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September 12, 2009

A Climbing Trip

My last day of work was Thursday and by 7:30 that evening I was on my way to meet Lisa B in Tuolumne for a climbing adventure. By 11:30 that night I was sitting in a pop up trailer in the Ranger housing area chatting a mile a minute trying to calm down enough to sleep. Our plans for a semi alpine start were thwarted when we spent several hours drinking tea and coffee with our ranger hosts, making and eating elaborate breakfast burritos, and catching up on gossip. We managed a crack of noon start on our first climbing objective, the Regular Route on Fairview Dome. I’ve somehow managed to never climb this Tuolumne uber classic. The climbing part consisted of myself, Lisa B, Janet (our hostess) and her yet to be born child. Janet is an ER nurse in Yosemite and just starting her third trimester, she’s super active and was looking forward to what might be the first pregnant ascent of the Regular Route.

We figured that our late start would allow all of the slow parties that begin at the crack of dawn to be at the top of the climb and out of our way. We were wrong, two men just ahead of us must have had the same idea and spent a very long time mucking around on the first belay. Lisa B., our fearless leader, gracefully stemmed and jammed her way up the slippery first pitch and set a belay. We were climbing with a system of half ropes- Lisa was tied into two skinny ropes one green one yellow. Janet and I each got an end of one of the ropes, I was the green rope. Lisa used the Reversino, a handy little belay device that automatically locks off the rope if her follower falls, all she needs to do is pull the ropes through and stack them in a tidy manner. The two guys ahead of us were from Eastern Europe and I named them Milo and Josef. They weren’t moving very fast which allowed the three of us to sit at belays and socialize. I would have preferred to be climbing instead of sitting because the sooner we finished climbing the sooner we could crack open a cold beer. Finally towards the top of the climb Milo and Josef did a very short pitch and Lisa blasted past them. That was the last we saw of our Eastern Bloc. I led the final meandering pitch and we topped out near sunset. The view from the top of Fairview dome is amazing, even more so when the sky is filled with high clouds and the waning light of sunset. We made it back to our packs just as it got dark. Dinner that night was Sunshine Curry made by Lisa filled with a variety of yellow colored roasted veggies. One beer is all I needed at 9,000 ft and then some. I slept very very well that night.

Our plans for Saturday included a leisurely breakfast and a crack of noon start. Lisa and I headed to Medlicott Dome to climb Shagadelic, a nicely bolted 5.8. I led the first pitch up to a nice ledge where we waited and waited for the two people in front of us to finish the second pitch. We eventually tired of waited and rappelled off the rock in search of something different to climb. Then it started to rain and we were glad for the slow people on Shagadelic. We drove over to Stately Pleasure Dome to watch people on South Crack and the Great White Book deal with the slippery rock. Everyone got off of the dome safely. The rain let up and after eating an entire bag of smoked almonds we gathered enough motivation to try another climb. We headed over to Puppy Dome for a bouldering warm up on Machine World and then scrambled to the top of Do or Fly where Lisa set a top rope. I was unable to do and did some flying on that route. Lisa sent it a few times. At this point it was getting dark and starting to rain harder so we headed back to ranger housing to start dinner. Just after I started dinner, gnocchi with carmelized onions and mushrooms, Janet went out on a SAR (search and rescue). A thirteen year old girl up at May Lake was sick and vomiting and SAR was called to carry her out. SAR’s only happen at night in the rain, never on beautiful sunny days.

The rain continued steadily all night. I had was hoping it would cease and the rocks would be dry by morning so we could try to get onto Shagadelic again. No such luck so after breakfast, tea and a SAR update (the girl felt better after an IV and three guys showed up at 3am after one of them fell off the slabs on Cathedral Peak. He had a large head wound and broken wrist. Janet patched him up and sent him off to the hospital) Lisa and I decided to head down to the desert. With the varied topography of the area we were bound to find some place warm and dry. It rained all the way down Tioga pass, it rained in Lee Vining, it rained in Crowley and part way down the grade. By the time we reached the turn off for Pine Creek it wasn’t raining! Lisa had an awesome lead on the classic 5.10c, Sheila. I made it through every just fine until the lie back section where my arms gave out and my cripple foot cramped. After a few minutes rest I was able to power through the lie back and thrutch up the chimney to the top. We did a few sport climbs then headed to Lisa’s house in Bishop.

That wraps up my climbing adventures for the summer. It felt really good to get out on the rock and place gear. If only my head was able to keep up with my arms and feet. Maybe next summer I’ll have more time to climb.

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