Friday, June 11, 2010

Yosemite Notes

The water rose above the logs on the El Cap bridge. The Merced raged where normally it flows gently along. Yesterday, I stemmed above two trees, hopped onto the larger of the two, and climbed out to its farthest branches. Then I jumped. Even after a fifteen foot fall, I still did not hit the bottom. The water’s high in Yosemite right now, higher than I’ve seen it in the past decade.

The constant rain and snow of the spring kept wet most of the rock. El Capitan
was wet. Washington Column was wet. Leaning Tower was wet. And Half Dome- that was buried in snow. Sonora had the driest rock around . After a month and a half of trying then a few weekly sessions at the overhanging cliff, I managed to pull off an ascent of Alcatraz, a steep route involving extreme power endurance. In 1991, sport climbing magazine proclaimed that this route was one of the hardest in California. If I had been born in the seventies, I’d be a hardman. The same day, I ticked off four other hard routes at the crag, completing my long sought after Jailhouse 5 circuit- five hard routes at the crag in a day. I almost sent the Fugitive extension the next day. I did send Spike, a 5.12 crack climb at Public Sanitation and I polished off my Gold Wall Project- Wicked Gold. I only have a few more routes left to send at the Gold Wall before I’ve ticked the entire crag.

Hayden Kennedy runs a binary system. “Girls are either a 1 or a 0,” he said. “You do or you don’t.” The system became quite popular, especially after Hayden was taken advantage of by an attractive investment banker ten years his senior. The monkeys adopted the system in the hopes of getting attacked by a cougar like the fresh high-school graduate Hayden. Dave Turner took it to the next step, making loud proclamations about his $500 budget for condoms on his next expedition. He will be taking up the tri-nary system. He’ll try nearly anything. Hayden went on to describe how one of his fantasies is to have sex with an older African American woman with a baby. “I just want some of that Chocolate Milf.”

A new park employee, a young man working for Yosemite Assosciation, scrambled out on the ledges by Lower Brother, a small formation below and to the right of El Capitan. He fell. His shoe was found on a ledge. A blood covered depression marked where his body hit the ground. A couple of climbers, including a Bay area climber named Jay Wood, came upon his body, took photos of the corpse, and then proceeded to go climbing. While they made a long ascent of a moderate climb, three bears dragged the body away from where it had fallen and began to eat it. The climbers finished their route, descended and called YOSAR. When the Yosemite Search and Rescue team showed up the bears had already devoured most of the body. The team members carried away a mere eighty pounds of the man. The climbers neglect caused the body to be eaten. It’s a shameful representation of climbers.

Alex Honnold is rad. He’s sponsored by the North Face, La Sportiva, Black Diamnond, and the best of the climbing companies. He’s become a staple in the media with his bold solos of the Regular Route on Half Dome, Zion’s Moonlight Buttress, and Las Vegas’ Rainbow Wall. He’s famous. Sender films wanted more footage of Alex for their next movie. Uli Steck also crushes. He’s a hard European climber with a near onsight of Golden Gate on El Capitan. Uli wanted to try and set the Nose speed climbing record- the Grand Prix of the Yosemite pissing contest. Though the two hadn’t climbed together, they were optimistic. The previous contenders, Dean Potter, Timmy O’Neil, the Huber brothers, Hans Florine, Yuji Hiryama, had all put in a significant amount of time on the Nose. Alex had climbed the route a few times, and Uli had climbed it once. Announcements were made on the internet. The pairs first attempt saw them top out in 4 hours 20 minutes- a decent time for a reconnaissance. They talked to Jimmy Chin and Mikey Schaefer on the summit, interviewing for a National Geographic article about Yosemite climbers. Their second attempt saw them whittle away more time. They were still far from breaking the 2 hour 30 minute record. Alex started watching Uli climbed, and realized how balls out Uli was going. Uli jumped between handjams, untied from the rope, mismanaged the gri gri while simul climbing, and generally went for it. Alex became concerned. He’d been leading the entire route to that point and decided to let Uli lead. While simulclimbing the stronger climber should be on the bottom. While Alex lowered off of Dolt, Uli lead up a 5.9 crack. He fell, lobbing seventy feet through the air and pulling Alex up. The two abandoned the mission. I wonder if media pressure encouraged Alex to pick a slightly asinine project and go for it more than was reasonable.

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