The Frenchman Coulee or Vantage, as the climbers call it, it on of the best places in the state from serious sport and trad climbing. Beware  though, in the late spring and summer temperatures can soar!Eric and I were skeptical about coming this late in the spring, bu twhen it was raining everywhere else this weekend we decided to head out there anyway. As it turned out, the weather cooperated and we were able to climb sunburn free!

We spent the first day at Sunshine Wall. A trail from the parking lot leads past Agretha Tower and into the dessert mesa. An old rusty sign points the way to Sunshine at the junction. At the top of the canyon we squeezed through the narrows as I think of them (see photos below) before coming out to the base of the crags. Sunshine Wall is marked with long sport and trad leads. Pigeons and swallows nest in the columns so don’t be surprised to find bird droppings on your handholds. It well worth it through sunshine Wall has some pretty awesome stem and crack routes.

We began the day by climbing “Clip’em or Skip’em”, a 5.8 that had a ridiculous amount of bolts including one about 1 foot off the ground. We had some technical difficulties pulling the rope. First it wouldn’t pulled so Eric went up via the gully to remove the rope from the chains. He tossed it down.. but then it got wedged between a chock stone and the wall. Luckily some other rapping climbing pulled it free for us. I suggest walking off this route via one of the gullies and it seems that rope pulling is difficult here.

This was followed by a trad climb “Strokin’ the Chicken” 5.6. Note that lots of trad climbs in Vantage requires massive gear (this one does not) and all climbs seem to really really like hexes. Next in line was “Crossing the Threshold” 5.8 which is a gigantic stemmer that would have been much easier if Eric and I were not so vertically challenged with short legs! Then Eric led up one of the classics “Air Guitar” 5.10a. This was his first 10a lead (he led a 10b at Exit 38 but the soft ratings resulted in it climbing like at 5.9). “Air Guitar” is a finger crack trad route. The crack does get wider as you ascent, but the moves trickier. Eric took several leads falls, but sent the route. He’s always been okay with falling in the front country… I admire this and I wish I was more comfortable with it.

We decided to exit Sunshine Wall via Gulley #2 so we could finish out the day with a fun trad climb “Chapstick” 5.6. Again our rope got wedged between two rocks when we tried to pull the rope. We got lucky… there was as easy way to traverse from the gulley to where the rope was stuck.



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