Bone Mountain was a climbing area that we had on our “to do” list all rock season, but it kept getting put off due to the supposedly dreadful approach that you can read about in Part 1.
We had gotten to the climb 2 hours later than expected and the October sun was already starting to drop, so we knew we had to climb quickly. The one climb we really wanted to try was Family Picnic (5.7, Sport, two pitches). It took us about 20 minutes to find once at the main cliff. A good landmark to look for in the future is an west-facing Pelegrín Falcon sign at the base of the climb.
We dropped our gear and harnessed up. The ground was still wet so we wore our boots up to the climb and donned our shoes right before our first moves. The sweat on our feet from the steep 3 mile approach made them even colder. The rock felt like ice, making the small finger holds at the start next to impossible to feel. Climbing with numb hands and feet made for an interesting experience, even at the 5.7 grade (I would argue the start is closer to 5.8).
The route is bolted the whole way with good quality bolts (relatively new?), though there were some run out sections that took gear. The first pitch goes up a steep wall with good holds through most of it. You climb up, around a corner on your right and end the first pitch on a nice belay ledge with chains. From there, we were barely above the tree line but got a glimpse of the view that was waiting for us one pitch up.
The second pitch was more of the same vertical climbing with bomber holds. About half of the way up the bolts seem a little spacey on lead, but there are some cracks that take smaller size gear. There is a bulge that you climb up to on your left, with a nice notch in the crack that you can get a toe or two in to stand up on. If you have a good reach, the last couple of moves are a breeze. The climb ends on another ledge a little bit lower than the top of the cliff, with more chains. The view did not disappoint. Looking to the south, you can see across the valley and get a short vantage of 89. I didn’t fully understand how high up and far away we were until I realized how small the passing cars looked. Past that you get a unique view of Camel’s Hump from a higher angle than the highway. The way the sun was setting caused the shadows to show details in the contour.
A single 60m rope is enough to get you down to the first chains. We got to the bottom and tried to cover as much ground with whatever sun light we had left. We followed what looked like an obvious path south from the climb. This turned into climbing up, around, and down boulders until we reached a more established path that led downhill back to that 10 foot stump we passed earlier from a separate direction. We continued back down the path we took up with similar results of randomly finding, and then loosing, well defined paths. Once it got dark we threw on our head lamps and decided to cut some corners from our path there and go straight line. This made a big difference. The walk to the climb was 3.32 miles and took three and a half hours, while the walk out was 1.92 miles and took one and a half hours. I’m sure that when we go back we will shave at least an hour off of the approach time. There is a surprising number of climbs along this large cliff, and we are excited to head back in the spring, or maybe even this winter to see if it ices over.
Bone Mountain was a long day and made us feel a range of emotions, but it was a great day. It makes us wonder how many unclimbed or unexplored rock faces are in the North East that are just “too remote” for most people to climb or develop. As long as you are in good company and up to the challenge, Bone Mountain is a great day and a welcomed change from some of the 5 minute approach crags in the North East.