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Who Epics On Cathedral?
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maculated


Jul 25, 2003, 12:57 PM
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Who Epics On Cathedral?
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I'm doing this because Tim swears people actually read and enjoy these. I thought I'd give it a try. Warning, when I can, I write a lot.

Never take a sport climber . . .

It's the middle of August, which turns out to be the worst time to be in Tuolumne if you're someone like me: namely, the Tuolumne Meadows Beta Babe. Yes, I've spent the last two months behind a counter explaining to people that there is no drive through Tenaya canyon, that they can't get hook ups for their monster RVs, and that mountain biking is really swell in Mammoth, but not to be done here. In August, everyone decides that the Valley really is too hot, so they all come up and visit with me. Easily a thousand people a day are in and out.

Now, everyone thinks that working in the Meadows is a dream, and it would be, if you could do it part-time, but nope, this is a full-time operation and I have two days coming up to cram as much classic climbing as possible in.

At the same time, I have my ol' climbing partner from college coming back from a ten day trip on the John Muir Trail looking for a good time. His brother is with him and is so excited to be with the two of us that he has a shiny new ATC attatched to a pristine harness and is just waiting to get hauled up something. My partner's the guy that got me into climbing, but this is the first time that he'd do anything multipitch and trad. I am very excited for him and can't wait to share the experience with him.

He is, however, a bit tentative because he's a boulderer at heart and leads sport if he has to, but trad is a whole different sort of uninteresting monster. I check with every guide I know, "Is Cathedral going to be too much for me to be hauling two guys up?" "Nah," they say,"Easy as pie."

So we get up at 9, but the brother is hungry so it takes us a bit to get to the Cathedral Lakes parking lot. It also turns out that bro is totally not recovered from his hiking and his knees hurt really bad. He makes it about a mile and a half in and decides he can go no further. My buddy says, "Oh, you can make it." And I go, "If he can't walk to the base, I sure as hell am not rescuing him off of a six pitch climb." I hand him my keys and tell him where to find the Looney Bean in Mammoth and my bud and I head off.

By now we are at the base, and it is noon. Still should be plenty of time to finish this climb, I'm a fast, old school climber any who. I rack up, tie in and then my bud goes, "Uh oh."

"what?"

"My bro had the atc."

Not one to panic, I give him the evil eye and set to making a munter hitch. No one ever believes me that I know how to do these things, but see, this is why I do. I instruct him in its use and an hour later we are finally ready to start. (Had to wait for parties at the bottom, too.)

We start up. Beautiful, easy, perfect hand crack to a tree. My partner looks down and goes, "Who. Mighty high." Remember, he's a sport climber.

I get going on the next pitch, refresh his memory as to how to use the Munter, and run it out. I think it was this pitch that I felt I'd gone a bit off route and it was time to traverse back over to a more protectable crack. He shouts, "What's taking so long?"

"Just . .. just . . . shut up a minute."

I cross my legs over two edges on a glassy bulge and side step into a crack. Whew. "That was DEFINITELY not a 5.6 move."

Back up. When I haul him up, he looks a bit shaken. "What gives?"

"I think I'm scared of heights." Come on!!!!!!! He's been climbing for a year and he just finds out now? No way. "Keep going, I'll be fine."

Okay.

Start back up. We end up at the chimney of love. A week before, a guy had attempted climbing the face and decked, the blood stains were still visible. My friend comes up and is shaking. I spend a while trying to find him the least exposed belay spot and try to get in the chimney. And can't.

I'm a big-framed girl. Not horsey or anything, but I definitely have farm-stock child-baring hips. Put a dozen cams and slings on those suckers and bustle-wearing women of the 1800s would be proud. I get in, but just can't commit. I can feel myself peeling backwards.

I get down and try to slide in the other direction. Not so much. Time's a wastin' and daylight is burning. I look at my watch. Two hours to sunset. This climb has taken 4 hours???? Yes, every belay, my partner needs a snack or needs to be assured that this gear will really hold, but more than an hour a pitch? Ugh. I'm fast and light, and this dude, is . . . is not.

Okay. SO I have to get into that chimney. I will NOT do the face. The blood is already spelling bad joo joo for this area. I finally get in and breathe a sigh of relief. I pull the little bulge and I'm out. A little farther up we've got a big face. But the chimney is creating a bunch of rope drag for me. I look around for a belay spot but I've got nothing. It's up and over or nothing.

I go up on the knobs until I am straining under the pull of the rope. I literally have to grab slack on the rope, drop it, and move before it hits the end of the slack. Finally get up to the last pitch and nestle into a protected belay.

My buddy comes up, and is looking green. It seems that his sloth isn't just fear. He has Crohne's disease and it is acting up (Inflammatory intestinal track). We are out of water (because who thought it would take so long?) and he's getting crampy. I think about not summitting, it's already twighlight, but I can't go this far without doing it.

As I get up to the block I am praying that the some-time bolt anchors are in. Please, God, let them be in, I'm dehydrated, stressed, and my partner is ill and scared. Just this once? No such luck. Oh well, trad climb, right? I set up an anchor and relax. The sun is setting, the sky is turning orange and purple and pink. It occurs to me that I didn't bring a headlamp. (Well, if I'd actually started climbing at 10 as planned, I wouldn't need it, would I?) I haul him up and he won't even look around, he's so sick and scared. He doesn't think he can downclimb.

