Special thanks to Joe for setting this trip up! Thanks to Ben, Bill, Chris, and Wes for providing additional equipment... we ended up with five ropes, and only used three of them!
Stoney Point is essentially a large piece of sandstone that is very well shaped for rock climbing and very convenient to Los Angeles.
We used only one little canyon, "Mozart", at Stoney Point, and did not explore most of the park or the available climbing routes. Bouldering is very popular at Stoney Point, as is top roping. As the rock is sandstone, Stoney Point is not suitable for sport climbing, so we didn't try it. Almost all of our group are quite happy with top ropes, so that's most of what we did. And a little rappeling. =D
The day started off with Joe teaching us how to set up anchors, and the differences between climbing indoors compared to outdoors. Outdoors, everything is features, the route is however-you-want, there is no soft ground to land on, and the anchors are not nearly as secure as a welded iron bar. It's different enough that while the skills do transfer, you have to abandon the habit of hanging off of a rope to rest and you have to get used to the fact that the surface is very different. Natural rock, at least for the case of the sandstone that makes up Stoney Point, is much higher friction and more grippy than synthetic, while handholds will be purely cracks and features instead of big plastic holds marked with tape.
Setting anchors was a completely new lesson for most of us. The importance of redundant anchors for optimal safety and proper load distribution, setting up the webbing and carabiners to reduce wear and tear on the rope, and many other things. We did the prudent thing and got much of it on video, prompting Joe to remark "I should have worn my stage makeup." We set some ropes up for top roping (climbing) and another rope up for rappeling-- the anchor setup a little different in subtle but important ways.
Belaying wasn't too different from being indoors, save one major exception: we would anchor the ATC to a rock or tree for safety. Inside the rope is double-looped and belaying a fall is relatively low-effort; outside the rope has only a single loop at the top and belaying a fall takes more effort, so using webbing to secure the belayer and ATC to a tree or rock for an anchor prevents a lighter belayer from being pulled off their feet (!) by a heavier climber.
What we did... Joe setup one rope on the left side of the rock face. Rappel down a few times just because we could, then we started climbing up on that rope. In the meantime, Ben setup another rope on the right side of the same face for climbing. Mozart is rated a 5.8 or 5.9 for climbing, which is within reach of most of our group, so all of the experienced climbers made it up to the top via the left rope. The learning curve from indoor to outdoor happened very quickly here: starting the climb was very difficult for some, such as myself, as we quickly found that some paths that worked for others (e.g. Sophia) did not work at all for us. Once we were on the rock things felt better, but the transition from taped holds to real rock did require some effort. The sandstone features offered lots of grip, but finding those features was new to about 2/3rds of us.
The right rope had a more difficult route. About 2/3rds of the way up, past a little depression forming a pair of handholds, the holds became very scarce. Sophia, Bill, and I all made it past the depression, but not more than one or two moves past it. Carley came and made it two solid moves past it, maybe three-- a little farther than Sophia and definitely farther than Bill and I-- before she got stuck. Finally, Wes and then Joe made it almost to the end. Both are veteran climbers, a few notches above the crowd of monkeys that Kim, Sophia, Carley, and I are, which means skill clearly counts for a lot. =)
A middle rope was setup in the middle of the day for rappeling, which was fun. =D We reset it at the end of the day for regular climbing, and the route up the middle proved to be fairly difficult. Being the end of the day, we were also tired, which didn't help. Making it halfway up was doable, sort of...
To top things off, we started climbing a different route on the left rope. The original route used a trio of holes in the rock and a number of other large features going up the right and middle of. Going up the left side of the route rather than straight up forced us to use a crack at the base and then smaller, less obvious features. I believe Sophia and a few others did it successfully, while others found the transition from the middle of the route up higher to be difficult.
After almost seven hours of setup and climbing, we took things down and headed off. It was fun, and a very pleasant day outside, particularly in the half of the canyon that was in the shade.