Sunday, June 1, 2014

Spring Forward--

Josh heading up Pitch 5 or 6 of Lurking Fear

"Dude, this is WAY above my head."  I stated flatly to my climbing partner Josh Lavigne as we scrambled the last bit of 4th class terrain in Yosemite Valley.
Pitch 4 Lurking Fear
"It is over mine too." Josh returned.

Yeah right, I thought.  You climb the shit out of El Capitan! --with grace and good attitude to boot.

This was Monday.  My first full day back in the valley--of only 5.


A ridiculously squeezed in trip...dropping objectives, but sharing wonderful company and the prospect of a killer new job at home waiting.

Josh and I hiked along side a favorite Yosemite cliff.  Moseying past the prow with Haul bags waiting, brushing our shoulders against the fixed lines of the Salathe Wall, finally dropping our packs at the base of Lurking Fear.
Our plan was to free climb with no dire need to push for a summit.

Just free climb, try hard, and have a good time.

We did!

Josh and I cheezin' after sending some El Cap free climbing!  

Josh led the first 2 pitches of the morning.  Both of us stymied by the boulder problem finish of the first pitch.  A wild sloping-pinch- mantle- over type move.  Hard, but doable.
The second pitch, 5.13c, was an intentional aid-fest.  I checked out the sideways dyno half-hearted.

Jens on the first pitch of Romulan Warburg, FiFi Buttress
What?  Beth Rodden, nice work!!!!!

I led the next two pitches.  The first being a funky mix of crack climbing with slippery face climbing.  I combo-packaged this 12c pitch.  Not ready to commit to trying hard.
Pitch 4, slab climbing to the base of a slippery water runnel.  A thin RP seam slowly widens to a hand crack finish.
I free climbed the SHIT out of that pitch!!

WOW!!  I just on-sighted a 5.12 on El Capitan!!  I quit climbing.  That's it, reached my pinnacle.  Done!!!!!!

We proceeded in climbing 2 more amazing pitches of 5.12, then decided we were happy with our achievements!

What a Monday!

I arrived to the Big Ditch at 5pm Sunday.  A decent amount of daylight tempted me

Time for Royal Arches?

First stop, Camp 4.  Jens Holsten, my other climbing partner, waited patiently.  After chatting with some folks, we finally made our way to the Pines to meet up with Josh.  The golden hour had settled in, Royal Arches was out.  Beer and conversation in the Meadow with a magical sunset ended our day.

Monday arrived.  Jens feeling mellow opted out.  So, Josh and I rallied for the Lurking Fear adventure.

Me, leading us up the first 7 Pitches on Watkins
Tuesday, the three of us fueled with coffee and hilarious motivation over Monday's dinner, headed to Fifi Buttress.  Romulan Warburg, a highly recommended rock climb-- beautiful steep corner system stacked with 5.11 and 5.12 climbing, was our objective of the day.

We rotated leads.  Jens volunteering for the sharp end first.
This pitch climbs a stellar dihedral---thin-- with awesome finishing moves.

Note to self:  Stretch before this pitch

Pitch 2, continues up a corner system-- a little run out.  Some sections required thoughtful climbing, I had trouble with this one.

I might have teared up.

Pitch 3 consisted of some off-the-hook steep blocky 5.11 climbing.  Really fun and airy.

The 4th pitch combo-meal consisted of a  bouldery dihedral switch with a bolt to a ridiculously pumpy finger/small hand crack.


Josh danced up was awesome to watch!

Next, pitch 5, was unique-- face climbing knobs with a few bolts and the ability to stem right.  Fun and short.
Pitch 6--  the glory crux.  A thin tips layback to an awkward mantle finish. Super strenuous and tiny pro.  I pinky jammed and layed-back, while Jens opted for some stemming.

A fabulous climb and company to celebrate Andrew's birthday!!
Jens heading up the middle of Watkins on his block.  
Wednesday greeted us with more sunshine but achy shoulders.  The Merced river gently lapped at my toes for most of the morning.  Yoga beneath El Cap soothed my brain in the afternoon and a beer with Jens firmed up our plans for the following day.

Thursday -- 4am came like Christmas.  I was ready to get up well before Jens actually hollered at me to get up!

Mt. Watkins day!


Jens and I hiked in while Josh dropped us off at Mirror lake, returned the car and biked back up to meet us.  All of our first time on Watkins --I love the family adventures!!

Josh (left side behind flake) taking us to the top...with the rad tree on the ledge to the right!
We speechlessly took turns on the approach, re-directing one another if a hiking error occurred.

Sunlight emerged as did the mosquitos as we made our way up the fixed lines.

I led the first 7, Jens the next 6 and Josh the last 6.  Our pasts melding into the present, everything clicking.  Roughly 8 hours or so after tying in, we reached the summit!

An evening in Tuolumne and a quick solo of Cathedral Peak closed the week out.  I piled in Randy the Subaru and headed East.

How perfect that I climb in Yosemite with two friends Josh Lavigne and Jens Holsten.  All three of us having similar experiences and attitudes towards the loss of loves, friends, and family.
RaDicaL tree on the hike out from Watkins

Cumulative a lot of loss amongst us but so much growth.

A lot of learning.
A lot of reflection.
A lot of conversation.
A lot of adventure.

One of the best trips I have ever had in the valley.  A seamless integration of decades of climbing experience with life changing lessons.  We fit together so well in this crazy puzzle of life.

This only emphasizing the importance of letting the world show me, not me showing the world.

I must be open and gracious.

Adapt and laugh.

Most important, love and spend time with those who cultivate a similar path.

Tuolumne and the boys!