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Where They Do It

buildering
Half Dome in a Half Shell: This chunk of Yosemite granite at Santa Rosa Plaza can be hard to master.

Photo by Michael Amsler



An unofficial guide to Santa Rosa buildering

By Janet Wells

BUILDERING ROUTES aren't developed in the same way as routes on real rock. There are no anchors to install or bolts to provide protection for the climber.

The structures for buildering in downtown Santa Rosa are numerous, and the route possibilities endless. Pick a line that looks interesting; find a beginning and an end. You can even name it, but it's doubtful it will become any kind of enduring classic, given the illicit nature of the activity. Remember, buildering can be dangerous, and it is illegal without the permission of the property owner.

Most of the following route information is from a map hand-drawn by Alex Mellon and Jacob Sequoia, two local dudes who, in their search for the ultimate bizarre local climbing sensation, apparently climbed a 150-foot-high drainpipe on a Santa Rosa high-rise late one night.

Nobody said you have to be smart to be a climber.

Location: Third Street Wall, between B Street and Mendocino Avenue. AT&T building relief structure.
Route: "Moby Dick" traverse either direction for 60 feet.
Difficulty: Moderate, except for strenuous middle section.
Grunge factor: Fingers covered with soot.
Siren alert: High. Visible location. Two Santa Rosa city workers pointed at us, shook their heads, and walked away.

Location: Santa Rosa Plaza, granite sculpture at Third and B streets.
Route: (1) East arete (corner); (2) north face traverse to top edge; (3) west arete, into thin finger crack.
Difficulty: (1) Moderate reach problem; (2) easy with small dynamic move; (3) haaard!
Grunge Factor: Low. Lovely Yosemite-style granite. Lawn is wet in the morning.
Siren Alert: Moderate. Right out there in public view at busy intersection, but no one seems to notice.

Location: Safeway Market, Mendocino Avenue and Fourth Street.
Route: Traverses along chunky rock walls. Fourth Street has excellent hand cracks between pillars.
Difficulty: From as easy to as hard as you want it to be.
Grunge Factor: Moderate. Cement that binds the rocks is a bit crumbly.
Siren Alert: High. Store managers are not keen on builderers.

Location: Train Station, Railroad Square.
Route: Routes are everywhere. Names include "Sendin' the Tendon" (northwest face/corner); "Vulcan Death Grip" (southeast pillar); and "Hans & Franz R Here 2 Pump U" (south face/doorway).
Difficulty: Easy--especially if you use corners of pillars and building and window ledges--to extremely hard. Excellent pumpy traverse. Roof overhang provides rain protection.
Grunge Factor: Low
Siren Alert: High. This is a designated historical building and now houses the city's Visitors' Bureau.

Location: Pearson Street Bridge, between Sixth and Third streets.
Route: Traverse of glued handholds on piling of bridge over Santa Rosa Creek, west of downtown.
Difficulty: Looks intermediate, but didn't try it (see Grunge Factor).
Grunge Factor: High. Major skank. Garbage and piles of broken glass at base. In rainy season is under water.
Siren Alert: Low.

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From the July 17-23, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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