Author Topic: A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style  (Read 3646 times)

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Offline Didder

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A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style
« on: December 11, 2009, 02:54:02 pm »
The first thing that goes out the window is the plan! We had been planning on doing Iron/Son but with dates fixed we were at the mercy of the weather. It had been too good for too long....We were bound to get a good pounding. By Tues afternoon the forecast was for the first big Winter storm. They were calling for 5-6 feet of snow in Mammoth in just the first wave. That settled it we set our sights on Zodiac. If we fixed, pushed and were lucky we should be able to be off late Sat or early Sun just in time to make it down before the storm.

Laying there in bed Wed night I just could not stand it anymore. Instead of tossing and turning all night I hopped in the car at midnight and punched it towards the Valley. Many frapachinos and no-doze later I was coming through the tunnel at first light with it showing 34 on the thermometer.

El Cap meadow was cold and covered in frost so I quickly loaded my bag and set off for the base. Joe (who had no previous wall experience but lots of character and determination) was supposed to arrive around 2pm, Steve (Hananero) my regular partner was going to get to the base around midnight. The new plan was to solo the first 3 or 4 pitches, rap, then hike down, carry another load up with Joe, eat dinner then haul all our shit up and wait for Steve who would show up fresh and push us to pitch 10 by Fri night.

As I hiked along the base it was just incredible to be getting on El Cap with absolutely no one else around. Steve Schneider was up on Genesis after having been up there soloing for the better part of a week but other than that there was just no one around.

As I geared up for the first pitch on Zodiac, I was just soo damn psyched that I think my adrenaline was overpowering my lack of sleep.

I had climbed the direct start to Zodiac before so opted for the original start. After a leisurley start I got into a groove and felt no reason to hurry even though in reality we were "racing the storm". Not setting any speed records by 2pm I had fixed to the top of the second pitch and was rapping to go meet Joe.

As I got to the meadow Joe was on his way up with his load. Unreal, the guy had never been on a wall before, I had told him what to bring and said start up if I wasn't down yet and sure as shit there he was. Joe waited for me to grab my bag and we started up the trail together.

As we got to the base of the Nose Joe said "well this approach is not bad at all". Yeah, I said, "if we were climbing the Nose". As we started up the hill Joe went into low gear. With the days being short we got caught in the dark about 20 min below the base with one headlamp. " Hey man why don't you give me the headlamp since I know where we are going, plus you know about Yosemite rules right?" "Yosemite rules? what's that> "Oh well you know, the new guy always gets the short end of the stick". Anyway, Joe hands over his headlamp like a true neophyte champ and stumbles his way behind me till we reach the base.

We cook up a killer dinner, talk to Steve on the phone, it's all systems go. We pack the bags, jug up and begin the haul. OH MAN, food, water and full Winter gear weigh a ton!!!

Joe jugs while I haul and we get everything docked and settled and I start up pitch 3. By now the adrenaline has long since worn off and the fact that I have not slept since Tues night starts kicking in. Even though the first bit is C2 I am literally crawling my way up the pitch. Right about then we see a headlamp coming up the trail... it's the cavalry...Steve is here and I am saved. Then we hear Steve give us the news that his daughter is sick and he needs to hightail it back to Reno! I start doing the math and realize that at the rate we are going with a big wall newby we would be lucky to top out by Sun night... too close with the size of the storm predicted. DEFEATED!!!

We decide to bivy then go down the next day.



Joe is in heaven, his first night in a portaledge, eating gourmet food and watching the full moon light up the valley. It gets me psyched just seeing how friggin excited he is.



I wake up feeling like I've been run over by a truck. We sleep in, have a leisurley breakfast



lower the bags

and make a plan.

On our way down we see Martin (Euro hardman coming down after fixing the first 2 pitches of ZM, we tell him how rad he is and then give him some of our extra water. He says he has 2 weeks, will fix, sit out the weather, then blast...  I wait around a bit hoping he will ask me to join him then think twice considering the weather predicted to come in.

We carry a load down to the car, hike back up and fix the first pitch of the El Cap Tree route.

As we settle in that night we see Steve high on Genesis, the only headlamp on the entire wall, one man in harmony with the great stone. The true magic was sitting there thinking what balls it takes to be up there on his own while we mere mortals sat there at the base drinking whiskey... We are then treated to one of the all time most classic displays I have ever experienced in the Valley, I can not divulge anymore here but needless to say we were laughing so hard we wet ourselves... thanks SS.

