Jam Crack in Lake Dixon
Sundays adventure evolved slowly, despite my full intention to go climbing this weekend. Robin wanted to go climbing. So did Sarah and Stephen. The people in my life wanted me to go outdoors and climb. Despite that I didn’t plan the routes I wanted to tackle, but I had a loose fallback of going to Lake Dixon.
I woke up feeling groggy, and spent all morning laying in bed, procrastinating starting the work towards my final which is in a scant 2 days. I messed around texting people about climbing obliquely until 2pm when two very important things fell through. My partner for the presentation decided that she didn’t have enough prepared to meet with me. I felt completely relieved because I didn’t have anything prepared either, and I felt like I didn’t want to waste precious daylight doing work that is just as well performed in the evening. Almost simultaneously, Sarah indicated that she was too tired from playing soccer to climb. I was able to last minute text Stephen for some extremely casual climbing at Lake Dixon.
Afterall, Stephen has never been to Lake Dixon, and 2pm is very late for a three person climbing trip in the middle of winter when the sun sets at 4:40pm.
So we headed to Lake Dixon around 3 o' clock. We had enough time to climb exactly 1 route, which was a beautiful route called Jam Crack.
I was attracted to the climb because I could tell from the ground that it had perfect fists, and a casual grippy flake to get off the ground. The route also had a walk on/off so I could set up a top rope to climb it.
The route had bolts, but they were placed quite high and far away from the edge, and I did not bring my cordelet to extend it. I setup a 3 cam anchor and even placed my size 5 as an “oh shit” piece in case my other three pieces failed. I know its extremely bad form to have a backup that extends, but I was not feeling confident about my pieces. It's been 3 weeks since I climbed or built anchors. I may have been feeling a lack of confidence in many areas of my life when I decided to place a fourth cam that evening.
I, like always, rappelled off the anchor to test it, and decided that my fears were unfounded.
The route itself was perfect. It was made to be climbed, with exactly 1 point of complexity that I was able to burn on for a few minutes. Switching from one crack structure to the next caused a weight distribution problem, causing you to “barn door” when switching. The way I solved it was by using the perfect crack hands to walk my feet up, then using the shelf to stand once I had my feet close enough to the crux. The first time I tried it I tried to pull myself up with my hands and smear off of the face, but that didn’t work.
The Kennedy climbing book calls this route a 5.10b, but it felt a little softer than that. When looking on mountain project, they say its closer to a 5.10a, and that feels about right.