gallons and rainflys. I was close to 100 pounds. I gave Brett the smaller load with the remainder of the water. Brett and I took a couple short trips to get the water and ledges to the base and by the time we were done, Doug and Matt rolled in and they hiked the ropes and rest of the gear to the base. The three of us jugged up the lines and stared space hauling. One of the few benefits of having three people, the hauling is very "easy". The bags left the ground at 7pm and did not reach Mammoth Terrace until 2am. It was a night full of hauling followed by a short night of sleep.
lead of the day to he deceiving Pharaoh Ledges. We set up our ledges (not big enough for three people to sleep) and I took the next three pitches to Grey Ledges to fix. I started my lead at about 8:30pm and took pitch 12 in a little less than an hour. Doug followed up and cleaned the pitch, passed the gear off to me and I began the link for pitch 13 & 14 to Grey Ledges. Pitch 13 was fun, it featured a bunch of cam hooking and and small cam placements. I hooked a little bit extensively but that made the pitch go by quicker. I reached the anchors around 10:30 and continued up into pitch 14's awkward chimney section. With it being night time and aiding, the chimney pitch sucked. With a bit of time and frustration, I reached the anchors, fixed the rope and rapped down to Pharaoh Ledge by 12 at night. We made a quick dinner and began to catch up on sleep we lost the night before.
bolt, being lowered well below the belay, I was top stepping a bolt in my aider and placing a hook with my finger tips. The hook seemed bomber, I weighted it, taking my foot off of the bolt and the took popped. I took a good violent daisy fall cutting my finger open and partially expanding my screamer on my aider. 60 feet below the belay, Matt could tell my finger was covered in blood. I jugged back up the rope, assessed the situation and finished the pitch the correct way. We eventually hauled all of our stuff over to the Cross Roads bivy ( a really nice bivy despite the description) and set our stuff up. Matt took the next pitch off of the bivy and fixed up to pitch 19. We had one of our first early nights, in good position to finish by Tuesday.
Waking up, this was one of the first days we all felt real rested. We packed up our stuff, hauled a quick pitch and began moving. We really found our momentum this day. Switching off mid haul, always having some one lead the next pitch and really got going. Doug took pitch 20/21, through the Great Roof into the Pancake Flake. While belaying Doug on the Great Roof, a couple of NIAD people were cruising through at a sub 10 hour pace. It was ridiculous how fast and controlled these guys were moving, especially at a sub 10 hour pace.
hit bolts. Matt followed up and as the sun was setting, Matt took the last pitch of the day, pitch 27. We fixed our ropes, cleaned our pitches and set up our bivys.
The last time we aided was when we did Leaning Tower in a day in November so our aid skills needed some sharpening and Skull Queen seemed like an easy enough choice. We woke up at 4am in our classic bivy spot, smashed some breakfast, spilled some coffee, and raced down Highway 140 blasting the custom 21 Savage on our way to check off another send.
sweat, but we found ourselves at the base of the climb, along with three other teams and we were last in line.
We were really in it now. We grabbed our number and waited our turn to begin. After 20 minutes, the faster and lighter team bailed due to the amount of teams before them and Doug and I were one group closer to sending. Finally the first pitch was clear and I blasted up it, hauled up our little day bag and ran over to the second pitch to get ready to climb. There are two variations of the second pitch, a 5.10b C1 crack and a 5.11c C1 thin crack. The group ahead of us was aiding up the 5.10 crack so to get things going, I went up the 5.11 crack to the right. We got to the second belay and waited for the group ahead to clear the third pitch. I quickly ran up the 5.8/5.6 scramble and got to Dinner Ledge. At least now we have a comfortable spot to lounge about while we wait in line.
I threw Doug on belay and quickly followed him up pitch 5.
seem that way at all. We had 4 or 5 Metolious Offset cams that seemed as if no other cam would fit, those always found a way in. It almost felt like cheating with those. On this route, leap frogging offset cams made a C2+ pitch feel like a bolt ladder. With more leap frogging off sets, I set up the anchor at the belay and am soon met with the haul bag shortly followed by Doug. Pitch 9 proved to be even more cruiser than the first.
seemed to jump around a whole bunch. It seemed to also be one of the steeper sections of the climb. Doug aided through that no issue and was stoked to get to Pitch 11, the "awesome 10b splitter". I jugged up quickly and Doug was already racking up. We still had an hour or two of daylight and one free climbing pitch left. I was stoked to be rapping in day light.
