Currently out in Yosemite with Dan, 3 weeks in, already bailed off El Cap due to heat/dehydration/sweaty conditions and every other excuse you can think of but i’m not going to write.
As it was mid 30s in temperature we decided to head to the opposite side of the valley into the shade on Mid Cathedral and head up on a route called Father Time. The whole trip broke down into 5 distinct sections; The lower wall, The storm, ‘The Boulder Problem (1st crux), ‘The Athletic 12c’ (2nd crux), ‘The Index 11d’ (3rd crux).
The Lower Wall
As Middle Cathedral is opposite El Cap I guess its over looked as its massively over shadowed by it’s much bigger brother. The climbing on El cap looks cleaner, bigger and better whereas on Mid Cathedral it looks more broken, chossy and smaller. So on the initial slabs I was hugely surprised by the quality of the climbing and the rock. The first 10 pitches of the lower wall were just as good, if not better then some of the slab climbing I have done on El Cap. The pitches passed without too much trouble and just a little bit of rain sheltering underneath the fly.
Before setting off I asked Dan if he knew how to set up the Portaledge fly, he told me yes…this was a few hours before the two day storm hit us
This part of the trip took up 50% of our time. The weather forecast had predicted ‘A chance of showers, with the possibility of some being thundery,’ however I don’t think we quite expected to be trapped on the portaledge for two and a half days.
Storm nearly here…
Second night in = proper electric storm with about 15+ ‘thundery showers’ passing through the valley. At points the lightning was so intense there were more then 2 flashes a second and it felt like there was a flickering light bulb inside the fly of the portaledge. At one point in the night I looked up to see a river running over the top of the fly. A pretty interesting experience to be completely stuck with no way of help. because everything was fine, it seems now to be quite mellow, but if anything had happened to our portaledge fly or if any slightly bigger rocks had hit it, it would have been a completely different (probably very serious and dangerous) experience.
A weekend under The Fly can send you bonkers…Dan pokes at his forearm with a spoon for a couple of hours
Pretty funny to think on monday morning, when we eventually emerged, that since friday evening when we battened down the hatches all our friends back home would have probably had a nice night out, been to the pub, got pissed, sobered up, had bacon butties, climbed on the grit, been to The Works, had sunday dinner, watched some TV, etc etc and we were still there eating peanut butter bagels, playing cards and pissing into a plastic bottle.
Emerging on Monday morning after the storm
Others opposite us on El Cap after the storm
The Boulder Problem
The storm didn’t give us much chance of climbing the route because as we now set off towards the crux of the climb, this was the day we had actually planed to decend from the route altogether! The Boulder Problem pitch was what it says, 3 bolts and about 3 metres long. We actually renamed the pitch ‘The 5’10” move’ (in keeping with the other pitch names), as we figured out a way to lank past the crux if you are 5’10” or more. At 5’9.5” I scraped in by the absolute skin of my teeth being able to use this method which must have taken me about 10 attempts before I eventually managed it. To keep things simple and moving Dan made an impressive flash.
Yehhhh, we actually did some climbing!
The Athletic 12c
A completely different pitch to the last one being longer, pumpy and a layback. After a bit of figuring out on a rope I managed to again skip some of the laybacking, foot smearing, pumpy difficulties by smudging some jams in up the back of the layback corner…
The Index 11d
after skipping out some of the hard sections of the previous two pitches by fudging some different beta, there was no way this pitch was going to let me. Luckily it suited both Dan and I and we both ticked off this techy groove on our first redpoint.
A success on the route, but really the main success was probably from Dan having to put up with my stinky feet and bad singing on the portaledge for the whole weekend.
So a good little interlude from El Cap. Hopefully the temperatures are going to cool and we can head for round 2 on The Secret Passage very soon.