Old Woman Statue
By: Tom Ferguson
Old Woman Statue is a non DPS listed peak near Providence, Mitchell, and Old Woman peaks. It was first climbed in 1970 by Dick Sykes, making it one of the last named peaks to be climbed in California. It had only seen eight ascents before ours.
From the town (a few buildings actually) of Essex, on freeway #40, take the dirt road leaving town southeast across the railroad tracks. Follow this road about 19 miles to the Painted Rock turn-off (unmarked), This road is quite good, except for some sand the first few miles. There is a new road, not shown on the topo, past the pipeline road. Take the right hand road at this new intersection, At Weavers Well take the left hand "Y", there is one building at Weavers Well and it appears to be occupied. Turn south at the Painted rock road and camp either at the rock or the well near the end of the road, This road is also in good condition. Painted Rock has some nice climbing (5.1 to 5.6 routes were done, descent is by rappel, be careful not to climb on or damage the "American Indian graffiti") as well as flat campsites near the road and sheltered campsites near the wash. The well is the trailhead, but a very large quantity of "cow pies" make it a much less attractive campsite.
From the well hike northwest to the 4400' pass then across the ridge until you can hike behind the summit block to the west side. The peak gets its name from this summit block, which does look like an old woman. The trip this far was class 2. Climb into the notch using an insecure-looking chockstone (class 3). The obvious crack in the corner is the first pitch. The entire route can be done as one pitch, but rope drag and speed with a group are better if done as two (the crack and the bolt ladder). The crack rates about 5.7. A few small friends and medium chocks were used to protect this pitch as Carl Byington lead it. Two medium friends made a solid anchor at the ledge above the crack.
We, typically, had picked a very cold and "gale force" windy day to climb so Carl rappelled down and we all ran for shelter. Returning to our high point it was my turn on the "fun end of the rope". The second pitch is an excellent (Al) bolt ladder up a 40' face that starts slightly over-hung and is virtually vertical for the remaining 30'. There are 12 bolts only 3 of which have hangers. These bolts take a quarter inch hanger and a quarter inch nut with a 20 threads per inch count (standard hardware store nut). There are two bolts with hangers on top for an anchor, Other than the wind blowing my etriers horizontal every few minutes this was an exciting and enjoyable lead. It is easy to use 20 carabiners between protection and anchors. Followers jumarred up this pitch. Four of us: Carl Byington, myself, Rick Booth, and Terry Rivera (on her first aid climb) made the summit before the winds increased past the point of safety. Carl Brodene and Bob Ferguson accepted there bad luck with hints at a trip next year to try again. This was only "the Statue's" ninth ascent, and I must say it deserves to be climbed much more frequently!
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