Southeast Buttress 5.6
Trip ReportIn the footsteps of Muir
June turns to July and life finds me tense and emotionally disjointed. I find myself with a free day. My choices are to either stay home and stew or get out and live.
I decide on Cathedral Peak, figuring I can probably get up the backside as Muir did back in the 1800's. I read somewhere that John Muir stated that being up on top of Cathedral Peak was the first time he had been to church in California. That seemed like a place I would like to be. So I left at 10pm from San Jose, slept on the road from 12-4, and made it to Tuolumne Meadows by 7.
The approach went quickly, and I passed a friendly group of climbers.
When I saw the main buttress of this peak I knew I was heading up the 5.6 route. I don't free solo much, but the urge to scale this mountain by its longest face overcame me. I kept my 5.10 guide approach shoes on and told myself that if I ever felt the need I would put on my mythos. With a pack on my back I started up. There always seemed to be a perfect hold if I took the time to find it. The climbing felt secure, with solid cracks and plentiful footholds. The constant motion of climbing upwards was ecstasy and my problems dissolved in a fog of overwhelming beauty. No one else was in sight. Nobody on a Saturday morning on a holiday weekend. It felt like serendipity.
Just climbing. I felt like I had a long ways to go, but suddenly I was underneath the last steep section before the summit. The moves up on to the tiny summit block were awesome and the views were unmatched. No other place on earth had ever appeared more beautiful. I laughed to myself and spent a few minutes enjoying the surroundings. My lungs burned from the fast altitude gain.
I considered going up Eichorn's Pinnacle, but the exposure was more than I wanted, and I felt lucky to have gotten away with the day already. Another day with a rope and my wife perhaps. I made it back to the car by 10:30, 3:30 minutes after I had began that morning. I agreed with John Muir, Cathedral Peak is indeed the first time I truly felt like I had been to church in California. When I got back home, 15 hours after leaving San Jose, my troubles had mostly worked themselves out and my life felt balanced again.
A week later, I learned that Chris Chan had died on Eichorn's. I shuddered and thought what if it were me. RIP Chris, I hope you have endless expanses of cool mountain granite in your eternity.
Ascent: July 3rd 2010
Written on July 26th 2010.
Climb safe everyone.
Recent Trip Reports