Trip Report7 day diary, time waits for no one- ANOTHER SIERRA/VALLEY TR
Here's some spray- headed your way. Probably too many words but that's your problem now, I tried to counterbalance with pics & a bit of video :-)
Sept 1, 2013
I panicked, it had started raining. I hadn't climbed for 2 weeks.
August had been a month of little climbing despite great weather in BC, i had a shoulder impingement which had kept it pretty mellow. Originally i had wanted to go away for 3 weeks or so to Moab or some limestone on a beach in the fall. The fact that i had no real plan set up to GTFO when the rain hit @ the end of September. No Partners, locations, etc. was causing the alarm bells. I had some time off, but had no idea when to take it or what to do with it.
I'm sure that all of these first world problems could have been remedied with first world solutions, but like i said. I was panicking.
The panic i was enduring was unusual & seemingly caused by an incredibly strong desire to go up in the mountains. I had not done a single thing higher than the Chief all summer & was just longing to get up above the trees & catch some views.
Up where you can frolic.
I couldn't believe how much i wanted to be there, even just for a day, with no other agendas to contend with.
So anyways, in my state of panic on this day of the lord September 1 i realize it's not too late. I know where there are some mountains that are easy to get to in September!!
I check the flights & find some pretty cheap options. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Maybe i don't really even want to make a plan with any partners? Just go explore & figure it out on the way. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I'm not in the worst shape, but i'm definitely not in the best shape. Perhaps a little alone time will be just the thing, no need to commit to partners- but if i find some i'll be stoked. I am lucky enough to have some buddies down that way & knew that Brownie & Big Mike were gunna be in the Yosemite during that time too & it wasn't far away. Lots of options. Perfect.
Now to find out if it is possible.
A quick look towards the gatekeeper, who with nary a wry glance provides permission for access! Allright! My wife is just the most awesome, yes- most awesome- letting me wander off into the mountains in California by myself for a week. What a babe!
I'm thinking that if i'm there for some climbing on the 20th that it will be a great bday & the 3rd year running that i have spent it in the high sierra.
Here's the last one.
And the one before.
And now this one!
I ended up flying out of Bellingham to Reno where i arrived the afternoon of Friday the 19th. I jumped straight in a rental & pointed it directly to in n out burger in Carson, to enjoy the sun on the patio.
And some burgers made by jesus.
I got to MAmmoth around 10pm after some shenanigans via provision stops en route & eventually gained access to homie Charlie B's house. He was up in Tuolumne for the night & headed up to the bay, up to the bay the next day to slang some guidebooks & go to a wedding for the weekend so unfortunately i wasn't gonna catch him until at least Tuesday. Like the champion he is though, he said i could crash at his place for the duration of my stay. This was clutch to the whole operation & hugely appreciated.
It felt good to be at my home 1100 miles away from home.
I passed out pretty much right after arriving & chugging a beer while getting food sorted for the next day & woke up at 5am.
It was my bday, I was alone in Mammoth & i was going climbing in the mountains. This was awesome.
I figured i'd head up to the meadows & check out something off my endless list of yet to be bagged Sierra peaks & climbs. The weather looked windy but nice. After stopping at the tuolumne campground & saying what's up to Charlie for a quick visit while he slept in his truck, I decided to run up the cathedral lakes trailhead. Same as on my bday last year actually. I just love this area & being my 3rd time up this trailhead it really felt welcoming & familiar. Hiking at 7am.
BEautiful aromas of the creek & the pine mixed up in my nostrils as i ran up the trail, wheezing slightly but feeling pretty good. I was on my way to the Matthes crest, & just having the best time, anticipating all the excitement of a new climb! This one had been on the radar for awhile & i was happy that i had thought of it as soon as my eyes had opened on this glorious day.
As i passed Cathedral peak i started to get that sensation of frolicking as i ran up the slabs that head north of the echos & down into the basin towards the crest. It took about 1.5hrs to get to the base of the crest by avoiding crossing the creek before cathedral & heading up towards the echos, instead i just kept on the nice trail all the way to Cathedral peak then went up left towards some slabs & taking the mellow right side of those until they plateau & give an excellent view of the crest. Damn this route looks cool when you first look at it from the side profile! I also found a nice chunk of pink quartz here which i took as a good sign. Instead of following the drainages down towards the lake i cut hard left across the basin, running like a freak through the nice forest & aiming for the notch between the summits. Once I hit the base i traversed right towards southern end of the ridge across, up, & down some fun slabs.
