Trip Report
Life and Death on the Tree Route
Wednesday July 5, 2017 5:53pm
I hadn't been climbing for a while and I could feel it. The rope and rack had lain dormant for a spell, hidden underneath the weedeater, the dirtbike gear, my job and an itinerary of kids sporting events that looked like a March Madness bracket pinned to our fridge. Life has a way of getting in the way of our playtime doesn't it. I had an itch that only some stacked pitches of hand and finger cracks would scratch. A hall pass for Friday morning was issued from my lovely wife after explaining that my need for a dose of climbing was a matter of life and death.

I phoned up Macronut and he agreed that a 9pm Thursday departure was just what the doctor ordered. We both had obligations Friday (swim meet for my kid, work for him) so this would be a smash and grab job for sure. As I packed the truck for action my wife reminded me that tonight was the Summer Staff Night Out at Yosemite Ranch Steakhouse. We have a great group of hard working gals and we like to treat them to a night out on the town as the summer gets going. Looks like I'd be heading into the alpine with a gut bomb firmly in place.

6:30PM
Headed to Happy Hour
My day job and my awesome staff. Treat em to Happy Hour and a nice ste...
My day job and my awesome staff. Treat em to Happy Hour and a nice steak dinner every once in a while and they do a fantastic job for us.
Credit: micronut

7:30PM
4,000 calories settles into a happy place in my gut
Credit: micronut

9:55PM
We are packed and racked, gassed and loaded and southbound on Hwy 99
Wake up SOn!  We got a long, winding road ahead.
Wake up SOn! We got a long, winding road ahead.
Credit: micronut

1:05AM
The Thundra grinds to a halt at the flat spot. Dome Rock parking area. The night sky rages overhead. We are in our bags, flat on our backs in the bed of the truck in under five minutes. Slow deep breaths purge the city, the caffeine and the winding late night drive from our systems. Life is good. Sleep comes to us in an instant.
Credit: micronut


5:15AM
Rise and shine sweetheart.
Credit: micronut

5:23AM
The evil mosquito horde is upon us. Death from above. They descend with fiendish intent in numbers too vast to comprehend. There will be no Truck-bed Jetboil French Roast moment on this day. A powdered donut each shall sustain us. Its time to move.
Behold....the mighty Needles.   The witch, the warlock, and the Source...
Behold....the mighty Needles. The witch, the warlock, and the Sourcer reside there.
Credit: micronut

5:26AM
Burnt reds and molasses oranges spill over the wakening landscape with a wholly violent change from the cool indigo of the night, ushering in a new day with what some would call benevolence but others would call indifference as sinuous quicksilver rays reach into the very heart of the two men below on the trail, scratching headlong down a dusty wash, clambering about the surface of the earth with an importance to the day that is both banal and recompense in its totality, the edge of day is upon them and they clasp it to their bosoms not knowing what it may hold.

(I've been reading a lot of Cormack McCarthy lately......please pa...
(I've been reading a lot of Cormack McCarthy lately......please pardon the literary indulgence.)

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

5:51AM
Base of the route. Skeeter defense cranked up to DEFCON 1. These things are big, feisty and juicy. The attack is relentless. But we will prevail. We will mount with wings like eagles and soar above the fray.

#zika
#zika
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

We are here to climb The Tree Route. And though life blossoms all around us on the approach, death hangs above. The great old tree is dying. Ravaged by time and drought and the dreaded pine bark beetle. You can feel sadness oozing from the Dome herself. This once great life-form now clinging to her opening hand-crack like a rusty old pin from an ancient Beckey, Heckmaier or Salathe route.

sadness
sadness
Credit: micronut

Life is funny like that. We treat the living as immortal. We expect the living to last forever though we know it cannot. It must not. But this does not change our desire for it to last and our surprise when it comes. Someday, like "The Rotten Log" or "Pitch 10" on Half Dome's Regular Route, the Great Tree will be gone. But it is here today. And we will enjoy the moves around, over and through it.
Credit: micronut

