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Aug 5, 2009, 8:01 PM
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Registered: Oct 22, 2007
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This is a decently old report, early July I think, but still good I think.

Lisa and I stayed at the same place, Indian Flats RV Campground. It's about 20min outside of the park and I'd recommend it to anyone going out there. Campsite reservations are hard to get in the park, but this place seemed to have space. And they have hot showers, flush toilets, and tent cabins with beds if you're up for $40/night or so. Very nice when you're tired!

Day 1. We headed over to Pat and Jack Pinnacle. We had been there on the last trip to do Golden Needles, but this time we went back for some of the harder stuff. We started off with what we thought was a 5.8 sport, but it turned out to be a 5.7 that was too new to be in the guidebook. So we did the 5.8 next, then got on Suds, a long 1-pitch awkward but cool 5.9. It started in a finger/hand crack system, then two bolts along an easy slab, then a series of dead vertical or slightly overhanging cracks in kind of a shallow rounded dihedral. Almost like a rain groove but bigger. It made for some odd stemming moves, complicated by not being able to sink any really good jams. While belaying Lisa from the top, I spied a sweet looking hand crack in a right facing dihedral. It started off kind of vertical, then arched over to the right where the crack ran out and there were a few bolts to get you back up to the anchor. So, we left the skinny rope on the anchors of Suds in case the crack turned out to be too hard (it wasn't in the book either) and rapped down to get on it. Turned out to be about 5.8, perfect hand size and maybe 30' long, super sweet but it was over too soon. We rapped back to the ground.

Next we got on some harder sport routes, a 5.9 and a 10b. I have to say I think the sport ratings there are a bit sandbagged - the 10b felt more like a New river 11a/b. I even stick clipped it! Which turned out to be a decent idea, the crux was right off the ground through the second bolt. Nice and slabby, little slopey holds, until you got onto the upper face where the holds got huge, but still largely slopey. Think giant granite nodules. Made for some awesome climbing! Boneheads was the name.

After that we got on a very interesting looking 10a crack that started in a left facing corner with an offwidth that was probably big enough to take a BD 6. It narrowed down quickly though, so I could protect it once I was 10' up or so. It took me awhile to figure out the start - left side in, right side in, hand/fist stack and try to leavittate, but eventually I just laybacked it. The left facing corner died after 20' or so at a roof, where the crack returned to off-fist size and went straight left, but the crack was between a huge block and the slab, so you were still jamming in a vertical crack, with no feet to speak of. But the feet weren't the problem. After managing to reach way out and set a Metolius 8, I started traversing on sketchy fists and smeary feet. I got a move or two left before my jams blew and it spat me out. I reformulated and set a BD 3 further left while I was hanging. Now that I had all the pro I needed, I decided to undercling it. That worked much better and after pulling the roofy corner at the end of the block, the route got much easier and finished on the anchors of Boneheads. Babble On was the name of this one. I came back for a second attempt on this one, but only got one move farther on the traverse and darn near broke my arm by cantilevering it under the block when I came out. So, I set the BD 3 while hanging again and finished up the route.

We finally found the Yosemite cafeteria that night and It was much more upscale than the writings of the climbing bums had led me to believe. Cushy chairs, a coffee bar, decent food, and speedy service. I got a fruit and cheese plate and a double espresso, I forget what Lisa got. I guess I was picturing an army-style field cafeteria or something. I also recommend the cafeteria.

Day 2. We debated a bit about what to get on. Lisa was comfortable with 9's and we wanted to get on something long. At 5.9 your options start to open up. We looked at Arrowhead Arete, but the 2-3 hour approach gaining 1500' of elevation with exposed 3rd and 4th class and 'tricky routefinding' made that sound like a gamble. And we were supposed to do that before the 7 hour climb, and another 2-3 hour descent, and be back by sundown. Not at our pace! The route, however, looks stellar. Similar considerations kept us off other routes, and we decided on Royal Arches, which is the easiest long route and the longest easy route in the park. 5.10b or 5.7 A0, 10min approach, 15 pitches of climbing, 11 double rope rappels to get off.

We arrived at the base at 7:45 and were climbing by 8. In good old Yosemite style, you start chimneying right off the ground. Sling a tree, a few chockstones, and pitch 1 is done. The first 4 pitches basically take you up a ledge system with lots of 3rd and 4th class, and the occasional place where you want to tie in and be on belay. One very cool place was a full body stem over a gross looking puddle in the bottom of a small chasm / big trough. I tried to keep the rope out of the puddle but I think I failed (sorry Lisa!). At pitch 5, the route starts going more straight up the rocks. It still traverses around finding the easiest way up, but there were a few stellar vertical cracks here and there. I found that pin scars aren't as hard to protect as I had thought they would be. I usually had a cam to match the scar. If not, there was another one just ahead.

Pitch 8 ends on another ledge, a big one where you can sit down, take your shoes off, have a beer, etc. We had been hearing another party on the wall for a while but hadn't seen them yet. We were just hearing their calls from afar - on belay! climbing! climb on! etc. Lisa had just pulled onto the ledge when some guy came striding up from my right. I asked him if he was one of the people we'd been hearing, but he had his headphones in and I asked him again after he took them out but while I was asking, I realized that was a stupid question. No harness, no pro, no rope, he was soloing the route. He said hi and charged on up the next pitch, doing in 40secs or so what took me about 5 mins. I didn't ask him his name, but from the out-of-the-box-new stuff he had on, the build, the gait, the dark floppy hair, I'm pretty sure it was Dean Potter.