I was surprisingly unsurprised when i arrived at the base to see a couple pitching it out part way up the first pitch & 2 other dudes from Reno flaking their rope.
I sat down & had a PBJ & enjoyed the view, i wasn't in a rush but i definitely didn't want to be hanging around anyone today or dealing with any traffic. The part i love most about soloing is being alone & do my best to elude others when partaking in the craft.
After a snack & chilling out for a bit it had been about 25min that i had been hanging at the base. I put my pack on & wandered over to the notch to enjoy the view to the east & looked up to see a beautiful splitter handcrack covered in knobs heading up the prow in the sunshine. I looked over at the other parties around the corner in the shade & wondered what the deal was? Were they off route? Or was I? This looked pretty damn good enough to me!
Way better than good enough!!
So off i went, & i must say that Matthes crest is fun as sh#t. After the initial crack which turned out to be a close to vertical 5.6/7 glory jug haul i quickly gained the crest where my jaw dropped while looking at everything that i would get to climb! Lucky!!
I took off running. Good exposure & lots of easy scrambling on the first part led to a 5.7/8ish corner up to the north summit. I thought i was almost done but the second half actually took considerably longer than the first & contained some really great 5th class climbing & many wonderful positions!
The crest took about 3 hours or so with quite a few breaks to enjoy the position & views. I thought about doing something else but that route had just been so perfect that I decided to Just run back down to the meadows. I got back to the car for a round trip of just over 6 hrs & felt like that was just worth the price of admission & I had a week to hang out now! Psyched!
I went to the river & jumped in which was cold as ice & then chilled in the sun on the granite for awhile before grabbing a beer & goin to the hotsprings, then i got some doobage & went and argued with ppl on supertopo @ Charlies before KO'ing early. F*#kin awesome bday, so mellow.
So i wasn't sure if i would post this due to all the gopro/soloing haters on this site & the fact that this edit is a memory for me, not a video intended for spraydown purposes(@ least until now)- so be warned!!! I made a little edit of climbing on matthes. Originally i had planned to take a few pano's with the go pro but once i saw how cool it was up there i knew i had to get some footage :-) enjoy!!
Warning- irresponsible POV gopro footage
I woke up at 5 again, hoping to climb more mountains. I felt pretty good except my feet were sore since i had obviously worn brand new gandas the day previous on Matthes. I had heard that snow was forecast in the afternoon so figured i'd need to go fast. The plan was mount Humphreys, i had brown pointed it last year from the west side & really wanted to get up on that skyline this time!
I figured i'd do it from the owens valley up the east arete. I figured if i was on the route by 1030-11 1 I'd be good for the afternoon storms, it appeared that the approach to the actual ridge would likely be the crux. I was passing the milks around 645 & went for a while along those roads until it was getting pretty rowdy for the rental. About 45 min at least. Eventually I found what i thought was the parking & started walking down the rough road, lookin up at Hump. After awhile i got to what i thought was the road that heads up to the 4x parking. Eventually, after a pretty solid elevation gain i got to where the road ended, not much of a parking spot but i saw a faint trail goin up the ridge through the sand & sage.
This went on for a bit before the trail became intermittent, I followed some cairns for a bit up the steep hill which kept rolling over onto these little sandy dips a few hundred feet long or so before going back up steep terrain. I had a poor vantage of where i was in relation to peaklet & Humphreys & was hoping to get on top of this broad, sandy ridge soon. After about 4 or 5 of these ditches I come over the top & realize it's another one! I yell really loud "mother f*#ker!!!" in dismay of yet another sandy ditch when i look up to see a dude with a rifle staring at me!!!!!
I Must have turned completely white. I ripped my headphones out & looked in bewilderment @ the dude! The first words i'd spoken aloud all day long + i'm in the middle of nowhere & it happens to be a bunch of profanity right in some hunters face. Lol!
I guess it was hunting season & him & his buddy were out looking for fresh deer poo & other sh#t to shoot. Anyways, we had a laugh & i carried on, happy to not have had my brains blown out. I also realized that these two were the ones who had put up the cairns & that i had just spent 1.5 hrs following them up a hill which was probably no where near the actual approach for Humphreys. Hmmmmmmmmm.
