Trip Report
Win Some, Lose Some: Another Summer in the Sierras
Sunday January 6, 2013 4:25pm

Credit: WanderlustMD
They say that good things come to those who wait. For me, they don’t until I’ve managed to chase them down and stomp on them a few times. After first roping up in 1998, in 2011 I finally managed to scrape of Half Dome and a few other long routes, which you can read about here if you have time to kill. For a moderately-talented east coast punter like me, it was a great season and the fulfillment of a few of the dreams I’ve coddled along since I started climbing (<- softcore).

It’s hard to know when you’re ready to try something you perceive as “big”, one reason being that it’s such a relative measure. I’ve always stuck to the “one-step-at-a-time-build-up-to-it- slowly” adage that seems to take some folks everywhere and others nowhere. The problem with “one step at a time” is the latter word: time. If you’re not careful, pretty soon ten years have gone by and you’re still “building the foundation” and are “almost ready” to jump into the fray. But, when all is said and done, the ticklist has yet to grow shorter and you find yourself scratching your head, wondering where the trail skidded off the track.
Photo by Random Tourist
Photo by Random Tourist
Credit: WanderlustMD
Top of HD

Credit: WanderlustMD
Bryce on Higher Cathedral Rock

But in the past few years, I’d orchestrated my life to allow for summers in the valley, something I’d always wanted, and was starting to finally see the history I’d read so much about firsthand. Zipping up Half Dome with a new friend was a surprising experience in that, contrary to almost every big wall trip report I’d ever read, one thing was different: I wasn’t scared. Not even a little. I felt so comfortable that while on big sandy, I kept checking my pulse and tie-in to make sure I wasn’t dead. It may have taken way longer than the average person, but it seemed I was definitely ready for the big routes.
Bryce and I had hardly touched down when we starting chatting about the Salathe Wall, which he’d always wanted to do. A year later found me pulling into the Mono Lake territory for the umpteenth time, always a highlight of the drive from Maine.

Credit: WanderlustMD
Mono Lake
Credit: WanderlustMD
Wall of Late Afternoon Light.

Bryce had climbed the Freeblast before during his ascent of the 3D. Due to logistics it made sense for me to climb it with another partner and blast a day later with Bryce. I finished teaching for the year, hopped in the car that afternoon, drove four days to Yosemite. A day after arriving in the valley found me wandering C4 looking for a partner, something a love/hate doing. After my umpteenth picnic table, I found a winner.
“Shoot, I’ll do it,” a scraggly 50-something local named Mike spat after hearing my plea. The next day found us at the base of the first .10c pitch. I hadn’t climbed anything on El Cap before, and was half expecting to be electrocuted as I lay my hands on the stone.
Credit: WanderlustMD
Photo from MP.com

Linking the first two pitches got us off to a great start and before long we were at Mammoth without a hitch. A few hours later we reached the base, finding Bryce ready and waiting to blast the next afternoon.

Credit: WanderlustMD
Saddle up, yo.

Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Bryce’s last words before jugging: “I bet you didn’t know you were climbing with a sex symbol.”
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD

Credit: WanderlustMD
Leading the last bit to Lung, were we planned to spend the night.
Credit: WanderlustMD
Photo: Tom Evans
Photo: Tom Evans
Credit: WanderlustMD
Photo: Tom Evans
Photo: Tom Evans
Credit: WanderlustMD
The climbing went quickly, and even when I botched it by stopping too early at an optional belay, we found ourselves making good time as we approached the Ear. Everyone I had met described this, not the Hollow Flake, as the spooky pitch on the Salathe. Bryce had dispatched the Hollow Flake without issues, and now it was my turn to tackle the Ear.

Credit: WanderlustMD
Approaching the Ear.
Photo: Tom Evans
Photo: Tom Evans
Credit: WanderlustMD
Hayden Kennedy, Will Stanhope, Bryce and I hanging below the Ear. Will/Hayden, fresh from attempting Freerider IAD, are attempting to persuade me that I’m not about to eat sh#t on the pitch above. Fortunately, it was all good. Cheers!

Credit: WanderlustMD
Bryce jugging to the top of the Ear


Credit: WanderlustMD
Bryce leading the corner above. Mentally and physically fatigued, this pitch took awhile and it was nearly dusk by the time I led the finally OW to the Alcove. We had hope to make the spire, but the Alcove is a great bivy and after all, it’s El Cap!

Next day, Bryce was pretty beat and we decided to call it.
Credit: WanderlustMD
Which we later regretted, of course. 20 pitches up, should have kept going fer Chrissake!! The day was filled with rappels, a nearly stuck rope, shenanigans reversing the hollow flake (good times) and Yogi greeting us upon mercifully hitting the deck. You win this time, Captain!

