Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tollhouse Rocks

Tollhouse Rock is a granite dome monolith outside the city of Tollhouse, which is on the map Northeast of Fresno, CA. It sits on the boundary of the John Muir wilderness and is a great place to climb. To reach it, one drive on a level dirt road to a powerline access cut, then hike to the top, then scrambles down a gully 400ft to the base. It's pretty easy to reach, and except for the fields of poison oak and trail washout, not tricky.

Once at the base of the rock, there are crack and bolted lines that felt 5.7ish all the way to mid 10's - which made the day enjoyable. The base has a thin trail along the rock that can be a nightmare if you wander off – the area is thick with brush. There’s lot of condor/falcon/raven (we’re terrible bird identifiers) in the air above, and we heard more than one roar from a cat of some kind.

The climbs are excellent, with some steep slab on runout bolts to keep you thinking. There’s a short mild crack that was cool, with some bulges overhead to navigate. Our last climbs were on some steep face with tiny ledges that kept me laughing. At one point, I had to fully mantle a ½ inch ledge with only a shallow mono pocket above. Then, you have to switch to a slab traverse to the anchor. All in all, it was a great day.

All the pictures in this post are from this great crag.

Afterwards, Han rallied for locations South. We ended up 12 miles outside of Bakersfield. Let me tell you all about that night! Hanmi has had an OK time in a KOA in the past (why spell campground with a 'K'? Are they part of the Klu Klux Klan?) - we saw a sign for one by the side of the road and simply took it. It was late.

It's not pretty. There are few hardy trees and lots of RV's. There's a freeway buzzing not far from us. Then as we were setting up the tent, some large engines in the field next to us roar to life. Then, giant bright lights switch on - the campground is in the corner of an industrial orchard! Of course, we had chosen the back corner, deepest into the orchard. Soon enough, they began to fumigate the orchard with giant trucks spewing something awful all around us. Then, a plane flew low over our heads! On the other side of this "Kampground" was an airport (across the noisy highway).

By this time, I'm screaming laughing. I'm expecting a herd of baboons to roost in the trees over us, screeching, or perhaps a jackhammer to fire up, or both. I keep telling Hanmi jokes like "Well, it's not the 4th of July!" and such. She's having asthma attacks and pretty much in tears. The air was thick with mist of something tangy and somewhat burning. The orchard folk were all wearing masks, and I think the planes were crop dusting us along with the fields. I think we lost a few year's life expectancy on that night. Hanmi swore off California Raisins and Oranges when she found what the fields had. Me? At least I know there are no bugs in 'em!

So, in the morning, we left Bakersfield and drove to Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree was great, as our next post explains…

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