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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Sierras are a natural home

A decade in California and I'm firmly in love with the Sierras - this place will be home for good. The granite expanses of the Sierras and the climbing here has been a cultivated love, taking a few years to seed, grow and mature. Moving to CA and leaving the phenomenal sport climbing in the East Coast, especially the New River Gorge was hard but as somebody once wisely remarked love the one you are with. 

I've just returned from an extended weekend in Tuolumne, a vast granite playground in the upper reaches of Yosemite that is only accessible in summer as it's snowed in the majority of the remainder of the year. Our second day resulted in an aborted mission to climb the direct route on Eichorn Pinnacle. We found three parties at the base of the climb, amounting to maybe two or more additional hours of waiting before we could begin on the climb. Silently cursing our friends who had suggested this climb as an 'unsung' classic, we decided to retreat and check our luck on Cathedral Peak, another popular climb next door. That climb was twice as busy! Middle of a hot day, and low on water we retreated and slogged the hike back to the road and spent the rest of the day relaxing at Tenaya Beach, a beautiful expanse of golden soft sand right by one of the prettiest roadside lakes you'll ever dip your toes in. I was surprised at how content I felt as I laid out drying from a dip in the clear waters, the hot sun on my face and a cold IPA in hand. I had actually enjoyed a day of hiking sans climbing. This place is indeed that beautiful that it doesn't really matter what you choose to do. The next few days we were smarter about our choices of climbing routes and did some nice lines around the domes and even checked out a stellar sport climbing crag as well. Highlights were the Regular Route on Fairview at 5.9, the Direct North Face, 5.10B on Lembert, South Crack (with the splitter 5.9 start), and of course flailing on the spectacular and hard sport clips at Tioga Crag.

Home in San Francisco now and fervently hoping that I can get another trip back there before the season turns. But then again proper Yosemite season begins shortly after and my palms are already sweating in the excitement.


Soaking in sun early morning on Tioga Pass as we prepare for the Regular Route on Fairview.

Gearing up and scouting it out. 



Somewhere in the middle of the Regular Route on Fairview


Comfy belay ledges on warm cloudless days. Did not suck. 
Heading up to Eichorn. Little did we know of the crowds that awaited. But the hike was gorgeous!





Scenes at camp and friends. I met Per in Colombia in 2012, in China in 2013 and then again outside the bathroom at the campground. Us climbers hang tight.
Sunset at 9K
Morning scene at camp. 
Tenaya beach - it's at 8000 feet!
Cathedral Peak in the distance. 
Shoeing up for the climb.