This past weekend Daniel and I had an unexpected visitor: Daniel's Best Man, Matthew. He was visiting from Tanzania, where he lives and started his company The Recycler, and was in town for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford. His one request while in San Francisco: Rock Climbing.
Daniel researched the best places to sport climb with top roping opportunities. An hour and a half south, on the way to Santa Cruz, is Castle Rock State Park. The park is beautiful, with campsites and lots of day and multi-day hikes, along with some great bouldering and top-rope climbing routes.
When we arrived, the parking lot was full and the available street parking was nonexistent. At this point we were worried the routes would be jam packed. We were told by the park attendant that the closest parking was an mile and a half down the road. I happily volunteered to stay with our gear as Daniel and Matt parked and made the trek back. As we started out, we realized we were going to have to hike a bit to get to the rocks. This was not made easier by the fact that the only other shoes we had besides our rock climbing shoes...were flip flops.
We made it to the first climb at Chew Tooth Rock pretty easily, but it was a bit crowded and less than difficult. We were told to head toward what is called the "Underworld" with a lot of nice routes. We soon realized this was not going to be a simple venture. The "trail" was a steep switch back with loose dirt and what we later learned to be Poison Oak. Half hiking, half slipping down in our sandals, it proved to be a bit precarious and got worse before it got better. The final decent to the rock was impossible due to my less-than-optimal footwear. I had to be belayed down the cliffside by the kindness of a fellow climber, who hooked together all of his slings and quick-draws in order to get me down to the bottom.
After that it was smooth sailing. The afternoon was sunny and cool, the routes were dynamic and ranged in difficulty level, and we had the area pretty much to ourselves after a large group left. The Spanish guitar station strummed the soundtrack of our afternoon as we explored the face of the rock, practiced old pastimes, and spent much needed quality time with our friends. Climb on.