Winter Seneca by Rob Bailey

By Rob Bailey
Date: November 14-16, 2003

Our trip began in front of the student Union as so many trips of the outdoors club do. The group size was a little smaller than anticipated which was okay because now we would be able to climb in groups of two instead of three. The group was made up of myself, Sean Yaw (our fearless leader), Phil Magistro, Joe, Sean McBurney, Christian, Sarah, Lou, and Dan. The next day Emily, Matt, and Christine would join us at Seneca.

I rode with Phil and Joe on the four hour drive to Seneca. The whole ride to Seneca they talked about their early days with the club and how they remember back when they were freshmen the older club members had the same conversation. I thought maybe five years from now when I’m seventh-year-senior I’ll be having the same conversation on the way to Seneca.

So anyhow we had the traditional stop at Sheetz when we were about forty-five minutes away from Seneca and got our delicious MTO’s. Then we found the trailhead we were sleeping at and set up what I hesitate to call camp. It was cold and the wind howled all night long but at least we could see the stars which we don’t see too much of in Oakland. In the morning we had a quick breakfast and decided what the climbing teams would be. I would be climbing with Dan that day and I couldn’t wait to get out on the rock.

As we arrived at Seneca we wasted some time in the parking lot (a vital part of mountaineering from what I understand) until the sun was out and we decided we could probably feel the rock by now. So Dan and I made our approach to the rock face and got started. We decided to start up Candy Corner. I was a little nervous because my first time at Seneca I was a little freaked out by the exposure but I wanted to climb it again. Dan led up and when he finished the first pitch I followed him up. At about midway I got stuck on a move partly because I was nervous and partly because I had a thirty-pound pack on which can make a 5.5 climb seem more like a 5.7 climb. I figured now was a better time than ever to get over my fear of heights/exposure so I just let go and leaned back. I didn’t go anywhere needless to say and I began to trust the gear more. So I sucked it up and finished the climb.

After Dan and I finished Candy Corner we continued up Skyline Traverse which isn’t so bad (if you don’t look down). Then we scrambled across what I think was called Broadway Traverse? I could be mistaken. On the east face we ran into Phil and Joe getting ready to start Cons East direct a fairly difficult 5.8 climb. We talked about what climb Dan and I would take to the summit and they convinced me to do Gun sight (one of the most exposed climbs at Seneca) because it would be good for my little exposure problem. So we did Gun sight and I handled it okay. I think I got over my fear of heights by then. When we got to the summit we enjoyed the view and had some lunch.

Later that day Dan and I climbed the infamous Critter Crack and that would be our last climb for the day. Dan found a hex stuck in the rock that he was occupied with quite a while and I went back up near the summit to meet with everyone else. Everyone had a good day of climbing, no one got hurt, and we all got set to go to bed. Somewhere around dusk Emily, Matt, and Christine showed up and we played cards for awhile then went to sleep on the rock.

The next morning we got an early start climbing and Dan led Traffic Jam then set up a top rope on it. After we all finished with Traffic Jam we all were ready to start down except for Dan, Phil, and Lou who stayed for a while longer and climbed some more. The rest of us repelled down Traffic Jam. Matt set up the repel and was first to go down. I followed Matt and before I started down Emily said “Stay to the right. With you pack on you’ll get pulled around the corner if you don’t make sure you stay to the right.” I figured sure no problem and started down. About ten feet down the repel I got whipped around the corner and basically had the crap scared out of me. Later I was told that people heard my feet scraping against the wall and thought someone fell but I made it down safely and so did everyone else.

After two hard days of climbing we felt it was necessary to stop at the local restaurant and get some pizza. And we did just that. Delicous cheese pizza. Oh my God it was good. Then we began the long drive home but not without the traditional stop at Sheetz. We all made it home safely Sunday night and it was probably the best POC trip I’ve ever been on. I mean it had to be pretty good for me to write a trip report about it right?

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