Following a fantastic trip to Indian Creek, I was psyched to get to the Valley. I was fit, I was psyched, I was….dealing with a soft toe corn, damnit! This was a huge concern heading into the Valley for me. Without posting pics, it is basically a very painful “toe hole” that forms between your pinky and 4th toe. This thing was the bane of my existence from the tail end of the April Indian Creek Trip to the beginning of June. Anyway, back to the main story….the Valley!
The original plan had been for Shane and I to meet up with Ben and Jon to climb in the Valley for a day or two before Shane and I launched up on to our attempt at the Nose. Shane got seriously injured, the Nose plans tabled, and in his place another psyched, great partner of mine stepped in to join in on the trip – Robert.
Jon caravaned from Vegas with Robert and I heading to the Valley, Tioga Pass was closed, so we got to drive through the lovely Central Valley. We drove into the Valley with light rain which gradually stopped as we arrived and pulled into Camp 4. There were spots, a huge relief, so we quickly got our spots for the night and got set up. Ben joined the trio of us already there. Robert had never met Ben and Jon before, but all were fast friends after a bullshit session behind the Columbia Boulder.
Following dealing with the usual Camp 4 line shenanigans until around 11, we decided a fun easy route linkup would be in order. Bonus points for a linkup that we wouldn’t need to hop on a shuttle bus or in our cars for. We quickly racked up and were hiking over to the Lower Yosemite Falls area to climb Commitment to Salaginela.
Robert coming up P1 of Commitment
Ben leading up
Ben breaking out the Euro Chalk Blow
Jon belaying Ben
Oh but the views….
Robert leading on Selaginella
Ben up on Salaginella (I think)
Robert coming up on the awesome finishing flake on Selaginella
Robert done with the flake move, which Jon deemed “DOPE!”
We got done with the routes moving pretty quickly. My “soft corn” was on my left foot, which coincidentally was the one getting jammed in cracks the most throughout the day. By now I was in pretty decent pain, but the climbing was over and it was time to hike down. The climbers trail out intersects with the major Yosemite Falls trail and we quickly asked some tourists how far we were from a cool view of the Falls. About 2 minutes worth of walking and we were rewarded with awesome views:
Jon in front of Yosemite Falls
Highliner visible above the Falls
Robert and I took off on our way down a bit quicker than Jon and Ben…we wound up running it…not sure why, but I think Robert started running and I wasn’t one to be left behind. “No particular reason, just kept goin” – Gump
The usual raucous campfire ensued, with a couple of the party members staying up a bit late. I awoke early to realize a certain change in our initial plans – instead of climbing the East Buttress of El Cap, we would opt for something a bit more difficult, but closer to the road. The Serenity Crack to Sons of Yesterday linkup is one of the best every-man routes in the park, and I had heard tales of how good it was for quite some time. Robert’s friend Ken provided us with some key beta on how to deal with the incredibly pin scarred start “pinch the pin scars and don’t fall.” Fortunately this pitch was not mine to lead…it entails a lengthy runout off the deck with some tricky moves right off the ground followed by very painful foot/toe jamming in pin scars.
Robert leading Pitch 1
I followed P2 and my “toe hole”/”soft corn” was causing me a great deal of pain. What are you going to do, though…you’re in Yosemite Valley…you climb and suck it up and deal with the pain. I had changed my footwear from the previous day’s soft shoes to much more stiff shoes for this route, in hopes it would help.
Party Wall with friends. Robert following me on P2 with Ben and Jon below
Ben leading, Jon belaying
Ben casually onsighting the crux of Serenity
More Ben in the crux
Robert leading a fairly awkward pitch on Sons
Jon awash in a sea of granite
You guessed it, more Jon following
Jon following the penultimate pitch
Robert finding Serenity atop Sons
Robert and I atop Serenity-Sons. A party shirt was worn for proper style
Serenity and Sons lived up to the hype and then some. As a group, we were firmly on Cloud 11 and rapped back to the ground. The route also lived up to the painful-on-the-feet rep as well…my toe was quite mangled at this point, fortunately the next day was a rest day.
We got up and had a leisurely day of kitty cattin’ around, getting cleaned up, running errands (groceries!), and treating our battered skin. Around 4:00 I started to get a bit antsy and wanted to go climb…nobody else wanted to, so I took off and scrambled a few pitches and came back much more at peace. The others had been reading, and then took off to watch some events occurring over at the YOSAR site at the back of Camp 4. When we went into Curry Village earlier in the day to use reliable internet, the weather forecasts had deteriorated significantly. We were supposed to be in the Valley for 10 days, and it appeared we would only get 5 or risk getting stuck on the West side with the pass closed and no good climbing viable on the West Coast.
Cookie Cliff was up next on the agenda:
Ben leading P1 of Outer Limits
Robert leading P1 of Outer Limits
I started up on Hardd and quickly turned over the lead to Robert. I was not climbing well and was in a good deal of pain. This lead to quite a bit of disappointment on my end.
Robert leading Hardd at the Cookie Cliff
After stewing about not climbing well for a bit, I finally got my wits about me and we went to another cliff rather than calling it a day. We decided to check out Pat and Jack Pinnacle…and I opted for Sherry’s Crack:
Weston leading Sherry’s Crack
Robert also took a lap leading it, I pulled the gear and rope for him:
Roberto on Sherry’s
I have no pictures from our final day in the Valley, but we cragged on some quality routes at Pat and Jack, then drove over Tioga pass, ate at the Mono Market and went our separate ways. For Ben and Jon, that was North to Reno. For Robert and I, it was back to Las Vegas. At least I got a few PTO days back after bailing early. In spite of the pain and early arrival home, the Valley trip was absolutely fantastic. I was super fortunate to get a fun, strong, supportive partner for the trip on relatively short notice in Robert.
Thank you for reading…I am trying to break up the Spring Spray-A-Thon trilogy so it is easier to read. Please give me feedback on this method. Thank you for your time and I hope this got someone, somewhere stoked!