Cub Scout Summer 2018 (photo heavy TR)

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marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 11, 2018 - 04:03pm PT
"OR, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embraced an Alleged Drought" by Marty Roberts


Day One.

Upper Rock Creek seemed a logical enough starting point.

Bear Creek Spire had been my first “real” backcountry rock climb—meaning a pre-dawn start, a wool sweater and some hexes, and the company of up-and-coming publishing magnate Mick Ryan—back in ’97. A year earlier I’d weathered two near-death experiences in the Valley and had retreated to the relatively safe territory of pebble wrestling. But this climb was to open my eyes to the possibilities of the Range of Light, what Doug Robinson once told me was “the terrain and mindset” of the East Side. It was also the summer of Allan “Bardini” Bard’s passing, but more on that later.

Northeast Ridge, BCS
Northeast Ridge, BCS
Credit: marty(r)

Uncle Rick, of course, was game.

Drink early, drink often.
Drink early, drink often.
Credit: marty(r)

While he may have finally acquired a Blue Light Special sleeping bag, Rick is still feral at heart. He eschewed the dogma of the headlamp and took a gentleman’s approach to the approach: wake up, brew up, shoe up. But above all, do it in a day, and hustle back for pints at the Rambler.

BCS' North Buttress as seen from the east.
BCS' North Buttress as seen from the east.
Credit: marty(r)

And so the week began.

¡cumbre numero uno!
¡cumbre numero uno!
Credit: marty(r)

One line no waiting.
One line no waiting.
Credit: marty(r)

Day Two.

Petit Griffon stands sentinel amongst the hummocks of Mount Mills and Mount Abbot, high above the Ruby Wall, higher still above the hospitality and robust offering fries at Tom’s Place. I’d passed it once while repeating the M.A.D. Traverse, first enchained by local hard guy and photographer of some renown, Vern Clevenger, but never gotten around to climbing it.

"Drought conditions" above Ruby Lake.
"Drought conditions" above Ruby Lake.
Credit: marty(r)

For the uninitiated, Petit Griffon perfectly resembles Cerro Torre. Only 32 or so pitches shorter. Steep from every aspect, it features exceptional granite, yet is guarded by a tennis shoe soaking bit of nastiff.

Petit Griffon.
Petit Griffon.
Credit: marty(r)

To our amazement, someone—Splitboarder? SPS fetishist? Rogue mulepacker?—had kicked in a healthy boot track and the approach was dispatched with a liberal slathering of SPF 50+. We did, after all, have our fair sea-level complexions to protect.

John Moynier and Andy Selters did themselves proud with their three pitch north face route.

Give him a few coconuts and he'll gladly regale you with tales of brav...
Give him a few coconuts and he'll gladly regale you with tales of bravely bold Sir Robin.
Credit: marty(r)

Inshallah. No stuck ropes. Inshallah.
Inshallah. No stuck ropes. Inshallah.
Credit: Rick Graham

Again, the Oracle called for lengthy showers of sun and a late day rumpage. In this, my wrinkle star may never be the same.

There. Be. Dragons.
There. Be. Dragons.
Credit: marty(r)

Day Three.

Having found the rhythm of the stroke we headed further up the 395 for a bit of respite from the snow. After a night on the ground at Camp IX , we a day in the open to look forward to. The approach to Cathedral was bone dry and the Southeast Face afforded us an enjoyable morning of cracks, nobs, and the distinct pleasure of not getting stuck behind one of the, ahem, other eight parties who had come out that morning.

Uncle Rick is the Amelda Marcos of climbing shoes. But don't tell anyo...
Uncle Rick is the Amelda Marcos of climbing shoes. But don't tell anyone.
Credit: marty(r)

Day Four.

Retail therapy. Rehydration. Rest.

Day Five.

Our time was nearing an end. Rick, having this year secured a Lifetime Access Pass, had recently embraced a more health conscious approach to the mountains. His customary footlong sub was swapped out with Flaming Hot Cheetos that matched his new Sportiva approach shoes, and regular Coke. The Whitney Zone beckoned. Abyssus abyssum invocat.

North Fork of Lone Pine Creek.
North Fork of Lone Pine Creek.
Credit: marty(r)

Reflecting on it now it’s all a bit of a blur. Doug at the Portal Store hipped us to an alternative approach from the North Fork drainage that accesses the Carrilon Col and East Ridge of Mt. Russell with minimal sock-destroying choss and sand. Again, clouds were far and few between, and miles of pristine granite seemed to pass fluidly.

Shiek Yer Booty attacks the upper headwall.
Shiek Yer Booty attacks the upper headwall.
Credit: marty(r)

Fourth class climbing. Fifth class consequences.
Fourth class climbing. Fifth class consequences.
Credit: marty(r)

Credit: Rick Graham

Unlike years past, Tulainyo Lake was frozen but the Arctic Lakes basin was remarkably dry. We hustled down the chimney from Russell, spied a couple doing Tolkien-worthy battle in the shade of Mithral Dihedral, and hopped talus to Guitar Lake where we refueled.

