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[TR] Lovers Leap Road Trip - Corrugation Corner and others 09/18/2016


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Trip: Lovers Leap Road Trip - Corrugation Corner and others

Trip Date: 09/18/2016

Trip Report:  In honor of the new software, here's the last TR I tried to post over a year ago, before giving up after 17 failed attempts to cut and paste.  Anyway, this was a 9-day road trip to Lovers Leap near Lake Tahoe. Despite the epic drive, we managed to climb something every day.

Day 1.  Crossed Snoqualmie Pass in a monsoon and continued south to drier Central Oregon. Snacked on some crappy Safeway potato salad and headed to Smith, where we were greeted by sign saying ‘all parking full’. Not true, but very busy indeed! Headed off to Voyage of the Cowdog (3p 5.8). With parties of three ahead and behind us, it was a collective voyage, though plenty congenial. At the top, we ditched the rappels for the ledgy walk-off, arguably as adventurous as the climb. Pleasant enough, but a bigger change in scenery was required.


Final pitch of Voyage of the Cowdog at Smith

Day 2. Headed southeast through the dry lake country, passing Lakeview, Susanville, Reno, and South Lake Tahoe, reaching the Leap in late afternoon. The local store provided us with a new Supertopo guide and beta from uber-local “Squirrel”. We got right on Ham and Cheese, a 3 pitch 5.7 on the Hogsback. Squirrel assured us all we’d need was “8 draws and two beers”.  Good beta!  


High desert near Lakeview Oregon

During the 10 minute return to camp, it sunk in how sweet this place is. Excellent walk-in campsites 15 minutes from multi-pitch classics, with a rustic lodge, bar and gear shop nearby. Giant food/gear bins at each site, great bouldering, no RVs, all for $10 per night!


Sweet walk-in camping at Lovers Leap

Day 3. Monday morning and the crag was quiet, so we jumped right on Bear’s Reach, a super-classic 3 pitch 5.7 on the East Wall. After a taste of dike-laced slab, several hundred feet of steep flake grabbing and intermittent cracks. In the running for the best 5.7 I’d ever done, at least for the next 24 hours.  An easy walk-off led back to lunch and Preparation H (the climb, not the ointment!) and upper Haystack at 5.8, which was more of a true crack climb, with small overhangs to spice things up.


East Wall of Lovers Leap (borrowed from the web)

Day 4. Hit the supreme 6 pitch link-up of Surrealistic Pillar to Corrugation Corner. The Pillar (3 p. 5.7) wanders up steep dikes with sections of crack climbing. A classic in its own right, it was quickly overshadowed by Corrugation Corner, surely the most awesome 5.7 anywhere! The first pitch is nice corner climbing with a couple bouldery spots and a fingery traverse. From there, we craned our necks back to assess the nearly vertical corner of pitch two.  Holy shit – that’s 5.7?!  You follow the corner 20’ then traverse left to an extremely airy arête, with positive knobs and fixed pins keeping it sane. Pitch 2 finishes with the fabled Beached Whale move. Pitch three has a bit of chimney climbing then a looong sunny corner, high on the wall.  Just an amazing climb, every pitch a classic. 


Approaching the supreme link-up of Surrealistic Corner (center) and Corrugation Corner (upper left)


Crazy dike hiking on Surrealistic Pillar


Corrugation Corner next! (right above Andy's head) 


CC, Pitch 2 arete.  Sooo much fun!


All smiles at the top of the link-up

Day 5. Wetness, WTF? Andy’s bag was soggy, so we headed to So. Lake Tahoe for a laundromat and hot breakfast. The showers cleared so we checked out the Luther Spires – tiny pinnacles with a not-so-tiny approach.  Good way to stretch the legs anyway



Luther Spires, pretty but a little....underwhelming

Day 6.  Clear but chilly.  Foolishly jumped on the shady Better with Bacon (5.8). The first pitch is 5.6 slab climbing with tiny pro.  The second pitch was also nice but freezing.  Checked out the original Pony Express trail, which runs right through the campground, then packed up and headed north.

5a22cb56e828e_070PErock.thumb.jpg.219344919b86a62081cf8c086e88c7a3.jpgDay 7.

Graffiti along the Pony Express Trail, which runs right under Lovers Leap

Welcome to Lassen Volcanic Park, sort of a mini-hybrid of Mt St Helens and Yellowstone. We checked the climbing box by bagging an actual summit. And though Lassen is a sizable mountain (~10,500’), it boasts a nicely engineered summit trail with interpretive signs every half mile! It’s obviously popular, based on the Wal-Mart size parking lot. From there, we checked out the thermal area known as Bumpass Hell.  Steaming, hissing, sulphury mudpots with boardwalks and scary warning signs, just like Jellystone.



Trail and summit of Mt Lassen


Bumpass Hell, Lassen Park

Day 8.  Mostly an I-5 day, but with a short stop at Skinners Butte in Eugene, one of the formative crags of my youth. Great basalt climbing and fairly quiet, given the Duck game going on across town.  Heck of a week!


Skinners Butte Columns in Eugene, one of the best urban crags in the PNW! 

Gear Notes:
Honda Pilot, camping and cragging gear, SuperTopo Tahoe guide

Approach Notes:
Road Maps

Edited by curtveld
Displayed different from preview. Overall a much easier process, though!
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looks like a great trip.  agree the Leap offers a prime cragging situation.  Haystack was my first ever climb, on a lark while visiting my bro in CA. his (relative newbie) buddy had led the crux pitch, that I followed wide-eyed, only to arrive at the belay to hear he wasn't confident in the anchor--my brother would later describe the anchor as 'whimsical'.

thanks for the opp'y to revisit that place, good spot for sure.

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An amazing spot, Jason.  Similar in scale to Snow Creek Wall, but with about 5X as many quality climbs :battlecage:

And yeah, there are still gumbies about: When I reached the stance on Haystack I asked the belayer if he knew Patrick 'so-and so' and he said "yeah that's me!?" I told him I'd found his wallet dangling in the brush below the climb.  From his struggles, I think it may have been his first outdoor climb.  Another dude was rope-gunning his date up Corrugation Corner for her first crag climb. We coached her from below on how to stem and remove pro. Some cursing, but no epics!  

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  • 2 months later...

HI Curt,

You probably don't remember me, but I climbed WR Forbidden with you and Carlos Hatfield 25 years ago.  I was chatting with a colleague whom I worked, climbed, and skied with for 20 years.  He just mentioned he had a class with Gary Gray at WWU.  Small world.  Good to see you still setting out.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Wow, Gary Gray, there's a name to pop up here. I met Gary back when I lived in Tucson for a couple years, and I spent a lot of time with Shirley in the wake of the accident, along with Gary's on again/off again girlfriend Cara, another friend from Tucson. Gary was a great guy, and an excellent photographer, I think he was sort doing an apprenticeship under Art Wolfe. A few years after his death someone found his wallet up on Shuksan and posted it online, here maybe. I help identified him and tried to put the finder in touch with Shirley, and it wasn't too much later his body was found. 

Looks like a great road trip. I've only spent a single day at the leap as it was too late season and pretty warm, but this great TR puts it back on my map.

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There were so many little odd occurrences after the accident. You may have heard that the people that found Gary's wallet lived a short distance from Shirley in Tucson.  I'm sure that Shirley and Cara appreciated your support through all that.

Yeah, Lovers Leap was on my list for years and was well worth it.  A great place for those of us working our way back down through the grades. 

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