Saturday, November 3, 2007

Our Adventures #1 (by Mike)

Marin beginning the fingers crux of Dancing Yogi, Paradise Forks, AZ
So After I had made the drive to Arizona (over many days) and picked Marin up at Sky Harbor in Phoenix we spent several days in Taylor, AZ. to be a part of my sister’s wedding. It was great to see the family after such a longtime away. I did, however, leave with a nasty respiratory bug which left me somewhat debilitated for the following couple of weeks.
We then traveled to Paradise Forks where we found a wonderful (and free) campsite on the edge of a nice meadow near a spring and a short walk from the climbing. We only had one good thundershower display which was a little disappointing. The climbing here spanked us and spanked us hard! We both struggled to climb 5.9 cracks and took many falls over the week spent here. We did manage to do some harder climbs and a tough top-rope or two though still left quite humbled. Visit this link for more info and a cute forum string called “Spanking at the Forks.” The experience was a stark reminder of the stiff rating as well as the standard of climbing I was able to do in younger, stronger days (or perhaps Paradise Forks remains one of the last bastions of old school bravado). At any rate, it was pleasurable to find things hadn’t changed much at all since I had last climbed there in 1986.
While there we also dug up a couple old friends in Flagstaff and had a nice dinner. Connections with other friends we will see on our return to AZ were also gained. Our next stop is Yosemite.
After a long haul to Lone Pine, CA we made camp in the Alabama Hills below the Eastern escarpment of the Sierra. It was the last free camping we would see for sometime before paying high rent in Yosemite.
Alabama Hills with Lone Pine Peak (left) and Mt. Whitney (right)
Tuolumne Meadows was kind of a bust. I was still feeling lousy and Marin seemed to be succumbing to my illness. When camp was set we thought it best to take the next day as a rest day. We had no idea that it was to be the last nice day in the Meadows for some time. The following day was cold, windy and eventually snowy. Though we climbed nothing in the Meadows it was a treat to be there for the first snow. It also turned out to be a good opportunity to mentor Marin in the fine art of being a skilled “scumbag climber.” As the exodus of campers began and continued for several days we scavenged firewood and miscellaneous other items abandoned. Marin quickly gained proficiency and became a skilled firewood collector. We also were honored to have nightly visits (and an occasional daytime visit)
by a rather handsome bear. On our first meeting Marin had proclaimed that the bear was not a pet AND, could snap my neck just-like-that! All while I’m encouraging her to get a closer photograph. The next day the bear was boldly patrolling our camp and Marin smartly held a pot of beef and rice out toward the bear while banging it with a spoon to urge him on to other camps (or was she calling him to dinner, I’m still unsure). After a few days trying to wait-out the weather we packed it in and headed for the warmer Yosemite Valley.
Marin atop the Five Open Books after completing The Surprise 5.10
Of course the Valley floor camping was booked but for a couple of days here and there. So, since we did not want to pack up camp every couple of days we took a site in Crane Flat CG and did the daily 15-20 minute drive to the Valley climbing. Many pitches of climbing were done (46 in all) during the 11/2 to 2-weeks we were there, the longest being the Royal Arches (very crowded). Marin did several amazing and very bold leads. One, in particular, Goodrich Pinnacle (5.9+R), on Glacier Point Apron. The descent from Goodrich Pinnacle (right). She led the fourth pitch, a desperately run-out slab of perhaps the most slippery glacier polish I have encountered. She was kind of freaked after passing through the crux with a couple of falls and seeing the long (though easier) run to the belay. She has true courage and will! Some other fine climbs we did included The Commitment, Chicken pie, Boneheads, The Surprise and La Casita Right. On our return October 21 we will hope to do some longer routes on Middle and Higher Cathedral Rocks and perhaps a short wall on Washington column.
Next, San Francisco and the flight to Austin, TX to attend Marin’s sister’s wedding. We stayed in San Francisco with another of Marin’s sisters and her family which was very nice. A year or two ago Marin and I had visited and built a small climbing wall for their kids which I hopped on several times since arriving. Anyway, we are in S.F. now and will leave for Yosemite tomorrow (Oct. 21) and stay until either the weather is unbearable or the rangers toss us out. Then….who knows???
Marin leading on the crux pitch of The Commitment

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