The Quarry

Long forgotten. Yet quite likely the most difficult and unusual climbing in the region, The Quarry is a testing ground for rock climbing possibilities. This is a wonderful, powerful, and scary place that tests the boundaries of climbers’ skills. It’s not for everyone – most people would hate climbing here – and that’s fine for those of us that love it. To pull a move, link two moves, unlock a sequence, or possibly get to the top can feel like a world of accomplishment. But this is only rock climbing. Right? How can something so strenuous and at times so frustrating be so rewarding at the same time?

Route map for Quarry front side

A. Beginner’s Arete (5.6)
B. Rand’s Dihedral (5.10c)
C. Mcusuc’s Dihedral (5.10c)
D. Soloflex (5.12c)
E. Russell’s Variation (5.10c)
F. Zano (5.11d)
G. Nautilus (5.12b)
H. Space Shield (5.13b)
I. Z Man (5.12b)
J. Throw Momma From the Train (5.12b)
K. The Snazz (5.12b)
L. Toxic Avenger (5.12c)
M. Poseidon (5.13a)
N. Kiss My Glass (5.12d)
O. Colossus (5.13d)
P. Angry Samoans (5.13a)
Q. The Anvil (5.14c) project
R. Skywalker (5.10)
S. Adonis (5.13a)
T. Chinaman’s Chance (5.12b)
U. Shake and Flake (5.10a) approach
V. Killer Weed (5.11b)
W. Soddom (5.13b)
X. Stonehenge (5.12d)
Y. Pinch Crack (5.12b)
Z. Vaganismis (5.11c)

My favorite climbing area in Oklahoma, the Quarry contains the highest concentration of hard routes in the state. From a distance the Quarry appears as a giant granite sculpture, chiseled away in chunks and set like a scar in a mountainside, abandoned for all practical purposes. Climbers discovered this area in the early 80s and began attempting, what seemed to be impossible lines. Several routes were manufactured, pockets drilled, holds chipped, large blocks cleaned, and what remains today is a revolutionary twist to powerful climbing. The lines are thoughtfully carved, painfully sequential, emotionally demanding and deliberately shameless. The Quarry requires a wide variety of climbing techniques: smearing, edging, lie-backs, pocket pulling, open-handed holds, cracks, overhangs, off-widths. underclings, and the list goes on. Furthermore, the Quarry requires you to perform all of these techniques at a maximized level! If you find a sloper at the Quarry, it will be the worst sloper you’ve ever seen, very smooth, very angled, very difficult to stick (like the starting holds on Bored to Tears). If you find an, arete at the Quarry it will slant off in a strange direction (Adonis) or be so rounded it will feel will you are slapping a basketball (Cyclone arete). Inventive technique, full-body power, determination, and humiliation: these are the keys to the Quarry. You’ll find the most difficult of everything here: slabs (5.10-5.13+), overhangs (5.13-5.14c), short power routes (5.11-5.13+), and boulder problems (V1 and up). Most routes are very hard, which is why most people don’t visit the Quarry. If you psych yourself out the first visit, you will not be back. Climbing at the Quarry means learning patience, power, and punishment…nothing is “easy” here. But if you continue to pursue the near featureless walls and practice the relentlessly powerful moves you will become a stronger climber. I promise. The Quarry will become your everlasting project.

There are currently only a handful of climbers, including myself, that visit the Quarry…that’s fine with me. Sorry, no directions are provided. Enjoy the photos.

The following story describes Matt Komatsu’s first day at the Quarry:

Matt Komatsu on Chainmans Chance

Tony and Marion previously warned me about Russell’s beta. “You gotta just paddle your feet.” Whatever the hell that means. It’s his answer to every route here, and seems to involve planting toes squarely on the wall and slapping up little nothings. After yet another failed attempt at a start, depression sets in…laughs echo with each slip across the mute amphitheater…the granite walls hugeing taunt the wayward climber with subconscious violence.We fell victim today, and have been chained sunburnt streaks across a candycolor sky. Three came hither to yonder and found themselves smack dab in the middle of a place called the Quarry.

