Royal Arches 5.10b or 5.7 A0
Trip ReportNew Route near Washington Column (A Trip Report)
Me and Coondog had been itchin' to git on some new stone lately. I wuz tired of the ol nine to five down at the baitshop and he just got his self laid off at the puppy chow plant after a scandal with the manager's twin sisters left him with a broken heart and nowhere to run to. We sat on the tailgate of my wife's International Scout and over a dozen Bud started hatchin' a plan. As the cans piled up the vision started to take shape. We wanted a new route. Somethin' big. Somethi' proud. Somethin relevant. Somethin to take away the pain. I had spied a potential line a few weeks prior while diggin' fer fishin' worms in the flowerbed behind the Ahwanee Hotel and with some boldness and a bit of git 'er dun we might just be able to pull it off . It was kinda alpiny and wandery and looked tasty. Just to the left of Washington Column but a bit right of Sons. Vergin stone....a real plum. I showed Coondog a photo and he was immediately game.
"Junior, we bag that route and General Lee will roll over in his grave with pride." "Pick me up manana at 3:45." "And bring breakfast."
We leave Fresno at 4:00am. Through the tunnel at 90mph.
We hit the lookout and stand in awe of Gods creation. It never gits old.
"Junior, you think that one in the back that looks like a half a Skoal Can will ever git climbed?"
"Not in out lifetime Coondog.....not in our lifetime....."
We park below the beast and scope the line.
We are rackin' and packin by six thirty.....right on time.
Right on time for Svenhardts that is! Man them swiss sher have breakfast dialed.
"We're goin' up there? Junior you must be outta yer mind! We're gunna DIE!!!!"
7:00 am finds me gruntin' an cursin' my way up a left leaning chimney that is kinda harder than I thought it might be. I sling a chockstone, stuff a tiny cam and punch it for a little tree. Today is no day fer chickins. When you're pushin a new route into the great unknown you gotta put that fear in yer back pocket. We scramble up some 3rd classy class and take in the sunrise as it spills into The Great Valley. The dawning of a new day is upon us and we bask in its warmth and glory.
We simul a bit, avoiding a big slippery gully by heading out right into a tasty linger crack. Then the unthinkable happens! We spy a couple dudes ahead of us! "Sun-of-a! You gotta be kiddn me!. Git up here Coondog! We got poachers ahead! Gimme the rope! I'm gunna show em what we do to tresspassers 'round here."
I grab the cord and start up fifty feet left of them. Right there near that little bush you can see in the photo above. "They wanna race? Lets give 'em one Junior!" "Dig dig dig...go boy go!"
I scamper up and set up a belay in a tree...
Turns out they are Brittish. Conrad and Mike (or so they say) are "on Holiday" for two weeks. They say we are on a route called Royal Arches and that it gets climbed kind of a lot. I think they are liars and that their cute little accents are phony. They say things like "On beelay Conrad!" and "Piss easy that!"
I think they are park rangers or communists.....or both. Either way I just want to git away from them before they take away our guns. They eyeball our mullets with envy.
Here I am makin' the pass. Dale Junior would be proud.
Them boys prolly didn't even know there was a Gun Show in town this weekend!
Her's one of em comin' up below us sometime after the pass. What color is that Communist flag again? Yup.
We hussle up to a ledge, grab a bite to eat.....then we see this poor fella stuck on a ledge, 1200feet off the deck! What the? No rope? In Tennies? at 10:00am? Poor fella musta been a tourist who got lost up on the rim and was takin the hard way down. "Yer gunna git hert up here boy!" "Git down from there, yer creepin' us out."
He said he was a park employee and that he "solos" this route a lot. Said he had already been to the top and was gonna be back down in an hour. We told him he was a dirty stinkin' commie liar and that we were on a new route, our route and that we didn't need his smart alec attitude ruining our prize climb. We told him to shut up and talk to the commies below if he wanted to make friends. We were here fer business not pleasure.
Higher up we come to an impass. A twenty foot sheet of blank granite smoother than a shot of Wild Turkey. "Uh Coondog? How we gonna climb that? Its gotta be like 5.16c...or harder evin."
"Watch how its dun Junior!"
Little did I know that Cooney had brought along a ski rope! Man that cat thinks of everything.
The gun show continues!
Coondog gittin' a mouthfull on like pitch seven or so...
We had been cruisin' for about five hours, we were past the main difficulties, when things started to git funky.
