Well I once again got the opportunity to climb in Yosemite and one of our main goals was Washington Column. We were shut down last time by bad weather and hoped that it wouldn't happen again!
But before that I might as well start at the beginning of the interestingly unpredictable story.
I was to meet up with Dave Arnett and Christopher Manning on a trip to Yosemite. I had never met Chris but Dave swore that he was a good guy. Somehow in the course of all this planning madness we decided to get our skydiving certifications in Lodi, Cali after hearing that it was the cheapest place in the world to skydive. The trip started out normal with expensive rental car upgrades and the dollar store. We were soon at the drop zone and taking tandem dives which are necessary before beginning the AFF Certication course. They have a hanger with floor space where you can stay if you are jumping for an extended period of time.
This fancy Ford Focus was a real letdown. Electronics were buggy and wierd and we spent a few days with it stalling around the valley. When I picked it up there was only 3 miles on the car. We dropped it off with 1500.
But we did manage these awesome bikes at Garage Sales in Sacramento and Lodi, we would later leave them at Camp 4 where hopefully someone else can put them to use.
The first day we did 4 jumps with our instructors. I had the worst landing on the first jump where I almost landed outside the massive field of the drop zone.
Chris had the most painful landing as he pounded the dirt with his ankle spraining it badly. Dave somehow remained on the positive end of the landings and came away smiling. Here is Chris coming in for a landing.
The next day would drastically change the outcome of our trip. (Sorry Dave, it must be told!) As I was coming in for what I believe was my 6th landing, I saw a group of people running full speed across the field in front of me. It looked like a long game of tag and right in my landing zone! Thankfully they moved out of the way and I was able to land safely but after touching down I looked in the direction they were running and saw a parachute wrapped around the vineyards on the other side of the road. I believed I could see a body on the ground and from my angle it wasn't moving. I looked all around the field for my friend Dave and he was knowhwere to be seen. Chris had opted out of these jumps to give his ankle a day or two to heal and he was also looking in the same direction. Niether of us believed the man lying the in vineyards to be our friend Dave, but it was. I started asking a few people what had happened and the first response was "He's lucky to be alive! His arm is broken."
While I was very relieved to hear that he was alive I knew he wasn't going to be climbing in Yosemite anytime soon! Still we focused on the positive and Chris took him to the hospital where he spent the next 10 hours waiting for surgery in heaps of pain. His arm looked like the arm of a Dr. Seuss character.
Is that supposed to bend like that? (Chris Manning photo) Multiple breaks and a dislocation that pushed the bone out the skin of the wrist.
Chris and I continued our courses and threw a few solo jumps in for fun while Dave went through surgery and spent two days waiting in the hospital as a watch for infection. We sat with him eating food and watching Earnest Goes to Jail, somehow it seemed appropriate.
Dave knew he didn't want to come home and so we all piled in the car and headed to Yosemite with new plans. Chris was a relatively new climber and the tallest route he had climbed to that point had been about 100ft.
We arrived in the valley to the usual ooooo's and ahhhh's of a valley newcomer and headed right to highway star for a few runs up that fun route. Dave spent some time relaxing by the car.
The next day we climbed Outer Limits on Cookie Cliff thinking that we were on Pat and Jack Pinnacle. Apparently after 4 or 5 times to the valley you can still easily get the most popular cliffs mixed up. Somewhere around the middle of Outer Limits we decided that it was just to darn hot in Yosemite and that we should head to Tuolumne Meadows instead. I had actually never been there before so it was exciting to see new territory. We arrived at night and slept at the base of the hill on the way to Lee Vining. The next morning we headed up to Tenaya Lake where we would spend a significant amount of time relaxing between climbs.
We watched climbers bounce up the enjoyable looking runs on Stately Pleasure Dome, I had seen many pictures of these climbs and it was great to finally get a peek up close.
But we didn't want to climb so close to the road, we wanted somewhat of an adventure so we made our way to Cathedral Peak first for a fun run up the usual route. There were lots of parties on the face but we made good time by bouncing around finding ways around different parties although it made the climb interesting because we all pretty much arrived on the summit at the same time. Chris had no problem following this enjoyable route.
Other parties worked around the Chimney which I found to be really enjoyable.
And the views were amazing.
It was Chris real trip with exposure and he had no problems at any moment.
A storm was brewing off in the distance but we didn't want to miss an opportunity to Eichorn's Pinnacle, which I must call the most awesome 5.4 climb I have ever done.
There was another party on the Pinnacle when we topped out on Cathedral. If it was any of you guys then let me know, I can get you a few photos!
Chris taking in the view from atop Eichorn's.
Dave became our camp watcher and helpful cook while he reminisced about his own climbing fun. Being in Yosemite with one arm in a cast can make you a bit crazy!
Chris and I cragged for a day and then we hit up Tenaya Peaks 14 pitch buttress. After forgetting my shoes in the car I still found this route to be super enjoyable with street shoes and climbing it in about 3 pitches of simul-climbing.
Beautiful Tenaya Lake
We also gave a run up Pywiak Dome's Zee Tree with Dave. That is right, we took a one armed man up that route and he only fell once or twice while readjusting his arm sling. It was funny watching him bound up this slabby 5.7 with one arm and a heavy dose of maniacal laughter. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera for that one but Dave snapped a few with his phone.
After climbing about 45 pitches of rock in Tuolumne we headed back to to a "reportedly" cool Yosemite Valley.
We geared up and decided on Higher Cathedral's Northeast Buttress as our last climb of the trip. The thermostat rose to about 100 that day and it cooked us alive. Somewhere after the third Pitch I begin to get some heat exhaustion. My body started to shake as my hands and feet shook badly. I started to black out and get dizzy and nearly fell asleep on the belay. As I had to lead every pitch because Chris was still working into it I decided it was best if we went down. After bailing from that beautiful climb we drank a few gallons of water, gatorade, and coconut juice. Later in the day when energy returned to suffered ourselves on generator crack, which I managed in only a few falls this time, and then drove back toward Sacramento for the flight home. While Dave didn't get to climb much we still all had a great trip and hopefully we can get down for that big wall again soon.
Braille Book I assume?