After a satisfying and successful May season in Yosemite, we decided to come back again for the Fall season. Our plan was to focus more on harder “single” (120+ feet considered single pitch?) pitch climbs which are mostly in the sun and are too uncomfortable to climb in late Spring/Summer. However, as time passed between summer and early Fall, and due to multiple stressful deadlines at work, I felt less prepared for this trip. I had not led anything since Spring and even during practice sessions at Lower Gorge (Smith Rock) and Trout Creek, I was more interested in TRing. I have been following a 5/3/1 weight training regimen since August so I could feel the difference in strength as I was following the practice pitches. This left me extremely optimistic that I would be fine if I were to lead.
Our Itinerary for the trip
8/21 Day 1: Nutcracker 5.9 Start Variation, After Seven (5.8), Guiding Light (5.10b), Lightweight Guides (5.10b)
8/22 Day 2: Run/Hike to Vernal Falls, studying at Degnan’s Deli and getting trapped in the car during rain and hailstorm.
8/23 Day 3: Reed’s Pinnacle Direct (5.10a) (First two pitches only)
8/24 Day 4: Lunatic Fringe (5.10c), Positively 4th Street (5.9)
8/25 Day 5: The Surprise (5.10a), Jamcrack (5,9), Lemon (5,9), Bummer (5.10c), Lazy Bum (5.10d)
8/26 Day 6: Absolutely Free (5.9)
8/27 Day 7: Moby Dick Center (5.10a), Ahab (5.10b), Pine Line (5.7), Pine Stein (5.9-)
8/28 Day 8: Generator Crack (5.10c), Conductor Crack (5.10d)
8/29 Day 9: Romp on Grack right variation (5 fun), Lena’s Lieback (5.9)
Rick and I both enjoy alpine multipitch climbing so for our happiness we rolled in two short multipitches. The Surprise and Absolutely Free are posted as separate trip reports. The rest of the story is captured as captions under the pictures.
Rick had onsighted Nutcracker alternate start during our trip last year but I had not climbed it. This pitch forces you to smear the slab mostly with your right foot, as the crack is quite thin at places, good practice for Yosemite. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any great shots of this pitch.
I had onsighted After Seven last year so this time Rick red pointed it. No pics.
Guiding Light : Rick led this pitch with fantastic stemming technique. The 10 feet of crux above Rick felt quite intense. I was not able to stem at all because both sides were quite vertical and slick.
Guiding Light: Sandy liebacking the crux. I was so worked after this that my forearms needed a long rest and that meant missing out on Lightweight Guides.
Lightweight Guides: Rick was surprised to find out that this pitch felt much easier than its neighbor even though they are rated the same.
At the top of Vernal Fall
First pitch of Reed’s Pinnacle Direct: We had a long wait since we had two parties above us, in retrospect we should have done Lunatic Fringe first. First pitch is super fun with perfect hand jams but quite short.
Upper part of first pitch of Reed’s Pinnacle Direct
Reed’s Pinnacle Direct: Party above us starting the second pitch. This is an unprotected hard start.
Reed’s Pinnacle Direct: Rick starting the second pitch.
Reed’s Pinnacle Direct (2nd Pitch) : And then it turned to Mordor. I thought that this is the most awkward 5.10a that I have climbed. There are perfect jams but the crack varies quite a bit and the gear seems quite tricky due to the wavy crack.
Reed’s Pinnacle Direct (2nd Pitch) : A party after us decided to take the 5.9 variation of the second pitch by going through the chimney to avoid the cozy wait at the top of P1,. We were so thankful for them capturing these fantastic action shots with smiling faces.
Reed’s Pinnacle Direct (2nd Pitch)
Reed’s Pinnacle Direct (2nd Pitch): Right before the ledge before the start of 4″ part felt like the crux to me because it was very strenuous and technical to exit the crack and get on to the ledge.
Lunatic Fringe: Rick past the easy 5.8 start.
Lunatic Fringe: In my opinion there are three cruxes on this route, 1: Traversing right after placing pro on the left crack at the two-crack system, 2: The one shown in the picture above, 3: Thin finger section at the end of the crack right below the ledge.
Lunatic Fringe: Rick past the final crux. The upper crack is steep but protects very well. I had hand jams for the steep crack which made me suspect the grade. I found this a full value climb.
Lunatic Fringe: Looking down from the ledge to the final thin finger section.
