So Me and my buddy Andrew headed up to Tuolumne Friday afternoon for probably one of the best weekends I've had in awhile. We had the Third Pillar of Dana in our sights. Neither of us had lead in the 10's but we were feeling pretty confident and just went for it.
Packing Friday morning I feared we would need Ice axe and crampons, just what I wanted to be carrying on my back for my first hard lead!
Anyways back to the story. We pulled into Tuolumne around 9 to the still closed campgrounds... So we opted to head to the East Side entrance and try to find camping. We pulled into the Tioga Lake campground to see if there were any spots left. The campground host jumped in front of our car to tell us that there was one spot left? Heck yes!!!
So with camping secured for two nights we started to rack up for the next day. Even though I brought my snow gear I decided not to bring it, and am really happy because we didnt need it. We got up the next morning at 5, and hit the trail at 5:30, passing one party on the approach! The approach took just about two hours, and it was beautiful hiking up the Dana plateau. Dana couloir looks amazing, and I have already planned a trip to come back in October to climb it.
The descent to the base of the Pillar says third class, but it was pretty much fourth class all the way down, nothing to hard though. Crossing the snow field was pretty fun, as we had on our climbing shoes. So we grabbed some rocks and used them as mini axes and crossed the snow. They was a good amount of rock fall (down the snow gulley, but most of it was lower) so just be cautious.
All I can say is that this is probably the best climb I've done so far!!! Every pitch was awesome. I lead pitches 1,3,5 out of the supertopo guide. It was my first 10 lead, and high alpine lead! Im definitely coming back to hit more peaks asap. The route is really straight forward. The crux fourth pitch really wasnt that bad, maybe because I didnt lead it, but its pretty well protected by a piton. The fifth pitch was definitely the most invigorating and most fun for me. It was a slightly runout 5.9 flake hike to a thin undercling somewhat crimpy two move wonder. And the rest was mantling and reaching high for nice jugs! It was amazing to belay at the summit blocks.
I have limited pictures from my iphone and as soon as I get more from my partner i will post them! I highly recommend this route to everyone!
Additional Tuolumne beta: Talked with people who did Mathews Crest and said that there was still way to much snow, but did Oz and loved it.
We passed a couple who was skiing the Dana couloir! Props for carrying in skiis that far!
Also met Bud and Cliff on the route. Awesome guys if you ever meet them.
As we were walking out, we ran into a guy named Bruce who was driving around the US in a van he had just bought. While talking with him, found out he was good friends with my family friends in Park City! So he offered us a good portion of the trout he had just caught, so it was a great way to end the day!
The rest of the weekend consisted of sleeping in El Cap meadow and climbing the first two pitches of Central Pillar!