October 3, 2016. The park valley sprawled out before us; a beckoning sea of granite spires tipped in golden pink hues of the fading sunlight. It seemed to stretch to the edges of the earth.
There is no place in literature or history more meaningful to the world of rock climbing than Yosemite Valley, California. Tales of grandeur and entire epochs of time echo against those vast vertical walls, absorbed by sprawling expanses of forested green to emanate infinitely through the lolling valleys below.
We went with intention but arrived impervious to personal goals and instead were dispensed freely to the wills of unimaginable paradise.
October 4th, 2016. Enter Ranger Rock, Yosemite Valley.
‘After Six’ is the name of a beautiful mixed dihedral/crack granite trad route, rated 5.7 on the Yosemite Decimal Scale.
The route runs for five pitches over 600 feet of climbing terrain. Yvon Chouinard and Ruth Schneider first climbed After Six in June, 1965. More than five decades later it remains a valley classic.
The views were astounding; the valley rolled away in the distance and Half Dome peeked its head over the lip of the horizon.
October 5th, 2016. We left the valley for the higher elevation of Tuolumne: an epic alpine playground.
Tuolumne Meadows is one of nature’s most sacred wonders. We were easily engrossed by the magic of this place, minds shifted from reality to the tangible essence of life in the wilderness, embracing the simplicity of the dew-touched grass, the piney boughs outlined with frosty morning rays.
Our ultimate endeavor was Matthes Crest, a 5.7 rated route along a mile long ridgeline fin that runs from south to north across moderate, breathtaking terrain. Conrad the Summit Fox joined us on our journey.
The walk along the ridgeline was by far the most amazing moment I have ever experienced in my life.
When you’re on top of the world, the rest of reality slips away. It’s just you, grounded by the mountain at your feet, fingertips arched upwards towards the sun, encompassed by the endless sky far from the touch of man, frozen in that perfect nirvana that breaches both time and place.
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir
“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. What’s important is leading an examined life.” – Yvon Chouinard
October 7th, 2016. Our next endeavor: Mt. Tenaya
Looking up at the mountains in awe cannot compare to the awe of looking down at the world below them.
The Northwest Buttress of Mt. Tenaya, Grade II, 14 pitches, 1400ft, rated 5.5
Here is the place where earth blends with sky and you are only stardust.
On the summit of Mt. Tenaya after a speedy eight hour ascent. The Summit Fox was more than pleased. Standing on the edge of the alpine world changes the perception of life.
I think its safe to say that we’ll be back again, to the ultimate paradise for climbers on Earth.
The greatest thing I’ve learned from climbing is that the rock will ultimately humble you. It bares you naked before your demons and forces you to face your own reality. Held out over the precipice of even just the semblance of death breaks down the walls that guard your soul and you must persevere or fall. It will leave you to decide between your hopes and your fears and grant you the euphoria of of the greatest power this life holds for us. Climbing reminds me to be grateful every day.