Thu, Jul 17, 2014
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previously climbed Tue, Jul 15, 2014|
Castle Rock is a prominent rock outcropping above Stateline, NV at Lake Tahoe. I had visited it two days earlier and concluded it would make a fine introductory rock climb, class 4 by the easiest route, about 25ft in height with great views and a sizable summit area to take a large group. Most of the adults and all of the nephews from our family reunion were planning a golf scramble today and I was asked if I could organize an activity for the nieces, eight in all, ages 13-25. I could. My wife and daughter had driven up the evening before to join us, and before doing so I texted them to bring up a short rope and some harnesses.
Having scouted the feature already, we knew the shortest route to the summit and in half an hour we had nine of the youngsters with four adults up the trail, through the steep scramble on the west side, and up to the saddle between the two summits. I went up to the higher north summit with the rope while brother Jim helped the ladies with the harnesses and instructions below. I anchored myself with a loop of rope around the rocks behind me and belayed from the edge of the rock climb up the south face of the higher summit. For most, it was the first time they had ever rock climbed, resulting in a mix of excitement and apprehension. In her usual fashion, Jackie volunteered to go first, enjoying the opportunity to shine in front of a crowd. She's been on a rope with me before and had no hesitation, completing the route in fine style with everyone watching. The others came up one after another, some with moments of excessive nervousness but all successful in the end. Jim was a huge help from below, a few times climbing up solo behind a frightened one to help with foot placements and offering advice and comfort. Annie, the youngest, was absolutely elated to reach the top, having overcome her own fears and immobilzing panic, asking, "I think I did that faster than anyone, right?" After we got all nine to the top (the other two adults - my wife and sister, declined to join us) we took a few group photos and reversed the effort to get them down one by one. More panicky hesitation ensued when they were being lowered and had to trust the rope and belay completely. A few chose to downclimb, but most went for the quicker but more nerve-wracking lowering operation (which we called rappeling because that sounds cooler) that included a small overhanging bulge near the bottom. More than two hours were spent in getting them all up and back down but the weather cooperated nicely and the afternoon thundershowers held off until well after we were done. All of us had a grand day of it, some declaring it the best part of their vacation. Jim and I felt we had done our part today in trying to encourage a few more budding outdoor enthusiasts...
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