Tommy Blackwell, president of Central Texas Mountaineers, organized a volunteer work day at the "North Shore" climbing area at Reimer's Ranch on January 14. This area is currently closed to the public until the trailwork is complete, among other things.
I showed up around 9 AM and found a crowd of about thirty to fifty people milling about the parking lot. Work was to be done on the trail for three hours. The area has a lot of limestone rock, and my task was to remove as many protruting rocks as possible from a section of the trail. Most of it was easy, but there was one rock I removed that turned out to be part of a larger rock weighing several hundred pounds.
Another group was gathing large stones and setting them up to be used as stepping stones on a steep hill. Teams of six to eight volunteers would gather around a large flat stone and suspend it on chains attached to two poles. The stone would then be carried to the steep hill to be set in place. I've seen steps set up like this on hiking trails before; now I know how they come to be arranged that way.
After three hours of this, Tommy directed everyone to gather up climbing gear in the parking lot and spend the rest of the day climbing at this area. Reimer's Ranch already has many fine limestone climbing routes open to the public and Tommy announced that the addition of the North Shore area will double the number of climbing routes available to the public at Reimer's Ranch once it is opened. The number of routes already bolted for sport lead at the North Shore is estimated at one hundred fifty.
After a light lunch, I started my afternoon of climbing on a section of rock consisting of routes with about four bolts split about half-way up with a large horizontal roof. I started by working on a 5.11 and then an easier 5.10.
After that, I set about to explore the rest of the area. Unfortunately, the trail to the end of the area has not yet been completed and so in the interest of savig time, I turned back before reaching the end.
There was one particularly interesting route that caught my attention. I had to climb up on a ledge to find the beginning of a climb which traverses out over thin air, and then up and to the left across a well-featured wall. From the top, a climber may lower down to a large boulder seperated from the beginning of the climb. There are five bolts. This route is not that difficult and I imagine that novice climbers will find the novelty of the style of the climb to be rather captivating. I predict it will become an area classic. Unfortunately, I don't know the official names or grades of any of the climbs at North Shore.
I worked one final climb at the end of the day. This climb was found upon a section of the wall with routes having five or six bolts, which is at least as long as the taller routes on the Prototype Wall at Reimer's. There are two prominent large limestone tufa formations about half-way up the route. This route turned out to be a solid 5.11 with some tough, finger intensive moves.
I did not spend time working on the easy routes, but I was told that there are quite a few easier 5.8 routes, which I predict that the mountaineering school folks will want to take their clients on.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to be noted about the area is the geography. Like the currently public climbing areas at Reimer's Ranch, the North Shore climbing walls face the Perdenales River. However, there is a bend in the river so that almost all climbs at the North Shore are oriented to have afternoon shade. This will be really great for climbing in the summer time. As for winter time climbing, I had to pause several times during my climbing because of my fingers getting cold and numb.
The day ended with several other climbers and myself sitting around a stove making tea while an owl could be heard gently hooting in the distance. I anticipate many afternoons of good times pulling down on limestone once the spring time rolls around. I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who took the time to volunteer to do trail work today.