I kept going up. Eventually i summited this knoll, which steeply dropped down a few hundred feet through heavily vegetated terrain to a creek. McGee creek was what i thought. I could see a trail on the other side of the creek. I could check out Humphreys finally which looked closer but still a ways off. Way off in the distance, about 2 miles southwest, i thought i could see a well worn line that headed up arpound the left side of peaklet. I realized that this was probably the trail i should be on. By the time i thrashed to a creek crossing & hit the trail I needed a break. When i sat down it was 1040, Over 3 hrs of steep loose cross country bushwhacking. F*#k. I walked down the new trail i found which went past a dam & got really wide until eventually i popped out on a road & was able to see the actual parking & trail. It was now 1130 & it looked like another brownpoint was in the bag. Since the approach is supposed to be 2 hrs from the highest parking i knew i was screwed. I did not feel like doing 10-12 hrs hiking today + climbing time, i had planned for 7 hrs car to car in lieu of the weather. Boy i was dreaming. I had parked miiiiiiiiles from the actual parking. Ha! Humphrey's wins again!!! Looks like i'm gonna need a truck or a hella early start if i'm ever gonna climb this thing!
I figured the day could still be salvaged so i went bouldering in the milks. Yeah 6 hr approach to the milks!
Eventually the weather moved, in. In retrospect it was a good thing i was not up there.
After a fun, mellow circuit I went back up to Mammoth & went to Gregg (fishfinder)'s place for dinner. Another reason i didn't want a 16hr day was because i didn't want to blow these plans. His homie Jim was visiting from Malibu & we had an excellent meal & partied pretty good. Lots of good chat & laughs going on & Gregg's 3 course was divine! I had met Gregg the year previous & he is just the best sh#t. Such a kind human. These boys were getting psyched for facelift & I had a great time hanging out with them. We hoped to meet up in the valley if i made it there. When i walked out of Greggs place i wasn't too shocked to see it dumping snow. Hmmmmmmmmm.
Ended up sleeping in a bit finally & having a chill start by going to get breakfast. The night before i had gotten a message from Lonnie k to go climb in Bishop. We decided to go back to the milks, i was pretty destroyed from the previous 2 days at this point so did a mellow circuit & took some photos. IT was pretty funny because i got to show Lonnie & his buddy Schniedy the ridge route in the milks up behind ironman & they are both born n raised lol! Love that.
What you don't know the ridge route??? Best problem in the milks. Go do it, here's some beta.
THE RIDGE- THE BUTTERMILKS.
(i will repost this link in a bit maybe as it might not have finished loading yet)
We had a fun day & bouldered till dark. We went & got some las palmas & made plans for Monday. I was now fully destroyed but game for some more climbing on Monday if we could switch the style.
I went out to the good life for breakfast, then headed to the tubs. Which was real nice. The last 3 days were all pretty big & i wanted to climb something still but nothing too crazy. I called Lonnie to see if he wanted to hit up the meadows & do something. Most of the snow had started to melt & it was going to be a good chance to see what kind of shape the higher country was in from the previous storm.
He was psyched as usual so we planned to meet up by the store @ 3. We decided to do OZ, a really killer route! The most Squamish like crack in probably all of tuolumne but very high quality, the first pitch was great as well & due to it being unusual face climbing on knobs & devious granite i think i enjoyed it more than the corner, which reminded me of just over half of the corner pitch of milk run at Squamish. I needed a rest day so bad but just wanted to move on the stone. I got Lonnie to lead the whole thing so i could just relax & climb, what a treat!!! Back at the car before dark was nice too!
I'd like to spend some time & just do a bunch of laps on all these 3-4 pitch climbs in the meadows. So much to do & such wonderful rock!
Now i really needed a rest day.
Felt the pull & drove to the valley. The high country was ok, but definitely not prime for a lot of the stuff i wanted to do. I had only ever spent one day in the valley ever & didn't really do much. The first pitch of nutcracker, nutcracker direct, & seconded moby dick centre. We bailed off nutcracker cuz of rain.
Seemed like i'd know some ppl there too. Gregg was headed that way, as well as some Squamish contingent. There was no way i could climb on this day, & i was looking forward to trying out this el cap lieback i had heard so much about. A nice drive to avoid climbing seemed like just the way to force a rest day.
After a few stops for safety purposes up in the "high" country i rolled into the valley, wow. As soon as i got a chance i parked, chugged a beer & passed out in the meadow.
