Friday, July 22, 2011

Cathedral Peak and Eichorn's Pinnacle

One of the most prominent features in Tuolumne Valley is the beautiful Cathedral Peak, topping out at 10,911 ft. Right behind it is Eichorn's Peak- one of the scariest and most exposed 5.4 climbs I've ever done, with a beautiful finish. After racing back to Tuolumne the night after we summitted Matterhorn, we met up with a German climber named Matt we had met in Camp 4 the week before at 7:30 am and began the long hike up 2,000 ft to get to the base of the Southeast Buttress of Cathedral. From there, it was crack after beautiful crack of climbing up to the top.
Every single belay offered a spectacular view: and occasionally you had to take a pause from the climbing to hang off and look at the view around you.
The closer we got to the top, the windier it became until waiting at the belay meant huddling in a little ball until it was your turn up. Here's a picture of myself and Matt the German hunkering down, trying to stay out of the blasting wind:
It was so windy there were a lot of times where despite the ease of the climbing the exposure to the ground made it a little nervewracking! When we got to the top, we stayed in the sheltered belay area just to stay on the wall!
Despite the wind, we decided to climb out onto Eichorn's Pinnacle- a beautiful little stick of rock jutting out from the side of Cathedral:
The view is fantastic from up there, but the climbing is a mental game you have to play with yourself to get up! In order to reach it, you have to climb around the back side from what you see, where the rock drops off almost 1000 feet.

The climbing is technically not terribly difficult, but it's big cracks that drop off and the wind is grabbing and pushing you from all angles, so by the time you reach the top you're pretty frazzled. But reach the top we did!
It was sooo amazing, and despite the wind was so exhilarating to be up there that all I could do was just take in the view and feel how lucky it was to be in a place like that.
After getting down, beer and chili mac and cheese was shared all around toasting a successful day. Once Scott and I got back to our camp, we started gearing ourselves up for our final climb in Tuolumne, the Regular Route on Fairview Dome- the tallest dome up there...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dharma Bumming on Matterhorn

Sorry it's been so infrequent on the blog posts! Internet around the area isn't the easiest to access for free or the best, and I have more pictures I want to post than time to do it in!
After climbing hard in Yosemite Valley for a week, we took a day to do laundry and take showers before heading out towards one of the neighboring towns of Twin Lakes to do a hike straight from literature- Matterhorn Peak, the subject of "Dharma Bums" by Jack Kerouac. The peak tops out at 12,290 ft, and we started at 7,000 feet, so for all of Sunday was constant uphill. We were super psyched at first to be living a book:
and made sure to stop and think some deep thoughts at the boulder that Kerouac camped under, where he contemplated one of his famous quotes, "When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing!"
It got a little harder as the snow fields became the only terrain,
but we pressed on and made it to just below 11,000 ft before setting up camp for the night in a little inlet in the snow field, protected from the fierce wind blowing across the mountains. Notice how much snow there is!
The next day we hiked the last 1,200 ft pretty much up straight skree. I agreed with Kerouac's decisive note that when you try to hike up that crap it's "1 foot forward, 3 feet back" and it took about two hours to get up that last bit.
But get up we did!!
It felt like the wind at the top was trying to blow us off, but we took in the incredible panoramic view,
wrote some thoughts in the summit registry that were hopefully Kerouac-worthy, (I wrote something to the effect of "Sometimes all it takes to get to the top is a little positive reinforcement")
and headed back down the mountain feeling satisfied.
Pizza and White Russians that night at the base tasted amazing (we were quoting the movie "The Big Lebowski" the whole way up, so it seemed right) before waking up early to do another 700 feet of climbing on Cathedral Peak and Eichorn's Pinnacle. More on that later... :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yosemite Valley

Just to get some pictures up of climbing in the Valley, I'm throwing one more blog post in here with what we've been up to this week. We've been staying at Camp 4, the traditional climber's campground and getting in as much climbing in Yosemite Valley as possible before the weather becomes too hot to bear.
So far we've hit up a bunch of multi-pitch on routes around the area, and highlights include the Nutcracker route on Manure Pile Dome (that's seriously the name) and The Grak- a beautiful splitter hands up the side of Glacier Point Apron.
See Scott bear-hugging part of the route?
See me bear-hugging a spicy traverse?
We had a "Minnesotans" barbacue last night in Camp 4 with friends,
and I was super psyched to check out the East Ledges on the side of El Capitan.
Everything here is so big and so amazing, and it seems like everywhere you turn there's something new and cool to look at.
I'm constantly dirty, always a little sore, and am having the time of my life.
Though he's currently napping (or snoozing) Scott agrees. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A "Trad-Venture" and some High Sierra Camping

