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Yosemite Part 2 (06.20.10 – 06.27.10) Posted on 07.14.2010 by greg.kuchyt

Day 9 (6.20.10)

We had to move camp out of Camp 4 and down to the Indian Flat campground in El Portal that we were lucky enough to reserve on Saturday. As well we needed gas and the gas in El Portal is about $4.00 a gallon, so we were told by a ranger to drive 30 miles to Mariposa where gas is significantly cheaper, a useful piece of advice. We ate lunch at the Happy Burger diner which had an incredible selection on the menu, as well as free WiFi! Over lunch we examined route topos and decided that we wanted to drive up to Tuolumne to see the conditions and if good, climb the Regular Route of Fairview Dome (5.9).

Day 10 (6.21.10)

We woke up with the plan of driving to Tuolumne and climbing the Regular Route on Fairview Dome. After driving all the way up there, I realized how exhausted I was (didn’t sleep well) and in general the lack of enthusiasm I was feeling. In general I just didn’t have a good feeling about the day. So I put the brakes on climbing that day, a decision that I struggled with the whole rest of the day and really beat myself up about. We drove back down into the Valley and hung out beach side for a while and relaxed, which allowed me to decompress a bit. With the extra rest day, we decided that a big day was in order for tomorrow. So we planned on the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral (5.10c/5.9 A0 or 5.10a). Since this was our plan, we took a walk up to the base of the route to scope the approach so we’d know where we were going the next day.

Day 11 (6.22.10)

Game day. We got an “early” start (6am) and drove into the Valley. Even with our recon mission the day before, we still got turned around a little bit on the approach because we took a more direct trail that we forgot to turn off of. We got the base of the route to find another party on the route, but they seemed to be moving quickly. Matt took the first lead, and linked pitches 1 & 2. I struggled, for no good reason, with pitch 3 and ended up not linking it with pitch 4 because we were going to let a party pass us. However, the party proved to be incorrect when they boasted that they climbed fast, so Matt took pitch 4 and then left us with the dilemma of whether to take the original 5.10c/5.9 A0 pitch 5 or the “50 crowded variation” which goes at 5.10a. While decide the leader of the aforementioned party joined us at the belay. Based on the fact that the second climbed slowly, I figured we could put some distance on them by taking the 5.10a pitch and I knew I could most likely free that pitch pretty quickly as it’s a short bit of 5.10a, then 5.8, then 5.6 all in a style that I’m strong at. Sure enough, I was through the crux quickly and at the bolts before the leader from the other team was anywhere to be seen near the bolts of the original pitch 5. We put a lot of distance on them in remaining pitches until we could no longer see them in the last 4 or so pitches. We topped out the route in about 7.5 hours, and I managed to find a nest of biting ants again at the top of the climb as I was bringing Matt up.

The descent off of Middle Cathedral, in general, sucked. We got totally lost and then we got separated trying to get to a commonly used bail anchor that lead to a rap route that landed us back on the proper descent path. We took close to 3 hours to get down, but we still made it down with plenty of daylight left, feeling quite pleased with ourselves for the route…and straight-up relieved that we made it down.

Day 12 (6.23.10)

Time for a rest day so we can recharge for our repeat attempt at the Regular Route on Fairview Dome in Tuolumne. We took our rest day in Mariposa and poked around at the shops and fattened up on fancy coffee drinks and pizza. After all this we drove back up into the Valley to check out a YOSAR helicopter training session. The training was happening on the route we had just climbed the day before, the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral. It was cool to see them up where we had been, just the day before. While watching the whole deal from the El Cap meadow, we met a pleasant older gentlemen who had climbed in Yosemite a little bit back in the 80s. We talked with him for a while and he filled us in on what teams were on El Cap and let us borrow his binoculars so we could see each team he was talking about. With nothing else to do for the day, it was a nice distraction from our usual process of trying to figure out what to do. After this we headed over to the Sentinel Beach to hang out in the water for a while and then headed back to camp to eat, set the rack up and pack, and get ready for the next day.

Day 13 (6.24.10)

The night before after dinner my throat started to become quite sore. I knew what had happened, but I didn’t want to believe it. Matt had been sick before the trip and had been getting over it the whole time we were there. I had finally gotten whatever had made him sick. I awoke to an incredibly painful sore throat that made swallowing and talking very labored tasks. I couldn’t even get any throat drops as there were no stores that were open. I spent the entire drive up to Tuolumne not really talking, which only made Matt nervous as to whether I was going to back out on this climb again. I was however, very committed to the climb if we could get to it and it looked like it would go. We didn’t know how much snow there was at the base or how wet the first few pitches were.

With all the snow on the ground we got completely lost trying to find the start of the route. Eventually we found it after meandering all around the snowfield at the base of Fairview. There was no party on the route, and no other parties in sight trying to find it. We had a good feeling. Matt took the lead and deal with a dirty and somewhat wet crack, though better than the “flowing with water” description the guidebook warned of in early season. We had gotten a late start after the drive and the mucking about searching for the start, so for the first 5 or so pitches, we both had that thought in the back of our mind that we might be on the route later than we wanted/planned to. Of the first 6 pitches, 5 are somewhat sustained. So we knew if we could get to the top of pitch 6, the terrain eased up considerably and we’d be ok. I think we reached the top of pitch 6 at about 2pm. We knew we had a good weather forecast, so we breathed a little easier. A couple hours later, and we were on the summit, 7.5 hours from the start of the route.

On the descent, we both agreed this was the best route we’d done in Yosemite. It felt like this route was an expression of the skills we’ve learned over the past few years with tricky gear/belays and forcing ourselves to push past pieces with long pitches and only 11 slings. We certainly didn’t set any records, or do anything to impress anyone. But we did it, safely, controlled, and within the guidebook’s time. To us, that’s a huge win.

Day 14 (6.25.10)

My feverish symptoms continued today. Even with Advil I wasn’t feeling 100% so climbing was not really something I was interested in. We had ended the day before on such a good note, I couldn’t see trying to climb our only remaining “obtainable” objective Central Pillar of Frenzy as a good idea. We knew that route would potentially kick out butts, and to do it being fatigued from the previous day and sick just didn’t make sense to me. Matt was in agreement, let’s end it on a note of success. So we basically just kicked it around the village for most of the day. We ate dinner at the Cafe (lodge cafeteria) and then headed back to start packing up to head back to San Francisco the next day.

Day 15/16 (6.26.10-6.27.10)

We packed up and headed back to San Francisco. The rental car needed to be back by 11:30 that night, so we took our time. We stopped in Berkeley and poked around the gear shops and then headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf area and did tourist stuff, went to the Patagonia store, and then grabbed dinner before heading to the airport to drop off the car and crash where ever we could. Our flight left at 06:00 the next morning, so we didn’t see the use in a hotel room…and we’re cheap. We ended up “sleeping” in the booth seats of a food court, though I’m pretty sure neither of us slept more than 30 minutes. Finally, 04:00 rolled around and we got up and headed to security and then to our gate to begin our trip home. After a couple hours delay in Chicago we were finally on the flight home. Foster met us at the airport; a trooper for dealing with our nightmare of a travel schedule being re-worked a few times. All in all a good trip.