Fortunately i woke up to a text from Brownie, They had just rolled in as well. Perfect. A few minutes later we were burning one & looking around in awe. Big Mike texted around this time as well to say that he was in Sacramento & on his way. Cool! Always great to see buddies far from home, even if i had to leave in about 40hrs. Brownie had just got in from Squamish & him & his travelling/climbing companion Quelly were keen to go climbing straight away. We went to camp wall where Quelly onsighted some cool 5.9 & Brownie attempted some chipped/drilled thing shown below.
Eventually we went & said what's up to Mike & Sandra when they showed & lurked around for a bit before settling in for a stealthy one with plans to get up early.
530am El cap parking. No, we didn't climb el cap.
But we cooked some oatmeal there. Quelly, Brownie & i. Quelly was gonna link up with Big Mike & Sandra & go dragging while Brownie & I were like kids in a climbing store. 1 full day to do something rad. We really wanted to do the Rostrum but needed a #5 apparently to go with our meager selection of gear which looked like a mystery booty rack made from garbage found up on the walls. Nice & squeaky for sure. I had this heinous red Kayak helmet that was Quelly's as well. All i had brought was my harness so it was kind of humorous to piece together this random heap of a rack. Anyways, our short term goal in life was to get Big Mike's #5 but it was proving quite daunting, he had said we could use it the night before but he was off the grid currently. We weren't too sure about blowing into the yellow pines & waking him up & we didn't know the scene there or if we were able to drive in there so we waited. Eventually we started scheming about other routes we could possibly do, but nothing seemed as cool as the Rostrum.
Unfortunately this limbo state went on for quite awhile. Way too long actually. The climbing ranger Ben walked by & recommended the Beggar's buttress to us which we got kind of psyched on, he also talked us out of the DNB i think. There was a lot of options & we didn't have a book or nothing so we went to camp 4 to try & figure out where this beggar's buttress was. After talking with numerous euro's we got a glimpse at a falcon guide & figured it out. It was about 1030 @ this point.
We drove around the loop again to the parking for beggar's & got out to take a peek. We sorted some gear & started to get ready to hike up when Brownie got the text from Big Mike saying he was up & we could come get the cam now.
Well, fuk. What should we do now??
We decided to go get the cam & do the Rostrum!!
So another lap around this goddamn loop road & we're on our way up the hill, finally parking & getting into some climbing about 7 hrs after getting up!!!!
Around 1230 Brownie took the first pitch & cruised up it pretty well. Awesome stone & a treat to follow, except my helmut got stuck in the chimney.
I got the next one & chose to take my whipper on the 11a fingers option, not too far above the belay due to ignoring the foothold up left of the crack. The rest of the pitch was pretty strenuous as well with lots of pumpy placement's due to not knowing the sizes for Rock empire, forged friends or metolius cams! Just a good old gear battle on a hand crack. My first legit lead in Yosemite- what an amazing pitch, wow. This route was living up to the hype!!
Brownie was scheduled to take us up to the midway ledge & glady grabbed the gear with a big smile & took off. Anyhoo, Brownie cruised it pretty smoothly up until he was almost up there, after what looked like a mile of steep splitter crack. I couldn't see him until it was too late but when he was around the corner & pretty much up on the ledge he peeled & took a huge one! Kind of a bit of a bounce off the wall before resting on the rope too!! Oh no, i thought. This didn't look good. Within seconds though Kieran was hauling himself up the rope & finishing the pitch!
Now this pitch was really a gem!! holy moly. Hands down some of the best crack climbing i have ever done had taken place on these last 2 pitches. When i got to the ledge Brownie looked a little shook & showed me his elbow which looked like a bowl of smashed raspberries.
He said that he had had his hands on the ledge & they were so pumped he had gotten up on his elbows & was in the process of some sort of t rex mantel when he exploded off!! What a sight that would have been if someone was on the ledge. The most important part though, was that he was ok.
Sadly though trying to continue did not seem like a good option. it was after 3pm & we had a ways to go, we were making good time but weren't sure if it would be a good call. Brownie's left side was pretty banged up & we had heard that is the side u gotta stuff in the ow. We figured i would do the 11c fingers & he would let me know when i got up there what was goin down. I was supportive with whatever decision, this had already been a mega day!!