Doug is a super strong free climber and cruised up the crack quickly. He made a gear anchor at the top and followed up just as quick. We topped out Skull Queen in a day despite the numerous parties ahead of us at the start, and even had a couple hours of daylight to spare. It is always a good feeling when you start the descent of a climb still in the day light. I was more excited to hit the market and grab a celebratory cobra.
We departed at 4am from the dirt road and began our first leg of the approach. Smashing down 120 to get to the Bridalveil Falls parking lot at 4:30am.
This time, we didn’t botch the approach and got to the base at 5:30. Fortunately there was a fixed rope on the catwalk so we were at the base of the bolt lasers in no time. By 6am Doug started up the bolt ladders while I sorted gear. We brought a mini haul bag with 2 gallons of water, snacks, and storm jackets.
Once Doug fixed the line he pulled up the mini haulbag, and I started jugging up the two most overhung pitches on the route. With lack of sleep and being sick, this posed a real challenge. I ended up doing a mix of re-aiding and jugging. Eventually I got up to the belay and began the third pitch.
The third pitch took me a little more than an hour and half too lead mostly from me contemplating the hook/mantle move up to the intermediate belay. After that, I did the few aid moves to the bolt ladder and cruised through it. When I got to Guano Ledge, I made a quick anchor and started pulling up the small haul bag. The small haul bag, filled with water and snacks arrived quickly, but Doug arrived shortly after making my break short lived. I was pretty sick the week prior and did not get any better for the climb. My whole body ached and cramped while I sat and belayed Doug.
Between wiping endless snot on my jacket and giving out a little too much slack, Doug was off on pitch 4. There is a significant amount of fixed gear on the pitch through the traverse and Doug blazed through it linking the 5th pitch as well. I lowered out, cleaned the traverse and quickly jugged through the bolt ladder.
When I jugged up to Doug I felt even more sick than when we started so I gave the last pitch to him. It was now dark so the head lamps came out and Doug finished the last C2 pitch with a breeze and scrambled to the summit. The summit of leaning tower is weird, but oddly expected. It’s more of a summit ridge with no real solid ledge to just stand on. We topped out after 12 1/2 hours of climbing, which definitely wasn’t the fast time but it was in a day which is all that mattered.
Unless we do a winter ascent of something, I think this marked the end of our season this year. It wasn’t a bad season at all, I broke my ankle on the Nose, we climbed The Prow on Washington Column, did Lurking Fear on El Cap and finished off on a one day ascent of West Face, Leaning Tower. I’m sure other people have better season but for two average climbers taking time off work & school, not a bad season at all.
just so I could maintain fitness for El Cap. I couldn’t climb really and practice, I just had to stay in shape. I was absolutely sick of pull ups. Up and down up and down.
After months of pull ups and rows, my ankle finally fully healed. Doug and I found a weather window from the smoke of the Ferguson Fire, not to hot and clear skies. I got the days off work (after paying a coworker $100 to cover me) and got all our gear together. Doug and I got to the valley Thursday night, parked in the meadow (not the bridge, could be potentially towed but didn’t) and we were off to Lurking Fear. Before we knew it we were at the base of
The Nose and both thought wow this isn’t so bad. About 15 minuets later our pace has slowed and the uphill is killing us. Our usual attack method of going 100% all the time was stopped in its tracks. Everybody knows El Cap is tall. No body ever talks about how wide it is. It’s a short slightly uphill 15 minute approach to the nose. Once at The Nose, you can go either left or right from there and it’s just slightly never ending uphill. After an hour of slowly walking through the night and a couple leaking gallons of water, we made it to the base of Wings of Steel
and bivouac there for the night.
Saturday rolls around, we take care of our business and we’re off. Instead of swapping leads we started doing small block leads of two. We found this is more effective for us giving the follower more rest time and and exhausting the leader more from leading and hauling two pitches and then giving them proper recovery time to do it again. We shared hauling duties with space hauling and jugging the haul line so it was not all that bad for hauling purposes. We climbed/hauled 5 pitches and fixed one. The stand out pitches that day were pitch 7 with fun traversing hooks and pitch 8 long off width. I placed a couple questionable #3s on the offwidth and just walked up two #4s the whole way. Doug took the next couple pitches and absolutely killed it with the free climbing. The whole climb, Doug took the bulk of the free climbing due to him being a stronger climber. We set up the portaledge quick and made dinner and we’re off to sleep.
