Days are short. Nights are cold. Sarah Palin has a new book out. These are desperate times. Times not to be reveled in.
Let us remember fonder days. Steep granite. The aroma of Manzanitas. Sarah Palin out of the headlines.
In mid October while getting my rock on in Yosemite, a massive torrent befell upon us. The majority fled to the safety of bars and other nefarious hideouts, while other brave souls took the tempest head on and remained in Camp 4. The papers proclaimed it "the worst storm in 50 years," perhaps they weren't too far off.
Fattened up from five days of Gramma Kluberton's cooking, I returned to the Valley with a fellow named Keegan. We promptly set out to experience the classic Serenity Crack-Sons of Yesterday. Tragically, we were beat out by a hoard of other climbers and only climbed Serenity Crack.
Hanging out under the great Muir Tree
Next we aimed our eager hands and Stealth rubber soles towards the looming Northeast Buttress of Higher Cathedral Rock. The first half of the route was mine, Keegan would lead the chimneys. Despite an early start, we still had to wait for another party. The climbing was fun, solid and exposed...perfect. Racing light on the long route, we wasted no time. We caught up to the other team and waited a while, swearing to ourselves for lack of headlamps.
On one of the upper pitches, Keegan's gear loop sheared off while he lurched upward. I heard a crashing followed by the terrifying sound of something heavy gaining momentum through the air. My body sucked against the rock and I assumed the turtle position, head low and down. Something exploded into my right hand with a pain that surely signaled shattered bones. It was then surprising to look up and see that I had blindly (and completely accidently I might add) caught the carabiner of nuts after an 80 foot free fall.
"DUDE, I dropped the nuts," Keegan said.
"Yeah, I know, I caught them," I yelled, cringed forward in pain.
"You got them?"
"NO, I CAUGHT them, and I think I broke my hand!!!"
Minutes later, it was apparent that my hand would be OK, and I seconded the rest of the route. We topped out in the dark and had an interesting descent, to say the least.
In the next week we mostly cragged, including routes such as Jamcrack, New Diversions, and the Central Pillar of Frenzy.
Joe karate kicking his way through Yosemite
On a beautiful day, Steve, Joe, our new friend Leighan, and I had the time of our lives on the Regular Route of Higher Spire. This route is anything but regular. It was absolutely stellar! The climbing was never too hard, but the exposure and quality of climbing was incredible. The top out was surely one of the coolest summits I've ever been on as well. It was a great day with some of my best buds!
Great view from the top of Higher Spire
Awesome climb, awesome summit, awesome friends!
Steve and I checked out Leaning Tower one day and practiced some aiding. Talk about exposure! We linked the first two pitches, so by the end I was certainly running low on biners.
Looking down on the first few pitches of leaning Tower
A fun 5.10 near the Arches
Joe took off for Peru, then Steve and I closed our Yosemite trip by running up the Snake Dike on Half Dome with our two British friends Matt and Sam.
We packed our stuff and put the pedal to the metal towards Red Rock in Nevada.
We didn't get on anything too big. More than anything, we wanted to recon for next time. Still, we got in some great cragging and did take a jaunt up the ultra classic Jorge and Joanne Urioste classic, Frogland.
Mister Master, a crazy overhanging Red Rock crack
Ragged Edges Cliff
Steve had a date with the Palisades and I still had a week left in my trip. Being the good friend he is, he drove me down to Joshua Tree and even got in a good day of climbing.
Alaskan local Paul Turecki finished my tattoo one day.
After a week of phenomenal climbing, it was time to head back to Alaska. Luck was on my side and I scored a ride all the way to San Fransisco with a nice guy named Mitch.
Of course, every trip has its ups and downs. You fail on some objectives and don't get on others you had wanted to. This trip, I pushed my boundaries and became a much better climber. As importantly, I got to experience it with some of my best friends and ultimately, that is what is really important to me in climbing.
Until next ROCKtober...