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...


Mark said...

Incredible accomplishments, with just rewards (wow - what views!).
"Despite the wind" - you say. :- ) I recall warning Kyle about his drive through Wyoming (windiest state) on a ski trip, & when the same storm that had 100 mph winds and dumped 12' of snow in Sierra Nevadas hit Wyoming, he had the good sense to stop for the night rather than continue "despite the wind" that he feared could blow his truck off the road. Wind fear trumped snow fear (as delay meant certain blizzard driving), but he got there eventually (some crazy number of hours for last stetch). Minus a truck to hold you down, you (on the other hand) faced the wind with mind games, & proved you could delay being frazzled 'til you got up top! I'm frazzled just looking at photos of you at the top! So how the hell did you get down? Wasn't that just as crazy scary? If I was loony enough to get up there, I think I'd be stuck up there. Waiting for "the rest of the story." :- ) Also, who took that photo? Did you climb one pinnacle from your postcard, while Scott or Matt went up the other with a camera? Key details I hope you'll add yet!

Kyle said...

These pics look like something that belong in national geographic...i always knew you were crazy doing all this climbing, but this confirms it to new levels!