Eventually it was Doug’s lead and we had one pitch to Thanksgiving Ledge. While I looked up into the night, Doug was cruising offwidth into the stars, it was a pretty sweet angle to watch someone climb an offwidth. Before I knew it we were in the cave cooking dinner psyched to have finally taken our harnesses off and sleep on a ledge.
The next morning we made a quick breakfast and got back to work. We shuttled our gear across the ledge and climbed the last two pitches to the slab section at the top. From the top of pitch 19, we shuttled gear all the way to the unroping spot and when it was safe, we packed our bags for the descent. We didn’t realize how long of a descent we had a ahead of us. It was our first time doing the east ledges, but it was pretty straight forward. The fixed lines were in good condition and 5 hours later we found ourselves in the manure pile parking lot. Not more than 20 Minutes later it begins to rain.
After my quick and painful start to the Yosemite climbing season with a 25 foot fall on the nose, I spent a month half-ass rehabbing my injury. I’ve never been good with injuries due to my stubbornness. My ankle was about 75% when May 25th came around. Doug and I had a plan to do the nose in 3 days 4 nights and Memorial Day weekend was perfect. I knew my ankle couldn’t handle any free climbing but I was sure I could top step and jug at the very least.
I pick Doug up Thursday after work and we pack the car, print out the topos and head down to valley. Arriving in El Portal, it was dark, cold and beginning to rain. We were determined to climb regardless of the weather so we packed (or we so thought) rain gear. Unloading the car and setting up camp for the night in the back of my truck, Doug realized he forgot his clothes. Now you might not think that’s a big deal, but Doug was wearing basket ball shorts and a polo. If we were to get caught in a storm on El Cap, Doug would be screwed. We concluded we would need to go to the mountain shop in the valley and grab a jacket and pants if we were gonna climb a wall this weekend. After some contemplation about the logistics of time, we figured we should just do a shorter route due to the set back. We ended up climbing The Prow on Washington Column.
This was the first time I really aid climbed after I feel on The Nose so I was a little bit hesitant to start up. I walked out the first 6 or 7 feet of the slab to the start of the dripping wet C2+ thin crack. The first piece I plugged in, I tugged on it a few times and it popped. I thought to my self fuck this. I hear Doug behind me telling me its all good and try to place it a little further right where its drier. After a few tugs I was climbing up the ladder. For the next 50-60 feet I aid up though small off set cams and micro brass nuts. With every top step, my ankle was throbbing more and more. Just trying to wiggle my ankle into my aider, torqued it in such ways where it was painful. After I lead the the C2+ thin section, I had to lower off. Doug finished the pitch for me.
We cruise through the third pitch and set up on Anchorage Ledge. This was our first time using the portaledge outside of our kitchen and living room. We pull up and anchor the bags on top of the ledge and set the portaledge below. We messed up and set the portaledge on an uneven part of the wall. If we weight one side a little more the opposing side would shift tremendously. That night Doug and I slept very still. Which is a first because Doug literally can’t go a single night with out sitting up in and finding some reason to dig through a bag or take a piss.
As the sun began to rise over Half Dome we pulled our rainfly up and began boiling coffee. We fueled up for the final push up The Prow with bagels. coffee and beef jerky. We quickly dismantled our bivy and my ankle had not gotten any better. Doug took the rest of the pitches for the climb...
It was a complete shit show. Once the haul line was situated, I lowered back down to re-release the bag. The bag finally starts covering some ground but gets hung up under a roof. I abseil another 30 feet to fix the bag and end up just following it, help lifting the bag over every corner. It was horrible. All said and done a 15’ C1 pitch paired with a 60’ 4th class scramble took us all of 3 hours. We topped out and threw down our sleeping bags, made some dinner and went to sleep
My first time on El Cap’s “The Nose” was short and painful. I made The Speed Injury Record on The Nose by taking a 20 foot fall onto a ledge on the first pitch. Im extremely embarrassed by how quickly and low on the route I fell. But theres nothing I can do about it besides find a silver lining and let my ankle heal.
