Monday, August 10, 2009

Magnetic Yosemite

So, when I began this roadtrip back in May, I had intentions of it being a grand tour of some of the West's coolest climbing areas, hence my ambitious title "Big Wide West". As you might have noticed, though, it hasn't been so much a "roadtrip" as it has a Yosemite trip.

It's true, I have spent almost the whole summer here in the magnetic park, stuck here of my own accord. The reasons: its beauty, fantastic climbing, mostly great weather, and most of all the incredible community. The people that I've met and climbed with, most of whom work for the park, have been so great and I've made a few friends that I'm sure will last for years.

The North Face of the Rostrum, 5.11c, or 12b with Alien Finish (just left of the red line through the final roof)

For the past 2 evenings, one of those friends, Brad, and I have climbed the Rostrum, here in the Valley. He gets out of work around 5pm, so both nights we rallyed, got ready, and hit the cliff by 6pm. It's a big climb, but a very accessible one, with one of Yosemite's easiest approaches. Due to the late hour, we opted to skip the first two pitches, skirting in on a narrow ledge. This makes the route doable with our limited daylight, but also gives you the crux 11c finger crack right off the bat. I lead this, and link it into the next one. The first time on the route, we choose a variation from the main route called "The Uprising", an 11b overhanging fist crack. This is torture for my already scarred hands, but the climbing is gorgeous. The main goal, for Brad anyways, is to get to the "Alien Roof" varitation: a crazy 5.12 body-length roof, split by a single crack. On the first go, we belay on a tiny perch just below the roof, and the evening light is fading on the many monoliths up the Valley. Brad gives it all he had, providing me a spectacular show of footloose aerobatics, but in the end falls. By the time I get to follow, its fully dark and the headlamp is brought out.

Brad working on the Alien finish in an earlier photo. None of our pics from the route turned out due to low light.

The next night, we head back to the Rostrum; Brad is really psyched on trying to send the roof. Again we link pitches up to the base of the roof, giving him the last few minutes of daylight to give 'er hell. Again he spans the 6' long roof, managing to hold the strenuous position with his body entirely horizontal. The trouble is that, once his hands are past the roof, the wall is still overhanging, and no good holds are apparent. Again, he falls, even more frustrated this time. Alas, its getting dark, so he pulls back up, finishes the section with the help of some cams, and we again top out in the dark. Oh well, at least we make it back to the Pizza Deck before closing and enjoy some pizza and beers with friends. Did I mention I love Yosemite?

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