Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 37.75600°N / 119.593°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 16, 1988
Lost Arrow Chimney Early July. Alex Schmauss (of Hairline fame) gets a call on the telephone. "In shape?? Interested in a little chimney climb two weeks from now? Let's go CLIMBING!!" Unable to synchronize our days off, ( I with Friday/Saturday, Alex with Saturday/Sunday) I will hike in on Friday and fix ropes to the Notch. Meet Alex at 7:30 pm. Fire the next day. Rappelling into Lost Arrow Notch alone has to be one of the Gawd-Awfullest spooky experiences a person can ever have. Memories of the first Arrow fatality, Irving Smith, haunt me in this lonely place. Smith had hoped to become the youngest person to climb Lost Arrow Tip. Instead, before he ever set foot on the climb itself, he somehow lost it at Lost Arrow Notch and set a record of another kind. Lost Arrow Chimney was closed to climbing for a year as Smiths body lay on a chockstone somewhere in its lonely depths. Such thoughts are close to the surface as a loose rock bounces into the hazy nothingness surrounding me. Rather than descend entirely to the notch, I lower a pack on the end of the second rope. In it are our descent shoes, jumars, 1.5 gallons of water, a bit of food, and headlamps. We want to climb the Chimney, in as much as possible, unencumbered. Next, out come my prussiks, poor-man's ascenders, and I slowly hoist myself back up to the rim. Behind schedule, I fairly run down the Falls trail after a very busy afternoon. I'm late meeting Alex by 15 minutes. 16 July: 4:30 am. We hurriedly stash our bivy gear, having slept directly in the center of the trail. I try to choke down a few bites while Alex cheerfully wolfs down a huge breakfast of cataloupe, sweet rolls, tea. I puke as we start the approach in excruciatingly tight climbing shoes. The stench of fear saturates the air around me. Horrible Talus scramble. Wild stream leaping, sketching across verglassed slabs below Yosemite Falls, impassible bru, pursued by dark thoughts, racing toward my nightmare, chased by the ghost of Irving Smith. The approach was uneventful. The first pitch is wet. WET! On a midsummer climb where we expect HEAT to be our primary concern, the entry to the climb is a slimy mess. I mean, the belay at the base of the pitch is in the middle of a BOG. We fairly fly up the first six pitches of the route. Casual. Vacation climb. But as we fly toward the Rim, almost imperceptibly, the rock slowly steepens. By pitch 8 (5.10 chimney!?) the route is a gently overhanging, rotten, flared groove. As I haul our tiny pack, it never touches the rock. Pitch 9: 150 feet, (count 'em... 150... count 'em 3 inches at a time, 'cause that's how much you move per series of squirms in this type of...) yes, boys and girls, the grand prize goes to Off Body, flared, 5.9 SQUeeeeEZE Chimney! Sounds drift down to Alex as I lead this "Oh yes!!! MMMmmm Unnnhhhh! Make me cry! Hurt me! Hurt me like that! I LOVE it when you mmmake mme cr... cr... CRY!!" Rubble on a ledge. As I belay on this tiered pile of teetering skull-splitters, one thought is the focus of my being - Don't knock anything off. Don't kill Alex. Suckered. Enigmatic, beckoning slot. Desperation in the darkness. Caving 1200 feet up. Harding Hole. I'm stuck. I can't turn my head (The chimney is too narrow) I don't have a harness on, the rope is tied around my ankle. (The chimney is too narrow) I just lost all the buttons off my shirt (The chimney is too narrow) I can't take a full breath of air (The chimney is...) I can't move forward (the CHIMney) I can't move backwards (Chimn... Chimn... oh goh.. uh....uhhh... uhh) 10 feet. Straight-jacketed, mummified alive, horrendous power moves unable to even thrash effectively; emptying the lungs scared IF I move I WON'T BE ABLE TO BREATHE scraping my body through lubricated by my own blood I suddenly slide forward a quarter inch of progress toward the beckoning light 10 feet away... 10 feet and 45 minutes of hell. Notch, 2:30 pm. Alex pops through like a carnival freak thin man. Jug to the rim. Someone hid beer in the stream above the falls. Wonder who that could be ? Ahhhh... Sapporo. Long, foot-bruising down Falls Trail, horrible loads from camp to the Valley floor. We're DONE!


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el guano

el guano - Jan 22, 2006 9:39 pm - Hasn't voted

Trip Report Comment

Super. A little more dramatic than what I read in the fifty classics. But more inspirational, yeah thats it. Inspirational.



Felsberg - Jan 30, 2006 3:43 pm - Hasn't voted

Trip Report Comment

i always enjoy reading your trip reports, they're well written, uncluttered, and always exciting. another good one.

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