Doug and I have been training for a few months in preparation for this Yosemite season. We were gonna do a trial run on The Nose up to Texas Flake and rap down just to get our feet in the cracks on the granite giant. We woke up in our usual El Portal spot at 5am, made coffee, a quick bathroom stop and were on the trail by 6am. About 15 minutes later, I started up Pine Line as a quick warm and clipped the tree at the top. Doug quickly followed, we flaked our ropes and within a couple minutes I was running up the 4th class scramble to the ledge at Pitch 1 intermediate anchors After clipping them, moving through the bolts, I placed my first cam of the day. I mantled up to a slab sloping section at the base of the cracks (about 5 feet over my piece). Placed another cam, pulled and bounce tested it and it seemed “bomber”. Clipped it, stood up on the aid ladder and was reaching for the piton where I found I was just a tad short of clipping it. I sat back in daisy chain and then a second later, I hear the dreaded sound of a cam popping.
I fell down about 5 feet and saw the slab go by, then about another 15 feet saw the intermediate anchors and finally the ledge. I think the rope caught about 2 feet off the ground so it barley slowed my fall (not enough to make a huge difference but something is better than nothing). I fell directly on my feet and my right ankle took the force of the fall. I collapsed as I hit the ledge and my vision blurred for a quick second. I felt my ankle burning but other than that I felt okay. Doug yelled up asking how I was and I replied “Okay, but my ankle is fucked.” Doug lowed me down and after a quickly assessing the injury, I tried aiding back up but my ankle couldn’t bare any weight. We decided to bail, not even up the first pitch of El Cap. Doug lead the rest of the pitch, cleaned it and then helped me abseil down. After a shameful & painful decent paired with very generous groups of climbers asking if I needed help, we made it back to the car. My ankle was about twice its size and throbbing, but I did set the Speed Record for the fastest El Cap injury.
We woke up in our usual bivy spot in El Portal and cruised into the valley right around 5:30am. I entered the Valley Loop eventually turning off to Wawona Road and another quick turn into Bridalveil Fall parking area. I dropped Doug off along with all of our gear at the bathrooms and crossed the road to park my truck on the side of it. So far we were pretty on track to start the approach by 6am, get to Ahwahnee ledge, drop the bag and fix the next couple of pitches for the following day. Our plan soon went to shit.
I cruised through the bolts and get to the roof on the first pitch. Clipped the fixed head at the corner of the roof and quickly realized I am in need of a cam. The next section consist of a perfect offset crack, a blown out head and 10 feet to the next clip able head. With the gear on me, I threw a cam hook in the only spot I figured it would work. I weight the cam hook and step on to it on the roof. I go to top step and the hook adjust and pops. I blow the fixed head and fall to the next bolt about 12 feet below. I yell down to Doug to tie the offset cams to the haul line and he does. I pull the cams up and get situated at the bolt directly below the roof. I had just blown the first fixed head making the distance to the next one about 15 feet. I use the beaks and get up onto the head wall of the roof. Throw the offset cam in where I had previously placed a shitty cam hook and made another beak move up into the next fixed head.
Fortunately I had the haul bag containing the water and snacks. As the sun grew lower, the wall finally got sunshine making it more shitty hanging out at this belay. Again, I had the water and snacks so I couldn’t complain. Finally Doug made it to the anchors and hauled up from Ahwahnee. I jugged up and met up with him at the ledge.
While all of this was going on, a crazy foreign Husband/Wife duo was crushing their way up to Ahwahnee. The husband had previously solo’d this route in a day and was looking to top out of Wet Denim Daydream 5.7 C3. (Check out his video of soloing a few walls in Yosemite https://vimeo.com/78812123) The get to Ahwahnee and quickly realized the ledge is full of noobs and they decide to set up their portaledge a little bit under Ahwahnee.
Before we went to sleep, Doug and I decided that we were too slow and after everything said and done, get back to the Bay Area at like 12-1am Monday. That wouldn’t be an issue but Doug had to be in San Francisco at 6am. We decided to play it safe and called it. We would bail in the morning.
