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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Moro Peregrine's





Way up on the East Face of Moro Rock, on a rock obtrusion that stuck out, we were in the moment. I was holding the rope, and my close friend was on the sharp end inching up. This big thing whooped by my head from nowhere, and whipped the corner, and it was as if a down sleeping bag had been cut open with a knife. It looked like some bird had dive-bombed another bird and it just blew apart. Only later did we find out the whole story. Amongst our small group of local climbers was a bird watcher, and he said that a Peregrine Falcon couple had their nest way up on the east face somewhere. This was rare, these birds were on the endangered species list back then in the 80’s. We contacted the Sequoia park officials, and excitement ensued. On the beginning of another hot valley day in September of 92 I was invited to go down to the Airee (nest site) with the east face pioneer, Eddie Joe. With him was Lee Aulman, from the Santa Cruz raptor center, a Peregrine Falcon expert. Lee had been watching the nest for sometime and said now was the time to go to it. The plan was to go down the south face, from the top of Moro, towards the nest, which was on the southeast edge. Past the railing, we were able to go down quite a ways before we had to rig the ropes. Rappelling is the most dangerous thing you can do in climbing, totally relying and committing yourself to an anchor point. This in mind, we rappelled down several ropes, to a small ledge just above the Airee. The exposure was intense. The Peregrine Falcon is only about a foot tall, but stumpy, and its unusually big feet don’t fit to a bird that’s dives through the air at way over 200 miles an hour! The eggshell thinning effects of DDT caused the collapse of Peregrine populations worldwide, and in the early 70’s just one pair of birds remained in California. Now there are an estimated 150 pairs throughout the state. Between May and July is nesting time, and volunteer climbing closures are honored with our locals for the whole east face of Moro, and the upper Chimney rock area during that time. The Peregrine is on the top of the food chain and continues to be an important indicator of all ecological health. Volunteers are watching many sites, and it’s with this help that the bird rises from near extinction. When Eddie swung into the nest, which was really only a small flat spot on the rock, he found 3 eggs. We were watching for the female bird, which we thought might try to swoop in. We were listening for the danger call, a loud cak,cak,cak. But none of these things happened, and we very carefully packed the eggs, and jugged (slang term for using mechanical rope ascenders) our way out. As was thought, the eggs were dead. It was too late in the season for eggs to be eggs, but the information these 3 chicken size nuggets yielded was the best scientific evidence at that time! The Moro Peregrines are slowly coming back and have had one documented fledgling. Pesticide residues have caused widespread reproductive failures in many Peregrine breeding pairs, along with environmental contaminants. To this day, even though the Peregrine was taken off of the endangered species list, we continue to watch the nest sites, working through the Buck Rock foundation, and the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group. They’re always looking for volunteers; maybe it’s for you. www.scbrg.org

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