushes and sharp rocks. If I wear these again to Tahquitz, I’m definitely wearing hiking pants over them to protect my capri and my legs.
Rock Climbing Gear
Five Ten Anasazi LV Rock Climbing Shoes
These shoes are my babies. They are my first pair of climbing shoes and they are still my go-to. The Anasazi’s are comfortable, sticky, and an all-around performer. Full review coming soon!
Krieg Special K Chalk Bag – Wolf
I found this chalk bag at REI the other day. I instantly fell in love with the wolf design and was delighted when I found a zipper pocket in the back to carry my phone, money, cards, and keys (pocket not shown in this blog but I’ll take a photo next time)! The size of the bag made it easy to stick my whole hand in the bag and cover them with chalk.
Timeline of our adventure:
- 5:45 AM – Wake up
- 7:30 AM – Depart
- 10:00 AM – Arrive to Humber Park parking lot for Tahquitz
- 12:30 AM – Arrived near the base of our climb (Lunch Rock)
- 1:15 PM – Started climbing
- 4:00 PM – Arrived at the top
- 5:30 PM – Began our descent down
- 7:30 PM – Arrived to the car
- 8:00 PM – Dinner
- 12:00 AM – Home
A good day in Tahquitz
I thoroughly enjoyed my first multi-pitch trad rock climb up Fingertrip in Tahquitz. I learned a few things and improved my cleaning and crack climbing skills. I can’t wait to return one day and lead this route myself! Can you remember your first multi-pitch adventure? Tell me about it in the comment section below!