He got to the (free-climbing) crux of the fourth pitch, a gnarly lock off on a shitty (aka non-existent) “sloper” to a “bomber" side pull. To sum it up, it was a fucked up move. His first attempt on it ended with him falling and sliding down the slab. He pulled back up to it, clipped the bolt directly under it and brushed the hell out of this “sloper”. He soon the easily passed this crux and clipped the anchors.
Doug began the rappel to the second anchors. Even with the wall overhung, the raps weren’t nearly as bad as anticipated. I eventually met up with him at the anchors and we pulled the rope through and Doug began the last rappel to the base. There was a pre-fixed line from the second anchors to the base in which we attached ourselves to to help orient out selves to the base instead of going off into space. if you were to rap directly down without the line, you would fid your self about twenty feet away from the wall with a hell of a hard time getting back. I raped with the haul bag and it was not an issue at all. This wall, I decided to switch things up with the hauling system, for one I did a 2:1 pulley system. With the haul bag, I did a Black Diamond Swivel with a micro-traxion that set up worked really well. The swivel was great for rapping with due to the bag getting twisted, the swivel made this a non issue.
I eventually got down as well and Doug shuttled across the cat walk to drop the gear at the stash bag. He came back and helped with the ropes and help direct me across the cat walk. We traversed our way back on the cat walk and made it to the stash bag. We divided up gear and made the hike back to the car, this time only taking 30 minutes.
Even though we bailed off the wall and our climb was unsuccessful, we still had a fun time. Were gonna dedicate the off season of Yosemite climbing to get better at trad/aid and be fully prepared for the next go. West Face is a pretty do able route for a beginner climber who has their aiding system down and wants to try a big wall. For us, Doug didn’t have it down and we were just taking way too long. I highly recommended giving this route a go and fixing the line on the catwalk is a must. It offers great views and some interesting aid moves.
Leaving from the Bay Area, Donner Pass Road is about a three hour drive East towards Truckee. Once there, you drive around the lake up onto Donner Pass Road and once you start gaining elevation the crags come into view. The road is literally surrounded by climbing. You can park at any of the several pullouts and find something to climb. The great thing about climbing at Donner is that everything is super accessible. No crag is more than a 30 minute approach on well established trails.
We parked our cars right across the ravine from Snowshed Wall. (Snowshed along with Black Wall, holds the most routes at Donner) We made the quick walk across the dry creek to the wall and Ryan decided to warm up on Hair Shirt. A nice 5.8 Off width. Before I start, I have to explain Ryan. He’s a very strong climber and an even more controlled climber. He will crush 5.12 on sport but the moment he feels uncomfortable on trad, he won’t push it. So Ryan starts up the off width with a few small cams and a #4. About 40’ up he places his only #4 and then realizes he’s out of gear for the second half of the climb. Ryan lowers off and before I tie into lead it, I run over to a couple nice looking gentleman with a fantastic dog and borrow a large cam. I lead the rest of the climb. I run out about 20’ to place the second large cam and run it out some more to the anchors. I feel super secure running out on trad just because your jamming your feet and hands into the crack. With off width, you jam your whole body in. It feels even more secure, Id be more worried about getting suck in an off width than falling out of one.
I set up a top-rope and everyone enjoyed them selves on it. Akela has only been climbing for a couple months and she had a real interesting time figuring out the off width. It seems simple to jam your body in and move up but its an awkward thing to do. She had the idea down and after countless tries finally topped out on top-rope. It was pretty cool seeing how she managed to work up for not really knowing much about crack climbing.
I decided to lead it. I cruise through the first half just clipping the gear. I get to that section Ryan bailed from and move through it nicely. I placed a piece and gained the head wall. The last 1/3rd of the route is a nice finger crack with some decent feet. I cruised through the finger crack section feeling really good. I top out at the anchors and since it was a Friday with not many people, we had the luxury of setting up a couple top ropes.
Its an overhanging wall full of 5.12s-5.13s all on permanent draws. So you can try any route and easily pull your rope through if you decide its too much. Ryan (being the only capable 5.12 climber of the group) has been projecting Warp Factor 5.13a.
The first couple moves to clip the first bolt are pretty gnarly and you would definitely not wanna take a fall below the first clip. We all give a go trying to rodeo clip it but after numerous failed attempts Ryan decides to climb the route to the left Taste The Pain 5.13c and gets get to the second clip, lower and then clip the first bolt on Warp Factor. The first two clips of Taste The Pain are very doable and he gets situated on Warp Factor and lowers off.
