Saturday, June 6, 2009

Yosemite Update

My comment about Hetch Hetchy being more peaceful on the Memorial Day weekend than Yosemite Valley provoked a comment chiding me for not supporting restoration of the Hetch Hetchy to its origianl, pre-damming condition. I had no idea that anyone was proposing restoration of that flooded valley, but learned with a bit of internet research that an organization called "Restore Hetch Hetchy" is proposing exactly that. It's an interesting idea. Check out their website (find it by serching one the organization's name).

Marc and I finished his week here by climbing Munginella and making an attempt on Royal Arches. I managed to turn the relatively tame Munginella (3 pitch, 5.6) into something of an adventure. After Marc led the first pitch without incident, I started up pitch two as a thunderstorm threatened. Not content to climb the obvious corner, I headed right to have a look around an arete. As I got twenty or thirty feet up, it started to sprinkle. I realized I was off route, but I spotted a bolt and two rivets on the arete above me. I decided I had a better chance of beating the hard rain to the top if I kept on up the arete than if I took the time to go down and get back on route. So, up I went.

I'll just get up and clip that first rivet. Hmmm. This is pretty thin. Ahh. There's the rivet; got it clipped; that's better. But its still might thin on this arete, and the raindrops aren't helping the friction on these smears. But here's the bolt. That's solid. Now for the last rivet, Got it; but now where do I go? No more pro above, better traverse left to that big crack. This is a bit thin, but then I am Traverso Man. Yep, there is the crack, nice big cam goes right in. Whew! Its getting wetter and wetter; I better get this rope up to the top before things get too slippery to climb. Those cracks at the top look good. I'll head for them and combine pitches two and three.

I got up to the cracks (nice 5.7 hand ones), but the rope drag created by clipping the bolts and rivets on the extreme right edge of the face and then putting that cam into that crack at the left edge is horrendous! I can barely pull the rope up. And it's really raining hard now, making the hand cracks very slippery. I decide it's time for some imprompt aid (aka French Free). I plug a cam into a crack, clip myself to it, lean back, and pull for all I am worth to get 4 feet of slack so I can make a second, higher placement. As the rain pours down, the second cam goes in and I repeat the process, achieving another 4 or 5 feet of slack. I fumble a bit and then get the third and final cam in. Using my legs to lift, I get just enough additional slack to top out and sling a tree. I'm up, but very wet and cold. Looking down, I notice that Marc has found and donned the rain jacket I brought along in our pack. Well, no point in both of us getting hypo thermia.

After a bit of discussion as to whether Marc should follow me up or I should try to rap back to him, Marc heads up. I am surprised at how quickly he is able to climb the very thin arete, which is now running with water. He explans that some tugs on the draws I had attached to the rivets and bolts helped his progress. He soon joins me at the top and we make haste down the walk off as the rain starts to let up.

The next day, Marc's last in the Valley, we get up at 4:30 am to attempt Royal Arches (5.7, 15 pitches). We make it slightly less than half way up before the buildiing thunderheads persuade us that we sould rap off. it's a fun climb and I really want to go back and finish it.

The partner I had lined up for the next few days had car trouble and had to bail.
So I did some touring about and a bit of solo aid practice. My aid skills are really improving.

Valerie flew into SF and she and I drove back to the Valley yesterday. Ezzie's alternator cdrapped out near Sonora. Fortunately, witrh the help of a spare battery we limped far enough to find an auto parts store that sold us a replacement. We installed it in the parking lot, with some help from two mechanics who were passing by and hlep us get the serpentine belt back on. Ezzie ran great the rest of the trip.

While I was gone there was a pretty good storm in the Park, with enough snow to shut Tioga Pass briefly and turn the ground white at Crane Flat (6000 feet). The floor of our tent got wet, so I bought a tarp to cover it. I had a good time showing Valerie the Valley and taking pictures of the sights. Today was cold and cloudy with afternoon rain. We managed to do some top roping in the morning, including a couple of tough cracks (5.8/5.9??). This afternoon in light rain we practiced aid on the overhanging LeConte boulder. Val was a star, sending her first aid route in fine style!