I’ve never been to Yosemite, but it’s been etched into my adult mind in the same way that the Titanic and Dinosaurs were etched into my young mind. It’s a myth, a legend. The greatest place for traditional rock climbing in the world, and arguably the birthplace of modern climbing itself.
Feats of strength and endurace took place here; first ascents of climbs that no one thought could be climbed by human hands..
Brilliance of engineering even happened; the creation of Cams, and many other unique pieces of protection.
Yosemite is greater than life, in my mind. But I’ve never been there. Until this trip.
Today, I climb Yosemite.
I won’t climb the famous peaks. I won’t be ascending El Capitan, dragging two days worth of equipment below me. I won’t be sending a line up the Sentinel, or any other legendary face.
Instead, I’ve got my crash pad on my back, my shoes and chalk, and the goal of getting to know the rock of Yosemite. Learning the bouldering problems, and seeing how the rock forms holds, and how people move up the routes.
First thing I learn? Yosemite ratings are TOUGH. I can climb routes rated V5 at the gym back in Boston. And that gym is generally considered fair, as far as ratings go. Maybe a grade or two harder than outdoors. In Yosemite, I’m climbing V0, and flailing against V1 climbs.
But that’s ahead of myself – first I drove in, took pictures, and stopped in Curry Village. When tourists go to destinations, they get souvenirs. I am no different… but the souvenirs that I get are always climbing guide books. They’re useful, and I can keep them on my shelf to show off where I’ve climbed… and to tease myself about where I can go back to.
So I bought a book, debated getting some new trad gear (I didn’t, I stayed good) and looked for some early lunch… didn’t find any, of course, since it was only 10:00 and the grill doesn’t open until 11:00.
So that’s how I found myself at the Legendary (yes, capitalized) Camp 4. The home of American rock climbing. Seriously. There’s even a plaque saying so!
I climbed, and explored. I met a climber from Chile, who was looking for a partner to climb El Capitan with. Speed climb. With a random partner. Yep, he’s nuts.
We bouldered – watched someone flail at Midnight Lightnig (a V8 climb, arguably the most famous Bouldering route in the United States). We met up with some Brazilians, one of whom climbed at the same level as me – so her an I snuck off to fight with a V0 that took WAY too much effort for a V0.
Then I headed out on my own, looking for more adventure. I found some other climbs, did a bit of bushwacking, and forgot my bug repellent in the car (meaning that I hiked back out to get it, since I’d be dead and drained of blood if I hadn’t).
I loved every second of it.
Routes that I worked:
Honestly, I don’t really remember any specifics. The routes here are hard. The folks that I was hanging out with were pretty fun though, and they definitely made the difficulty more tolerable. I focused on the main “Midnight Lightening” boulder in the beginning, then followed the Chilean climber to a perfect splitter crack that I couldn’t do much more than start on.
I was able to bust out that pretty good V0 balancy route nearby though, after a fair amount of work.
From there, I hit up some smaller boulders on the walk out – much easier routes than the splitter that I had been working before.
Ohh! I do remember one! The Presidential Traverse, a V0 rated at four stars. It was really fun – just a long traverse from one end of a boulder to another, walking on big ledges and using huge flakes. Honestly, it was really easy… annoyingly easy, after the rest of the day.