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Royal Arches Trip Report-Team MUMU
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miker


May 19, 2003, 4:28 PM
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Royal Arches Trip Report-Team MUMU
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Ole, Christine, BJ (our replacement for normal climbing partner, Matt, who is graduating this weekend) and myself have been planning a trip to Yosemite for quite a few months and it is finally time to go, gear packed, muscles trained, mindset: confident.

Thursday May 15th, 2003
Wake up extra early, ~5am to get picked up by Ole. Ole drops me off at work by 6am in Torrance. 2pm rolls around and Ole stops back by to pick me up after picking up Christine and BJ. We have to run back to Long Beach as Ole forgot his shoes, but presently we are on our way to Yosemite.
Lots of conversation, movie quotes and random ramblings about life and climbing as we make the 6 hour drive up to Yosemite. I am not sure how the conversation got around to the subject of the 350 lb Jamaican woman dancing with a friend of Ole’s when he was a child, but out of that conversation came our team name. Team MUMU.
We stopped just outside the southern park gate and had an excellent mexican meal before we find the little campsite Ole reserved for us. The campsite is simple and we have a small fire. We miss most of the lunar eclipse as it is behind the hills from where we are, but we still see some darkness along one side of the moon when it rises around 9:30 or so. BJ tries out his new bivy bag right on the picnic table, Christine in the back seat and Ole and I stretch out in the bed of the truck.

Friday May 16th, 2003
Up early, scrape a little frost off the bags and pack it up to head into the park. Arrive in the valley at 6:30, and realize nothing opens until 7am so we wait for Degnan’s Deli to open. Have a quick soda, BJ and I try the croissant sandwiches to power us through the day.
Quick drive over to the Ahwahnee hotel and we are ready to start up Royal Arches. Let me digress a little here and give a quick idea of what we are planning and what we are packing up with us.

The plan is to bivy up at the base of North Dome once we climb Royal Arches. Then the following day, Saturday, we were thinking of giving Crest Jewel a run. We figure a 10a sport-type route, with some Yosemite runout would be a good second day climb. So what are we carrying up with us?
Sleeping Bags + Bivy bags, 2 stoves, 2 cookpots, 2 water filters, dehydrated food for dinner and breakfast, Extra layers of fleece and whatnot to keep warm into the evening, first aid kit, cameras, shoes, ½ gallon to a gallon of water each, power bars, goo and gorp for eating during the day.
Climbing Gear: supertopo recommended rack for RA + 1 rope per team of two, helmets and walkie talkies.

