YOSEMITE "CLASSIC ROCK" TOUR: THE BEAR FACTS
SEPTEMBER 11-25, 1993
By Sharon "Red Vines" Reynolds
The Yosemite Seven (Pam Casey, Sid Goodwin, Dick Walker, Tim Riordan, and Steve and Sharon Reynolds) headed south from Spokane WA to the Valley, seeking adventure on the incredible granite there. First encampment was in the High Sierra at Tuolumne Meadows, 8,600 feet. Members warmed up on various climbs, including Northwest Books (5.6) on Lembert Dome, Golfer's Route (5.7) on Low Profile Dome, and West Crack (5.9) on Daff Dome. The only day of bad weather during the entire trip occurred when Bill, Dick, Tim and Steve were stormed off the Regular Route (III-IV, 5.9) of Fairview Dome.
The highlight of the first week was all seven of us summitting Cathedral Peak (10,911 ft.). It's very much worth the 3-mile hike in! Tarns, erratics, and deep striations carved into the slabs bear witness to the epic glacial forces that carved the Yosemite region. The five pitches of the Southeast Buttress (II, 5.5) offer classic granite climbing -- cracks, flakes, knobs, and a chimney -- in a spectacular alpine setting. The summit spires of Cathedral Peak bear a strong resemblance to Dragontail near Leavenworth WA; the highest seats three intimate friends. Eichorn's Pinnacle, the secondary summit of Cathedral, awaits our return.
During our last night in the Meadows, a professional bear established a new route, "Through The Window" (5.5), into Casey's secured van. (Our campsite's bear box was crammed full, so we had to store certain items in what we considered the least inviting vehicle.) Much to our embaressment & consternation, "Nipper" dined on a wide array of edibles including PowerBars, vitamins, and Red Vines. He also bit into Costco-sized tins of cocoa and Gatorade. What he didn't eat, he slobbered on. Steve saw "Nipper" waddle away and swears he weighed 300 pounds. We were relieved to move down to Yosemite Valley before Mr. Bear could pay a return visit.
Contrary to popular opinion, Spokane Mountaineers are not completely uncultured and unwashed. An edifying experience was our visit to the elegant and historic Awahnee Hotel to view the new climbing exhibit. It included equipment used by Salathe, Robbins, Harding, and others who were integral to the history of climbing in the Valley.
Casey set the standard for hiking, completing both the Yosemite Falls Trail and the even more strenuous Mist Trail/Hikers Cable Route to the summit of Half Dome. Sid specialized in map and compass problems...including the Valley's paved loop roads. Tim, Dick, and Bill, having the largest coolers, set the standards for beer transport and consumption.
Climbs that various members of our group completed included Royal Arches (III, 5.7. A1), Braille Book (II, 5.8), Bishop's Terrace (5.9), Jump for Joy (5.8), Munginella (5.6), After Six (5.6), and The Grack (5.6). Snake Dike (II, 5.7) on Half Dome was climbed by Steve, Sid, and Steve's brother Tim who joined us from San Jose. Sharon completed Snake Dike with Richard from London, learning new British idioms ("squiz" and "have a butcher at it") in the process. Of special note was the completion of the East Buttress (IV, 5.9, A1) of Middle Cathedral Rock by Tim, Dick, and Bill.
This region offers a spectacular experience, not to be missed in this world! You don't have to "climb hard", or even climb at all, to revel in the incomparable grandeur.