Trip Report
Tuolumne + Mammoth Vacation
Saturday October 6, 2012 1:24pm
Jess and I haven't climbed as much this year as work and other obligations have gotten in the way. But when we've made it out, we've tried to make it count. We'd been anxiously awaiting our end-of-August vacation and counting down the days till our trip began. The weather report kept playing with us, as 20-30% chances of T-storms appeared, disappeared and then reappeared in the days leading up to our departure. We rolled into Tuolumne on Saturday and were immediately doused with a rainshower...not an auspicious start to the trip. As we checked into the Meadows campground the ranger informed us that it had rained every day for the past week or so. Ugh. So we set up camp, had dinner, and crossed our fingers that the weather would hold the rest of the week.

We started our climbing on Razor Back, the ~300 ft high wall that connects Fairview and Marmot domes. We've enjoyed climbing Bryan Law's routes on Dozier and were psyched to climb some of his more recent work on Razor Back (not sure if you read this stuff, Bryan, but if you do, thanks a lot for giving us a bunch of awesome routes!) We climbed Flash of the Blade and Slasher - both were really fun. It was a great place to start the week and get our heads dialed to Tuolumne slabs.

Approaching Razor Back (wall in middle) with Fairview Dome on right
Approaching Razor Back (wall in middle) with Fairview Dome on right
Credit: timmaly
Flash of the Blade (P1) on Razor Back.  Awesome Tuolumne slab/...
Flash of the Blade (P1) on Razor Back. Awesome Tuolumne slab/thin face climbing!
Credit: timmaly

The Regular Route on Fairview was our main goal for the week. We'd driven past it countless times, staring up in awe at the forbidding face and thinking some day we'd give it a go. While climbing at Razor Back we witnessed the throngs gathering at the start of the Regular Route and realized that if we wanted to climb it we could either be cold or crowded. We chose cold. We rolled into the pullout at Fairview ~6:30am and the car thermometer read 38F...ugh. Fortunately a brisk hike uphill to base of the route warmed us up and we were ready to go.

Looking down on the P2 belay.  A 70M rope was crucial, enabling us to ...
Looking down on the P2 belay. A 70M rope was crucial, enabling us to start the route with 2 consecutive (and awesome!) ~200 ft pitches and reach great belays.
Credit: timmaly
Looking back down on the Crescent Ledge
Looking back down on the Crescent Ledge
Credit: timmaly
Top of P5.  Solid Type I fun!
Top of P5. Solid Type I fun!
Credit: timmaly
Looking back on the traverse.  Great exposure.
Looking back on the traverse. Great exposure.
Credit: timmaly
On top, woohoo!
On top, woohoo!
Credit: timmaly

That night the rain came back bigtime and we awoke to a sopping wet and fairly muddy tent. So we escaped to Mammoth to dry off and explore. Over 4th of July we had met a guy on Bear Creek Spire who suggested that we check out Crystal Crag. He billed it as a fun, moderate, multi-pitch mountaineering adventure that was 10 minutes outside Mammoth. We were hooked...

Crystal Crag (from the shore of Lake George).  The North Arete...
Crystal Crag (from the shore of Lake George). The North Arete (~5.7ish) goes up the horizon on the right.
Credit: timmaly

We started in this chimney, climber's-right of the arete proper, went ...
We started in this chimney, climber's-right of the arete proper, went up a pitch and then headed left for the arete.
Credit: timmaly
Looking down the arete from part-way up P3.
Looking down the arete from part-way up P3.
Credit: timmaly
It was 3 pitches to the ridge line, which began with this crazy white ...
It was 3 pitches to the ridge line, which began with this crazy white crystal formation.
Credit: timmaly
Three more pitches along the broken ridge to the summit, with some gre...
Three more pitches along the broken ridge to the summit, with some great exposure along the way.
Credit: timmaly
Looking back on the North Arete on Crystal Crag.  After the summit &#4...
Looking back on the North Arete on Crystal Crag. After the summit (mid-point on the ridge line), we continued along the ridge for 1 pitch of down-climbing and then scrambled down the loose west face. Really fun climb.
Credit: timmaly

We wrapped up the week at Clark Canyon, a sport crag near Mammoth.