We were feeling pretty heavily loaded, but we figured we did not have to worry about descending before it got dark so we would have tons of time.
We ask two guys in the parking lot to take our picture before we set off. They are Jason and Tom, we will get back to them a little later. The picture is on BJs camera and will be on my website, http://www.reddigs.com, when he gets back from kayaking in Carmel (yeah, tough life I know). The rest of the pics are there already under Climbing pics.
We hike up to the base and decide to do the variant start so we don’t have to try and get our packs up the chimney start. Excellent 5.8 start to warm up on and Christine follows me up it. Christine and I are the first team and BJ and Ole are the second team trading off leads as they feel the need. When Christine gets to me I tell her to continue on up the third class ledge until she gets to the end of the rope or finds the next technical section and setup a belay anchor. We climb like this most of the day with Christine and I trading off. A couple other parties have started off about the same time as us and we let one team pass us right after the second pitch. This team is Bill(onelung) and Jeff who seem to be moving along fairly quickly. We already decided that we would let people pass us as we are not in a big hurry to get off the rock and we would not want to be the reason for someone not making it out in time. Jason and Tom come up soon after and we allow them to pass after another pitch or two. As we get closer to the pendulum pitch we realize it is getting rather congested in front of us as we have to wait for a total of 3 or 4 hours at belay stations. At one point 4 teams are climbing through the same section of rock at the same time and it is getting crowded if not downright dangerous, so again more waiting.
The pendulum pitch is quite wet and the general consensus from other parties is that the traverse through the flowing water is easier with no shoes, but leave the shoes on for the pendulum itself as running up the face is much harder with bare feet. We waited 1-2 hours at the pendulum due to the backup of parties and were starting to look at the time with a little more anxiety.
We had seen 5 free soloers pass us already and they were long gone. The sixth soloer was named Matt and he helped out Christine as she tried to work her way up the super wet corner just after the pendulum traverse, after taking the only fall of the group trying to remove a piece of pro (thanks again Mike for putting the pro at your eye level since you are a foot taller!-Christine). He even helped out the team of Bill, Jeff, Jason and Tom who had decided to join forces to get off the rock faster. This strategy may have backfired on them a little, but second guessing is not my thing. Matt had an excellent attitude, but was still focused on his goal. He told the guys he would take a second rope up so that two people could be belayed up at once to speed up the team of four, but he told them no bulls*&t, no Belays, just feed me rope. If he got to the end of the rope and it did not reach Bill, he would yell down to tie it off before dropping it and continuing on. I appreciated the no nonsense approach and wanted to throw a shout out to Matt if he reads this. Matt left the base at 4 or 4:30 I believe so it was already 6pm or thereabouts when he passed us.
So everybody is gone from the route except for the two teams of 4. We are climbing side by side through the last pitches everybody just concentrating on the finish. We arrive at the final slab traverse as it starts getting dark. Bill takes the final lead and gets to the rap bolts and then has Jeff lower him a bit off of those before continuing on over the traverse until he finally clips a biner on the last bolt before the trees and has himself lowered off of the bolt as he tension traverses over to the lowest part of the trees and he is done just as it gets so dark we all pull out headlamps. He was then planning on belaying Jeff from the trees and having him leave the rope through the rap rings as he traverses over then they would just pull the rope. Unfortunately the rope is not long enough so I having arrived at the rap anchor just after Jeff heads off, offer to belay him from here and have Bill untie from the rope. So Jeff makes it over, then I belay Christine over to me and tell her to continue the traverse. She clips the pro Bill has left and gets to the final bolt and clips that and then the tension traverse. Then Christine belays me over to her. Unclipping from the rap anchors is mentally challenging with the long traverse and potential pendulum ahead of me. But I persevere over to the bolt and am then lowered by Christine as I traverse over and finally reach the trees. Jason and Tom do the same and finally BJ, then Ole. We are all finally safe and off the route. It is 8:30 or 9pm so it has taken 12 hours to get from the bottom to the top. A new record I think, NOT!
Ole and I are the only two of the eight of us who have done Royal Arches before so we lead the way through the trees to find the way out. Unfortunately we did it in daylight during a much drier season, so things look different. We remembered going fairly high and traversing across, but all we can find is this wet slimy looking slab with minimal foot placements and a nice drop-off for a thousand foot + fall. We look high and low for another way. Ole even puts me on belay down low so I can see if the stream is passable down lower, but all I find is a drop-off and another slab climb that did not look familiar.
Now is when I pull out the phone to see about getting a little beta from the valley floor. I put in a quick call to John (Kevlar) who I had planned on hooking up with the next day as he was gonna hold a site in camp 4 for us. John had not been on the route before, but said he would look for someone who could help and call us back.
While we waited, we decided that someone would just need to lead the slimy slab to finish. Jason stepped up like a trooper, being in shorts and a t-shirt probably motivated him as well. He headed out onto the slab using holds on the headwall above him. Threw in a cam and hustled across the slab to the other side. He then did a quick reconnoiter to ensure the way was clear and it was.
Right then I got a call from a ranger down in the valley wanting to check our status. I told him we thought we were off the route so no rescue required. I told him four of us were gonna bivy and the other four were hoping to hike out via the Yosemite Falls trail to avoid the North Dome gully in the dark. The ranger just asked me if I had some firestarters, I said yes and he said, let me talk to the other team. I am not sure what he said to Jeff, but I think the gist of it was, do not try to hike out in the dark, bivy down with these folks by the fire and wait for the morning. So the decision was made and we were a team of 8 for the night.

