First off, "DWS" stands for deep water soloing. Deep water soloing is when you climb on rock that hangs over water without a rope, thus the "soloing" part of it. It's fairly safe as long as you fall into the water rather than scrape the rock on the way down.
Lake Whitney is located in between Dallas and Waco and about an hour and a half from where I live. It's just close enough for us to do day trips without having to do the 4 hour drive to Austin.
We met up at Summit Dallas climbing gym around 9:00am and left by 9:45. I've not done very many adventures this summer but in all but 1 my buddy Neil has been present. It's very important when you go on trips where you'll be exerting yourself and getting worn down you have someone who pairs well with your personality. Neil and I can usually make conversation out of anything and as a result there's never a dull moment. As we drive we're looking for some food and Neil reveals that he has never had Sonic in his 2 years living in the south. Obviously we had to give Neil his first Sonic experience. Now usually when you work out you want to fill your body up with nutritious foods that can be easily digested and don't cause any gastric distress. Sonic did not follow these guidelines, and about 30 minutes after we ate both of us felt sick. But we're manly men so we got over it, we drove on. Finally crossing over Lake Whitney on a bridge we look across trying to scope out a good place to climb. We notice some decent spots and also that the water is fairly high so it would be definitely safe to climb in. We drive up to the Lake Whitney State Park and it has a gigantic "CLOSED" sign on it and a State Trooper truck parked on the side. One of my climbing buddies had been up to the Lake a week prior and told us we can just hop the rail and walk out to the lake, but with the sign saying "Violators will be Prosecuted" we decided to look around for someone to ask first. The only person we could find anywhere near the park building was a volunteer gardner named Carol. She explained that the park will be closed until November most likely, Contrary to what the Park's website which states it should be open by Aug. 31. She did however give us a different local spot to go to about 2 miles down the road across a dam.
We get to the parking lot and unload our backpacks and get hiking to the spot. The approach isn't too bad actually. Neil had been to the spot once before and said that the brush had been trimmed back substantially which made the trek up not bad at all. You follow a trail along the cliff's edge, it rises as you walk and eventually stops at about 25-30 feet above the water.
We unload our gear under a small tree, get our shoes on and jump in the water around noon. The water at the lake is up 8 feet from the heavy rains Texas experienced in March and April, which the picture above does not show. We tread water for a bit trying to find a decent spot to hop on the wall. Most of the Right side of the picture above is super overhung which eventually turns into a roof before you get to a vertical climb. We try a crack climb that looks promising for 30 minutes with no success and we continue down the to the edge. Around the corner we find the first good climb of the day. It starts in a crouching position with your feet smeared on super slippery slopes, which the climbing shoes are surprisingly great at gripping. You traverse over about a foot on a far right hand crimp and extend a left arm up for a super high pocket that you can rest on while you straddle the edge of the wall with your legs. The rest of the climb is pretty much slopers and the only way we were able to get up on the vertical portion of the climb was a high right heel hook and really pulling into the rock to a full stand. Not all the day was calm climbing though. About 2 hours into the climbing day I'm resting on a rock that juts out from the wall while Neil finishes a climb. As he swims over I do a pencil into the water which rips my hat and GoPro Hero4 off my head and down to the bottom of the lake. At that point I had been filming most of our climbs and had probably an hour-ish of footage on it which just sunk to what I thought was it's final resting place. Luckily, I was with THE Neil Fyda, who is a king amongst men. Neil takes an initial dive into the water and comes up and says "Wow that is deep" which only solidifies my fears. He follows that up with "If I have goggles I can get it". I'm thinking who in the middle of Nowhere, TX is going to have goggles on them randomly, and sure enough a guy and his girl friend come walking up. We yell up to them and ask if they happen to have goggles on them and the guy whips a pair out of his pocket. Neil plunges back into the murky abyss and emerges victoriously with my GoPro which is still recording. After that we decided that the head strap wasn't going to be good enough anymore so we used some of our climbing equipment to jury rig up a way to prevent future GoPro loss.
Yes, that is 2 carabiners clipped together attaching themselves to the head strap and my necklace. Needless to say after the almost tragic loss, nothing the rest of the day could be that bad. We continue to shred fingers on sharp crimps trying to figure out different routes. We found another traverse route starting on a crack on the inside of the cove, about 5 feet to the left of a wooden latter that hangs down. It started as a weird knee bar to pressure yourself onto the wall for me, Neil was able just to muscle himself onto the ledge. Then, with Neil leading, we scoot our toes along tiny foot holds while holding onto 1 and 2 pocket finger holds. After about 10 feet of scooting along the side of the wall there are 2 pretty good slopers on the top of the wall with a very high left foot which feels terrible that finishes out the climb. In my opinion DWS can be some of the most frustrating climbing depending on where you are. You can be 10 feet through a climb miss a hand hold or have a wet foot slip off and have to restart the entire thing over. Not including the treading water for however long it takes you to get to a place to get out of the water, it can make for a very tiring day. Around 4:00pm Neil and I start winding down our climbing and swap to a little cliff diving with some of the locals. Sadly the area is covered in litter and broken glass, it made me glad that I had thick rubber sole shoes on.
We packed it up and head back to the parking area around 5:00pm. After loading up the car we walk out to the "beach" area which is really just a cliff area that's been flooded by the 8 feet of extra water. It made for a nice ledge just deep enough for the water to go up to your neck. We probably sat there for a good hour talking to two guys who had brought their dogs out to the lake. We finish the day off with a sort of birthday dinner for myself at Matito's back in Dallas. We for sure had a great time on Lake Whitney.