But it ain't 4th of July yet. Not fer another 24 hours. Its the 3rd, the stepchild of July. It don't even get a cool name like Christmas Eve does. It's just another day.....for most folks that is.
This morning (4th of July Eve Day), I picked my trusty ol climbin' parner, Skeeter, up good and early and we were in Yose-mite by 5:30am. We were gonna do our country proud by puttin up a new line I'd been scopin out for a few years over near The Nutcracker. Now Skeeter is always game fer some playtime in the mountains, and he told me as long as he makes it back to work at the Asbestos Disposal Plant by late morning he was good to go. He's on probation at the plant for an "alleged" incident in the breakroom involving a Go-Pro, a jar of Fun-Fetti cake frosting and the owner's wife, so he had to make good and get back to his shift on time or else. What with that and the massive online debt he'd run up on Fantasy Fishing.com over the past 324 months, he'd been feelin purdy down and out and in the dumps lately. I knew some fresh air and a first ascent was just what he needed.
So the break of dawn see us rackin up in The Manure Pile Buttress parking lot and we are in full blown FA mode faster than Miranda Lambert can drop a new #1 hit.
"Yeah Skeeter, this place is crawlin with Park Rangers....Feds....ever last one of em. And you know who Feds report to doncha? Obama. Yup. That sorry 'scuse fer a leader who's single handedly ruinin' this country." I say.
Skeeter finishes racking and says "Did you know that according to Fact Check.org, health care spending has increased 15.8 percent under Obama, which is faster than inflation? And that the federal debt owed to the public has nearly doubled since Obama was sworn in, increasing by 95 percent."
I can only nod my head in disgust and reply "Did you know Dale Jr. once drove 300 miles backwards while watching A Chuck Norris movie on his i-pod?"
Ok. Nuff politikin....we got a country to turn around I got just the solution. We're gonna fan the flame national pride by nabbin a first ascent of this mighty fine line I stumbled upon while metal detectin' near the base last summer.
"Check it out skeeter.....it follows that white line all the way up to the summit, and it's all ours."
"Hooweee! Lets git er dun then Micro! Show me the way!"
We buswhack our way to the base and after Skeeter drops trou three times (combination of nerves and two KFC Cheezy Meaty Breakfast Burritos with a 72 oz Mtn Dew for breakfast in Oakhurst) we are ready to forge into the great unknown.
Skeeter jumps on the sharp and starts blowin up the virgin corner like a tornado through a trailer park.
We find the first hunderd feet to be reel slick and kinda tricky, but it goes at .10b we agree.
I grab the reigns and bust left above the belay, runnin it out like a rodeo clown from a Brahma, Skeeter says it looks like "third class right there yer on" and I tell him to "How bout you shut up!!!!!!" at the top of my lungs. A guy and gal over on Nutcracker seem to be annoyed but there just gonna have to deal. That's just how FA action goes.
Here's a shot of Skeeter at the first belay. Lovin the freedum of the hills. While it lasts.
At the top of my pitch I have to wrassle a big old manzanita bush to within an inch of my life but I emerge victorious and unscathed. Skeeter is less fortunate.
"See Skeeter" I say, tryin to look at the bright side, "I told you....climbin' cures everything."
"We nab this FA and hoist Ol Glory on the summit and your problems at work and on line are all just gonna fade into oblivion. And tomorrow we'll eat tater salad and blow some stuff up. Its all startin' to turn around. I can feel it"
"And look....just look at you....bleedin' fer yer country. I'm proud o you boy. Proud."
"Now cowboy up and climb somethin Son!"
Well, the line wanders a bit over some ledgy stuff here and there, but has some great parts, including this .10a facey bit on the left side of a wide crack.
I sit at the belay and watch the fireworks.
Ride em' cowboy! Heeeee Aw!
Three pitches down and I'm rarin' to to push higher so I grab the stick and bear down on this pony!
I blow through some sick 5.4 crack a doodle do and belay off a big ol tree. The stance allows me to whip out the polaroid and get a few nice shots of Skeeter flyin the colors.
"You know Skeeter" I holler down while he climbs. "Americans are pretty much the best at everything, especially climbin'."
"First ascent of El Cap?" I ask down.
"Mericans." he replies.
"And who invented Bouldering?"
"I'd say a Merican."
"And you'd be right. First ascent of Everest?" I quiz.
"Yup, How bout first NIAD?" I probe.
"And fastest time on the Nose till recently?"
"Florine and Hiriyama....both Mericans! "
We keep this up till he reaches the belay and and by the time he clips in we're in a frenzy of patriotism.
Skeeter spends a few minutes tryin to trundle a boulder bigger than Texas,
After two more pitches of cracks and terrain prettier than Shania Twain in church clothes I pull the final lip, the entire route spilling below me in a dizzying unbroken swath of pure stone, and reach the summit.
Success is ours. And it tastes of freedom. Our forefathers would be proud. We have pushed into deep water from the comfort of the shore and have found the promised land. We stand on top, soaking in the beauty of the achievement. We stand victorious on this untrodden peak and celebrate the achievement in a manner befitting kings.
Skeeter begs me to take a selfie of him and I oblige....though I'm purdy sure that's not how a selfie works.
First Ascents are always special. And for a moment we just stare out across the great valley and enjoy the company of eachother in this special place, this special mountain, our mountain, on this special day. 4th of July Eve Day 2014.
Our moment of purity is broken by voices from below. Its the foreigners......and they're approachin' fast.
We pack up quick and take a few minutes building some trail ducks/cairns heading the wrong way, northeast over sketchy terrain to a cliff out.
"That'll teach em to poach on our National lands" I say.
"Yup." Echoes Skeeter. "At least we got the FA today and they had to settle for a trade route."
"They were probably Communists," I snarl.
"Or Democrats." Skeeter spats.
"Member when you got me that "WHY GET A JOB WHEN YOU CAN VOTE DEMOCRAT" sticker for my truck? That was so thoughtful man....I just wanna say yer the best climbin pardner a feller could ever climb with. No matter what happens to this country in the coming years, I'm forever yer Huckleberry. Yer always stoked, you don't need much sleep, you take all the hard pitches and you never back down."
"Yup Micro. Guess that makes you an me two peas in a pod. Now how bout we go git a six pak fer the drive home, I gotta be back at work in two hours or there'll be hell to pay."
"Lead the way old friend" I reply....."Lead the way."