Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Valley

A few weeks after I returned from Kyrgyzstan and rid myself of the parasite, Peter and I hit the road for a climbing trip.  First stop: Trout Creek, Oregon.  Trout Creek is a hidden gem of Oregon climbing just outside of Madras.  The climbing is steep and stout and only trad, but I happily flailed away for a weekend.

The training wheels wall.

After that nice warm up we drove all day to Yosemite in a packed car with no air conditioning.  After stopping in Redding for groceries, we had a near disaster.  While loading the case of Tecate into the car, one can escaped and burst open on the ground.  Peter bravely jumped on the grenade and drank what was left in the can.  I promise this is relevant for the next part of the story . . .

We entered the park after midnight and drove the narrow road down into the valley.  We passed gorgeous vistas and heart-stopping views without seeing any of them.  As we rounded a bend in the road, two large SUV's sped by, startling us.  They turned out to be Yosemite Rangers, who then came up behind us with their headlights off (kinda creepy?)  Peter slowed down and immediately we were being pulled over.  A ranger came to each window, shining lights in our faces and asking the usual questions.  When asked if he had anything to drink that evening, Peter responded, "Half a beer, around 5:00 . . ."  Satisfied by his answer, the officers returned to their car for a minute.  In moments, the second one returned, stuck his head in the passenger window and asked, "why'd you only have half a beer?"  We explained Peter's valiant rescue of the fallen Tecate and the officer nodded and said, "You're a good man."

At 7am the next morning we woke to the sound of a generator coming from the neighboring Winnebago.  The camp ground around us was full of people clustered in their homes on wheels, only a handful of tents sat perched between the wheeled residential monstrosities.  We escaped quickly to the Church Bowl climbing area where we got in a few lazy pitches.  In the afternoon, we dropped by Camp 4 hoping to get in the next morning.  Luckily, we got in that very afternoon!  No more RV's and generators for us.

 Church Bowl Lieback, 5.8

Dan on a 5.10a

The next day Peter, Dan and I climbed the classic Royal Arches (5.7, A0).  At 15 pitches it was a long day of climbing followed by 3 hours of rappelling.  The climbing was clean and varied.  Some cracks, slab, a tension traverse; the best part was all the shady belay ledges.  On the way down I got an amazing rope burn on my neck from pulling the ropes one pitch.  Ouch.

 Glacier Point

 Sturdy little trees.

The only hot belay ledge.

 Looking up at the tension traverse, under one of the arches.

Just after the tension traverse.

One of 11 raps.

We took a much needed rest day after that climb.  After waking up early to do a trail running photo shoot with Dan, we had a nice lunch at Curry Village (sans Hanta) and hit up the rope swing next to El Cap Meadow.

 Sunrise in the meadow 

The Rope Swing, Photo Credit: Dan Holz

Our next climb was Nutcracker (5.8), the first route in Yosemite to be climbed with only nuts.  Peter and I did it with Sam, a friend we made from the neighboring campsite.  Once again the climbing was awesome!  Sustained clean moves and good stoutness for the rating.

Following P2 of Nutcracker, 5.8

We had plans of waking up early for the 6 mile approach to Snake Dike on half dome the next morning.  But the idea of a long walk followed by hot rock didn't sound appealing enough.  Instead, we got a wilderness permit, drove the hour and a half to Tuolomne and hiked in to the base of Matthes Crest.  We awoke to a layer of frost on our bags and once the sun had crested over the ridge and begun to warm us we dragged ourselves out and up to the base of the climb.

 Cathedral Peak

 Echo peaks

Matthes Crest is a long jagged ridge slicing through a sea of granite domes and spires.  The route is a south to north traverse with a few 5th class pitches amongst some great exposed 4th class.  We did a little adventure climbing up an unnamed line to get around 3 rather slow parties.  Once in front we were treated with a few hours of awesome 4th class simul climbing before reaching the rap stations at the twin summits.

 Peter on the traverse

 The high Sierra

 Peter works around a precarious flake.

 Matthes Crest

 Echo Peaks

 Cathedral Lakes

Peter in front of Cathedral Peak

We hiked out as the sun set and drove through the dark until we found free camping outside of the park.  In the morning we made the long drive back to Eugene with, have I mentioned it yet? No air conditioning. 

Over the next couple of days we made it to Washington and climbed in Darrington and Index before heading back to Eugene.

 Total Soul, 5.10b

 Total Soul

 Total Soul

 Leading P1 of Total Soul

 Total Soul

Leading P2 of Great Northern Slab, 5.7

 Hiking to Lake Serenc

No comments:

Post a Comment