Macronut floats the 5.4 locks of the opening moves as the air warms around us. It will be 110 in Fresno today.
Credit: micronut


My brand new TC Pro's are under attack so I tie up and cast off as soon as he slaps a couple pieces into the belay.
Credit: micronut


I follow the smooth flared fissure for a while and am soon face to face with El Gran Arbol.
Credit: micronut

Her skin is smooth from a thousand hands caressing her over the years. There is still a pulse, but its a faint one and she knows her days are numbered. Death will not come quickly for this old gal.
Credit: micronut



I give thanks for her years of service and pull on by, quietly, like a hospital visitor walking by curtains of the elderly on life support, not wanting to disturb her.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
#selfiemaster
#selfiemaster
Credit: micronut



I arrive at the belay somewhat somber, wondering how long she'll be there in her state of decay. Will it still be called The Tree Route when the tree is no longer?
Credit: micronut


But the mood does not last long. The crack above is something straight out of a fairy tale. Its my understanding that there was once a tree here as well. Now its a couple cams and a small nut.
Credit: micronut

Macronut gets a few bars on the ol handheld, checks in on some patients and fires off a text to his supervisor. "Might be a few minutes late this morning. See you soon."
Credit: micronut

Above us sits a crack so fair, so lovely and of such stature that we sit admiring for a moment before we have the breath in our lungs to actually continue. But continue we do.
Credit: micronut


Yeah. Its this good. You get it. I don't need to ruin it with a bunch of words.
Credit: micronut

I take twice as long as I should on the pitch because I stop often for selfies.
Credit: micronut

And near the top I up and down climb a bit to have Macronut shoot me from a few different angles. I Instagram and Facebook post live from a bomber jam. I'm a social media butterfly and need to give the people what the people want.
Instagram filter "Valencia." Camera tilt 88 degrees.  Skin tones minim...
Instagram filter "Valencia." Camera tilt 88 degrees. Skin tones minimized, contrast positive 6%, increase saturation 3% and sharpen. Voila....88 likes and eleven comments.
Credit: micronut

Not a bad place to be on a Friday morning at breakfast time.


Macro belays from two Fort Knox worthy #2 Camalots and we bask in the glory of a breezy blue sky day a stone's throw from The Needles proper. We are lashed to a beautiful dome far above the hot Central Valley floor and our friends and family are probably waking up and sitting in traffic on the commute right now. So much to be grateful for. Life is sweet. We drink it in.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut


The third pitch is like the Marvin Gaye station on Pandora...lots of smooth jams. The Needles lay down the base line while the forest sings us a love song from below.
Lets get it on....
Lets get it on....
Credit: micronut
#cameratiltking
#cameratiltking
Credit: micronut


It drops us off on a nice ledge and Macronut racks up with one draw and one #1 red Camalot.

Credit: micronut
Hmmmmm...... not much but slickness and divots for a ways above that b...
Hmmmmm...... not much but slickness and divots for a ways above that bolt...
Credit: micronut


The last pitch is a 20 foot run-out on easy peasy terrain, to a fifty foot run-out on slightly harder and much more thought provoking ripples and smears. Just hike on up there and don't stop moving. A single cam gets you over the roof and up to the summit.

Credit: micronut

Up, up and away young lad. Trust your feet and Godspeed. The summit and the ice-chest await.
Nothin' like a nice run-out to the summit to make you feel alive.
Nothin' like a nice run-out to the summit to make you feel alive.
Credit: micronut

8:25 AM
Top-out.
Credit: micronut

The top spot is a purdy spot. As it should be.
Credit: micronut


8:26AM
Idiots on the summit.
Credit: micronut

8:33 AM
Many have come before us.
Credit: micronut


8:40 AM
Back at the Thundra.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut










In days past, the Great Tree spread her green canopy to protect and shade the climbers below. A guardian of the route, timeless and stoic....a talisman of good energy and good cheer to all those who passed. Alas, she now lay dying. She has been a silent character in a grand play but the last act is now upon her. Eventually death will find her, as it does us all, and with it will come the end of an era. But where there is death there is always life, always a new beginning. New birth. A fresh start.