I put him back on belay and lower him. I downclimb the block and we set out down the backside of Cathedral. I knew we had to double back the way we came, but the sun was setting and my partner could barely speak, he was in such pain. The only shot of making it to the road in a few hours would be to go directly down the side facing the lakes and find the trail.

We start downclimbing 4th and 5th class slab. At some points it is really getting dark and I wanted to rope up but he was below me with the rope. I know I am solid soloing 5.8 for short stints but I'm scared, worried about my bud, and shaking from the energy I've wasted all day long.

Somehow I make it down the peak and we trudge through the woods, me using my natural route-finding ability, looking for the trail. It is too dark for my friend to see so he follows me and I shout "log" as I jump obstacles. It feels like it has been an hour in the forest when I finally find the wide, sandy trail. We both rejoice and take a pee break. We discuss weather to ditch our stuff or keep going. I vote for going, so he says, "If we go, I can't stop. You have to make me keep going."

It's pitch black, no moon or anything, deep in the woods, and I'm carrying a full rack and rope straining to see the variations in the trail and calling back any obstacles ahead. My buddy falls over a couple of times and I think about how Imight have to carry him. I feel terribly responsible for dragging him up something he shouldn't have been on (I think the fear of heights brought on the Crohne's more than the dehydration) and worry that my friends have called SAR.

Three and a half miles later we reach the trail head. Of course, by now we've remembered that I gave his brother my car, thinking we'd take the shuttle bus back to my cabin. My feet are tired and my buddy cant move. He needs to sleep and eat now. We discard our stuff and I leave him to start running the five miles back to the cabin to get my car.

Thank God his brother got worried around 9 and drove my car out there and that I was paying attention. It is hard to identify one's car in the dark. We whooped joy, hopped in, and I started laughing hysterically. When we got back to the cabin, my friends had all assembled and decided that by 2 a.m. if we weren't back, they'd call SAR. We made it two hours before the deadline.

I hate Cathedral Peak. Next time I am soloing that darn thing. Epics teach you a lot of stuff like, "Bring extra water and a head lamp." Also, "Don't take your sport climbing buddies on big alpine climbs."

Weeee . . . if you like this one, more epics to follow.


maculated


Jul 25, 2003, 1:13 PM
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Well, duhhhhhhhhhhhh.


timstich


Jul 25, 2003, 1:15 PM
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That was an excellent trip report, in full standing with any others I have read. Good work! And do keep them coming as the inspiration hits you.


cracksniffer


Jul 25, 2003, 1:27 PM
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Thanks for sharing!

Just proves that epics can happen on just about any climb. But to think of all the epic stories that will never be told or heard because of embarrassment. There truly must be thousands and thousands of them. The horror! The horror!

and here's a quote fer yuh:

"I was determined to know beans." H. D. Thoreau


maculated


Jul 25, 2003, 1:30 PM
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I proudly share my epics and I kindly don't share names. :) Oh yes.


crazywacky


Jul 25, 2003, 1:44 PM
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Excellent trip report, and excellent writing style as well.

Definitely keep them coming.


This one sounds a little like every time I go climbing in J-Tree with my little brother... not enough water, "eyes bigger than our stomachs" appetite for climbing, and late night downclimbs.

But at least the desert is still pretty bright at 2 AM. :-)

Great job, and I look forward to reading more.

Scott


sspssp


Jul 25, 2003, 1:48 PM
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In reply to:
"My bro had the atc."

Not one to panic, I give him the evil eye and set to making a munter hitch. No one ever believes me that I know how to do these things, but see, this is why I do. I instruct him in its use and an hour later we are finally ready to start. (Had to wait for parties at the bottom, too.)

As I get up to the block I am praying that the some-time bolt anchors are in. Please, God, let them be in, I'm dehydrated, stressed, and my partner is ill and scared. Just this once? No such luck. Oh well, trad climb, right? I set up an anchor and relax. The sun is setting, the sky is turning orange and purple and pink. It occurs to me that I didn't bring a headlamp. (Well, if I'd actually started climbing at 10 as planned, I wouldn't need it, would I?) I haul him up and he won't even look around, he's so sick and scared. He doesn't think he can downclimb.

Did you have a belay device? If so, why didn't you give him the device and then belay him up with the Munter? Just curious. A Munter is secure, but it is going to twist your rope. Particularly if the person using it is not used to it.

On the Headlamp. "Duh" is right. Pick up one of the micro headlamps. The BD Ion is so small its fits in my chalkbag. I carry it all the time and the weight is so minimal. I also carry a micro-led, key-chain light. I wouldn't want to route find by it, but it is enough to set up a rappel.

All-in-all, it sounds like you learned a few lessons without any serious complications. Gotta be happy with that and another day climbing.


Partner cracklover


Jul 25, 2003, 1:50 PM
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Thanks for the great TR!