We then fixed the line and had everybody clip into it and then follow Jason’s traverse. A few small slips, which would have been deadly, were just scary this way. I was the last across and a few more pieces had been thrown in to avoid my belayed traverse being too scary. Once I was across we headed up the hill to find that Ole and Christine and crew had already got a fire circle going and everything was looking homey. The time was 12:30, it had taken 16 hours base to rim.

Everybody was exhausted, but starving so we started cooking and filtering water and sorting through clothes to see if we had extra layers to help out our four guests. I think all stayed relatively warm through the night. We cooked up all of our dehydrated dinner and luckily I overpacked as we had enough food for all 8 of us. I also pulled out a special treat from the bottom of my bag, two cans of Young’s Oatmeal Stout that we chilled in the river for a while before drinking. Just about the best beer I have ever tasted. Ole also brought the flask of scotch, which helped with keeping people warm as well. Finally all drifted off to sleep.

Saturday May 17th, 2003
When I awoke at 6:30 our four friends had bailed, wanting to get down as fast as possible. We heard later they had tried to find the North Dome Gully, but failing in that doubled back and hiked up and then out to the Yosemite Falls trail, approximately 8-10 miles, OUCH!
Ole, Christine, BJ and I relaxed and had a nice leisurely breakfast and packed up to head towards the gully. We had decided that Crest Jewel was not going to happen, just due to general fatigue and soreness, and just wanted to get down to the ground where there was more cold beer, showers and maybe a boulder problem or two. The gully approach involved some bushwacking as we kept trying to stay as high as possible, as we remembered the entrance to the gully was up very near the base of North Dome. We then found the gully and flew down it with minimal pain, (“hey put that rock back!” =P), although the quads are still complaining a few days later. We reached the truck at 3:30 and felt truly accomplished. We had gone up the wall, helped out others and handled a potentially dangerous situation, while fatigued and in the dark with a reasonable amount of aplomb.
Team Mumu had triumphed. No speed records, no first ascents, but an epic day with gorgeous views and good friends.

After pulling a beer out of the cooler we relaxed a bit and watched the crowds wander by and were amazed that we had gone from such utter isolation to this in a matter of minutes (baby carriages on the trail?!?!?). I knew I was really back when I heard a guy lean out his car window and interrupt our conversation with the question…. ”what are climbing shoes?” Not knowing what else to say I said, shoes specifically designed for climbing….but the magic was gone.

So I called John up again on the phone to see what was happening. He had just finished helping PTPP lug some unbelievably heavy bags of gear to the base of Washington column along with his friend Randy and was just headed over to Curry Village. We met up with them there and had some pizza and more beer to replenish much needed beer and food reserves. Then over to Camp 4 via an LA worthy traffic jam with opportunity to jump out and take pictures and jump back in numerous times. Met Bill and Jeff there and got the skinny on there epic descent, BTW Bill next time I am Hawaii way, save me a beer and a space on the floor. ;)

Then camp 4 with enough light for a few boulder problems. I tried a V4, no luck and then finished an excellent V0+ with a crappy landing potential and way harder than any V0+ I have ever tried before, another notch for those Yosemite ratings! Midnight Lightning was fun to watch as various people who can climb way better then I threw themselves at it.

Sunday May 18th, 2003

Woke up early and Christine and I hiked over to check out Lower Yosemite Falls and stretch out the legs a little. Then a few minutes on the boulders again so Christine could get in a problem at least(a true V0 problem…). Then breakfast, packing up and over to Curry Village for some much needed showers. The showers left us invigorated and we decided to hit the road for the long drive home, only stopping on the way home for a big lunch, then to drop off John’s tent in Fresno, (Thanks again Kevlar) and some ice cream a little later (very impressionable stomachs).

Home by 8pm I was sore and creaky, but nothing broken, no bandages needed, and excellent memories to add to the pile. And a new goal, RA to Crest Jewel in a day. Just a team of two and nobody gets to pass us!