It's been a crazy week or so since I last wrote. The day after climbing at Low Profile Dome, we headed to Pywiak Dome for one of our last days of dome climbing before a backpacking trip. We decided on the route Zee Tree- a 700-ft 5.7, tightly bolted, probably one of the easier ones for a relaxing last day.
Well, things started off just fine. We were on (a) route, found the first bolts, clipped in, and set off again.
Scott led over far to the right, and after the first set of anchors we found ourselves in the middle of no-man's land. Scott wasn't too concerned:
and we just kept going farther and farther up, figuring that we had to end up on route at some point. I finally saw some anchors far to the left of where we were:
and eventually we got back on route for the last two pitches. After a long hike down the back of the dome, we contemplated the guidebook and figured out where we went wrong. We did the first three pitches and rappelled down in the rain and wind, calling it good.
For the weekend, we decided to take a break from climbing to rest our arms and give our legs a nice workout with some backcountry hiking and backpacking.
We started up the Rafferty Creek Trail, pretty psyched to be hiking in such beautiful areas with rivers and trees and... and...
and then it all turned to snow. It was still beautiful, but the trail disappeared under a few feet of solid snow with small snow cups all over the place. We did about 8 miles gaining 2000 feet of elevation, with over half of the time in snow balancing on slopes and mildly wishing we had either crampons or trekking poles. We had fun anyway, especially since Scott was sporting the rolled pants, pulled up socks, and a pair of my Dad's old ski sunglasses from either the 80's or 90's.
Pretty much awesome.
We found a beautiful little knoll at 10,500 feet to put base camp at, then after resting up took a day to hike up to a 11,500 ft. peak: (Scott on the summit)
Took in the incredible view of tons of mountains around the park: (me on the summit)
and had fun on the glissade back down the mountain. :)
We hiked around Evelyn Lake before enjoying the peace of the mountains with no one else up there. The hike down the next day was nice and quiet as well, and we were both pretty psyched to get back to civilization.
Next stop- a full rest day and being tourists in the gorgeous Yosemite Valley...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First Days Climbing in Yosemite

We drove into a campground right outside of the park late on the 4th of July, woke up bright and early to a beautiful sunrise and headed straight into Yosemite! We didn't even make it more than 20 minutes into the park before we ran into Stately Pleasure Dome- completely empty and begging for some climbers.
I was psyched for some multi-pitch, and we jumped on the 4-pitch route "West Country"- 5.7 mellow, with a mildly gnarly layback finger crack for the second pitch. Scott had to scare a big fat marmot off the very top of the climb, and from the top you could barely see Half Dome in the background. It was a fantastic first climb of the trip!
After we came down, we celebrated by jumping into the lake across the road- which still had some glaciers floating in it. :) Super invigorating, and exactly what was needed. After that we headed to Lembert Dome, getting on the 2-pitch "Northwest Books"- just a 5.6. There was an awkward bit near the top of the second pitch, but it was still fun. :)
This morning saw us at Low Profile Dome, warming up on "Golfer's Route"- 2 pitches of 5.7 with fun knob climbing.
I lead the second pitch- there was a lot of run-out in between bolts, where I even had to place gear, but it was another beautiful view at the top!
We did have to climb with our sweatshirts and clif bars and hang them at the first bolt, because Marmots were scooting their fat bottoms all over the bottom of the climb, waiting for us to get off the ground so they could score some food. After Golfer's, we set up the top rope to work "Orange Man"- a 5.10c with lots of blank slab climbing. Scott (as you can see below) definitely enjoyed working the crimps!
Feeling good after that, I roped up for "Darth Vader's Revenge"- 5.10a, with both bolts and trad leading. It's my first trad at that grade, and there was some mildly sketchy pro, but I pulled through the hardest bits without falling! I had to take while trying to work the 5.10 knob section (my fingers were exploding) but we cleaned that climb no problem.
Besides that, lots of games of scrabble, some spaghetti, tons of coffee, and good times have been had thus far.
After only two days, it's already easy to tell that leaving is going to be hard... :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Driving, Driving, and more driving...

It's been a pretty crazy last couple of days. Lots and lots of driving across Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and now into Nevada before finally hitting California hopefully sometime tonight. After some time in Mound with my parents, S and I headed off across the plains, making the necessary stop at Wall Drug in South Dakota before stopping in Rapid City for the night. Along the way, we got to drive through some awesome prairie storms:
check out the lightning striking the ground next to S!
I had a little project to get in with my sock yarn for S's glass iodine bottle (used to purify water) so it would have a better chance of not breaking:
before working on my Yosemite Fruit Loop socks both in the car and at the campsite:
and we stopped off at Independence Rock in Wyoming for some fourth class scrambling in 90 degree heat (and in a sundress for me!)
while looking for Oregon Trail grave sites where people died of dysentery or broken arms or fording the river instead of floating on it... ;)
This morning we got IHOP Cinnatastic french toast outside of Salt Lake City (which I was extremely excited for, as you can see) before driving across all of Utah and into Nevada.
It's been a super long drive so far, but tonight we'll be pulling in to Yosemite National Park and hopefully start actually climbing TOMORROW!! I'm SUPER psyched, and especially can't wait after being cooped in a car for so long!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Off on an Adventure...

After a couple of days of fixing my car and visiting my parents, I'm finally off on my adventure.
Today is a long drive (lots of knitting!) to Rapid City on our way to Yosemite.
I'm off. Be prepared for less frequent but probably more interesting updates. ;)