"Running talus" is far safer when covered in snow.
"Running talus" is far safer when covered in snow.
Credit: Rick Graham

While I’d disparaged the JMT Superhighway in the past its wide lanes and manicured steps were a treat after several hours on the go. Egad! Was I now entering that phase of life where I’d start weighing micro-fiber kilts and contemplating the relative merits of five-finger shoes? Dad bod I can accept; thru-hiker attire is beyond the pale.

Mighty Mt. Chamberlain/-lin
Mighty Mt. Chamberlain/-lin
Credit: marty(r)

Anyhow, at trail crest Rick turned right and I headed left, catching a second wind once I’d gotten the sun at my back. Rick rightly pointed out that the Whitney Trail might have the highest concentration of zombies anywhere west of the Mississippi.

The Whitney summit was pleasantly empty. As dark clouds gathered to the west I tightened my shoes and soloed down the East Buttress.

Credit: marty(r)

21 years previous, the same summer of my first big granite outing I’d picked up one of Bardini’s Shooting Star guides. “Uncommon climbs for the common man” read the cover, and everything about it exuded an immense appreciation for the topography of joy; for redlining the fun meter. That was also the summer Allan died guiding in the Tetons. I never knew him, but I stayed at his home after his death, when Don Lauria and friends committed to keeping Bardini’s spirit. I, like every climber my age or younger that I knew felt pangs of envy for having never gotten to waterski Tenaya Lake or pioneer a new line up El Cap.

Energy. Lore. More.
Energy. Lore. More.
Credit: marty(r)

These were tribal rites from another time.

Cool light on Iceberg Lake. June 8, 2018.
Cool light on Iceberg Lake. June 8, 2018.
Credit: marty(r)

Or are they?

Like Joe Strummer said, The Future is Unwritten.

Post-script:

Check your knot.

Credit: Rick Graham

Set your goals.

Mt. Pancake: hardest summit in the Sierra.
Mt. Pancake: hardest summit in the Sierra.
Credit: marty(r)

Tell your friends you love them.

¡viva el Honky!
¡viva el Honky!
Credit: marty(r)

Don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

In Tehuelche, his name means "ember".
In Tehuelche, his name means "ember".
Credit: marty(r)









eKat

climber
Jun 11, 2018 - 04:16pm PT
ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!

TFPU!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Jun 11, 2018 - 05:12pm PT
Good stuff,
thanks Marty.
Tad
Marshall

climber
bay area
Jun 11, 2018 - 06:57pm PT
Rad, Marty, so well written. Good to see that yer still getting out, dad bod and all
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
Jun 11, 2018 - 07:15pm PT
5 Star photos and Award-winning commentary.

You have awesome writing ability!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 12, 2018 - 08:49am PT
nice one Marty
you always make it look easy
rick graham

Trad climber
Embracing entropy in Irvine, CA
Jun 12, 2018 - 04:13pm PT
Terrific photos & write-up Marty.
Many thanks for dragging ol' Uncle Ricky along for another great Sierra scramble.
As Ed said, you’ve always made it look easy....and fast!
Here’s another tribute to Bardini
"Bardini Lives!" on top of Petit Griffon
"Bardini Lives!" on top of Petit Griffon
Credit: rick graham
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Jun 12, 2018 - 04:48pm PT
well done fellas!

I feel a strange sensation of the need to get into the high country!
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 13, 2018 - 10:39am PT
Thanks everyone! These trips--far a few between--give me much-needed balance and fuel the next adventure, the next lap around the sun.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Jun 13, 2018 - 10:52am PT
Thank you!

DMT
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Jun 13, 2018 - 11:01am PT
A tale well spun and beautifully writ.

Dad bod I can accept; thru-hiker attire is beyond the pale.

Made me LOL.


Thanks for sharing the stoke. Stay after it, and stay sharp out there.


Scott
kingtut

climber
Jingus Newroutaineer
Jun 13, 2018 - 12:00pm PT
TFPU seems many good tidings were had. :)

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”


--J. Muir
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 13, 2018 - 03:19pm PT
Good photos, good story....thanks for posting! Sadly, I was coming down from the summit of the Grand Teton with my wife of one day and came across Allan’s accident scene shortly after he fell.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 21, 2018 - 07:25pm PT
wonderful bump
xCon

Social climber
909
Jul 21, 2018 - 07:45pm PT
the last time I saw mick ryan
he was wearing the most god awful pair of sunglasses id ever seen on a man
he'd dragged a group of foreigners and boulderites down for a tour of gills stuff in pueblo
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