The next day we slept in, then casualy walked to the fixed line from the day before and started up the Tree Route.



I had always thought it was a route to be skipped but after the cam hooking on pitch 2,

the sheer fact that you are on El Cap


and the free climbing on pitch 5 I would say it was one of my more memorable outings.

As I topped out in the right facing corner that leads to the tree ledge I look West and see dark clouds and get hit by a freight train gust that lets me know we need to move. I yell down at Joe and tell him to hurry even though I know it's futile. Sometime later as I am starting down the fisrt of the two 190' raps all I can think of is I hope the next anchor is where they say it is.

The raps go without a hitch and we are on the ground by 3:30. By now the wind has died, the clouds have dispersed and the weather is perfect again. Nothng else to do but head down and have dinner and cocktails at the Ahwahnee. With no collared shirts to speak of and no reservations we are demoted to the bar. I must say that could have been the best soup, salad and crab dip I had ever had. We saunter into the great room and lounge/ doze for a couple hours then hit the bar on our way out. Hot spiced rum and ciders leave us sweating as we stumble out of the Ahwahnee to the freezing valley night air. The hike back to the base is actually pretty fun and we fall asleep to the silence of the valley in Winter.

Up early, and Martin and Steve are nowhere to be seen. It seems everyone is turning tail and running and we are no exception. We hike down to the cars which are plastered in ice. We have to jump Joe's car. We load up and then say a quick goodbye. Leaving the Valley I pull over and look back as dark clouds engulf the Valley, a stiff breeze is blowing and it is clear we are getting out just in time... soon the storm will be in full force and in command.... I have a smile on my face the entire way out of the park.



« Last Edit: December 11, 2009, 08:13:14 pm by didder »

Offline Mike.

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Re: Heading to the Tree
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2009, 02:57:53 pm »
No more lorting trip reports! They're gold, brother. Save often!

Thanks for inspiring, diddman. Looking forward to the rewrite. Cheers...
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Heading to the Tree
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2009, 04:59:11 pm »
YESH!!!!


Offline T Moses

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Re: A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2009, 10:03:26 am »
Cool TR!  Way to make a bail into a great trip!  Dude, it's all climbing and it's all fun.

Offline mucher

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Re: A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2009, 10:38:44 am »
Great trip and great write up.  Thanks Didder

Joe (the newby)

Offline Habanero

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Re: A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2009, 11:29:08 am »
If you have a wife and kids and like to climb walls you know exactly how much scheming has to occur just to get to the base. My plan was tenuous, but working. That is until 10pm at night when I received a call that my daughter spiked a fever. I realized that I had to turn tail and return. Even though it was the right thing to do...I felt like such a douchebag telling them that I had to bail.


I owe you guys...




Offline Baltoro

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Re: A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2009, 02:01:23 pm »
I got goosebumps reading about you stopping just before you drove out. I did the same thing when I left. It's a magical place.

I can fully appreciate the difficulty it is in getting the stars to align to make a wall attempt. With time off and a "hall pass" form the wife I know I'm approximately three pee and gas stops and 15 hours away from El Cap Meadow so it always pains me to hear stories of anyone leaving before their routes were sent.

I've been away from all things aid/wall related but the last few days on this site have got me fired up again and oddly enough I've got a newly motivated friend who's wanting to learn the ropes (pun intended) and make a Yosemite pilgrimage.

Keep the TR's coming as they're psyche for all the wall brothers and sisters who can't be up there for one reason or another.

Thanks.

Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I am too lazy to do either.
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Offline scottydo

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Re: A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2009, 05:28:13 pm »
awesome TR man. even the bails are good stories. :)

Offline Didder

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Re: A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2009, 12:46:39 am »
Right on Baltoro... I love hearing that the pysch is alive and well!!! Man I think logistics is 75% of the deal. Sometimes I feel like just getting to the base and being able to start up the climb is the real challenge, once I get on the wall everything seems easy. I sure hope Martin and Steve are able to finish their routes.

Offline Sambo

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Re: A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2009, 07:07:22 pm »
Steve Hope all is well w/ the family and Didder... What what was so funny?
Shawn Sampson - Sambo "retired"
Its all about the "Fun Factor"

Offline GoMZ

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Re: A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2009, 09:27:37 pm »
Sweet!!