For several years I mainly climbed trad and loved onsighting heady gear routes. The sense of unknown and the challenges of figuring out gear and beta on the fly felt like the most pure form of climbing – the kind that made the end-of-the-day PBR taste most classy. But during the last couple years I’ve bouldered much more, zoned in on bolted projects at Jailhouse and haven’t had as many partners ready or excited about pushing limits on gear. So when a 48 hour break showed up in my crazy April synchrotron schedule I was thrilled that Caroline could take the time and was stoked to dust off the rack for some Valley fun.
Yosemite waterfalls are in summer form right now and an April Tuesday without a breath of the normal weekend crowds might have been one of the most amazing days I’ve seen in the Valley. Check out some photos of a few incredible Yosemite waterfalls and stories of climbing adventure.
Surprisingly, neither Caroline or I has climbed the East Buttress of El Cap so we decided to have a go at the classic line. We geared up and hiked the base of the monster monolith. When we came around the bend to see Horsetail Falls we were in awe getting such a perfect view of the perfect waterfall but my heart sank realizing that all 1,100 feet of our plan was perfectly soaked.
But The Valley always offers a great plan B and we strolled down the road to Cookie Cliff, which in my book is one of the best crags in the United States. The pure splitters at Cookie are challenging, fun and heady. After getting started on Catchy to Catchy Corner, we went for some welcome shade on Enema (5.11b). The line starts up a first pitch chimney and the second pitch continues into an incredible, pumpy, sequential, overhanging hand crack that yields jugs near the top. After pulling through, the angle eases just in time for the crack to flare guarding the anchors. I gave it hell, but couldn’t negotiate the horrible jams only a couple moves from the top and took a quality 30 footer – good for the soul. Caroline claims it was difficult, but I didn’t really see her struggle in an impressive onsight.
We finished the day on Red Zinger and were plenty worked heading back to camp. Without a plan for day two, we flipped through Don Reid’s 1993 guidebook over dinner, mead and a slow burning campfire. Before long we settled on The Good Book, a continuous 6-pitch 5.10d with a little bit of everything.
The climb is located on the Camp 4 walls and we struggled through bushwhacking, scree and around a bear to reach the base of the impressive line up a massive dihedral. Pitch 1 was forgettable – wet moss, poor gear and sketchy rock. Later we discovered that major rockfall wiped out much of the original first pitch. Everything else was incredible and reminded me of Moratorium and The Rostrum mixed together. The unrelenting 40-meter pitch 3 dihedral fingercrack was the highlight and worth the hike and chosseneering by itself. I had to work for it. The crux was seeping and I avoided the slime by laying back a miracle wandering sharp edge that trailed away from the dihedral. The further away the angled knife edge took me from the corner, the more extended I was, the harder it was to place gear and the harder it became to transition back to the main dihedral. Bearing down on a wet left foot smear I stood up and pulled back into the soaking crack just hoping I wouldn’t slick off. The strenuous but amazing sequence had me pumped for the rest of the incredible pitch.
After that the wild, exposed climbing went smoothly until pitch 6 brought a surprise. The guide shows three bolts protecting an offwidth and suggests a rack to 3″. We discovered the perils of trusting route information from 22 years ago when we found ourselves at the base of the 50 foot offwidth with no pro. Both of us decided to live another day and with some down-leading trickery we were able to rap without leaving gear. The Good Book is a “5.10” for a 5.11 climber. If you’re climbing at the level, it is a must do. Bring at least one #5 (and maybe a #6), helmets, and two ropes to rap.
It was so good to get back on the ropes pushing my limits in the Valley. Thanks to Caroline for a few amazing days. It’s safe to say I caught the bug again.