CONCLUSIONS: So the question is, what could we have done different? We climbed well, with good speed, but the waiting behind other teams killed our time and momentum. If we had not let teams pass, I think we would have been fine. We were carrying hefty loads that slowed us as well, but we were happy to have the gear at the top and there is nothing we did not use. Our actual climbing time was around 8 hours which is about right as we have not got our systems streamlined, but the crowds, even on a Friday, definitely an issue. Next time, start at dawn and push through fast, simulclimbing most of the first half.

This is Team Mumu signing off.


mungeclimber


May 19, 2003, 4:57 PM
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Re: Royal Arches Trip Report-Team MUMU [In reply to]
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Dam Skippy! An epic (of your own making).

Next time fast and light. Bullet pack max.

If you have to, stash water at the base of CJ.

Simul climbing helps. 4-5 hours. O'dark early start. 5am or earlier at the base. Even then you may get folks there before you.

Definitely no more than a team of 2.

Or if you just want to do CJ. Hike in from Porcupine.


miker


May 20, 2003, 1:23 PM
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Re: Royal Arches Trip Report-Team MUMU [In reply to]
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I agree, but can't go much lighter as food and sleeping bag were the main bulk. Might go back in two three weeks with a bivy still planned, but no sleeping bag. It is getting warmer.

simulclimbing is definitely the way to go and I will do that as much as I personally am comfortable, which is on most of the stuff up to the pendulum.

So if I try to sleep in my car in the Ahwahnee parking lot how much crap will I get? Or maybe just sleep on the first ledge of RA when we arrive late on Friday night???


crackaddict


May 20, 2003, 2:50 PM
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Re: Royal Arches Trip Report-Team MUMU [In reply to]
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Yeah climb lite, an early start, and simulclimbing is a good fast way to get up RA.

Plus the rap to the left is a much quicker way down. I think it took us 5.5 hours car to car when we did it this way.

Really fast!


kevlar


May 27, 2003, 9:33 AM
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Mike an fellow friends,

It was a pleasure to be able to meet some fellow RC.com climbers...maybe with some luck I can someday say I have climbed in Yosemite... :D

What a joy to read your post on your trip on R.A. and what ??? I missed the ice cream... :(

If you are ever thinking about doing R.A. during the week...please PM me an I will call in sick... :lol:

Cheers

John


Partner chugach001


May 27, 2003, 9:53 AM
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Re: Royal Arches Trip Report-Team MUMU [In reply to]
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Mike,

Good times on the RA - thanks for the chow and laughs during our less-than-planned bivy. Go Team MuMu. I keep laughing about the blow-hard that said; "I should be soloing this route" and then blocked traffic for well over an hour traversing 20' of wet rock after the pendulum. All the same, it was a comfortable night and a fun experience - not like we missed anything in C4.

Any interest in doing something in the Sierra's or Tahquitz around the 12-15th of July? I'll be out west for work. I'd love to climb the E. Face of Whitney.

Let me know and Thanks again,
Jeff


dingus


May 27, 2003, 12:18 PM
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Re: Royal Arches Trip Report-Team MUMU [In reply to]
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Congrats on your climb and getting yourselves out of a ticklish situation. What could you have done differently? Well, you already made note of it, but it's more of a mindset than anything else, so I'll elaborate a bit.

Ivon Chouinard said it best... if you take bivi gear, you'll end up needing it. When you referenced you "only" had sleeping bags, etc, I had to smile. Didn't you also say you had not one but two water filters? Two stoves? You folks went heavy from the start and paid the price for it. If you want to move faster you have to change your mindset.

Light is right.

A quick mountaineering analogy: a friend and I used to frequent high Sierra routes. Being the weekenders that we are, these had to be done quickly (or not at all). My friend very much preferred to drive over Friday night, start hiking immediately from the trailhead, bivi on the way in, do the route and pick up the camp on the way out.

I don't like doing it that way. You have to do the drudge part of the hike in and out with all that extra gear. You need a bigger pack to handle it. You move slower. You're more tired as a result. And me personally, I don't sleep well at altitude before a big climb.

So I can carry more gear, get more tired, move much slower, get less sleep... such a deal! Sounds like your RA climb (no offence intended).

