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Bears and chickens and things… Posted on 06.20.2010 by greg.kuchyt

For anyone who doesn’t get the title it’s from The Muppets Take Manhattan…I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate for this post. We got to see our first bears yesterday after a week in the Valley. The weekends in Camp 4 are the scene of some debauchery in regards to bear prevention protocol. We were talking with a fellow climber when he noticed a bear rummaging through an open bear locker from a nearby campsite. He sprang into action, as you’re supposed to do, screaming and generally making yourself appear intimidating to scare the bear off. Not wanting to feel left out I joined in in the screaming to create an even more opposing challenge to the bear. Clearly the bear took one look at the two of us and realized he was in over his head and smartly turned and ran away. Our second bear was an hour or so later.

Half Dome Cables

Someone calmly said “Bear” and put a headlamp on it and just sat there while the bear walked casually around. Since no one was doing anything about the bear, I somehow decided it was a good idea to answer the call. Before Matt even knew what was happening I was sprinting after the bear yelling “Get outta here! Get!”. It’s important to do this with the bears here because they’ve become so habituated to humans they are losing their fear of them. That’s the first step to them then becoming more aggressive, so the NPS stresses the need to keep re-enforcing a negative experience with humans.

On to climbing front, our day doing the Snake Dike was long (12 hours and 20 minutes) but still enjoyable. We hiked about 16 miles all told, did about 1400 feet of technical climbing (8 pitches), and then about 1,000 feet of 3rd class slabs to reach the summit of Half Dome. Most people “hike” Half Dome using the pre-installed cables on the South-ish side.  These cables were our descent. The cables are a crazy thing to see, we though they’d be up 3rd class (low-angle) terrain, but it was like straight up 5th class slab climbing that we would probably rope up to climb.

Matt on the crux 5tth pitch of Super Slide (5.9)

Yesterday we rested for the first half of the day and took care of some logistical errands and then climbed a 5 pitch 5.9 route called Super Slide after a late start. It turns out we were mis-informed that we could camp in Yosemite for 14 days. Currently during the peak season you can only stay for 7 days total. So today we’re taking a rest day and re-locating to a campsite in El Portal, about 30 mins from the Valley. It’s not ideal, but it’s only for another 6 days.

We’re hoping to get up to Tuolumne tomorrow to attempt to climb something. The reports we’re hearing aren’t good though, lots of snow still and if no snow then mud in its place. We’re choosing climbs with very short approaches as a result. Our really only “big” objective is the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral (5.9 A0), which is right across the Valley from El Capitan. It’ll be a big day, but we think we can handle it.