Day 1: The pitch is labeled with an innocuous sounding “5.8 fist”.
“well that’s about VS, I could probably solo this blindfolded”, I think to myself.
I put my fist in the crack.
I take it out and look at it.
I put my fist in the crack the other way up.
I take it out and look at it again.
I put my other fist in the crack.
10 meters later I’m a gibbering wreck, desperately trying to make the crack wider with one hand on either side. My lone blue camalot is the only thing keeping me from a 20 meter screamer. Above me 5.8 fist crack stretches on indefinitely. “HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS?!?”
Well it could only get better from there!
I just got back from a month in Yosemite with my girlfriend Bron. I was super excited to learn how to climb big walls, which was the aim of this trip: figure out big wall, aid and crack climbing. These are some highlights from the trip:
Big Wall Number 1: Our first step towards big wall glory was the south face of Washington Column. On dinner ledge, our first bivy spot, we were joined by a guy who told us his name was Joe-semite. He appeared to be climbing by himself, had long straggly black hair, tiny John Lennon sunglasses and reggae blaring from the large boombox hanging from his harness. Occasionally he would yell “YEAH FUCK YEAH” at the top of his lungs. He seemed to be having a good time. Later two friends joined him having hauled a case of beer, whisky, rum AND vodka up to the ledge. Party! Not what I was expecting for my first big wall bivy!!! The next day we climbed and hauled to the top, Bron put in a great effort leading the last scary loose pitch by headtorch. We pulled our haulbag over the top and collapsed where we stood.
|"Everything is clipped to everything else, what is aid climbing anyway!?"|
|Topping out in the dark from our first big wall!|
Royal Arches Solo: Royal arches is a classic 16 pitch 5.7/severe-ish, my time was 1 hour 55 minutes valley to valley. Running down I was laughing to myself, this much fun shouldn't be legal.
|Entering the Harding Slot|
|"I can't breathe!"|
|The incredible Changing Corners pitch.|
|The Great Roof|
|Bron seconding the Great Roof.|
|The Pancake Flake|
|Camp VI, our final bivy on the route|
|Some Italians we met on the final day|