Raise your hand if you have been / live to the East Side!
I can count all my adventures on one hand currently, excluding all the trips a long the way to head up Tioga Pass to Tuolumne Meadows. In mid-October we headed down to celebrate a friends birthday in the Lake Crowley area. That weekend it was raining in Mammoth, and it was raining in Owens River Gorge, so we checked out Benton Crags!
Paved road, to dirt road, to paved (seeing nothing that looked like a climbing spot), our friend’s finally pointed out the crag, we hit the dirt again and sped towards our destination. Side note: I love that our friend’s car has a chalk hanging from the rear view mirror. He also noted that in the past he used to hang a draw there, and would practice one-handed clipping the rope as he drove. **Don’t try this at home kids.**
Onto the climbing!
This spot is awesome! Like… I probably shouldn’t even be telling you about it. We climbed on Locals Only Rock. All the routes are one pitch, and there is plenty of climbing for all skill levels. We set-up a few TRs, because we were climbing as group, and you will need a 70 meter rope if you plan to do the same. There are a lot of 5-FUN climbs to the left side of the wall. Sorry, but I don’t remember any of the names of the routes, but I wasn’t disappointed with any of them.
The rock itself was interesting, I have never been to Joshua Tree, but our friend’s said this is a nicer version, but similar in texture to the rock there. It was sharp in places, but not bad at all. I’m just used to granite. I loved this spot, because watching everyone climb different routes was fun. There was another party there, and they were just doing hot laps! Climb a route, rap. Repeat. On this crag everyone tops out, and then raps off a climb the rocks name sake, Locals Only, which in the photo above Chris’ is leading up the route as a morning warm-up.
In the afternoon, the guys lead up a few 5.9s to the right, and ended with the climb above. It’s in the Mammoth Area Rock Climbs book, but it’s not on Mountain Project, like most of the climbs in this area. Funny, in this picture you would think we had a perfect day, but a storm shut us out. We scrambled up multiple routes and broke down things in the rain. We got soaked, and then 10 minutes later in was sunny and warm again. Standard.
We found the elusive gear tree… aka we tried to dry off everything, as we called it a day and celebrated a good day with beers. Oh, and Bogie the “Adventure Wiener” came along for the weekend per usual.
We had a little time left, before we needed to be back in Crowley for birthday festivities, so of course we too off for a quick soak at the Hill Top tub. There was a crowd at the hot springs per usual, but we got to chat with some fun German ( and a Bavarian ) climbers that were on a year long vacation, and they were at the end of their North American portion. They had been spending three months climbing all the great spots from British Columbia, Moab, and ending in Joshua Tree, hitting everything in between. It was great fun, and we actually convinced them to camp / climb and Benton to escape the weather later that evening.
The weekend was a wonderful, and full of lots of color! I was so excited to see all the bright orange and yellows on the Aspen trees as we drove home.