No. Sleep low. Climb high. Go light. Go fast.

I sleep near the car, or in the back of the car. Get up at 1 or 2 am and start hiking fast with a minimal load.

I learned this philosophy climbing long routes in Yosemite.

You need water. So personally I tank up before leaving the car, drink as much as I can stand, then drink some more. It means pissing a lot for the next couple of hours, but if you're going to carry it anyway, carry a good portion of it in your belly where it'll do you some good.

Next is food, again, eat before you start climbing. Take some gu packs in your pocket, with one treat for the summit.

A wind shirt (or something more stout) depending upon season. Don't wear shorts, wear long pants that can easily be pulled up to the knees. Same for the shirt.

Ever played golf? On a crowded golf course you will have ample cause to regret letting a faster party play through. Inevitably they will cause you delay; once in letting them pass and once again as you let them get ahead of you (they took your spot afterall). Strive to move at speeds where you are doing the passing, instead of being passed. As you are well aware of... the possibility of getting knighted is very real.

And get in the habit of questioning the gear you intend to take, both yours and your partner's. You can add all the justifications you like about needing that 2nd stove, 2nd filter, 2nd whatver. Fact is, it was extra gear and contributed it's bit to slowing you down. This time of year I wouldn't bother with a filter at all (but that's just me, not a recommendation). I've drunk from the RA stream more than once without ill effect (top, not the bottom!).

Light is right. If it isn't climbing gear, it's a luxury. Go very light on the luxuries.

DMT


miker


May 27, 2003, 12:27 PM
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But, I like bivying way out in the backcountry, as much as you can call the top of RA the backcountry. I enjoy getting away from the crowds down in the valley as well. You know, nature and crap...
As far as two of each thing, the two stoves ended up being good, because we cracked the tube on one of the stoves and the backup saved the day. But I hear everybody on the fast and light and I will post the results of my next attempt which shuld be astronomically faster. And nobody who is roped up gets to pass us if I can help it.
Hey Jeff, hey John, good to hear from ya.
Miker


dingus


May 27, 2003, 12:42 PM
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In reply to:
But, I like bivying way out in the backcountry, as much as you can call the top of RA the backcountry.

Good thing. Cause if you keep loading yourself up that way you're gonna get plenty of practice!

In reply to:
As far as two of each thing, the two stoves ended up being good, because

See, I knew you were justifying that 2nd stove in your own mind! You are not yet prepared to go light. You should be justifying the taking of no stove, no filter, no sleeping bags, no "dinners for 8! The beer was a good idea though...

In reply to:
we cracked the tube on one of the stoves and the backup saved the day.
But you had a fire too, right? You could have warmed your meals over that?

In reply to:
And nobody who is roped up gets to pass us if I can help it.

I thought your attitudes for letting people pass were generous and polite. I would not advocate stubbornly refusing to let anyone pass if you're going much slower. But nor would I volunteer to spend the night out so the party below me can safely reach their beds tonight!

You have to guard against letting people pass through insecurity too. Sometimes we let people pass because they look more competent that we perhaps feel about ourselves, forgetting for a moment the 6 other parties above us. Polite communication is a godsend in these situations.

DMT


tomanyepics


May 27, 2003, 1:06 PM
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Hey there Mike,
Its Jason from the Arches epic. Sorry Tom and I didn't leave our e-mails in your vehicle like we had planned 2 days earlier. But when we hitched a ride over to get our vehicles I had totally forgotten about checking on your vehicle. I think I was just trying to concentrate on getting something to eat. Anyway Jeff forwarded me your post, it was really good. Tom and I never really got to thank you guys for all your help. We really appreciated everything. But we had to leave early that morning. Anyway Tell the others we said hello and if your ever going back to the valley give me a holler. Later
Jason


onelung


May 27, 2003, 9:49 PM
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Aloha and Many Mahalos to Team Mumu!

I hungered and You gave me something other than cliff bars, I was thirsty and You gave me someting other than iodine tasting water! Yea if Any of you four end up in the Islands...You have a room, and I'll stock the fridge!