Coondog leads off on about pitch 12 or so and the rope gits quiet fer about twenty minutes. I'm sittin in a "beelay" tree, joined by our new Brittish friends when the rope goes "Yank!" and I hear a muffled sound kinda like what you hear when you hit a turkey with yer truck. Eventually I make it up to where whe is and I see a shellshocked Cooney with a big ol tear in his new Pattagoochi pants! He had taken his first ever whipper! He sailed for 28 feet after gettin' "off route" in a mungy, fingery little crack that was a bit more than he could chew. I told him I was proud of him manning up and to repeat our mantra "Aint Skeered...Aint skeered...Aint skeered..." Till he got his mojo back.
Here's his high piece that held the fall. I had to do a dicey little up and down to go git the piece.....
It a good thing I had mojo to spare.
I punched it up a schweet little finger crack, to a fist crack, to a big tree. We scurried across a cool traverse, then up some blocky stuff to the rim. We were on top with daylight to spare!
High fives and yahoos and hollerin' from the summit were spared. We have some class you know. No need to look like idiots.
Standing on top, success in our hearts and a new route in the bag...we cast our thoughts to the lives we left down there on the ground. I thought of my wife and kids....how they support me in my crazy adventures and how they are proud of me, new route or not. I thought of my job at the Bait shop and how fortunate I was to work in a place that has live bait year round and Budweiser in the cooler 24-7. I thought of Dale Junior and how he needs to git his act together if he is gunna do anything in the point standings this year and that now is the time because I'm sick and tired of that Jimmie Johnson winning everything all the time.
I glance over at Coondog and he's all smiles knowing that he's miles away from all the drama at the Puppy Chow Plant and how those sisters framed him and that they had no real proof he actually bought them beer and how was he to know they were only seventeen and a half. All that stuuf just don't matter when you stand on top of an untrodden summit with a good pal and the sun on your shoulders.
"This new route stuff is where its at Junior....." he says with a schemin' look in his eye. We look South at the big dome across from us and I think to myself "....Someday Coondog.....someday....Somebody's gotta be the first."
Koby had no idea I was going to show up with mullets until the night before the trip. He was game all the way. Thats the sighn of a good partner. We don't get to the Valley much so I thought we should spice things up a bit. We had never done Royal Arches, but had a total blast rockin' the mullets all day long. We ended up getting benighted on the rappels....Thanks to Supertopians giving us the lame advice to only bring a single 70M. Bad call. With four raps to go we were in darkness and were saved by a "hello mates!" from above. Conrad and Mike saved our bacon with two skinny 60M ropes. They waited while we all four did the last raps by headlamp. Bloody cool of them. We insisted on buying pizza and pints and we made it to Curry by 9:30.
Things tthen got really weird. We were planning on driving up to Tuolumne that night but were so wiped out I was barely keeping it on the road a few miles past El Cap meadow. It was 11:30 so we decided to sleep on the ground (fully knowing we were breaking the law). We pulled out just before the 140 and hiked 50yds in and crashed immediately. I took one shot with the mullet on for posterity.
We get awakened by an ANGRY...I mean ANGRY ranger screaming "Park ranger! Wake up...Park Ranger!!!!!!! He Maglights us up and sees two dudes, OB "camping", in sleeping bags, minimal clothing on.......and one of 'em has a blonde wig! This further irritates him as he all but Rodney Kings us....sure that he has caught two perverts doin' who knows what in his beloved jurisdiction. We were super cool, letting him know we knew we were in the wrong but that I was seriously falling asleep at the wheel and that we just needed a couple hours rest before heading up Valley. He acts like a total fool. Giving us the jerk mode angry ranger schpeel over and over....asking us..."You have NEVER? been involved in any trouble with the law?" He calls back up....no lie....and we have three vehicles on the scene in a few minutes. This guys shorts make Lt. Dan Dangle look like he's wearing capris and Koby and I are shocked at his jerky demeanor.
He has a doctor and a fireman (ex-pastor) on the hook here and he is gonna make the bust or make a scene or both. He's got us red handed! He knows it. Eventually, after much jerk tone perpetrator talk, he sticks me with a 100.00 ticket for not having food properly stored in a bear box. A bag of tortilla chips was in my window. Total bummer. He tells us there is nowhere to camp in the Valley and that he doesn't care where we go but we gotta go somewhere. Its now 1:05am. He tells us there is available camping up past Badger pass, so we drive all the way up there to find it is full. We sleep on the ground....illegally again. I know we broke the law...but man what a tool. Bummer way to end an otherwise fun day. Be careful out there....them cops is crazy yo.
Parting shot around 1:30am
Victory shot the next day.
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