Goodbye old friend.
The Tree in greener days.
The Tree in greener days.
Credit: Rincon
The Tree as of 6/30/17
The Tree as of 6/30/17
Credit: micronut







P.S. It is only 8:45 so you know me and Macronut. We aint about to waste daylight. So fueled by more Donettes and IPA we drop the hammer and head toward some trout water to try and land a little fishy fishy before heading back to our daily lives.
Credit: micronut


9:00AM
Round Two. Ding!
Credit: micronut
"Yeah honey...the climb is taking a bit longer than we thought.....we'...
"Yeah honey...the climb is taking a bit longer than we thought.....we'll be home soon..."
Credit: micronut

We hit a couple cricks on the way down but get skunked.
Credit: micronut

We charge down towards the Tule River hoping the flows wouldn't be too outrageous to land a lunker or two before heading home.
You drive past some pretty big stone back in there.  Neat place.
You drive past some pretty big stone back in there. Neat place.
Credit: micronut


But The Man is trying to keep us down.
Credit: micronut


We aint skeered though and we force a class 4 downclimb and make it to the water's edge, hoping to land a big'un, stay un-arrested or un-drowned and still get home in time to stay un-divorced. The clock is ticking.
Credit: micronut



9:41 AM
Boom.Fish on! A real hawg. Nice work Macronut. You actually just caught the smallest trout in the entire western Tule drainage. Now lets go home. My kid's meet starts soon.
Credit: micronut


10:13 AM
We stop for gas and snacks for the long drive home. We are punchdrunk on lack of sleep, too much caffeine and the adrenaline dump of a mission accomplished. And it feels good.
Credit: micronut



The drive home across the Great Valley in 109 degree heat goes by quickly. As it always does.
Credit: micronut

12:45 AM
Made it to the meet. Fatherhood intact. Time to get back to real life.
Credit: micronut
My kid wins the 50M free and breaks the meet record. Proud papa. Life is good.


Thanks for tuning in Supertopo. First TR in quite a long time. Its been a while. It feels good. Hope you enjoyed.

Micronut,


Out









  Trip Report Views: 1,697
micronut
About the Author
micronut is a trad climber from fresno, ca.

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
ec

climber
ca
  Jul 5, 2017 - 06:06pm PT
Bravo!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jul 5, 2017 - 06:07pm PT
noyce!
WBraun

climber
  Jul 5, 2017 - 06:08pm PT
.... and still get home in time to stay un-divorced

LOL ....... ha ha ha
Mike.

climber
  Jul 5, 2017 - 06:57pm PT
Thanks for taking the time to share it. Really fun TR. Climb on...
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Jul 5, 2017 - 07:32pm PT
Love Chinees food!

Way to go dudes . . . thanks for the share.

Is that delam on your new shoes?
Mark Sensenbach

climber
CA
  Jul 5, 2017 - 07:42pm PT
Love it! Fresno Rocks!!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Jul 5, 2017 - 08:25pm PT
What a great eulogy for the old dame of the rock. Thanks.
(McCarthy, eat yore heart out.)
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
  Jul 5, 2017 - 08:32pm PT
Thanks for reminding me to get my teeth cleaned more often
dee ee

Mountain climber
Of THIS World (Planet Earth)
  Jul 5, 2017 - 08:59pm PT
People keep telling me I should put on a helmet before I get out of the sleeping bag too but...........................................



Youse guys have the best TRs.
Love you all.
Matt Sarad

climber
  Jul 5, 2017 - 09:20pm PT
Skeeterz, red ants, sap in my hair from the long gone little tree, Mariachers, Kamets, Mythos, Robbins shoes...

It's been 30 years since the very first time.

