Trip Report
2005-05 Commitment to Selaginella to AquaChossy
Monday July 23, 2018 11:56am
Ok folks, I posted some of this before more than 10 years ago, but photo links were dead... so in the spirit of reviving and reinvigorating some climbing content. The players:

Ritwik:
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And me when I still tried to be presentable for technical sales and marketing-type jobs:
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First we did Commitment (5.9 - 3 pitches):
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Maybe this was about the start of Selaginella? Or after the 1st pitch? Or still at the end of Commitment? All I remember was a lot of debris on belay edges, requiring extra care to avoid sending stuff down on the partner below.
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Maybe this was the start of Selaginella, after a bit of walking on dirt slopes? Who knows. That is about 4 pitches, 5.8?
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Nice angle to check out Lost Arrow Spire Direct:
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Evidence that I was using a Supertopo drawing:
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Handsom devil:
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Some more climbing:
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And some goofing:
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That shirt was brighter in those days! Has a bit of a fade now:
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Could have used a bit of fill flash here! I can smell the bay leaves...
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And on up the trail (probably near Columbia Point?) to discover what Via Aqua is all about!
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A lot of moisture in the basin that day... foreshadowing one of my memories of being the most cold I have ever been :)
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Looks like I was experimenting with New Wave hairdos:
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Just enjoying the beauty:
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Starting the 3rd class approach off the top of Yosemite Falls Trail, en route to Via Aqua:
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Looking down between Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls:
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Awesome exposure on the approach"
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Hanging out in the "window in the rock" referenced in other beta for how to get there:
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OK we are close, now where the heck do we go?
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I dunno about this...
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WTF dude, this is messed up...
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Just sack up and do it already!
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Some unpleasant ball bearings on downward slope for feet during that traverse, requiring both hands to make it sort of reasonable:
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Well... that didn't actually work out after that... so backtrack and figure out how to salvage the day. A spot looked pretty cool we just passed.... Not on any topos we know about, but let's try it and see if it goes!

Looking down my P1 (that must be the same bush at the base as in the top of the previous pic) :
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I remember this was a super-grovely flare... too narrow to fit both shoulders in, which made it awkward as heck to get both hands in deep where hand or fist jams are doable.
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Ritwik halfway up the pitch... how can you beat that scenery? Talking is out of the question with the roar of the falls though:
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Looks like some workman-like arm barring for a bit, but not too steep:
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Maybe some stacking or just fists? Fun in any case:
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Sure is purdy:
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There is a hole in the chronology where the climbing was more challenging, but I have good mental images that I'll have to describe:
 There was a cool huge detached flake thing... chimneying slightly wider than heel-toe (maybe some T-barring), but hand pinched on the outside of the flake as I groveled up? TONS of granite ball bearings raining down as I did this part, showering my belayer. I actually had huge pieces of granite in my underwear when we got home the next day.
 There was the mossy dark wet belay alcove... horizontal line of 3-4 crappy cams, none of which I trusted much, but my chest wedged into the alcove was part of the belay.

From that belay, looking up is where I took this picture I think:
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This was close to our high point:
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Ritwik couldn't pull this part after a few tries. Then I went up and shredded my hand falling out of an overhanging fist jam, and I gave up after a bit too. So I took a tension traverse and improvise-aided around that horizontalish mini-roof. I remember a dicey spot where the only thing I could get to stick was two tiny nuts in horizontal opposition, and trying to keep that weighted and steady as I leaned out further right to access another gravelly steep gully. I eventually groveled up that with no pro (not expecting the horizontal nuts to hold if I swung down onto that, so looking at a big swing back into the corner farther left). At some point I was able to get up the block visible at the top of last pic... that was with the dying light and one last chasm remained to cross to another boulder, and across that to the tree.

