Birthday and Meteors at Holcomb Valley Pinnacles

By: Jaclyn Hope Ferber

On Friday, August 9, 2013, Sheila, Kanani, Erik and I loaded up my car full of gear and headed into Holcomb Valley for my birthday weekend.


L to R: Me, Sheila, Kanani, Erik

We stopped for pizza along the way and talked about real meaningful shit, love and life, with Erik leading the conversation (a rarity). When we arrived, Ben, Dave, Amelia, Gabi and Nick were already there, and Jan was asleep in the car. We took about an hour to set up the “hotel,” the ginormous tent that my parents let me borrow, with Erik leading us once again, being the brilliant engineer that he is. We tried to look at the stars for a bit, but it was very cold and late, so we all snuggled up together and went to sleep in the “hotel.”

The next morning I nearly sliced my thumb off with Nick’s “pocket” knife while cutting mushrooms for the breakfast scramble and had some fun dripping blood all over myself. Jan cut the rest of the mushrooms for me. We ate, packed up what we needed for the day and headed over to Motherlode where we met up with Justin Kenderes, who brought Erin, and Justin Menestrina, who brought Harold. We literally claimed the whole west face with our group, there were so many people.

Amelia, Nick, and Kanani on the west face of Motherlode.

Justin M. talked me into leading a 3 star 10c called Mighty Quinn as my first route of the day. I got it clean but the top was pumpy and overhung. Ben and I went to go get Laurie and Adam, who had never climbed before and were waiting at the campsite. On the way there, I decided it would be a good idea to practice my off-roading driving skills and got my car stuck on a rock. Luckily, Ben knew what to do and put a rock underneath my tire that was spinning freely and was able to get my car to go forward by slamming on the gas.

Amelia and I TR’d Long Arm of the Law, an awesome 11a with a huge heel hook throwy move!!!


Me on Long Arm of the Law.

Jan and I took Laurie and Adam to try their first route, and Amelia led it for us. I was super proud of Laurie, who was saying the whole time, “I’m not doing that!!” She got to the top with the most technical skill and grace I have pretty much ever seen in a first time climber!! I hope she comes climbing with me again!

Laurie on a 5.6 chimney route.

We then went over to Lost Orbit where we found Ben, Amelia, Gabi and Harold. I led a really balancey and scary route with a really high first bolt (10b or c I believe) and Gabi led the 12 to the left of it which Harold, Ben and I top roped. It was overhung and crimpy and I didn’t bother to try the top which looked slopy and balancey.

That night we got back to the campsite and had the greatest camping potluck of all time! Chicken, sausage, pasta, even quesadillas. Laurie brought me a chocolate cream cake she had made for my birthday and everyone sang happy birthday and we roasted marshmallows stuffed with Rolo’s over the campfire and had some (okay, maybe a lot of) whiskey and wine.

People began to grab sleeping pads and blankets and head out into the field to watch the meteor shower. It wasn’t the best one I’d ever seen, but I did see a few good shooting stars! The next day we packed up (breaking down the “hotel” took much less time than it had taken to set up) and went back to Lost Orbit to get a few warm up climbs in.

Lost Orbit

I have been wanting to lead Pistol Pete (10a) for a while and finally got the chance to. It was a much harder lead than I could have imagined. I had top roped it clean so many times I thought I would be fine leading it, but it is a loooong route and a lot of the bolts are just out of reach. After that, I managed to talk Erik into leading Coyote in the Hen House (10d on mountain project, but I think its an 11a) for the last route of the day, and we weren’t even surprised at all when he got it clean. 🙂 I followed it and had quite a bit of trouble with the start because it (for me at least) requires a backwards thumb undercling which I couldn’t do properly due to slicing the corner of my thumb the morning before. I got creative and used the other edge of my thumb (painfully and awkwardly) and got past the beginning, getting the rest of the route nice and clean!


We said bye to Ben and Jan and headed down the mountain with only minor bouts of car sickness. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend and a perfect way to celebrate my birthday! Thanks to everyone who made it awesome!


2 thoughts on “Birthday and Meteors at Holcomb Valley Pinnacles

  1. Great meeting y’all. Was leading that fun motherload route this weekend and talking to peeps who knew about the route’s history. Sadly I think that 11a is made much easier using that alternative heel hook beta because it runns a tad off route. The 11a grade applies to going straight up the bolt line but it seems that a hold broke from that route on the roof face right under the giant flake jug and going straight up now seems improbable.

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