I guess I should go again, soon.
zip

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
  Jul 6, 2017 - 03:57am PT
Thanks.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jul 6, 2017 - 04:49am PT
Nice Work Men!
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Jul 6, 2017 - 05:38am PT
Nice TR!! Thanks!
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Jul 6, 2017 - 06:11am PT
Rock climbing and fishing biathlon.....SWEET!
Way to rock it dudes.
cheers
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Jul 6, 2017 - 06:12am PT
PS That WAS an awfully small fish though.....
nathanael

climber
CA
  Jul 6, 2017 - 07:42am PT
Wow I'm really sad about that tree...
10b4me

Mountain climber
Retired
  Jul 6, 2017 - 07:58am PT
Sorry to see that the Tree has died. It was vibrant ten years ago.
looks easy from here

climber
Ben Lomond, CA
  Jul 6, 2017 - 08:50am PT
Great TR, as always, but one small pet peeve: DEFCON 4 is the second lowest defense condition (5 is peace time, 1 is imminent nuclear war).
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Jul 6, 2017 - 08:59am PT
Maybe Micronut wasn't quite ready to use nuclear weapons against the mosquitoes.
looks easy from here

climber
Ben Lomond, CA
  Jul 6, 2017 - 09:13am PT
Pssh, as far as I'm concerned a single mosquito warrants maximum response. That's why my battle standard has Col. William "Skeeter's Bane" Gorgas' face on it.

(I may have just made that nickname up, but I didn't make up the man. Google him for happy thoughts next time you're being devoured.)
curt wohlgemuth

Social climber
Bay Area, California
  Jul 6, 2017 - 09:20am PT
Wow, thanks! I always loved that route...
Zirkel

climber
  Jul 6, 2017 - 09:20am PT
Always a pleasure to read your TRs!
mooch

Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Kernville Annex)
  Jul 6, 2017 - 09:36am PT
Cool dood! Should have notified me. I would have come up from Kernville to do Anti-Jello with you! Love the food sign.......did you get some "Chin-ees". LOL!
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 6, 2017 - 09:38am PT
Thanks for all the comments yall. I thrive off of them and it makes writing these things more fun when people chime in.

Looks Easy From Here,
Thanks for the editing heads up on DEFCON status. Nice catch! It was definitely all hands on deck. Full on battle-stations mode. The onslaught was savage.

Mooch we definitely need to hook up some time. Do you live in Kernville? You need to show me and Macronut around the Needles someday. We've actually never climbed there!
kingtut

Social climber
carmel, ca
  Jul 6, 2017 - 04:36pm PT
I first did the Tree Route with Richard Leversee and Dave Ohst free solo at about 2 am after driving up there. This is when they were finishing up Close to the Edge the next day.

I did some other route and finished up on Tree Route later in the trip and got sketched out as to the slab I free soloed in the dark (we had one headlamp iirc) lol.

It can be argued that we climbers are killing these trees. Successive cleaning of the cracks above the trees destroy some measure of the natural "reservoir" of water the soil would normally be holding. This makes the trees substantially less drought resistant, I believe. :(

TFPU
Q- Ball

Mountain climber
but to scared to climb them anymore
  Jul 6, 2017 - 10:38am PT
That was a fun read!!! Thanks for taking the time to put it together!
Qball
looks easy from here

climber
Ben Lomond, CA
  Jul 6, 2017 - 02:23pm PT
You're welcome, micronut. I'm always happy to get a chance to be pedantic over insignificant details. :D
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 6, 2017 - 02:49pm PT
#socialbutterfly braj!
Lol
Great Tr as usual
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 6, 2017 - 03:55pm PT
Nice...you guys always have fun! bit excessive, don't you think, doubling up the gold camalot in that perfect granite.
rincon

climber
Coarsegold
  Jul 6, 2017 - 04:55pm PT
Donini, of course the rock is flawless, the redundancy is for the gold camalots which where made by humans and can therefore not be trusted singularly.

