By Peter Coward
Caught in a rut? Perhaps, but once again, Chan Harrell and I met in the parking lot of the Pleasanton Hilton, and together endured another Friday night drive up to Valley. After the obligatory late night racking session, we crashed out for a better-than-usual 5 hours, got up at 4:45, and quickly enjoyed a caffeine-free(!) breakfast before heading out to climb the Rostrum. We fired the route in 3hr 45 min, leaving plenty of time for our next goal, Astroman. This amazing route (my first time past pitch 6) went a little slower, possibly due to the fact that it took me over two hours to squirm through the final 20 feet of the Harding Slot. I thought I was pretty thin already, but clearly there is room for improvement. We ended up doing the last pitch by headlamp, and were treated to a beautiful moon-lit summit view of the Valley, North Dome, Half Dome, etc. After a no-epics descent of North Dome gully, we arrived back at Chan's in time to cook up a tasty pasta dinner, sitting down to dine at the fashionably late hour of 1 am. A killer day, to be sure.
We got a bit of a slow start on Sunday, and were turned back from the 15 minute approach to Absolutely Free by heat, mosquitoes, and general lack of enthusiasm. Instead, we did the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral, a fabulous route which actually felt a little difficult in places. Go figure.
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