What was your first climb in Yosemite Valley?


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Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 1, 2011 - 03:55pm PT
I had been climbing with ropes for a few years by the time I finally made it to Yosemite Valley. I started off in San Diego area Mission Gorge, Magnolia, then some Joshua Tree. Moved to SF bay area and got some Pinnacles, then Castle Rocks and Lover's Leap a bunch of times.

But my first Yosemite Valley trip was memorable. 1998. My regular climbing partner and I were with a group of 15 silicon valley Indians who had never been camping, let alone climbing. I think earlier that summer I took the same gang white water rafting on the Upper Cache, and I spent the day plucking guys and girls off of rocks in rapids, and extricating flipped rafts. On this first Yosemite camping trip, a couple of people got up in the middle of the night to huddle in the car with the heater turned on (well it was October and they brought a few blankets and no ground pads even though I gave them an explicit list of what to bring). We set up an anchor on some short gentle drop-off and slab, so they could all get a taste of rappelling. It was a hoot!

During an attempt to do some real climbing, my buddy and I reconn'd the lower Yosemite amphitheater. We didn't have a guidebook, and one crack just held my attention. Looking in '87 guide now, I think it was Lightweight Guides (5.10a). At that point I was not at all a 5.10 crack climber.

When I roped up to do it, we were off by ourselves and the rest of the gang were hanging out by the waterfall. By the time I got a few feet up, we had the whole peanut gallery there, including my wife. I was the hero for maybe 30-40 feet. Suddenly, I was stemmed out maybe 12 feet above my pro, legs in full on Elvis mode, frantically going through everything in my rack to find a piece of gear that would stick in the blind dihedral placement. Nowadays I would say F it and gun up to a better stance and regroup. That day I was a drama bomb waiting to happen.

"This doesn't look good Bruce."

Cue the wobbling leg again, and now the hands are shaking trying to go through different nuts on the biner, trying different cams. And then it starts really getting out of control Parkinson's style.

Again, "this doesn't look good Bruce."

Silence from below. Horror and fascination, like eyes glued to a car wreck.

5-10 minutes drag on in this hideous mounting tension. And then I blow it. It was actually a relief! My first real leader fall, and a quick pat down of my own limbs reveals no broken bones. I was dangling not more than 5 feet off the deck.

I proceeded to act like what I thought a hard man was supposed to do, get back on that horse. But my penis had completely inverted by that point and my testicles were sucked up next to my thyroid. I placed gear every 2-3 feet and hung on each placement. We all have to start somewhere.

Epilogue: I might have been a little higher, I might have blown a cam or two during the fall, I might have fallen 25 feet, or was it 30? And did I end up 10 feet or 5 off the deck? Was there a wobbly cam that caught my fall? It seems to grow with the retelling. But it was my first epic climbing experience. A suitable introduction to the valley that captured my heart!


Social climber
Joshua Tree
Mar 1, 2011 - 03:58pm PT
Jamcrack. Rolled in midday, met some random dudes in C4, walked over and did a few pitches with them. Jamcrack 1&2, TR on the two Bums.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:00pm PT
Delectable Pinnacle right side. First roped climb. 1979
Captain...or Skully

The Seas of Stone.
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:01pm PT
Nutcracker. With the random bulletin board Dude. In June. Man, was it HOT.
'92. 1st Lead, too. Well, pitch 2 & 5, anyway. He handed me the rack & said "Your Lead". I didn't want to admit that I'd never lead anything. So off I went. Later he told me I placed the worst gear on Earth. I 'fessed up & we spent hours placing pro at the base, & havin' beers.
It was a good 1st day.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:03pm PT
Random bulletin board Dude!

Whatever happened to him? Wonder if he's still with us?

nick farley

Mar 1, 2011 - 04:04pm PT

One of my favorite memories.

Captain...or Skully

The Seas of Stone.
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:07pm PT
His name was actually Chad, but random Bulletin Board Dude sounds more fun.
He liked it, too. Their tribe is vast. ;-)
Heck, I figure just about Everyone has put in a day or two with That guy.

Trad climber
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:08pm PT
Bishop's Terrace with no line.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:12pm PT
Footstool, Right 5.4 with DonC
probably a couple of millennia ago guessing 1970 or 71...

did I mention that we used pitons for protection back then?

Ice climber
Happy Boulders
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:18pm PT
Aunt Fannies Pantry
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:20pm PT
Aunt Fanny's Pantry, June 1974.

Social climber
Davis, CA
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:23pm PT
mung-selaginella. Big fun.

Troy, MT
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:25pm PT
Jamcrack p1 and p2, followed by peruvian flake the next day, and tried (and failed) to follow "ten years after" the following weekend. Also, they were my first climbs ever, though I had been casually bouldering for a while.
Almost made it on ten years after, too. Which was bad for my ego, almost being able to follow a hard .10d crack for my third climb ever. After that, slump!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:28pm PT
NW Face of Half Dome in winter avec Le Comte...
The autres mousquetaires were not available...how could I say non?


Trad climber
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:30pm PT
Something on Monday Morning Slab.

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:31pm PT
We rolled in and got right on Serenity, only to be rained off of the first pitch. Went to secure camping and got caught in traffic, had trouble parking and found no where to stay. I was from the backwaters of AZ, where you can basically do whatever you want, and was shocked at the whole scene. We bailed from the valley.

Next trip we rolled in, fired Serenity, and had bloody marys at the Ahwahnee. I learned that if you just sort of roll with the valley freak show it's a blast.

Trad climber
Durham, NC
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:32pm PT
Church Bowl Chimney. All that prep time at Ironworks really paid off;)

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:36pm PT
First climb was Monday Morning Slab, Right Side, 1965. We were suitably impressed and intimidated by the aura of "THE VALLEY!"

I've posted this before but quite a while ago. I never get tired of these old classic photos.

Trad climber
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:37pm PT

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Mar 1, 2011 - 04:37pm PT

Prolly 'Lena's lieback' 78'
Messages 1 - 20 of total 199 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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