Functional Geology


The Hills have been rainy. In a place where it is difficult to climb well, we can usually count on the weather to help us. We are displeased. The bad weather has me thinking about the other impediments to climbing hard in the Hills. The weather really is the only one of those factors which is just a spoiler. The rest are…well, difficulties. Take the rock; our problem there is an embarrassment of riches.
We have so many different types of rock that it is hard to stay focused.
In the Needles, there is a coarse-grained variety of pegmatite. Pegmatite is a kind of granite with giant crystals mixed in. The crystals are quartz, feldspar, and other, exotic minerals some of which, I am told, are quite valuable. I don’t care; to me, they’re all holds – sharp, glassy, oddly-sloped holds. You can’t lever or pull out on the crystals too much, so the program is “feet low and move slow”. Stepping up on faith alone is a bad idea.
Mt. Rushmore is a pegmatite area too, but the rock is finer-grained with bands of crystals like wrinkles in the surface of the granite domes. Plus it has schist. There isn’t a lot of the metamorphic mineral around, but it makes up the steep portion of some of the steeper climbs. The inclusion dikes along with the schist favor a technique emphasizing balance, counter-tension and spurts of faith-based movement.
The Tower is phonolite porphyry. It is not basalt. One more time: The Tower is not basalt. Basalt is much smoother, with sharper edges where it is fractured. Much of the climbing at the Tower is friction/crack climbing in the classic sense – jams, not locks, with feet smeared on divots and small rugosities.
And there is more, so much more. I haven’t even got to the sedimentary rocks yet.

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