What I would have done different? After hanging out at the belay before the waterfall for well over an hour I would have headed down from there. But It turned out to be a good time and was able to meet some solid folks. Yea Thanks as well to Matt, I saw him later, nice guy.

Crowded? Oh yea, I am climbing this easy 5.5 flake and I have a cam 5 ft below me and then a guy 5 ft below that. I say to myself, "this guy has no idea how bad a climber I am" But of course I wasnt falling.



Oh Yea its a good life, I enjoyed the climb and the camp, great campfire! But I am not a fan of that hike!

Cheers to Team Mumu, Kevlar, Matt, Jeff, Jason and T-Bone!

Bill


miker


Jun 6, 2003, 10:17 AM
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please try again.... [In reply to]
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Alrighty,
I am going back this weekend to attempt the RA -> CJ linkup in proper style, i.e. fast. Matt and I will make our best effort to do both and then setup a little fire and sleep at the base of ND. Anyone want to join us, come on ahead, but bring your own food and stuff. ;)

miker


kevlar


Jun 6, 2003, 11:14 AM
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MIKE....

I will be there in Curry awaiting your phone call....to provide ground support as ususall..." PIZZA an BEER" If you make it back in time there may be some left for you two...gl an have fun

rock on

John


epicsaga


Jun 6, 2003, 11:39 AM
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take one of everything good idea [In reply to]
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and hope it doesnt break. most food you can eat cold anyway. take pills instead of a filter, they can't clog or break. one pair of convertible pants with zip off legs. synthetic everything including underwear so you can wear it wet and it'll still dry and keep warm. People can backpack with 10 lbs, its amazing but somehow they do it. Of course their stuff is fragile and $$ pricey.
jameswasser.com


miker


Jun 9, 2003, 1:48 PM
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5 HOURS BABY!!!
fun times, I will post a trip report in the near future.
miker


kevlar


Jun 10, 2003, 11:37 AM
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:D WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

:( Well I didn't get to tie up with you an Matt as I had planned....I had to drink all the beer by my lonesome in Curry...as my partner located 2 hotties...an seems I took a back seat to 2 girls...maybe it is time I learn to " free-solo"... :shock: not for me...I enjoy seeing my family when I come home in one piece on Sunday evening...

I hope to get up to the top someday with you...as I am going to the valley on a regular basis now...living a mere 2 hours South of the park...becoming a bi-monthly thing for me...

It was a pleasure to meet up with you an Matt at the restaurant...you found yourself in the meca of Fresno... 8) the coolest part of town...the rest is a rats nest...no matter what anyone says...but with my new found joy of Yosemite..."I now see the beauty of the rock for once the trees where in the way"

2 thumbs up for such a great site as RC.com...in the mere span of 1 yr I have met an abundance of fine people...many willing to put up with my wild wishes...an simple humor...

Well we did a few simple routes on swan slabs to get the new hotties some chance to climb...an i enjoyed using my bottle opener...drinking more ice cold beer...the one bummer...the bugs where nasty this week...seems they eat 100deet for dinner...cause I am still tore up with some nasty bites...but even being at swan slabs turned out fun....met some great climbers...a couple from Germany, another from Tennessee, a family from Indianapolis, just to mention a few...bottom line...all fun

So...sorry again for not making it to the top to bring you a beer supply for the upper base camp :?

cheers

john

p.s. I did get to see Pete an Tom after their epic 13 day assent of BD an seeing Pete eat pizza later that day...makes me want to take up white water rafting....something dangerous like drowning :roll:


miker


Jun 10, 2003, 2:36 PM
Post #17 of 17 (2638 views)
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Registered: Oct 1, 2001
Posts: 170

Re: Royal Arches Trip Report-Team MUMU [In reply to]
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No problem man,
if you had made that hike...8-10 miles of hard work with beer, we would owe you our first born. We were trying to figure out how you would have packed a pizza up there, that provided much entertainment.
Sorry we missed you at the Slabs. The phone battery was dead so I did not get your message until we made it back to the truck.
See you soon.
Miker


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