Due to the heat at lower elevations, we recently explored some new possible climbing crags on the upper part of Catalina Highway. One of these is not far from the Outcroppings, a nice crag also reached from this parking area. The origin of the name is unknown to me, but it sounded intriguing and seemed to have a short approach, morning shade, and several routes in our wheelhouse, so we tried it. I will admit that you will need more details than I have presented here to make plans for your trip, such as those presented in Mountain Project and in Squeezing the Lemmon III. My main impression, after one day on the nearly 8,000-foot rock, is that the routes are generally confusing and chaotic, but well worth the trip, even if you have some difficulty in figuring out the wall.
Walk back up the road about 200 feet and turn west into the Showers Point Group Campground entrance. Continue through the campground and turn up the fire road at the water tank (where the camp host’s rig is parked), then turn left onto a nice path which you follow to the top of the crag. The routes are reached by going left or right around to the west and south sides; neither is a very easy scramble from this point. SQL III has the approach at 15 minutes, but it is a pretty easy 0.6 miles and took us less time.
We started by toproping from the chains at the top of Corporal Punishment and Admiral Throckmorton, both 5.9s. It’s a fairly easy class 4 scramble, but with some exposure, over from the side to setup at this point. Only Bob made it over the bulge at the top of both routes. Our next thought was for Bob to lead from these chains up to another set of chains that a number of routes run through, namely Bloody Likely, In Lightening (the 3-star attraction on this wall), and Admiral Throckmorton, on their way to the top. Each of these three routes is two pitches. So, Bob did the 8/9 lead up, started rigging the anchor…. then I realized it was more than 100 feet. In other words, the rope was a good 25 feet from the base. Even a 70-m rope would be too short. Moral of the story is “Don’t go rapping down without making absolutely sure the rope is on the ground”.
We decided that Bob would rap down to the anchors used earlier, clean his hard earned gear placements and draws on the way, and hop/bounce over to a lower set of chains about 85 feet up at the top of Lights Out at 10 Candles Out at 11, a route that seemingly goes no further. That opened up several routes that we could finish on, with some meandering, including The Gripes of Wrath (called The Grips of Wrath in MP), Of Mice and Men, Lord Fowelsbain, and Bron-yr-aur. As you can see, route naming is an art form all its own.
What is so confusing is why the routes meander and cross over each other so much. One reason may be that most of the routes are two pitches and there is a dearth of places to belay from between the two. At any rate, be prepared to take some time in figuring out how you want to attack this wall. Next visit, we plan to set up a toprope for In Lightening and some of the other nearby routes. Mountain Project has some suggestions for setting up its belay station.
Druid offers something to climbers of many skill levels : on the main (west-facing) wall are 1-5.5, 2-5.8s, 4-5.9s, 4-5.10s, 5-11s (you Alex Honnold’s out there will not be challenged but the 8s and 9s were plenty hard for me).There are another 5.8, a 5.11, and 2-5.12s on the back (south) side. The protection (where available, and where we could see) is solid. There are interesting bulges/roofs to maneuver over on some routes, and there is a good mix of sport and trad. The rock is good, but watch for seams of lichen which makes for poor footing. SQL III has some excellent topos, but figuring out the routes and the sequence of bolts on some routes will still be a challenge.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.