Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Valley of My Dreams

 The Valley of Reality

The only difference is one has way more traffic, way more rain, and way more rangers. And the other has an escalator down the East Ledges.

I've been here in the real Valley for the past week, and it'd be hard to say that's its been a disappointment. I've been hanging out with good friends, enjoying campfires and good food, and doing some awesome climbing! But I do have to count it as a minor failure that I've yet to climb the proudest cliff in the world, El Cap.

 Most of Half Dome

Since arriving here, I've mostly been climbing with my good friend Rob K, who was visiting from Colo-RAD-o. We've done the Silent Line, an excellent mostly-free-climb on the seldom traveled Gold Wall. Check out my description here on MountainProject. Silent Line was notable for it's gorgeous golden granite, the constant sounds (and occasional spray) from the nearby Ribbon Falls (which remained hidden until the very top of the climb!), and it's never ending hand cracks! A very recommended outing.

After a day of cragging on the local favorite Cookie Cliff, Rob and I slogged up to Higher Cathedral Rock and willingly subjected ourselves to a beat down on "The Crucifix". Actually, after the short 5.12 crux at the beginning, it wasn't really a beat down; we cruised it. Which was good, since it was freezing and I really wanted to get back to camp and make some hot chocolate!

The climb was honestly fantastic, and I hope to go back up there on a warmer day and enjoy it a bit more. Named for the giant cross shape made by intersecting cracks, the Crucifix climbs a wild and steep wall on the West face of Higher Cathedral. The final loong pitch takes the arete around and past the huge roof, visible in the upper right of this photo. With tons of cruxes, up to 11d, and more exposure that you'd get in a whole season of sport climbing, I'm sure I'll remember this pitch for a while!

Then the rain came, which wasn't really so bad, just little drizzles here and there. It did, however, prevent making any big plans.

Monday was supposed to be nice, so my friend Brad and I woke up early to try the Salathe Wall on El Cap. The first 1000' of the route went well, and we were on Mammoth Terrace by 7:30am, but then we realized that we could barely see the other side of the Valley, and yes, those little white flakes swirling around us really we snow. We hesitated a bit, contemplated the unpleasantness of trying to get down from any higher with our single rope, were tempting by the fixed lines to the ground, and came to a decision: BAIL!

Brad leading on the Salathe Wall, El Capitan.

So now what? The weather here is frustrating. The forecasts for the rest of the week are bad, but the days are usually fine, except for the occasional light shower and constant gloomy overcast. Like I said, though, it's just hard to make plans for big days (EL CAP) without a few nice smiling Suns on those forecasts. I think we're about to break out of this extended wet winter/spring and enjoy some amazing California sunshine, I just know it!

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