That pic of the tree in greener days was taken by my own self back in 2005. It's Guyman Keese doing the ropegunning. Super stoked to have any sort of conection with a micronut trip report no matter how insignificant it may be! Sad about those trees though :(
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 6, 2017 - 06:00pm PT
Rincon that's awesome! Going back and posting of credit on that photo. I usually remember to delete the photo credit default when I pull stuff off the inter-webs but now I can give credit where credit is due!

Was it you that we saw the one time out there....camping in your rig? We hung out with some supertopo dudes for a few minutes one timr after doing the route about a year ago.
7SacredPools

Trad climber
Ontario, Canada
  Jul 6, 2017 - 06:43pm PT
A beaut of a morning! Thanks for the great write-up.
rincon

climber
Coarsegold
  Jul 6, 2017 - 06:51pm PT
Not me micro. Haven't been there for more than a couple of years at least.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Jul 6, 2017 - 06:57pm PT
Your best. Great reading!
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Jul 6, 2017 - 09:35pm PT
Awesome report. I can feel the dad energy and sense of urgency of needing to be somewhere else beaming from the screen. It's often difficult to break free, even for a half day, so props to you (even if it involved donettes and IPA at 8:45 a.m.).

I hadn't noticed how brown that tree has gotten. I took my daughter up it last year, and I think I was too stoked to be out there to notice. Having said that, probably 70% of the pines in the area have died from the effects of drought and bark beetles. The skyline of Camp Nelson, down the road, looks pretty different now that PG & E has cut down most of the dead trees. We had a big one on our property die and they trimmed it to the ground. I counted the rings and it was over 150 yrs. old.
labrat

Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
  Jul 7, 2017 - 01:22pm PT
Nice! TFPU......
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  Jul 7, 2017 - 04:05pm PT
Nice Job as always! And Great Photos! Makes me want to get out there and climb that Classic route again. Bummer that the tree is dying like so many other trees in the Sierra. I remember long ago Ron Carson used to have a log up in the parking lot of Dome Rock where he would start and he would run down and do Anti-Jello and the top of the Tree route up and run to the log and slap it...seems like around 8 minutes!! Kris, maybe you have witnessed this and know the time better. I know it was just mind blowing!!
nathanael

climber
CA
  Jul 7, 2017 - 04:10pm PT

may 2016
L

climber
Just Livin' the Dream...
  Jul 12, 2017 - 09:55pm PT
I love The Tree Route (it was my first trad lead) and that grizzled old tree! So sorry to hear the damn beetles got her.

Great TR, as usual. I was, however, stumped by the odd bit:
clambering about the surface of the earth with an importance to the day that is both banal and recompense in its totality


Glad to see you were only channeling a non-climber. :-)

Daphne

Trad climber
Northern California
  Jul 12, 2017 - 10:10pm PT
I don't come around here often anymore, but when I do, it's for trip reports like this. Thanks!

Tears shed for the tree. May she rest in peace when her time comes.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Jul 12, 2017 - 10:32pm PT
hey there say, micronut... thank you so very very kind, i really enjoyed this... and all the pics... and the care that you took to do it all...


daphne, good note, to add for the tree...
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 13, 2017 - 09:20am PT
I remember long ago Ron Carson used to have a log up in the parking lot of Dome Rock where he would start and he would run down and do Anti-Jello and the top of the Tree route up and run to the log and slap it...seems like around 8 minutes!! Kris, maybe you have witnessed this and know the time better. I know it was just mind blowing!!

That's insane! Seems like many spots around the country that have a multi-pitch moderate have a "The Lap" that gets done in similar fashion. Crazy.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Jul 13, 2017 - 09:36am PT
Nice TR...

You two put a new perspective into the use of free time.

And thinking of time .... time marches on, one day climbers will wonder... "Why is this climbed named "The Tree Route?"

Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jul 13, 2017 - 01:26pm PT
The 2nd pitch of the tree route was one of my first leads. I'll never forget hand jamming between the tree and the rock either!
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