A few days later, we returned to Tuolumne, aiming for the West Ridge on Conness. Exactly three years ago (Labor Day Weekend 2009) we climbed the North Ridge in a 16-hour car-to-car epic that included me puking at the top of the second tower (poor acclimation) and us descending off the summit in the dark. This time we were armed with a back-country permit and planned to camp at Young Lakes to give ourselves a night to acclimate before our climb. The 6 mile hike went fairly quickly and we were rewarded with stellar views of Conness from Young Lakes.

Mt Conness in the evening
Mt Conness in the evening
Credit: timmaly

While Young Lakes is a spectacular setting with great views of Conness, its not quite as close to the mountain as we thought. The approach the next morning still took us 2+ hours.

Nearing the end of our approach and looking back.  Our camp (at Yo...
Nearing the end of our approach and looking back. Our camp (at Young Lakes) is beneath the pinnacle in the center-left of the photo...several miles away.
Credit: timmaly
Jess coming up pitch 3 on the West Ridge, the last of the full 5th-cla...
Jess coming up pitch 3 on the West Ridge, the last of the full 5th-class stuff.
Credit: timmaly
The climbing was really fun and involved navigating some cool features...
The climbing was really fun and involved navigating some cool features along the ridge
Credit: timmaly
The exposure was incredible!  This is looking at the upper pitches alo...
The exposure was incredible! This is looking at the upper pitches along the West Ridge.
Credit: timmaly
More sweetness along the West Ridge...
More sweetness along the West Ridge...
Credit: timmaly

We moved quickly on the climb (compared to our prior ascent of the N Ridge), pitching out ~7-8 pitches and then simul-ing the rest, and made it to the top by early afternoon.

At the summit and feeling great!  No vomiting this time and plenty of ...
At the summit and feeling great! No vomiting this time and plenty of daylight for the descent.
Credit: timmaly

There were two parties that had come up the North Ridge and another that came up West Ridge. Everybody was really stoked from the great weather and awesome High Sierra climbing. Conness is a classic for good reason! We hung out and had lunch on the summit before heading down and back to camp at Young Lakes.

Looking back on the West Ridge of Mt Conness
Looking back on the West Ridge of Mt Conness
Credit: timmaly

Overall, that ~2 week spurt of climbing was incredibly rejuvenating and reminded us why we love the outdoors, and in particular the Sierras, so much.

  Trip Report Views: 1,013
timmaly
About the Author
timmaly is a trad climber from Menlo Park, CA.

Comments
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Josh Nash

Social climber
riverbank ca
  Oct 6, 2012 - 04:15pm PT
Great trip report. The approach to conness is what shut us down from young lakes. We decided to climb that first peak on the right as your looking at conness from young lakes. It's absolutely stunning back that way.
10b4me

climber
  Oct 6, 2012 - 04:34pm PT
thanks for posting up. looked like alot of fun.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Oct 6, 2012 - 04:40pm PT
Classic routes. Thanks.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Oct 6, 2012 - 11:09pm PT
Nice work guys! Thanks for the TR. I did both the rr route & w ridge of conness last week & they were both fun as can be! Now I'm back at work!! Aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrggggh
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 6, 2012 - 11:48pm PT
Awesome and thank you!!!!
Minerals

Social climber
The Deli
  Oct 7, 2012 - 02:24am PT
Hey, nice TR. Great photos from the top of Crystal Crag and the ‘spiked’ ridge on Conness. Looks like fun! Way to get after it. Yeah, there was a week in mid-August where it rained solid every day – good hiking and reading weather, if nothing else.

Glad that you enjoyed the routes on Dozier and Razor Back. Thanks! Slasher is now 3 pitches (5.9/5.9/5.10d) and including top-ropes, there are 20 new routes on Razor Back, from 5.7 to 5.11b (still need to finish a topo). We’ve also been working on West Farthing Wall (up and right of Medlicott) and have a bunch of new pitches up there, from 5.7 to 5.10a. The lower half of the wall is comprised of amazingly high-quality rock, with both edges and knobs. Come up and check it out sometime!

Bryan

timmaly

Trad climber
Menlo Park, CA
Author's Reply  Oct 8, 2012 - 08:49pm PT
Cool - thanks for the tip, Bryan! I look forward to checking it out.
Macronut

Trad climber
Fresno, Ca
  Oct 9, 2012 - 12:03am PT
Liked the trip report thanks. Brought back fond memories of RR and Crystal Crag. Have yet to get to Conness can't wait. It is a pure delight to climb in the Meadows.
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