Direct Northwest Face 5.10c
Trip ReportA Quintessential Trip to Tuolumne Meadows - River Hangin', MoMart Devouring, and oh yeah...Rock Climbing!
May as well keep with my recent trend of soundtracks for TR's ...
To put it quite simply, Tuolumne Meadows is my favorite place in the universe. The rounded granite domes, lush forests, pristine bodies of water, ideal weather and most importantly the laid back vibe make this place paradise. Add to this the nature of the climbing - simply put, the Meadows are a proving ground.
Temperatures in Las Vegas proper were exceeding 115 degrees, which meant temperatures at Red Rock and my house were reaching 105-107. A dry heat is a dry heat, but enough is enough. When I was out TR soloing The Fox after work the day before I left, and the sweat I had worked up on the approach was persistent through my whole workout, even during rests, I knew it was time to head for the high country during this heat wave.
Jeff and I had this Tuolumne trip planned for a month or so, and the timing simply couldn't have been more impeccable. Jon was a late addition to the trip due to an undefined work schedule.
The below photo was taken in Jon's car at the edge of Las Vegas headed North on the 95. Disgusting heat.
Fast forward through a fast drive and 5 hours later we are meeting Jeff at the MoMart and racing up the hill to get some bouldering in before the sun goes down.
Our bouldering session wasn't cut short by the sun going down, but rather by (literally) clouds of mosquitoes descending upon us. After a quick bird bath in Tenaya Lake, down the hill we went. We had never been to the Mono Market before and WOW that place is great. Cheap, homemade, awesome pre-made eats to be had at hours after the Mobil has since ceased operation. Had an awesome apple strudel and a baby-sized wrap. That and a bag of chips (still uneaten) and I was out the door for less than $10. Pretty rad!
Our plan for the next day entailed getting on whatever wasn't crowded, was classic, and had good belay ledges (party of 3 -- learned my lesson at Red Rock on that one). Top of the list was the supposedly classic cruise on the Regular Route of Fairview Dome. A few things conspired against us on this one in the morning (forecast, previous rain, and crowds) so we quickly decided that the Direct NW Face of Lembert Dome would be a suitable replacement, with much more real climbing on it than RR Fairview has (at least according to the topo).
After a relatively brief and quite hilarious wait, including a party scoping getting on an adjacent route commenting on the party already occupying that route by stating that "They aren't very good at rock climbing" and leaving, we launched off upon our turn. We did the route in 3 pitches, one long one to the main ledge and two short ones after that.
The route was stellar. A few short 5.10 cruxes that were well protected, and that 5.9 slab move with less than confidence inspiring protection and a ledge to hit certainly kept my attention on lead - took me a while to go for that and thankfully I didn't blow it. It was easy cruisin' after that, I did place a red/yellow offset TCU in the pin scar that was decent in one direction but had the rope whipped at all in a fall and rotated it even in the slightest, grim consequences would have been had - so be careful.
Once we topped out and did the walk off in the blazing sun, we went to the river to sip cold beverages and swim. This, to me, is an essential part of the Tuolumne experience...the hang. Because in the end, the hang is what matters the most and makes the trip.
After a few hours of enjoying the hang, I had sold Jeff into climbing the Golfer's Route with Jon. I had climbed it twice before and given the time remaining in the day, getting three of us up and down the thing probably wasn't happenning, so I shot photos instead.
Jeff and Jon both enjoyed the climb, Jeff lead it and was amused by the runouts. The mosquitoes started to ignore our bug spray so we went back out to the road, where we caught a sunset that is solidly among my Top 3 of all-time:
After catching a few shots at the parking area for Low Profile Dome, we were determined to get to the Mo Mart for dinner, until we saw the Meadows...with this sunset:
After we caught the sunset we missed the MoMart closing by a few minutes, but it was so worth it. We went to the BBQ place in town after that...Bodie Mike's? Slow and poor service but delicious food.
We slept in the desert again, ate breakfast at the Mo again, and back up the hill we went - this time to get on Bombs Over Tokyo.
...and then we got there and it was mobbed with humans. Off to climb West of the Witch, a "5.8 R-" per the Supertopo. It was pretty safely bolted and pretty fun.
After we all ran a lap on this we were a bit short on time, so we hung out by Cathedral Creek for a bit on those awesome granite slabs across from DAFF and bird bathed there. Following that, it was to the MoMart for my beloved BBQ chicken sandwich there and then back to Las Vegas for Jon and I, and back to Reno for Jeff.
Every time I go to Tuolumne I leave there with an all-week grin and truly feel refreshed. The place truly is heaven on earth - something about the perfect weather, mind blowing views, laid back vibe, stunning bodies of water, and the rock climbing that is pretty damn good, too. Just writing this trip report makes me want to load the truck up and point it toward the meadows, and I hope it conveys a similar feeling to others. Thank you for reading.
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