I had a blast on the Salathe and was feeling really good, but after that sort of cratered and my climbing went downhill. Still, I managed to scramble up a few things during the rest of the summer:

Cragging at Pratt's Crack, Cardinal Peak and TM with Wedgie.
Pratt's
Giantz!!
Giantz!!
Credit: WanderlustMD
Photo: Wedgie
Photo: Wedgie
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Wedgie on the West Face (or something close to it) of Cardinal
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Direct NW on Lembert

West Ridge of Conness
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD

Eichorn's Direct
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD

Side Trip to Big Sur
Credit: WanderlustMD

SFWC-IAD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD

Cathedral Traverse (solo)
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD

TBolt-Sill Traverse
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD

Someone has a sense of humor
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
Credit: WanderlustMD
About to get a wee bit off route.
Credit: WanderlustMD

Credit: WanderlustMD
Time for a beer.
Credit: WanderlustMD
Here's to next year!











  Trip Report Views: 1,370
WanderlustMD
About the Author
WanderlustMD is a trad climber from New England.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
caughtinside

Social climber
Oakland, CA
  Jan 6, 2013 - 04:32pm PT
Bitchin dude. Way to get out there.
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
  Jan 6, 2013 - 04:36pm PT
Man, I love being high in beautiful places.

Thanks for sharing.
perswig

climber
  Jan 6, 2013 - 04:38pm PT
As usual, total envy and appreciation for your TRs.
Way to represent our fair state.

Thanks.
Dale
Reeotch

climber
4 Corners Area
  Jan 6, 2013 - 04:41pm PT
Livin' the dream!!!!!
Hoping to visit the high sierra this summer . . .
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jan 6, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
Looks like one heck of a summer, thanks!
-Ezra
10b4me

climber
  Jan 6, 2013 - 04:49pm PT
good job. glad to see someone is climbing.
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Jan 6, 2013 - 05:42pm PT
Looks like a great year. Thanks for the good pics!
Nate Ricklin

climber
San Diego
  Jan 6, 2013 - 08:14pm PT
so good!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Jan 6, 2013 - 08:29pm PT
Great TR and photos. Love people getting after it in Sierra and all. Can't wait to see the next year's TR!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Jan 6, 2013 - 08:37pm PT
Rock on!
TFPU
Tad
eKat

Trad climber
  Jan 6, 2013 - 08:51pm PT
RAD!

TFPU!
David D.

Trad climber
California
  Jan 7, 2013 - 12:12am PT
Kinda light^^

TFPU! Awesomeness!
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Jan 7, 2013 - 05:05am PT
Wicked summer, awesome report! Thanks for the share.
cooky24

Social climber
washington
  Jan 7, 2013 - 08:48pm PT
I like the pics you shoted, and this trip is so good, if i am you, i will not sleep at night. and there are so many attractions in attactions guide, i will choose someone to go from here.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Jan 8, 2013 - 02:34pm PT
Great stuff, Matt, great stuff.

Bryce leading the corner above. Mentally and physically fatigued, this pitch took awhile and it was nearly dusk by the time I led the finally OW to the Alcove. We had hope to make the spire, but the Alcove is a great bivy and after all, it’s El Cap!

I can't remember ever hitting a mental redline as badly as I did on this pitch, still not sure why. The choir of voices that rise up unexpectedly and strip you of your resolve! Holy sh#t. I think I can still hear them. I heard them all night in the Alcove.

You were as solid as they come and had the head on airtight, buddy.

A few days after we bailed I had an 18 hour drive to do, and I probably spent 17 of those chastising myself and regretting the bail. When I hit HF ledge I swore I'd never lead that pitch again; now I'm chomping at the bit to get back up there.

Who bails from the Alcove?! See you in June, bud.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jan 8, 2013 - 02:58pm PT
Wow! This is exactly what I needed to see as I contemplate a month of tule fog here, because it will inspire me to train harder. Thanks for a fine TR and pictures, and congratulations on an excellent summer.

John
Zander

climber
  Jan 8, 2013 - 06:55pm PT
Great TR! Woo hoo!
Z
snakefoot

climber
cali
  Jan 8, 2013 - 07:03pm PT
nice work, bump for home sweet home.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
  Jan 10, 2013 - 02:09pm PT
Fun report! Bryce was telling me about the Salathe Wall soon after you guys got off. Too bad you turned around so high up! Especially after coming such a long ways to get out to the West Coast and having that disappointment, its nice to see you still had a varied and full trip outdoors.

Are you guys planning in giving it another go in 2013?
WanderlustMD

Trad climber
New England
Author's Reply  Jan 10, 2013 - 09:29pm PT
Yeah, we are definately going to try it again. It's a fun route!
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