We arrive at the Ahwahnee (sorry, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel) at around 9am. Jump out, sort the gear and start the light approach to the base. Already, we messed up. Instead of taking the first left with a sign signaling the climbers trail, we walked past that and took the second left. We started up a mix of 4th-5.5 scrambling up to the their pitch. From there, we were straightened our selves, getting back onto the route. The next few pitches went by and due to us not being roped up, felt like a long scramble of 5.5-5.7 “climbing” to pitch 7 where we finally decided to tie in.
I then linked pitch 11 & 12. Pitch 11 offered an interesting hand crack on slab that felt more like climbing up a refrigerator with cracks on either side. I finished pitch 11 and then started up 12. In my opinion pitch 12 offers the most actual climbing on the route. You find the best way to enter this giant flake where I threw in fist and worked my way up. The giant flake only goes 5.7, but for me, this was the most fun pitch on the route. I scrambled up and out of the flake past the belay and about 100’ below the belay for 13, I found a manzanita bush I deemed appropriate for the anchor. Doug followed up and lead the remainder of pitch 13, about 100 feet or so. I scrambled up below him and linked pitches 14 & 15. Both were a ridicules scramble and I thought pitch 15 was the most interesting. After climbing pitch 14 (a long scramble up a face) you emerge onto a giant slab wall with some pretty good exposure. You traverse along the top of it to a three bolt belay. Since Doug & I were going to rap the route, our Royal Arches adventure ended here.
We packed up our gear and headed to get some thing to eat. By the time we got to the gear shop it had began to down poor. We were fortunate enough to grab a seat outside under an umbrella and enjoyed some burgers and fries. It wasn’t looking like the rain was going to stop anytime soon, so we hung around the gear shop for a while and decided to spend the rest of the evening at the bar in El Portal playing pool.
Fortunately all the approaches at The Emeralds are real easy and straight forward. With a brisk 10 minute walk I was already with my friends. We started climbing instantly, warming up on an easy 5.8 “Second Time Around”. After Dave and I ran our respective laps, we walked down a little ways and jumped on "Unknown" 5.10d. This was a real easy route with only two bolts. It was a two-move wonder route with an easy scramble to the first bolt then on the head wall was there crux. After I lead that, I climbed “White Riot” 5.11a.
We woke up feeling good, ready for another full day of climbing. After some coffee and a breakfast beer, we found our selves on our way to Bowman Lake for a day full of sport climbing.
The drive to Bowman is about 6 or so miles on a paved road and then goes into a dirt road. Mitch’s Subaru and my Tacoma handled it like a breeze. I saw a few basic sedans so if you have any sort of sedan, you can make the drive too. (It gets pretty rocky at some places) We drove down the whole road and parked our cars and made the hike out to Larry Land. Its a huge wall with a short 10 foot wide roof section and a slaby head wall. I tried warming up on “Yuba Blue” 5.10b and it was pretty wet. I was unable to even make it to the second bolt due to the water run off. I bailed off and Mitch tried climbing “Hot Rod” 5.11b. He made it about 1/4 of the way up and was quickly shut down to the water run off too. It ended up being all the routes within our climbing capability (sub 5.12) were wet. Mitch tried "Larry Land” 5.11c and got up to the third bolt and lowered off. Dave and I both top roped it up to the third bolt and I found the sequence to get onto the head wall and climb the slab. I lowered off and Mitch gave another run up it getting about 1/2 way up and was to tired. He ended up bailing too.
After all getting shut down by Larry Land, we decided to just swim in the nearby swimming holes and head back to the cars.
On our way back home, we stopped off at Deer Park Boulders in Rocklin. We had some fun times messing around on a gnarly V2 finger crack “Nemesis” Both Mitch and I sent it and ran some laps on it. Mitch ended up getting a V4 and a gnarly V3 mantle. After a quick session we started our drive back home.
Overall, I felt okay about my climbing this trip. I could of sent some harder things but I definitely felt sore the following day. It was a lot more fun just messing around and having a good time climbing than it was trying to send some hard serious climbs. Im excited to get stronger and better and head back to Larry Land.