Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yosemite Valley: Week One

Well... almost a week..
Finally! I'm so excited to be here. Even though this is my fourth trip to The Valley, I keep getting blown over by how enormous and beautiful this place is. 

Fiddling with small gear on Crack-A-Go-Go at The Cookie Cliff. 

Poor kids won't ever let any food go to waste. As climbers, we are all problem solvers. This mistake was reversed by cooking the egg by putting a jet boil stove inside the bear box and scrambling it on the outside.

After cragging for a few days, my infatuation for longer climbs was satisfied when a kid as tall as a sasquatch but as thin as a rail rolled into Camp 4. After a 17 hour drive and 6 hours of sleep, my friend Julian that I met here last year was psyched. It was 9am and we decided to go climb one of the most iconic climbs in the valley, Astroman.

Because we were getting started a little late we opted to climb as light and fast. 'American Style' is what Julian called it. Flip flops instead of approach shoes, no food, no water, no helmet, no extra gear that wasn't absolutely essential for the climb.

We reached the base of Washington's Column where we would follow a crack system rated at 5.11c for 1000 feet. Just before we started up we spotted a team that was moving awfully slow. We were moving quickly, but were stopped by a team of Spaniards that were basically aiding the route. We climbed 4 pitches in the time it took them to climb a half of a pitch. We then realized that there was an additional slow party ahead of them. With no way to quickly pass both teams, and not wanting to finish in the dark, we rapped back to the ground.

Freeblast was our second choice for that day, a free climb the climbs the first 1/3 of El Capitan. We sped over to El Cap meadow, slimmed our rack, and we were soon climbing again. Holy shit it was windy!!! I have no idea how to estimate wind speeds, but it was blowing us over, making the delicate 5.11 crux slab moves very difficult. Total pitches for the day: 15.

I feel a little rusty getting used to climbing long routes, but I'm getting that uncontrollable excited feeling again.

Getting FreeBLASTED by the wind.

Julian leading one of the finishing pitches on Freeblast.

Evan Deis with his pig packed for a Lost Arrow Spire highline mission.

Cobras in the meadow 

Getting pumped on Cookie Monster at the Cookie Cliff. 

Several teams high up on The Captain around 10pm. It's really cool that you can see the glow of people's headlamps on the wall. They are in a completely different, vertical world up there. 

Here is a quick video

Perfect temperatures on my first few days here was too good to be true. I woke up this morning to our tent getting pounded by rain and snow. The forecast is looking pretty bad for the next few days, so we are headed out to this place called Jailhouse Rock tonight. It's a really steep sport crag about an hour and half outside the valley that is sheltered from all of the elements.