Castle Dome, Becks Tower, & Mount Hubris
crags, aah! this is where desire tranformed into addiction. Hundreds
of granite walls and only a handful of established routes. Could it be
true, it's gotta be choss! My first experience in the crags was excellent.
I went up to do the classic "Cosmic Wall" in the spring of 2002 and was
blown away by the amount of rock and lack of route development. The "Cosmic
Wall" was a true classic and I was inspired to check out the other routes
listed in the Falcon guide. I was finishing up school and my
time was freeing up again. So I started ticking the routes off one after
another. Solar wind, Castle Dome North Face, Six Toe Crack, and of course
the East Face aka, "The Dike Route". All quality routes with a unique
Crags feel. The Dike Route, being one of my favorite all time routes.
So the summer went by, I did nearly every route in the guide, and a few
others. I decided it was time to make my own contribution to the area.
I set out to find a project. Fall was closing quickly and I would
have to work fast. I decided to check out the gully behind "Six Toe Crack." You
could see the gully from the trail and it seemed worth a look. Amy,
my daughter and most frequent climbing partner at the time, and I set
out on a mission to do the "Six Toe Crack" and rap off the back side
to have a look. Six Toe was super fun so nothing lost if the "Descent
Gully" didnt pan out. But to my delight there were beautiful walls of
polished granite and crack seams that opened and closed making it obvious
that these were going to be some interesting routes. Fall of '02 in the
Descent Gully aka, "The Grotto" was one of my best climbing seasons ever.
When it was over 10 new routes, most of them high quality, ranging from
10a to 12d.
A new era in the Crags had begun!
Becks Tower: Marble Gully
The Marble Gully is the most epic climbing spot yet developed in the Castle Crags Wilderness. Although the approach is 1.5 hours the gully is a great destination. There is more han enough climbing to keep you occupied for days and the temps are always cool. The perfect season for the Marble Gully is June thru September. Make sure you bring some extra clothing and a beanie as it can be pretty chilly even when temps outside the gully are in the triple digits. Most climbs require a standard rack although some of the harder routes may require some extra gear.
Wasps, Poison Oak! but damn there some classic routes. Ney Springs was
my first climbing experience in the Shasta area, which is pretty unusual
do to the secretive nature of the locals. However I was lucky enough
to hook up with a local, Todd, who was eager to take me there. We rapped
in from above so I got a good preview. Could it be true splitter cracks
in the sun. It was true, it was December and it was perfect temperature
for climbing. Ney Springs is an oasis for a climber in a desert of snow.
If the sun shines only a bit it will be a great day at Ney. And if you
get passed the harshness of Neys flora and fawna, the climbing is great.
there are only a couple of dozen routes at Ney but they are all worth
doing. A few may require a little more caution due to some loose rock.
The climbing is moderately difficult with climbs range from 5.9- 5.12c.
Most require some gear. It's good to have a full rack and some extra
long slings. A helmet is probably wise as well. Be prepared for steep
climbing and technichal gear placements. Ney is best fall through spring.
In the summer the rattle snakes take over, literally, I've seen as many
as five in one day, which signified the end of the season. Wasps are
abundant, though they are not aggressive. I've climbed cracks withhundreds
of wasps only several inches from my fingers but they were not bothered
at all. I like to tap on pockets before I stick my fingers in just to
make sure I don't surprise one. Poison oak, it's all over but if you
stick to the trail it's avoidable, I'm fairly sensitive and I've only
managed to pick it up once at Ney. All that said, If your one of the
few lucky enough to find this little jem, enjoy and tread lightly.
Ney Springs Beta
Approach to Ney Springs, take Lake St west from Mt Shasta, after going over Box Canyon Bridge turn left on Castle Lake Road. The road will curve around to the right and Ney Springs Rd(a dirt road) will be straight ahead. Drive straight down this road for about 2 miles, The road will eventually narrow and there will be a spring(Ney Spring) on the right side of the road park here. Walk up the road then right up a ramp/old road, as the ramp flattens, look for a climbers trail marker on the left. 10 minutes up to the wall, climbs 1-10 will be to the right, and the rest to the left.
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