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The Arch

Justin Ridgely crushes a route called “Pidgin Lessons.”

On the wild and rugged Northwest coastline of Oahu, by Kaena Point, there are several jaggy rock formations. One of them is a huge arch that is solid enough to climb. We call it the Arch and it’s a highball (“highball” = a very high boulder problem, often with a hard landing).

Since it’s right on the water, you can only climb the Arch when the North Shore swell is small. I cruised out here with Justin Ridgely and some other folks from the rock gym last weekend to do some intense Hawaiian bouldering. They had climbed the Arch before but it was my first time. Watching the guys climb was amazing. Trying to climb the Arch myself was terrifying.

We left town, in the morning and made our way up to Waianae. You take Farrington Hwy as far as it can go. When it turns into a dirt road you can either park at the beach or if you have a four wheel drive car, you can off-road it for another mile or so.

Justin’s car was rugged enough to make the drive. But even with a 4×4 the drive is not easy. There are dips and boulders all over the road that could put your car out of commission if you hit it hard. We parked above the arch. The path to the arch is down this side.

This slab of rock is a beast. It isn’t until you get up close that you realize how huge this rock is. Justin finishes up his coffee.

Justin Ridgely bouldering the Arch in Hawaii.

And starts warming up.

When the others arrived it was time to climb. You need at LOT of crash pads and a crew of friends to help move the pads for you while you climb. This route is called Pidgeon Lessions and Hiro is sending it (“sending” as in “asending” or just “send” = to complete a route).

Phil’s turn to knock this one out.

My turn didn’t last that long. The Arch scares the crap out of me right now. To climb here you really need to have confidence in your grip while hanging upside down. This is a new type of rock climbing for me but I now know what to focus on in the rock gym. It’ll be all cave and overhang boulder problems.

I think it’s better to leave it up to the experts. Here’s Justin keeping his body straight as a board. This is not easy.

Geneva gives it a go. This first part is safe because Justin can still power spot you here.

But by the time you’re up here, where Nick is, when you fall you’ll take a decent drop.

And take a drop he did. But with the crash pads stacked upon crash pads, everything was okay.

And now, to tackle the other side. We moved the pads so the guys can get on a different route.

This one is harder though. Here’s Justin going for it with Nick spotting.

Hiro gives it a go.

This problem proved too tough on this day.

Geneva makes another attempt. You can see the rock quality and more potential lines in this shot.

After the session at the arch, we packed up the gear and called it a day. Since it was Nick and I’s first time here, Justin showed us another climbing spot just a few hundred feet up the road. There’s a cave that was covered in coral.

With all of these pockets in the roof, there are a lot of lines to be created. If the Arch is unclimbable due to heavy surf, you can come climb here.

It was now time to make the bumpy drive home. The other walked the trail carrying their pads on their back.


Watch the sequence for Pidgin Lessons:

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This story was last modified on March 25, 2013. (Originally published in April 2011.)

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