Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Very Yosemite Vacation:

Preface: 1 year and 7 months ago a friend of mine took me to a small quartzite top-roping crag just outside of Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was my first experience with rock climbing. I struggled on every move and foot placement, and wasn’t quite confident in taking on the rope. Your mind rushes with so many different scenarios as to what could go wrong; what if the rope snapped?, did I put my harness on right?, what if the anchor breaks?, etc., etc. Nonetheless, as we departed from this crag I was completely hooked, our drive home was spent in awe, looking up at every rock face and wondering if it too could be climbed. The following day I bought a membership to one of the local gyms in town, excited for the day when I could top-rope climb a gym 5.10.

As spring came, I made my first real purchase; rope, quickdraws, and a new harness (up until then I was using a lightweight ski mountaineering harness). I scoured the archives of Mountain Project looking for every possible place within 50 miles to set up a top-rope anchor. Routes slowly began to be ticked, and finally I got on lead, some shotty little 5.6 in Parley’s Canyon.

Now, up until then, I was satiated, satisfied with these sport climbs (most of which I did as top-ropes), but an advertisement caught my eye, 30% OFF 5 BLACK DIAMOND CAMS WHEN PURCHASED TOGETHER. I meddled over this for a few days, several friends even said “Why do that? Why spend that money? You have no idea what you’re doing.”  Well against their better judgment I left work one Friday and picked them up. 5 shiny new C4’s Purple to Blue. The woman that checked me out even said I’d never climb sport again. Little did I know…

Flash forward one year:

I’ve climbed splitters in Zion, Indian Creek, and spent a wee little bit of time in The Valley. Return was inevitable, it was simply a matter of when. As luck would have it, I spotted a campsite opening (for more than one day) 15 miles outside of The Valley (Crane Flat) and reserved it immediately. Ropes, cams, and shoes were all gathered and strewn across the car with a mixture of other camping supplies. All in hopes that these would soon be used.

Now before I delve into the details of our trip, one large task stood in our way. The Speedgoat 50K, rated by many as “The Hardest 50K in North America”. We were hard pressed to get to Yosemite but this colossal race obstructed our passage. For all the climbers reading this just skip forward to the other pictures and story, but the Speedgoat is such an impressive race I can’t not give it some acknowledgement.

We were greeted at Snowbird by probably the best weather any racer could ask for. Scattered showers all day with a high of 65. Before you could say “hurt” the race was off…I laid back for the first 10 or so miles trying not to blow up with the rookies like I did last year. I soon found myself cruising into Pacific Mine (Mile 16) with fresh legs and cool weather. Soon after I was climbing out of Mineral and on my way to Baldy. Mt. Baldy is Karl’s masterpiece, 2000 ft. in less than a few miles, most of which is on open grassy fields (no single track). Now on any other day 2000 ft. is an after work run up Mt. Wire but given this 2000 ft. comes uninvited around mile 26 it was not greeted with the same sentiment. I soon found myself on top and was cruising my way to the last climb. A little nutrition plus some good weather got me back up the final 1600 ft. onto Hidden Peak in no time and a few Ibuprofen later (somebody thank a chemist) I was well on my way to the finish and clocked in at 8 hrs 40 mins, 1 hour better than last year but still not in the 7.5 hour range where I would like to be. This was also Chesy’s first ultra-marathon and she crushed with a time of 11 hrs 54 mins.

Race details:

Distance: 50K (more like 34 miles [55K])

Elevation gain: Around 11,000 ft.

Lowest elevation: 7800 ft.

Chesy with race administrator and founder and famous ultra-runner, Karl Meltzer (photobombed by the kid in the background)

We departed on Sunday, tired legs and all, and slowly ticked off the towns along the way:

Wendover - “check”

Ely - “check”

Tonopah - “check”

We set up camp somewhere across the CA border inside the Inyo National Forest.  

Panorama of our campsite 

Boundary Peak, the highest point in NV.

The Valley greeted us the next morning and we were well on our way to getting spanked.

 Chesy following the second pitch of Jamcrack (5.9)

Looking back up, it deserves way more than the 3 stars it gets in the ST book.

 The greatest gummies ever invented

Can't beat that view

Since spanking was the theme of this trip we headed up to Bishop Terraces…sure everyone remarks on how glorious the hand cracks are…but the wide stuff is nearly unbearable at least for a wuss like me (should have brought two #4’s)

Looking up at the pain, there’s probably still some blood up there.

The following day we linked up After Seven with After Six and great climbing was had all around. The handcrack on After Seven is the Bee's Knee's and the face climbing is spicy.

Bomber places to build an anchor.

Chesy coming up


El Cap

Top out onto Manure Pile Butress

One more douche in Yosemite

Chesy TR'ing the splitter pitch of Commitment

Another view

A very sunny Lost Arrow Spire Tip through the trees

Conductor Crack on TR

The Rostrum


Yosemite always has a place in my climbing heart...I can't wait to return.

My favorite of all the Extraterrestrial Highways is definitely the one in NV. 

Lunar Crater...if you drive from SLC to the valley stop here and stretch your legs it's actually kind of cool as far a big holes are concerned. 

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