Thursday, May 24, 2012

Climbing the Muir Wall for Science! El Cap photo TR!

 Over the past few days, Roger Putnam and I got to do something very cool- climb El Cap in the name of science!  Roger is working on the first modern complete geologic map of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley for his master's in geology, and is out here for a couple months to do as much research as possible to catalog the different rock existing along as many routes as he can climb/rappel/survey via high-resolution photography.
I was super stoked to be able to be on the ground floor of this project, getting to climb a route which I had my eye on for a number of years now, the historic Muir Wall.  The Muir cuts one of the most natural lines up to the left of the Nose, following endless clean corner systems for much of its 32 pitch length.  
Roger and I climbed at a pretty quick pace, topping out in 2 1/2 days, but not too fast that we didn't take scale photographs and rock samples from every belay, having to haul them all the way to the top with us!
The route was very high quality- Frost and Chouinard certainly bagged a classic back in '66- and surprisingly dry and free of grass for being a watercourse for much of the winter and spring.  

Here are a bunch of photos from the trip, and a link to the Supertopo post featuring a lot of info about this massive project.  Enjoy!  Geologic Mapping Project Info

Hauling up under the Heart

Roger leads above Mammoth Terraces

Park issued green jeans= send!

Hanging at the bolt traverse


Tom Evan's view of pitch 19

Penji swingin!

Hammering in a pin on pitch 19

The scale cards used to catalog grain sizes

Roger follows

Finally back into the light after the squeeze slot threatened to eat me alive!

Rog climbing the "C1 Fantastic" splitter corner!

Following same pitch.


Climbing the gorgeous A2 arrows crack, pitch 24

More killer left facing corners!

Upper corners pitch 27.

Oh yeah!  160 ft. of green aliens!

Bomber 5.8 hands 3,000 ft. off the deck!
Summit time! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Peakbagging in the Palisades

 Last week, with a splitter forecast and a very fun couple, Alan Best and Flora Waples, I headed into the Palisades to do some early season climbing.   Our intention was to climb the popular Thunderbolt to Sill section of the Palisade Traverse (IV 5.9), but heavy packs and a whole lot of snow on the approach over Bishop Pass to Thunderbolt Col tapped into the energy reserves and we opted instead to make a base camp at Thunderbolt Col and climb peaks from there.

Heading up the Chute next to camp.

After a chilly first night bivying out under the Super Moon, we strapped on crampons and began up the Southwest Chute on Thunderbolt Peak, which begins just a few hundred feet from our bivy site.  The climbing was pretty fun, and we took a short detour up some interesting 5th class rock before gaining the upper gully.  After a short pitch of climbing that led us out of the notch and up to the summit block, we lassoed the true summit, a tricky 5.9 boulder problem, and stood on top.

Alan is stoked!

Summit of Thunderbolt Peak, 14,003 ft.

Rapping off Thunderbolt

Not  bad view from our bivy site, eh?

It took us a while to decend back down to our camp, where we cooked up some delicious Mac and Cheese (anything tastes good after a hard day in the mountains!), and we geared up for our next climb.  We decided to go for the U-Notch analog, the Southwest Chute on North Palisade, and then from the notch, go south up the exciting and exposed technical pitches of Polemonium Peak (14,100ft.).   We had another tasty lunch on top with 360 degree views of the still snowcapped peaks of the Sierra and White Mountains before making a few rappels back into the notch to begin the long descent back down to the Palisade Basin. 

Flora and Alan just below the summit of Polemonium Peak

Alan finding good handjams on Polemonium.

We made great time on the hike out, finding snow conditions a lot more to our liking than on the way in, and Flora and Alan headed straight to Las Palmas for a dose of Bishop burritos!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

East Ridge of Mt. Humphrey's- The Hard Way

One of the good things about using Peter Croft's The Good, the Great and the Awesome High Sierra climbing guidebook, is that it will make you laugh, and virtually ensure that you still have a fun adventure, since it contains almost no useful beta!  

Describing the drive up to McGee Creek as "probably fun for four wheel drive fools sippin' Budweiser and wearing camouflage hats", Croft hits the nail on the head.  It was kinda fun, and me and Andrew were sippin on Buds as we crawled at 15 mph up the gnarly old 4wd road.  Too bad we missed a crucial turn and ended up starting the approach way off route, adding around 4 extra cross-country miles to the day.  Whoops.

The route itself is pretty dang cool, especially when you do the full ridge, and stick to it the whole way.  The climbing seems to get better as you go, with some fun crack climbing up near the summit at 13,986ft.  

The descent was a test of patience- the bottom had dropped out of the snow, so we were postholing down to the bottom of the snowpack- around crotch deep for a couple hours.  Fun stuff.
We found the correct approach on the way down, and after 10 hours on the move car to car, made a bee line to Whiskey Creek for dinner.