Pitch 9 was where the route is either 10b or 5.7 A0. You can either do a very cool looking (but hard looking too) dihedral that arches into an overhang and looked to be sub-tip size where it wasn't welded, or you can do a 5.7 pitch with a pendulum off a fixed line. We were getting a good sense of our pace and time was not on our side, so we did the pendulum. It was pretty cool - you get a stance at the bottom of the rope, grab a loop with one hand and run across the wall to grab a ledge on the other side. I set a piece just before the rope and 'ran myself out' about 20' to the ledge. Lisa followed it no problem. Some more 4th class traverses led us to Pitch 11.

At this point, there is a huge, obvious right facing corner with a chimney. So I charged on up it. Once I got in the chimney I realized most of the rock was mungy and rotten. I managed to get 2 good pieces in, but when the chimney ran out, there was no pro to be had. It puts you back on the face, with a few small holds, lots of moss and dirt, and big shaky dead tree over your head. I'm maybe 15' out from my last (second) piece at this point, a good metolius 9, but the fall did not look pretty. It looked like a slab slide with a swing at the end into the corner of the chimney, and probably would have been a 40 or 50 footer. What to do, what to do. I found some slopey little feet that led me over to a small crack to my right where I found a perfect place for a #2 C3. Whew! I finished up the pitch and Lisa decided to pendulum over to the C3 on the rope. She didn't see anything that looked like feet to her! We checked the guidebook again, and I was supposed to be on a flake system to the right of the giant, gapingly obvious chimney-of-doom. Lesson learned!

Now along about this time we finished our 3rd liter of water. We had brought 4. We were still decently well hydrated, but the sun was on high-blast and the air was dry, and we had 5 more pitches and 11 rappels to go. Water rationing time. We made the last liter last until the first rap station, but it wasn't cushy. We were both pretty well dehydrated by the end.

The last 5 pitches went off pretty quickly. One belay station had us under a bay tree - the things they get bay leaves from. They smell amazingly good. I had never seen one before. On another pitch, while I was belaying, a hummingbird flitted up the wall and stopped at a few of the flowers growing out of the rock before zipping out of sight. On the upper pitches, you're close to one of the massive roofs that give Royal Arches it's name - a huge, arching roof. Maybe 50 horizontal feet of downward sloping smooth white granite, and maybe a quarter mile long. At the far end of this was a dihedral to end all dihedrals. Imagine 20 or 30 Oh My Gods (A really good dihedral at Old Rag in Virginia) stacked one on top of each other. It looked harder than OMG though - the upper 1/3 or so of the crack looked to be finger size or less, and it arched over into a fairly severe overhang. I don't know if it's a free route or not, it wasn't in our book nor another one I looked in (Yosemite Select). But it looked awesome.

We arrived at the rap station with maybe an hour until the sun hit the horizon. We killed the water, took some quick happy snaps and set off down the wall. Rap, rap, pull the rope. Rap, rap, pull the rope. No major incidents, only two minor ones. At one station we let one of the ropes swing out of our reach, and it still had a knot in the end so we had to get it. No problem - fix the rope we still had and rap over to get the other line. At another station (after rapping over lots of bushes, tree, roots, rocks, etc) a rope refused to come down. Put the end in the ATC and start body-weighting it until it came free. Luckily it did so without releasing a torrent of rocks on our heads!

The final rappel required us to carry the ropes over to a tree 40' or so from where we got off rappel 10, and it was finally dark enough to break out the headlamps.

Back at the car, we decided to go to the Awahnee hotel for dinner. It's a 5-star place, and we looked like shit! Noone said anything though, and that was one tasty roast beef sandwich.

Day 3. We couldn't do anything as long as Royal Arches since we had to drive home that night. So, we decided to head back to the Royal Arches area and get on Super Slide, a 5-pitch 5.9. Pitch 1 was mostly just getting to the route, easy climbing and 4th class. But from there, the route got good and kept getting better. Nothing but straight up cracks and flakes from 5.7-5.9, and each crack was simply awesome. The crux was the last 20 feet - a perfect splitter off-fingers/really thin hands crack in glassy polished granite. If we hadn't been on hanging belays I would have run laps on it! While I was bringing Lisa up, a mouse darted out of the crack and scampered around before going back in. I tired to get Lisa to look, but she didn't want to. Ohwell. Luckily we didn't see any of the mouse's favorite predators - snakes. Lots of ants though. Ants that crawl in your shoes and bite you!

A few other random memories-

Looking down on the Yosemite valley from up on the wall is like looking down on a very elaborate train set. The rafters raft, the children laugh, the cops yell at people, the traffic hums, the buses roar, the hikers hike, the bikers bike, the fisherman fish, sunbathers relax, frisbees fly, and you're viewing it all like it's on a giant table spread out underneath you. The rescue helicopter even flew in (underneath us) and the ambulance came flashing in and the helicopter left. Sprinklers sprinkling, workers working, the sounds carry up the wall.

We also got to see a fair amount of dogfights between the birds. Big birds fighting off little birds mostly. They would swoop and peck and caw and make their other bird noises. Quite a sight. The big birds might have been eagles. They definitely werent crows or vultures.

Happy Pitches!


Aug 6, 2009, 2:02 PM
Post #2 of 2 (1360 views)

Registered: Aug 28, 2006
Posts: 194

Re: [minibiter] Yosemite [In reply to]
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Thanks for posting - I enjoyed reading this! Congratulations on a successful and awesome trip.

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