Positively 4th Street: The 5.7 start was slippery and pumpy, I jambacked it and cleaned my #1, #2 for the roof. I did NOT find any bat poop on the ledge or poop rain from the roof fortunately. Roof protects with #1, #2 and yes I saved both .75 for the section after the roof which felt very satisfying.
Positively 4th Street: Very thin edges to pull over the roof, I jambacked the flake on lead. During my TR lap I liebacked the flake which felt sustained for a few moves, but it goes.
Positively 4th Street: pumpy and slick 5.7 start during TR lap. This pitch began my lead journey for this season, and I wanted to see how many 5.9s I can lead/Onsight which heightened the enthusiasm and excitement for the team.
Jamcrack: Sandy linking both the pitches of Jamcrack while placing as little gear as possible on P1 and the hand crack section of P2. Jamcrack was a fun onsight for me. After leading other 5.9s I do think that the second pitch is soft and has probably a 5.9 move up above on the slightly steep finger section.
Jamcrack: At the big ledge at the top of P1.
Bummer: Rick did two clean TR laps on Bummer and Lazy Bum.
Lemon: Another clean TR on this bouldery stout 5.9
Lemon: Pulling over the roof with hardly any feet was intense.
Lemon: Pulling over the roof.
Moby Dick: Rick on the super slick hard start of Moby Dick. For me this was crux.
Moby Dick: If you have 3 #4s then you will love the OW. The route looks short from below, but it isn’t, this is the same feeling I got on every climb this season. Some pitches look even benign from the ground but the wall above is thousands of feet tall….
Moby Dick: Sandy on the OW section. Compared to the overhanging OW of Generator Crack, this OW was a breeze.
Ahab: Rick: The hardest crack I’ve ever climbed. Every wiggle up resulted in a near equidistant slide down. When I finally got to the overhanging flaring hand crack which was supposed to be the easy section, it finally felt 10b like it should. Apparently, you’re supposed to climb this sideways, but I didn’t find that out until afterwards. My elbows still don’t feel the same.
Topping out felt like being reborn.
Pine Line: Fun low angle pin scar thin crack.
Pine Stein: Once you are on the ledge, go right beyond the tree to this fun lieback. This is the start of the Direct route of The Nose.
Pine Stein: Rick following the route in dusk light.
Generator Crack: Overhanging OW and Overhanging Chimney whose sole purpose is to spit out, make you yell/scream/curse/cry/whimper/poop, break your spirit and feed on your suffering to power the generator. After this climb, I lost my interest in climbing altogether (at least for the first 45 mins until I saw a bear).
Conductor Crack: Rick: Also deserves a big middle finger for fooling climbers with its benign appearance of short boulder finger crack section to a walking slab. One of the most uncomfortable, grainy cracks I’ve ever climbed.
On the way back to valley, the car in front of us stopped abruptly in the middle of the road, everyone got out and the guy gestured us to look here, “Our first Yosemite Bear”, we drove around the car and pulled out to the right to be safe but as we walked towards this sight, there were many cars abruptly stopping in the middle of the road on both sides and others honking with anger and impatience while the bear ignoring all this hustle just searching for food in the water. The buddha bear didn’t care for his spectators or their loud honks.
Wrong Grack: The topo for Grack Center is misleading and incorrect. As the trail ends, we went right and the topo matched the rocks, trees and ledges but after romping on it for a while and finding rap stations on every tree after this roof section, we realized that this is not the correct route. Above the roof, there is a slab section with two bolts and a bolted anchor probably 15 feet above the second bolt. We decided not to trust our lives on the sun-bleached leashes so we left two biners on the bolts and rappelled off. Second rappel can be done from the tree on climber’s right which has wrap rings. Once we were down we found the Grack center start which is left of where the trail ends and it starts with a super low angle crack. There were two parties on it already so we decided to simulclimb it on a rest day during our next trip.
Lena’s Lieback: Now this is a stout 5.9 especially because of slick left wall and the crack being so finger size depended. I led it because I wanted to challenge myself more on Lieback and after my Onsight on Pine Stein I was very optimistic. I think the first bulge was the crux. At the 3 different places I got index-middle finger and ring-pinky finger locks with sometimes a good foot jam and sometimes marginal. Rick found the upper lieback section in the sun to be the crux because his fingers were thicker than the crack. I was first quite frustrated that I could not Onsight it but during my TR lap, I realized how strenuous this pitch is, so I was happy with a redpoint opportunity in future.