I belayed Ritwik up, and somehow it was several hours later by the time we made it to the tree? It was a nice big flat spot. We were tired, it was pretty late, it looked like an uncertain distance to the rim... for some reason, we decided to rap into the unknown from around that tree. We went down a long deep chimney, which we came to learn later (or maybe knew at the time?) was the AquaMist chimney. As it turns out, we could have simply walked off to the Upper Yos Falls Trail from that tree!!! We just didn't have the juice or knowledge of where we were to figure it out. So instead, we began a half-the-night epic with the rap down that chimney. It landed us at the base of Aquamist, near the base of Via Aqua, in that no-man's-land that we had not been willing to reach earlier in the day! That is the whole reason we had done this new route, because we were too chicken in the daylight to get down to the spot that we now found ourselves somewhere getting toward midnight, with much less energy and visibility.

And remember that picture of the misty basin earlier? This whole time, Yosemite Falls is ROARING with snowmelt, filling the basin with a chilly vapor. As the night temperature cools, the visibility drops and there's an eerie fog everywhere. We're in the middle of a cloud.

So we keep the ropes on, muddle through darkness and mist figure out where we are supposed to go to reach the point where we had abandoned the 3rd class approach earlier. We get there, and the next few hours are full Type 2 fun. Huddling and shivering for seemingly hours, crouched next to some bush or with a food wedged in a crack on a slab, while partner casts off and probes around the slabs and bushes to figure out how to reverse our steps and dodge the ice-cold rivers that have formed from the fog that turned to an active cold drizzle. We make agonizingly slow progress as we get closer to the end of the 3rd class bit, inch-worming our ropes out where we had casually strolled 9-12 hours ago. We are not out of the business yet even when we reach the trail, because now we are faced with super-slick rock steps and the drizzle has turned to a pouring cold rain! The sky outside this little basin is clear and cold, but we are in the micro-climate of early spring Upper Yosemite Falls roaring basin. We don't have the ropes anymore on the trail, but we are moving super-carefully but with constant attention to moving to keep warm and to keep distracted from how uncomfortable it is. It gradually eases up, and then we have a sigh of relief as we pass below The Peanut and Chain Reaction and begin the post-midnight phase of leaden feet, piston legs pounding out the interminable steps on the trail back to the car. This part is mostly spent in a zen-like trance, and we find ourselves back at the car at about 3am.

In those days, we didn't bivy. So we got in the car and we drove! Back up Highway 120, through Buck Meadows and Groveland past the Two Guys Pizza Pies and Iron Door Saloon and the Cocina Michoacana... then all a blur passing the Claim Jumper Outpost and plunging down the Old Priest Grade, Mocassin, Chinese Camp, Girls Girls Girls!, and finally to Oakdale where we stop at Denny's for breakfast. It was a funny thing, in that period in summer of 2005, we actually got to know the graveyard shift wait staff at this Denny's because of repeated visits :)

So, long about 8am on Sunday morning, we find ourselves sorting gear in the empty parking lot of the Webex tower where I worked at the time, near Great America in Santa Clara. Damn, that was a good summer Ritwik! So many good adventures, but this one was probably the longest. And not one bivy that summer! But we did end up sleeping on the side of the road after some adventure when neither of us could stay awake with tag-team driving. But I'll save that for another story.

Consider this my entry, for Ed Hartouni's question, does anyone climb 5.8 ?

p.s. The Thumbnail pic:
Credit: NutAgain!

  Trip Report Views: 778
NutAgain!
About the Author
NutAgain! is a trad climber from South Pasadena, CA.

Comments
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Jul 23, 2018 - 04:30pm PT
Loved it!

It's low res and soft, but what a picture this one is nonetheless:

Burnin' Oil

Trad climber
CA
  Jul 23, 2018 - 04:41pm PT
Thanks for that! Great story of casting off into the kind of unknown, both up and down. The approach belongs in the No Fall Hiking thread.

TFPU!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jul 23, 2018 - 04:46pm PT
thx
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Jul 23, 2018 - 09:28pm PT
TFPU!
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jul 23, 2018 - 10:21pm PT
You make the ragged edge of misadventure seem almost appealing my old internet friend. We've never met but your stoke and lust for long uncertain days always strikes a kindred note in my soul. Thanks for this little diddy from the wayback jukebox.

Stay frosty out there,

Scott
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