Yosemite to Pornland
by We didn't write this
Just a heads up, all the images in this are unphotoshopped IPhone photos! Sorry!
I think I realized I was over the valley during Walker and I’s last push on the Nose a few weeks ago. We woke up at midnight and started climbing. As we progressed up the capitan throughout the night, I felt tiered, scared and not really that psyched. Sure, there were moments I was happy to be scaling the greatest route in the world. However, for the most part, I kind of just wanted to be on the ground.
This feeling really set in last weekend. After I found out that I was getting shipped off to Portland for the winter, I wanted to have one last scramble in the Valley. Another push on the Nose with Walker was tempting;
Unfortunatley, Walker’s dumbass managed to severly damage his finger, so that was no longer an option.
Instead, I decided to climb with my brother. We threw around the idea of the Nose. However, the idea of french freeing 32 pitches of pee covered 5.9 didn’t seem that fun. Instead, we decided on a Crucifix and Hotline linkup.
I finished up my work in Central Valley by dropping several hundred dollars at various Sacramento nightclubs with Jason and Mike ‘Im Allergic to Fun’ Dewitt.
The next day I drove to San Fran, got in my brother’s truck and went off to my last valley weekend. We parked in Harden Flat and set a 5:30AM alarm.
We woke up, made coffee and drove to the climb.
The Crucifix is an infamous Yosemite testpiece. If you google it, you get the following stats: 12b: 700 feet, 5 pitches. However, the Crucifix actually starts half way up Higher Cathedral, so one must climb 600 feet just to get to the start. So, the whole outing is about 1300 feet and considered the next step up from Astroman.
There are several ways one can get to the start of the Crucifix. We decided to climb the 600 foot 11a called Mary’s Tears.
At 7am (sunrise) Mike and I started hiking to higher cathedral. The hike is about 45 minutes, straight up hill, and gains about 1000 feet in elevation. We started hiking in cold and got to the base sweaty but psyched.
The very outdated topo to Mary’s Tears showed the first two pitches as short and easy so we decided to link them. I smoked some greenery and started climbing.
Sleep deprived, tiered, and basically over trad climbing, I went up the sea of granite. After what seemed like an eternity of choss, dirt and loose flakes, I reached a sketchy anchor. Soon, Mike joined me at the belay. The pitch seemed like it took forever, but I figured that was just because I was sort of high.
Turns out linking the first two pitches was actually about 250 feet; we ran out of rope and Mike had to simul climb. Not a great start.
I gave Mike the rack and he went off for the 2nd pitch.
To avoid climbing with a pack, Mike and I brought a very skinny chord to haul our small day pack. Unfortunatley, the pitches on Mary’s Tears and the Crucifix were very long, and often, our trail line was too short. This happened on the second pitch. Mike went around the corner and then up, up and up, until the trail line ran out and I had to let it go. I was doomed to climb the 5.11 crux pitch of Mary’s tears with a 15 pound pack. Fuck.
I did this pitch and the choss pitch after and we found ourselves at the base of the Crucifix, 600 feet off the deck.
The Crucifix can technically be done in 5 pitches. The first pitch, 12a, is the technicall crux. It is a 5.12a finger crack boulder problem to a 5.10 offwidth flare only protected by micronuts. Mike kindly volunteered to lead this pitch and made short, gracefull work of the endeavour.
I followed and joined my brotha at the anchor, feeling tiered, scared, but decently psyched. The guidebook described the next pitch as a crux 5.10+ ofwidth.
This pitch looked long, steep and hard, but I went for it anyways. It ended up being a 150 foot fist crack. I slowly worked my way up the crack, armed with 2 #3s and 2#4s waiting for the henious offwidth. For some reason, the ofwidth never really came and I eventually clipped the anchors, placing only a 4 pieces on the pitch. Mike ran up the pitch with little effort, once again solidifying that he is basically better at everything (climbing, life, etc..) than me.
At this point, it was about 1pm and 3 pitches remained. The next pitch was described as simple 5.10. The one after had a very colourful descripton of 5.11c stem to 5.11d roof to 5.10 ‘scray’ (what the fuck is that???). Not wanting anything to do with that endevour, I volunteered to lead the next pitch as well.
Turns out, the Crucifx topo is very wrong. What is described as a 5.10 chill pitch is actually the crux offwidth of the climb. I wasted my wide cams early and found myself protectionless for the long, grueling chimney section at the top.
I made it all the way through this nonsense to a bolt; the topo instructs you to climb to the bolt and traverse right to a ledge. Turns out the topo is bullshit, you have to traverse lower. (Note, on this pitch, DO NOT CLIMB TO THE BOLT, traverse right about 15 feet lower, using a bomber pocket face hold to move right). After some confusion, hanging and downclimbing, we gained the anchor at a very thin, exposed ledge 1000 feet off the deck.
At this point, it was about 3:30pm and we still had 2 pitches to go. Mike racked up for the 5.11c stem to 5.10 scary pitch and went for it. He promtly whipped on a TINY nut, slamming me into the wall during a big wall dynamic catch. With fierce determination, he lowered to the start, sent the lower crux only to fall at the top 5.11d section of the pitch. I followed without falling, securing my onsight of the Crucifx. Mike led the next pitch and soon, we were on top, rewarded by sick nasty views of El Capitan and the Valley as a whole.
Unfortunatley, we didn’t have much time to bask in the glory of our ascent. It took us almost 10 hours to climb this route; it was 5:30, and with less than an hour of daylight left we had to descend the 2000+ vertical feet to the valley floor.
Hungry, tiered but satisfied we made our way down through a valley sunset.
The next day we went for Hotline, the first 5.12 in Yosemite. This 4 to 7 pitch climb (depending on how many pitches you link) ascends the striking face of elephant rock across the Merced from the cookie. I tried to send the crux 5.12 pitch but whipped on a red c3; Mike was able to redpoint every pitch for a send.
We rapped from the 700 foot route and crossed the Mighty Merced in our swimsuits, struggling to keep our waists and packs above the river. The weather was sick, a beautiful, sunny 75 degree day. However, I was happy to leave the valley for the season.
Basically, I think I am over trad climbing for the moment. I bought my rack in July and basically only trad climbed since then. Multipitch climbing is cool, but mentally exhausting. Multipitch is serious shit. Simple things like dropping a shoe or a belay device, or placing the wrong sized cammy widget in the crack have serious, possibly deadly consequences. Fuck that. I just wanna clip some bolts.
I said my good bye to the valley, we drove back to SF and the next morning, I boarded a 7am flight to Oregon.
So yeah, now I am in Portland until February. For those that haven’t been up here, its cold and wet. The northern location of this city makes for short days and dark, chilly nights. I embraced the spirit of the city by becoming a total hipster fag. I bought a bike,
and even got into the indie music scene
Yep, super gay.
Anyways, looks like Smith on the weekends for me, and Bishop for thanksgiving and Christmas.
Peace, Love and Spray,