Climbers:Alec, Glenn, Matt, Me
It's 6:00 a.m. and I've been driving for seven and a half hours. Surprisingly, I've felt alert the entire time, allowing my buddies to sleep the night away. Driving west from Benton, California, dawn arrives and I finally begin to feel the first wave of exhaustion. I fiddle with the iPod, trying to find some music to give me a spark. But to no avail; all my music blends together in monotones. I then plug in my buddy's iPod and a musical delight teases my ears. Not just any musical delight mind you, this is "Afternoon Delight". I've never heard this song before, but after a few minutes, the songs wins me over and a smile spreads over my face:
"Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight, Gonna grab some afternoon delight.
My motto's always been, when it's right it's right, Why wait until the middle of a cold dark night ?
When everything's a little clearer in the light of day . Then we know the night is always gonna be here anyway .
Thinking of you's working up an appetite, Looking forward to a little afternoon delight."
I was entranced. Nice tunes! In the words of Will Ferrell "This song is quite simply the greatest composition in human history. If you disagree, I will fight you." I was reenergized. This week was about grabbin' some of Yosemite's afternoon delight.
Arriving in Yosemite on Sunday morning, we found plenty of space in Camp 4 as the crowds returned home from the weekend.
Our first time to Yosemite Valley.
Yosemite Valley caught us off guard. I don't know why, but I expected something less developed . . . not so much. So we drove up to Tuolumne for some peace and quiet. Cathedral Peak appeared to be a good starting point. The approach was a 50/50 mix of trail and snow, and fortunately we only saw one other group. They turned around after the first pitch giving us the mountain to ourselves.
Approaching Cathedral Peak via Budd Creek.
Looking up the Southeast Buttress.
On the third pitch. Looking south.
Some excellent cracks to the left of the standard chimney.
A large storm was brewing. Time to go.
360-degree panorama from the summit of Cathedral Peak.
Repelling down the south face.
Hiking down Budd Creek in the afternoon.
We weren't too excited for a back-to-back 3-hour round trip up to Tuolumne, so we spent the next day in Yosemite Valley. Royal Arches is reported to be an easy, fun, 16-pitch climb. The tallest climb any of us had done was nine pitches, so we were excited to spend a longer time up in the air, particularly with the phenomenal views. Not all of the pitches were "vertical pitches" (some traversing, etc.), but it was a blast nonetheless. Combined with 11 rappels, this was a long day. Again, we were alone on the mountain . . . afternoon delight!
Even with the guidebook, it took some time to find the base of the route.
Ah, the first pitch.
Compared with yesterday's stress-inducing storm, today's weather was a welcome change.
Approaching the famed pendulum (climber on the right).
Alec manned up and freed the 5.10 traverse. Not me, all pendulum baby.
Pitch 16 equalled water. Lots of water!
While pulling the rope after the first rappel, I saw a knot in the end of the rope after it was 40 feet up the wall. We tried to climb up to get it, but the final section of wall was too blank. This contraption saved us. Three sticks, a few runners, duct tape, and a nut tool.
A few rappels later, Matt's still pulling the rope carefully. No gettin' stuck here. We reached the parking lot at dark.
Day 3 was a rest day. We caught the USA v. Algeria game. (Okay, I admit, a Sports Grill in the middle of a National Park can be marvelously convenient. I'm such a hypocrite.) Then we spent the day seeing the sights.
The Captain. We had a chance meeting with Alex Honnold at the bridge after his Half Dome / El Capitan linkup. That was cool.
Bridal Veil Falls.
Lower Yosemite Falls.
Stunning beauty in the Valley.
Stately Pleasure Dome & Lembert Dome
Okay, back to climbing and back to Tuolumne. Our Cathedral Peak approach had been rather tedious and time consuming with deep, fragile, sun cups in the snow fields. We had no interest in fighting that beast all the way back to the Matthes Crest, so we opted for easier approaches. Stately Pleasure Dome and Lembert Dome were fine candidates.
Stately Pleasure Dome (left).
A grueling 5-foot approach from the car.
Absolutely stellar climbing on West Country.
Pitch 4, West Country.
Last pitch of South Crack.
What a day. What a place!
What would a first Yosemite trip be without a Half Dome climb? We were excited. The approach and descent are long, but so scenic that the miles breeze by. We ascended between Mount Broderick and Liberty Cap, then descended the standard trail. In every respect the environment lived up to its reputation. The climb was outstanding. Even the summit was far less crowded than anticipated . . . more afternoon delight!
Half Dome from Glacier Point.
A cool, crisp morning.
Waterfalls everywhere . . .
. . . along the John Muir Trail.
We ascended between Mount Broderick and Liberty Cap.
Stunning details along the trail.
The east face of Half Dome.
The 5.7 traverses. Fun and scary.
The Snake Dike.
Definitely the most runout we've ever been.
Cool formations all along the route.
The last slabs to the top.
The famous view.
Looking down the Northwest Face. Oh my . . .
180-degree panorama looking east.
With one day left, what would I naturally want to do? Climb? Watch the World Cup! I think they're on to something with this Sports Bar / National Park idea. :) The U.S. v. Ghana game was a kick to the gut, but nothing a pizza, coke and ice cream can't resolve. We drove home fully satisfied with our first Yosemite experience.
The photos are truly superb and really add to your report.
I don't climb anymore so found your report just the right mixture of climbing and what first time climber/visitors might experience at Yosemite. Sounds like you had a great experience! (And while you initially picked on an oldie favorite of mine from my 'courtin days', you did manage to redeem yourself!)
Nothing to speak of,.... quick trip to the Teet's, quick trip to the City, little climbing here and there... I started a new job this summer and it's taking up a bit of my time. All good though. Still,........ !! I wish I could've gone along.
I use a Canon 30D with a 10-22mm lens. It's a heavy combination (roughly 3.5 pounds), but the photos are always worth the effort it takes to carry it along. I also bring a polarizer filter and a ND grad filter, to remove the "washed out sky".