I cast off up the nice finger crack & put in a few familiar pieces, The crack pinched down & the locks started to get spaced out. I made it through this section which felt like it might have been the crux & got into a funky hand jam & placed a good green camalot, After this i climbed up a bit via still strenuous moves & managed to place some sort of mystery cam after a few attempts @ placing a friend. I was starting to get super pumped but it seemed like i was close to the top. I punched it for about 10 more feet until i got to a really good, thin flake for the right hand & tried to get some gear. None of these fukkin mystery cams would fit though!! I had some offset friend bs that i kept trying to smash in that just wouldn't go!!!! I looked down at the mystery cam 10' below my feet & knew what gonna happen. I told Brownie that i was gonna be headed his way soon as i couldn't hang out or get gear any gear, I tried smashing the offset in a few more times before putting it back on my harness, unwilling to commit to climbing any higher above my gear i downclimbed a move & half & let go- wheeeeeeeeeee. & the cam didn't break! It was a rock empire & apparently the rubber sheath on the thumb loop did break but luckily i didn't notice. I managed to climb back up & finish the pitch @ which point we decided to skulk off the ledge. Since it was some of the best climbing either of us had ever done & we were both super psyched we left in defeat, but not shame. With plans to be back!
We blazed & enjoyed the view from the top before heading by the yellow pines to say what's up to Big Mike. Fishfinder was there & he rolled up & provided us with a plate of BBQ chicken & mashed potatoes!! Damn! Legend! We also ate some burrito's before heading out into a meadow to enjoy some stars & libations. Since i was leaving the next day & had to fly outta reno @ 6pm The plan was an for an early start & to go do a multi pitch with Big Mike! Psyched!!
Day 7- Final day
We ended up heading over to nutcracker parking around 730 i think? Brownie, Quelly, Big Mike & i. Not as early as planned but i kind of was expecting that, if i was to make my flight we would have to be swift. Luckily we were all ready to charge up this manure pile, my other valley project besides the recently added Rostrum & i was looking forward to completing it. We had bailed of the top of the first pitch when i was in the valley last.
We arrived just in time to see a euro party of 3 almost die when their leader took a huge whipper onto a fixed cam & broke the sling not too far up the first pitch?! The leader managed to dust himself off & head back up but it didn't look good from my angle. Hmmmmmm. We decided to see if we could head them off via the direct start, which i had done before. Oh yeah, i forgot to mention- We only brought a set of 12 or so nuts, in order to have a true nutcracker experience. I got the rope up to the top of the second pitch pretty quick & while i'm chilling out the buddy who took the ride shows up, instead of setting up a belay next to me on the massive ledge he kind of doinks around a bit & starts climbing up the slab above me, he ends up placing some jingus cam & then slipping, and sliding back down to the ledge! Oh man, please don't kill me, please just set up a belay, i was biting my tongue so hard. Eventually he walks to the start of the crack out right, places a cam with no runner, fights probably the worst rope drag ever for about 10' then sets up a belay in the middle of the crack right above us. awesome dude!
Mike & Brownie showed up right around then & since i had a plane to catch i decided we would bust the move.
As soon as the 3rd passed by our ledge i scampered up behind him & past the euro shitshow & took the rope out 70m until i set up a little hanging nut belay for a very Big Mike :-0 The climbing was excellent & we were having a blast cruising up this thing with nothing to impede us. Big Mike crushed, most of the nuts were too small & the stone was fantastic!
After a great little summit we decided to head down & figure out what time it was. Turned out that it was noon & i had to gtfo bigtime if i was going to make it to the airport in time. I dropped Big Mike at yellow pines & bid a quick fairwell to Gregg & Jim.
I stopped before leaving the park to grab my passport & flight stuff out, as well as to try to locate a certain bag of good charm that i wanted to ensure didn't join me on my flight home. When i found my itinerary i noticed that my rental car needed to be back @ 6, but my flight wasn't until 8! Phew, i was tripping for nothing it turned so i jumped into the river & let it soak in for just a few more minutes just how good it really is in California before jumping in the rental & heading over the pass to the Reno airport via the in n out burger in Carson again -What a fun week, felt really good to squeeze all that in!
Thanks to Charlie B for letting me crash & make myself at home.
Thanks to Gregg for being such a good sh#t, i really hope u make it up here sometime so we can return the hospitality.
Thanks to Lonnie for hanging the rope on OZ & hanging out!
Thanks to Brownie for 1/2 a rostrum. That's 1/2 more of one than i would have gotten without you!
Thanks to Big Mike for the #5 & the good times on the Nutcracker.
Thanks to the wife for permitting foolish climbing adventures ;-)
Thanks to you for reading my rambling.
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