Patterson Bluff Overview

Patterson Bluff Overview
Dave Nettle Topo

Patterson Bluff Topo

Patterson Bluff Topo

Patterson Bluff

Patterson Bluff
Seen from the Delilah Fire Lookout

Early Patterson Bluff Beta

Early Patterson Bluff Beta

1st Pitch..5.7. of 'White Punks on Dope'

1st Pitch..5.7. of 'White Punks on Dope'
Voodoo Dome..Needles..Kern Canyon

Angel Wings from the Top of Hamilton Dome

Angel Wings from the Top of Hamilton Dome
Photo by Sean Allen

Friday, January 1, 2010

Patterson Bluff...............

I do have my own topos, showing routes up through the mid 80's, mostly
cracks on the southern or right hand wall. There are also routes along
the Black Rock Rd at various places such as on "Down Under Dome" and in
the river gorge.

Fall is the best time of year to access the main left hand (northern)
bluff as it is best accessed from on top. There is a very short hike
from a dirt road behind the bluff to the top on the left. This road is
usually closed in the winter, though the climbing would be good in the
winter. The road access leads to Indian Point (I think) on the
topo. It is a very nice place to camp out. It is awkward to walk
along the top to access various rappell routes to the base, but much
less awkward than trying to traverse along the base from route to
route. I have only done a few routes directly below Indian Point, most
notably a 5.11 A-3 route up the obvious pillar/prow "Sunset Buttress".
Sort of like a nose between huge eyebrows. Leversee and a friend
bolted a 5.12 sport route up approximately the same line. Leversee,
Laeger and various others have put up many other long routes on the rest
of the bluff, since I was active. It is the kind of place where you
really need to spend a few days or a week at a time.

Patterson Right, the lower right hand side can be accessed all year,
though it is too hot in the summer. A dirt road leads from behind the
bluff up to the top to access two big square microwave reflectors. From
the top, near the reflectors, there are rappell routes down to the
base. Bring pruning shears to clear the trail along the base. It
does not take too much pruning to keep the base trail passably clear.
It needs pretty much the same type of maintanence as at Tollhouse. At
one time Mike Borrelli put in a lot of work cutting a trail from the
acces road, down to the base. It was good to be able to walk in or
out, but it needed traffic and maintanence and it became overgrown.

If you hike up the streambed below Patterson Falls, you can access the
big apron just to the right. The creek hike is worthwhile in itself
especially to the base of the falls. You will have to do some figuring
and bushwacking/pruning to cross from the creek bed to the apron. (The
obvious low angle apron on the left side of Patterson right.) The
obvious pillar in the middle ofthe apron looks like an upside down leg
and foot. It has a crack up the middle with a few moves of 5.8 near the
top. The slabs above are easy but with no anchors that I can recall.
The pillar was 2 or 3 pitches with another 3 pitches or so up the slabs
to the summit. I talked to somebody who did the first ascent of this
pillar, but can't remember at the moment. Might have been Mark
Haymond, or maybe even Ben Dewell. Might be good slab climbing on
either side of the pillar. There are some obvious black intrusions
that arch up to the right of the apron. I climbed the middle one (I
think) to the summit. Easy but interesting climbing. Could use bolts
for protection instead of the questionable small cracks in the weak
rock. I did place a bolt to protect a short headwall escape to the
summit. I long wanted to traverse the whole Patterson right on one of
these black dikes, but I never got around to it. We did use one to
escape off the top of a pillar over on the right hand side of the
bluff. It made a pretty easy and fast escape. (I have a good story
about when Richard and a friend thought that my idea of using that
escape would take too long. Lead to 1 AM bushcrawling!)

There are some interesting stories of the orignal climbing explorations
of this bluff. The "Balch Camp Flake" was first climbed back in the
early 1950's by George Sessions, Merle Alley, Rich Calderwood and
somebody else. (I could be off on those name, as I am just recollecting
right now.) I think they did report it in the Alpine Journal. The
route itself is impressive and mysterious. They attacked the right
side edge of the flake rather than the chimney/offwidth cracks. A line
of old decrepit bolts leads up the initial overhang till the rock is
somewhat less than vertical. Then there is a long blank section with
no bolts and no features till there is a sort of horn. Above that
more bolts continue up moderate angle rock to the summit of the
flake. Calderwood told me that one year one of them set fire to
the hillside so they could walk directly up from the road. It worked
as the whole hillside of brush burned away. Unfortunately, the day
after hiking through the ash they got the worst cases of poison oak any
of them had ever had!

Paul Martzen