|Crimping hard on Freerider last June.|
Peace is an enormous 60 meter pitch climbing a black streak on a golden wall, it varies between 85 and 95 degrees; a testpiece of techy wall climbing. The wall is covered in Tuolumne's infamous granite chickenheads or "knobs", with virtually no distinguishing features at any point. The crux seemed to be just remembering which part of the route I was on! At any one time I could reach maybe 20 knobs and 19 of them were so bad I'd fall immediately. I loved the style of climbing, and it was especially fun since my friends Alan Carne and Brette Harrington were working on the Bachar Yerian a few meters to my left. We would have leisurely chats, suspended above the floor between attempts. I had quite a strange progression on the route, it took 3 sessions just to do all the moves in isolation, and I sent the route on my first proper redpoint, completely out of the blue, on my 5th day. Such a beautiful line!
|The first crux|
|Sunset after our 3rd route on Tuolumne's Fairview Dome!|
Royal Arches North Dome. We climbed what is normally 24 pitches of climbing in 4 long "simul-blocks" reaching the summit of North Dome before midday!
|5000 feet of climbing and it's only midday!|
|Bron cruising the Rostrum|
|Bron getting my top-rope up for me on the Harding slot.|
Much of the Valley was extremely crowded in October, I heard tales of 10 or more teams on the first half of Salathe/Freerider! I was keen for a Yosemite free climbing adventure that was a little bit more off the beaten track. The South face of Mount Watkins ticked these boxes and the crux was rumoured to be a 5.13c/8a+ dyno, I was sold! We packed for 4 days, one to hike in, two days climbing and a fourth to hike off the top. Getting to the base of the wall turned out to be quite a logistical challenge, we hiked for about 4 hours up the secluded Tenaya Canyon, taking us far from the tour buses and burger stands of the Valley proper. We filtered water from Tenaya Creek and began the epic task of getting our haulbag to the top of the "4th class" at the base of the wall. Some of the "4th class" turned out to involve soaking wet slabs up to 5.8!
|Endless low angle slabs, the wall just kept getting further away!|
|onsighting the first pitch, 12a slab!|
|Bron jugging our fixed line at dawn.|
|Beautiful view of Half Dome.|
|Bron leading the outrageously exposed pitch 10, possibly the best pitch of 5.3 in the world!|
|Sunrise of day 2 on the wall.|
|Shaking out and eyeballing the crux of the "Pendulum Bypass pitch".|
|The "dyno pitch"!|
|Bron leading off into the night.|
|On the summit, exhausted but happy.|
On one of our last days in the Valley I got the chance to climb with Shayna Brown, a Valley local who's been climbing a bunch of big walls at blazing speeds. It was a great opportunity to practice and learn more about speed climbing techniques. We decided to climb the Salathe wall on El Capitan in a day (Saladay!), which is slightly harder than the Nose-in-a-day due to being a bit longer and having a lot more mandatory wide crack climbing.
It was another outrageously fun day, we "short-fixed" the entire wall using a "Pakistani Death Loop". The second would jumar at running pace with music blaring from the mini-speaker clipped to their harness. Speed climbing big walls is completely different to free climbing them, I enjoyed the different mindset where anything goes as long as you keep moving upwards and bolts become jugs. I can't wait to do more of this type of thing in the future! We climbed the wall in a little over 17 hours, it got dark just as we got onto the infamous headwall. Swinging about up there in the dark was atmospheric for sure.
|Looking down the "enduro corner", good exposure!|
|Shayna's feet getting onto the headwall.|