Until today, 5.11was my strongest poison. Climb one at the Quarry?  Chinaman’s Chance (5.12b), and this Japirishman might as well be a snowball looking to stay cool in hell. The slabby start is awful: smear off a notch of lard with your right foot, yard off a matchstick with your left hand, all while palming off a buttered mirror. Don’t forget to paddle. It’s a theme that will develop throughout the day. Most Quarry starts involve degenerate slab movement, and Chinaman’s Chance is no exception. Pinch Crack (5.12b) is also loads of success. Even Russell doesn’t finish the climb, and once again Aaron and I just laugh in frustration, as I skip yet another start by yarding through it. Aaron calls Quarry climbing The Pain. It demands no less than your triumvirate offering of soul/body/mind. If you do not sacrifice all three to the utmost, The Pain will instead eat you.

Russell on McCusucs Dihedral

Then there is Z-Man (5.12b). Russell may slip once, but not twice. After two climbs, a pattern begins to emerge in comparison to Russell’s abilities: I Suck. I guess it helps Russell can’t weigh more than 130 with rocks in his pockets. Last time I weighed that, baseball cards cost fifty cents and came with sticks of cardboard bubble gum. Older than us, he was here when Duane Raleigh drilled and manufactured nearly all the Quarry lines and the graffiti was a little less prevalent. I was two years old, falling off stairs and learning to piss straight while these guys were putting up the hardest routes in Oklahoma. Even Aaron, just a few years on me, has redpointed well into hard 5.12, climbed serious alpine, and moves like a cat. When I fall off a 5.8 not once, but twice on a sketched-out undercling traverse, I get just plain embarrassed. But shouts of encouragement from below drown the laughter from around and I finish it. Back on the deck while Aaron tries his luck, a gigantic pool beckons me from the heat. Not to mention the graffitied abstract naked woman with very un-abstract size double-Ds from where I’m standing. A caricature of a clown chuckles my way. I want to ask him exactly what “Clown Love” is but then we’re off to the Back Room for Yardarm, vertical punishment on a water-sawed granite dihedral. If Jonathan Edwards would have been a climber, every member of his congregation would have run laps on Yardarm for penance. Not since chicken thieves got drawn and quartered in the Old Days has body tension been so crucial to survival. Russel finishes the climb and says he feels like puking. Then after several attempts, I manage to get both feet on the wall, fall off and I feel like puking. I rest in a maelstrom of fine yellow granite dust and contemplate my troubled innards. The Pain, indeed.

We bail. After five Quarry routes work us like Catholic schoolgirls. Come back again it taunts as we stumble past the old winch station filled with broken glass. I am utterly defeated and on the way out, Russell comments on how it’s almost like there’s climbing, and then there’s the Quarry. It is an unforgiven place and I leave knowing I will be back to pursue my idolatry. It is with this knowledge I tell you, reader, Warning. Bring your triune being to lay upon the altar to Perfection and oh yeah…

Don’t forget to paddle.


Russell Hooper on Pinch Crack













May 2012: I was recently going through some old pictures and found this sequence of Adam Gibson (my youngest bro) climbing/attempting one of our favorite routes of the time, PROJECT X. The route begins is a slick dihedral until you reach a rail. The route then traverses from left to right along the sloping rail. Along the way you find yourself pulling up onto the rail to clip. Then it’s back down to hand traverse again. The other method, of course, is to try foot traversing along the rail and sliding your hands and torso across the rock. I tried this method and it works but is just as hard. At the end of the corner there is an arete that you have to move up, a few more moves and the end. I recall the end being the most difficult part – but it’s been awhile and I don’t have pictures to spur my memory.

Finally, here is a video of Russell Hooper climbing the ever-classic slab/face climb, Chinaman’s Chance.

[tentblogger-youtube s1kN1nW9p9I]

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