GO


watersprite


Jul 25, 2003, 2:04 PM
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great read!! I was set to do Cathedral this weekend, but had to pass, and after reading that, I'm glad.


maculated


Jul 25, 2003, 2:07 PM
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SSp,

This happened a year ago, but I thought it was a swell story anyway. I already had my Tikka, but I just neglected to bring it.

And yup, I had an ATC, but in the interest of time, I thought it would be better for me to belay him with that as the second since I was going to do more hauling up and he was less likely to need to use the brake anyway since Cathedral's an easy haul.

Sprite, don't let my epic stop you. It is a classic little line, you just gotta have stuff a little more 'right' than I had it. :)


sspssp


Jul 25, 2003, 2:15 PM
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By hauling do you mean a pack or mean hauling him? A munter would still work fine if he was hang dogging up and although a munter is pretty forgiving, if my belayer wasn't comfortable with it, I think I would rather be belayed on lead with an ATC. But no biggie.

Yea, lots of people HAVE small headlamps. I still don't understand why people don't always CARRY some sort of light. The led key-chain light is lighter than a single runner (without binears). I'm not sure if the Tikka would fit in a small chalk bag pocket, but it's stilll pretty small.

Anyway, it was a good story and its a good way to learn (or be reminded) of some lessons.


grigriese


Jul 25, 2003, 2:19 PM
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Maculated - Thanks for the trip report. Many people can relate to different parts of your story I'm sure. I can't wait to read more of your trip reports. definately more interesting than the "Stealing Project Quickdraws" or "Is Bouldering Climbing?" debates.

In reply to:
On the Headlamp. "Duh" is right. Pick up one of the micro headlamps. The BD Ion is so small its fits in my chalkbag. I carry it all the time and the weight is so minimal. I also carry a micro-led, key-chain light. I wouldn't want to route find by it, but it is enough to set up a rappel.

I carry two of BD Ions at all times! Mine and my boyfriends. Ya just never know.

I did East Buttress, Middle Cathedral almost two years ago with one other climber. We had one headlamp (mine - because I'm paranoid). By the time we hit that second rappel down the gully, we were doing the decent in the dark It only ended up being interesting, not at all epic, but it did teach me to make sure to have a headlamp for each person.


maculated


Jul 25, 2003, 2:20 PM
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In reply to:
By hauling do you mean a pack or mean hauling him? A munter would still work fine if he was hang dogging up and although a munter is pretty forgiving, if my belayer wasn't comfortable with it, I think I would rather be belayed on lead with an ATC. But no biggie.

Hauling him. As for the munter . . . yes, it would work fine, I just thought it would be better if I had the ATC for reasons of speed (setting up anchors, etc) because I wasn't any more familliar with it myself than knowing how make it and use it for lead belay.

But doesn't matter, it was a year ago.


Partner artm


Jul 25, 2003, 2:26 PM
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I say kudos to Kristin for a great story and for having the resolve and gumption to not let a little thing like an ATC stop her from having a great adventure. It's an entertaining read and obviously she's learned a good deal from it.

You can be my ropegun anytime Maculated.


jorgle


Jul 25, 2003, 2:51 PM
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In reply to:
You can be my ropegun anytime Maculated.

And coming from art that's a big thing....he's a picky MOFO.


maculated


Jul 25, 2003, 3:24 PM
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Aww, I feel all tingly inside.


Partner artm


Jul 25, 2003, 3:38 PM
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That's just gas.
Try burping a couple of times, it'll pass.


pirateclimber


Jul 25, 2003, 4:55 PM
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Hey Maculated... Ever get the feeling that Yosemite just doesn't like you? :lol: (note: emoticon used solely to indicate good natured ribbing)


tradmanclimbs


Jul 25, 2003, 5:40 PM
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Kudos 8) good job. Sounds like you did everything right under the circumstances except it would have been best to let the spurt weini use the atc. other than that you did great. I only lead solid 10 but I took a bolder /spurt type out earlier this summer. When I met him he was cranking a 5.12 sport climb so I figured he was good for a belay and I dragged him up a trad 5.8 and he had to grab gear on the 3rd pitch :D I will probobly never climb 12 so that felt goood :D His eyes were so big :shock: We did 2 easy climbs that day, about 700 ft of 5.8 and he was whooped :P the down side of it was he gave me shiit for drinking a few beers on the way home :roll:


sharpender


Jul 25, 2003, 10:46 PM
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Thanks for all the beta. I'm planning a trip to do Cathedral in a couple of weeks and I'm more excited about it now from your story. You've reinforced for me the need for a partner up to swinging leads. I could easily get so exicted about the climb that I might take any "slave". Thanks for the lesson. Great write by the way.


dancesonrocks


Aug 3, 2003, 9:23 PM
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Thanks for the trip report!

I climbed Cathedral with a party of 4 and fortunately had no mishaps. However, my friend did have to help another party of 2 get down when they said they were experiencing altitude sickness.... I sort of suspect that was a way the person had of not losing face by backing out of the climb. Meanwhile, while I was tending the belay (we were on that great ledge before the chimney) and it turned out one of the other climbers also bottle necked there knew an old friend of mine. We dubbed the ledge, the Dinner Party. ;)


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