Just back from a lovely week in Yosemite Valley, California. This trip to the big ditch was for the
American Alpine Club's International Climbers Meet. I was lucky enough to be invited as a host climber.
What an awesome experience! I felt like the little fish amongst the big fish, with other famous host climbers
such as Jim Donini, John Bragg, George Lowe, Jay Anderson... It was sure to be great times!
We had three catered meals per-day, breakfast, a packed lunch, and dinner with desert! Thanks for the good grub BB's Catering. And while I am at it with BIG THANKS... I would like to give a special shout out to Graham Williams of CILOGEAR, and Carolyn at STERLING ROPES.
As a host climber my rope got totally trashed at this event, and they helped me out with some new cord. You folks, are the BEST!
I was blessed to climb everyday while in the valley. Four of the days were spent cragging in the sun.
These were great days climbing with many people from around the world. Every single pitch route we climbed was three stars or more. I don't think I did a single bad pitch the whole trip.
|Mary Ann studying topos|
One day I climbed the East Buttress of El Capitan (5.10b IV) with Mark Soot. I had done this route twelve years ago, and had forgotten just how much fun it is. Every pitch was delightful. I think we pulled it off in nine pitches. George Lowe and Sam were right behind us, and I think George forgot how much fun it was also. I could hear him hooting, and yelling with joy after finishing pitches in the afternoon sun.
On a rest day I went climbing with Graham Williams. Our plan was to climb the best 5.6 in the valley, The Grack. A three pitch slabby crack climb. Indeed it was most enjoyable. We did have to throw our rope down in line, and hang out for about four hours before our turn came up. This was fine by us, as it was in the blazing sun, and the longer we waited, shade would eventually arrive. During our boredom of waiting we carved faces on acorns, and made a funny movie. (AcornAdventures Link) When it was finally our turn, the shade had just hit the climb. There was one party of three above us at the second pitch belay. I took off at full speed, reaching this party within minutes. They looked at me and said "you had better keep going.." I said "really, wow!" and off I went. We managed to simul-climb this thing in one pitch. Did two double rope raps to the ground, looked at the clock... 17 minutes ground to ground. Some folks behind us, who had threatened to pass us were still on the ground. They asked Graham "who is that guy" and he just told them "Timmy!" What a hoot!
Another day I was able to climb on a formation I had not yet been on. The Sentinel. George Lowe and me
had our eye on the Chouinard-Herbert (5.11c IV) We had a blast, climbing in the shade all day, not sweating for once. I was able to fire the cruxes without too much trouble...Until we got to the very top crux. I missed seeing a free variation down below me, and aided across the crazy afro-cuban flakes. These flakes are actually a long roof band, with many hollow sounding down pointing flakes littered with upward driven pitons! I wish I had seen the free way to go, but this original way was just a fun. The skies were also looking a bit on the dark side, so it was good to keep moving, as we still had two more long pitches to go, and a long scrambling descent. Who wants to be out late, and miss dinner?!
Thinking back about funny things going on during the event makes me think of Jim Donini. Our friends Thom & Karla had an award made for Jim. It is for his alpine excellence, and the award is titled
"The Third Pillar of Dana Award" John Bragg gave the ceremony speech. Jim just smiled and accepted his gift. Everyone cheered, then Jim gave his speech... What only a few people were aware of is that Jim HATES the Third Pillar of Dana, and thinks the route is a pile of shit. (see SuperTopo thread) I could hardly control my laughter, as everyone thought it was the real deal!
Award Video Link)
On the last day of the event we did a bit of giving back to the valley by doing trail work. We were able to install some nice new rock steps at the Cookie Cliff. This was a much needed improvement, hope everyone enjoys them... Of course we did get some climbing in that day also!