Hey everyone,

 

I thought I’d send some pics your way from my weekend in Yosemite.

 

I showed up Friday night to some ominous looking clouds.  It started sprinkling shortly after I got into Tuolumne Meadows (at 9,500’) and met up with my Australian climbing partner.  We camped out and woke up to rain, sleet, snow, graupel, etc… So we drove around for a while looking for a break in the weather.  Around 1 pm we grabbed out gear and headed up to climb something only to be stopped by sleet 10 minutes later.  So we headed 3 miles further up the road to where it was snowing.  We racked up at the car and trotted off to climb an easy 2 pitch climb up Lembert Dome.  It promptly started snowing and we trudged up the climb in a flurry.  Just when we got down, the skies truly darkened and it really started snowing.  We packed it in and went to camp to make dinner and sit around a fire.

 

Sunday we got up at 5am to head to the Valley and warmer temps.  The drive down was very snowy for this early in the season.  We arrived near Camp 4 around 7:30, just in time to stand in line for a site and get some coffee.  The ranger showed up at 8:30, we got checked in and then we re-racked for Snake Dike, our climb of the day.

 

 

Around 10:15 we launched off on the 6 mile, 5,000’ gain approach trail to Half Dome.  It looped us up past Vernal Falls then Nevada Falls.  At noon another climber asked us what was up with the late start.  We told him that’s how we do it and all would be fine.  Around 1:15 we reached the base of the climb (the whole 6miles and 5,000’ of gain was intense) I then spent 15 minutes trying not to puke and eat some food while we got ready (my cardio is pathetic).  We took off up the climb right before 2:00 with mostly clear skies at this point.  The first pitch went off without a hitch as David led up to a small roof then a 25’ traverse left and up and over it to the first belay station on top of a large flake.  I followed up, grabbed the rack and took off on the second pitch.  The first moves were a bit worrying being about 15’ above a ledge with no pro.  I eventually got a blue alien to stick in (half way) which made for lovely psychological pro.  Went up above the overlap and onto the official dike.  After some careful topo studying we realized I skipped the traverse right, up then back left.  This was somewhat of an advantage as it let me lead a pitch and half instead of just one.  After this the climbing blends together as we follow the huge dike up the side of Half Dome for over 600’.  Around 5:15 we topped out the climb and began the trudge up the endless slabs to the true summit of Half Dome.  Just as we arrived, huge clouds rolled over the top and for a while we were above them, but were soon enveloped in them.  So our summit shots are all grey and there’s no background.  But what an exciting climb.  We find the Cables descent route (steel cables lashed to the side of the dome).  These angle down at about 45 degrees and can be terrifying.  We clipped into them (something tourists can’t) and skirted down on the slick granite.  When we finally reached the bottom we met some back country campers and had dinner with them.  This was a welcome rest.  We began our 9 mile and 5,000’ descent right around 7:00.  The moon was full so we hiked without lights for a long period.  Finally at 10:30 we arrived back in the valley to some much needed water, beer, and chili.

 

We then slept in on Monday till about 7:30 and headed over to the lodge for bacon and eggs from the cafeteria.  After gorging on this fine meal we headed off for the super classic Nutcracker on Manure Pile Buttress (AKA Ranger Rock).  After getting lost for an hour and wondering around the wrong buttress we eventually found it and the horde of people trying to climb it.  Since it was my last day and a short climb (400’, 4 pitches), we stacked up in line and headed up.  We ended up waiting for 3 hours on a ledge with 6 other people while the world’s slowest climbing party in front of us finally got going.  All 6 of us simul led the last 3 pitches and topped out in about an hour.  This climb was also well worth the effort.  Every pitch was fantastic with views all down the valley.

 

We sorted gear back at the car, hung out in El Cap meadow for a bit with the rats and then I hit the road to get back to LA by 1 am and get ready for work.  All in all, a fabulous weekend.