This spring we went out to Alabama Hills near the foot of Mt.Whitney and took part in the Sierra Club Rock Checkout, as with all of the Sierra Club LTC (Leadership Training Course) requirements that we have undertaken this year we learned a lot, got to show off our own skills, and met some really cool people. Saveria and I both received our M Rock rating and I got to practice some E Rock skills with great instructors and get some valuable experience. Alabama Hills is a spot you can't miss as it is passed on your way to the Whitney Portal. We passed it ourselves earlier this year on our way to the Mountaineers Route in April. For the first time we got out and played a bit on the rocks saying to each other it would be fun to come back and climb here, a few months later we were back ready to climb.
I got to drive out early with a couple of our mentors, Patrick and Dan, to get an extra climbing day, little did I know a special moment was hours away. There are some fun sports climbs in the Alabama Hills area and we went over to a wall that had a good progression of grades so Patrick and I started climbing and we worked over to a 2 pitch 5.6, Patrick lead up to the first set of anchors and set up a top rope for me. I climbed the fun friction route and I felt pretty strong. When I got down Patrick asked if I wanted to lead it, I looked at him and said yes, yes I do. I gathered my quick draws and Patrick pulled down the rope and I tied in to the Sharp End. I started up and a whole new world opened up, I climbed to the end of the first pitch and clipped the chains. I came down to high fives from some people I really admired which was fantastic I tried to call Bob right away, but he was on another trip. That was the start of the weekend.
The following days were full of a lot of great experiences and great people. Over the two days days we had to show knowledge of a number of climbing related skills and proficiency in using them. Upon demonstrating our ability to perform and use the various skills safely we passed the checkout. We are on our way to our official Sierra Club leader's ratings which feels great!
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The surprise of the weekend was discovering great Chinese food in Lone Pine at Merry- Go-Round! The owners went above and beyond to accommodate our large group without reservations even asking other patrons to switch tables so we could all sit together. The food was tasty and a welcome change to pizza or burgers... the normal Lone Pine options.