Moro Rock: The Best Bushwhacking around

27 May 2000 - by Ron Karpel

"5.6 my foot." I said. "This is the hardest 5.6 that I climbed in my life." "Yea, must be at least 5.6D" returned David. We have just finished the last technical pitch, and were not very happy with the rating.

Our trip started at the parking lot North of the magnificent Moro Rock in Sequoia. Most people take the concrete stairway up 250 ft. to the top, but No, we had to do it the hard way. We descended the steep and loose slop East of the rock staying close to the face to avoid the vegetation. There is a use trail that is good in some places, and gone in others. By the time we reached the toe of the rock at it's Southern end, my altimeter showed we have descended 1000 ft.

Our first problem was to find the beginning of the rout. The guide book is missing a few prominent features and we where having a problem deciding where the class-3 gully is. There was a wide gully about 200 ft. left (West) of the toe of the rock, but it was full of vegetation, and we were tired of gardening. There is a 5.9 variation which we wanted to avoid, and a few other prominent cracks that looked easier, but were not in the topo. Finally David started up a small gully that seemed easy enough to scramble unprotected... for a while. We soon find out that it was too loose and slippery and needed protections after all. Some more bushwhacking and we found yourself half way up the bigger gully that we tried to avoid. Climbing an easy pitch on the side of the gully to avoid the... you know what, got us to the beginning of the real climb.

David lead the 5.8 variation that was a layback and undercling on clean high quality rock, a real joy. then I lead an easier pitch to just below a big overhang which got us back to... Bushwhacking. A couple of hundred fee of that got us to more clean rock 3 more pitches of great technical climbing on great rock. The crux pitch starts on a knobby ramp and then traverses left onto a downward slopping shelf. At first the shelf seem very hard, but once on it, it had have enough little knobs to hold on too. Then a class 4 pitch. Then we untied and scrambled the rest of the way to the top, where the crowd of visitors who climb up the stairway looked at as heroes... or crazy.

The bottom line: Great rock climbing. This would have been a classic rout if not for the vegetation and the crowd waiting on top, but you can't beat the descend route with concrete stairs and 2" railing. Thanks for David Ress for leading all the hard pitches.


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