Livin’ in the Valley

Let me start by telling you last night was the first shower I’ve had in a week.  It was glorious, absolutely glorious.  However, I am still covered in dirt.  And right now, I am sitting in the guest lounge of Yosemite’s Curry Village drinking an endless amount of free, re-fill coffee.  Heaven?  I think yes.

Let’s rewind a few days.  Last weekend I climbed a total of 19 pitches – 5 leads and 1 top rope in Boulder Canyon, 7 leads at the Jungle Wall at Devil’s Head, and 6 pitches with my friend Brandon on a route called Rewritten in Eldorado Canyon.  I completed my 4th and 5th trad leads on Rewritten and my first Class 4 scramble.  On the way down from Eldo, I saw my friend Jon and in our conversation I casually dropped the line that I had a vast amount of free time as I am not working currently.

Tuesday morning I get a text from Jon – Yosemite or bust?  I was given 24 hours to decide whether or not I wanted to take a road trip to Yosemite with the possibility of stopping in Indian Creek on the way back to the good ol’ 303.  Those 24 hours really had me thinking.  Am I strong enough?  Am I experienced enough?  Do I have what it takes to do big walls?  Am I going to freak out?  Do I have the lead head it takes to lead a bunch of trad?  Did I even know what I was getting myself into?  To answer that last question – there was no way in hell I knew.  I did know that the thought of Yosemite was intimidating.  I had amazing support from my friends and incredibly strong climbers that I’ve just recently met such as a random man I met in Eldorado Canyon last weekend, my new trad partner from Boulder (Brandon), my good ol’ climbing mentor Chris, and Asa Firestone, founder of BEYONDgear (check out the website and his amazing vision here) <– Do it.  Click the link!  So many people told me that I was strong enough and so I decided to believe them.

After speaking with multiple people and getting my life in order to leave for an indefinite amount of time, I decided to go on the biggest climbing trip I’ve been on yet with my friend Jon Griffin.  I also owe a huge amount of thanks to my roommates (the Ja(y)sons) for taking care of my furry child while I’m away.

Jon and I left on the 20th and made it to the Valley on the 21st where we did our first climb – The Nutcracker (5 pitches, 500 feet, 5.8).  I led the 3rd pitch making it my 6th trad lead ever.  Talk about being stoked!  The route took us 2.5 hours and we were able to see the beginning of the sunset from the top before we hiked down.  So there it all began.  That night we sat in a field and watched tiny little lights float up the face of El Cap.  It was beautiful to think the strength and mental endurance of climbers were masked by headlamps scampering up a huge face of rock.  Talk about a whole new meaning to rockstars.

9.22.2012 – East Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock (5.10 b/c, 11 pitches, 1100 feet, Grade IV)
Jon wakes me up at 7 in the morning saying we are going climbing with his friend Jess.  We did this climb in 8 pitches and I led the 3rd and last pitch.  It took all 3 of us 5.5 hours and an additional 2 hours of repelling and down-climbing.  I have never been so far from the ground and never so thankful to be back on a horizontal plane.

9.23.2012 – Royal Arches (5.7, 15 pitches)
We did this climb with a party of 6 broken up into 3 groups of 2.  From top to bottom took us 8 hours.  I completed my 9th and 10th trad lead on this route and did my first pendulum swing.  To get back to the bottom, we had to do so, so much repelling.

9.24.2012 – Sons of Yesterday (5.10a/b, 6 pitches) and Serenity Crack (5.10d, 3 pitches)
All 6 of us did this climb again in 2 groups of 3.  From top to bottom took us about 7 hours.  This climb is ultra classic but hurt my hands and feet a little bit.  I should have taped up for this climb because I could have used it on the last few pitches where the hand jams in the granite started getting a little rough.  This route was also the first route that I’ve fallen on in the past week.  I was able to send the 10d crux (a totally incredible pitch) but ended up falling out of a tiny roof on a later pitch.  I now have a huge gobi on my left hand.

9.25.2012 – Today is a rest day.  Phew.  Talk about 58 pitches in a week.  That’s tiring.  My partner Jon left last night at 11pm to go do the Prowler (? – 20 some pitches) with his friend Brian.  I decided not to go because I would need to learn how to jug/jumar a rope in the dark and I didn’t want to slow them down as they were going to try to make it in a push (12 – 14 hours).

Other than that, it’s been pretty warm in the Valley, warmer than Colorado.  I am able to climb in capris and a tank top and not even need to put on my puffy at night.  In the past week I have done the most climbing of my climbing career.  I’ve learned an incredible amount and I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt.  It’s exhilarating.  Amazing.  Intense.  And some parts are even a bit scary.  I’m pushing my limits and I’ve never enjoyed life more.  The best part?  Today kicks off the Yosemite Facelift and tonight is the Reel Rock Film Tour.  Stay tuned for more.  =)

© /skin/ /ˈpōətrē/

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