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Tuolumne Summer '95

By Jim Herson

To minimize impact on important internet traffic, like Dilbert, and to cut our weary readers a break we've consolidated our summer's trip reports. This was achieved by confining our summer's flailing to three climbs. The same three with the same high points week after week after week.... Lest you think we've fallen into a rut, the weekends were easily distinguished by Sat night's tasty pasta toppings:

7/28: fresh spinach, mushrooms, chicken
8/4: chicken-lemon grass sausage, garlic, fresh corn, snow peas, tomatoes, mushrooms and cilantro.
8/11: Thai scallop/sea bass sausages
8/18: After the "rest day" (see below) we had to settle for burritos
8/25: Maryland crab cakes, tomatoes, greenbeans

Summer vacation was simple: late drive Fri night, blueberry pecan pancakes w/ lattes and a late start Sat am, search like hell for a warmup climb which we haven't done, and finally project/fall/Anne philosophizes/Jim pouts.

Fortunately if you're going to be stuck in a rut in Tuolumne, this was the year to be stuck. The huge snow pack made for a spectacular Meadows season. Stunning snowy peaks, raging water, and wild flowers everywhere.

As for "new" climbs we found:

Olmstead pt: short, over starred piles. Actually mostly just over starred. Worthwhile climbs include Double Feature, 11d+, Tideline, 11a, and Lord Caffeine, 10d++++. Not so worthwhile climbs include the worst climb in the Meadows, Live Wire, 11b. Slabby, reachy, and dirty.

Medlicott: The Lighter Side, 12b. All-time. Easily one of the five best pitches in the Meadows, maybe top three, maybe even better. . . Location, line, quality of climbing, this route has it all. Views so stunning you stop to look around even while dicing. All this spewing without either of us managing a flash. An otherwise brilliant climb is marred only by a hideous slab crux at the last bolt complete with "ledging" potential. The two pitch anti riff-raff 5.9 ow approach filter (the Yawn) keeps the lines short. (60m rope for the rap)

North Marioulumne: Good offwidth practice on Easy Wind, 11c and Missing Link, 11d. Careful of the TR -- we destroyed a brand new rope. Set-up via the decent Arms Race, 10d-, or Hysteria, 11d. Razor Back, 10d, is a classic arete.

Bearded Clam: Bearded Clam, 11a, Into The Void, 11c, and Reptilian Brain Syndrome, 12a (with a needed new bolt, no longer "R") are all worth a star and a visit (although Reptilian needs traffic to be cleaned up). Cowabunga, 12c, is the climb to do. A fun airy jug haul traverse. Unfortunately the perfect bomber crack is sporting two new unnecessary bolts, although the new lowering anchors are welcome. It's 12a but Anne claims it's a strength threshold thing and is still 12c--.

Now we didn't schlep 2500 miles to seek out random obscure piles. Our weekly pilgrimage was for a particular obscure pile -- the only route in the Meadows worth doing, Love Supreme, 13b. Hands down the best climb in the park if not the most painful. A stunning finger/hands splitter up a 40' overhanging boulder lined with stileto knobs used to concentrate full body weight onto a handful of nerve endings. The first pro, 15' up off a sure ankle busting boulder field (if you're lucky enough to stay upright), helps distract the pain.

Years ago I had accidently let slip (via a blood curling scream) that Love Supreme was a painful little bugger. This left me belayless throughout most of the '90s. However, like any good destructive relationship we were destined to be reunited and in an inspired moment of marketing brilliance I sold Anne on the virtue of tidying up the nearby Laser Blade, 12d. Foolishly Anne styled Laser Blade in no time and has since spent her summer trudging up to Love Supreme to help minimize any permanent damage from my sadomasochistic affair with this fine line. Surprised and frighten by the wealth of scamming skills I must have absorbed from Tom, there was a short period after Laser Blade that I actually had Annie grinding the meat off her fingers in Love Supreme. She made good progress but inexplicably lost interest and it is now clear that I'm on major borrowed belay time as Anne quickly approaches Saint Sidney stature.

On the chicken-lemon grass sausage weekend I had an all out brawl almost sending Love Supreme first redpoint try. This only encouraged me on the following Thai Scallop/Sea Bass weekend to take all kinds of whippers, capped by an upside down screamer on the way-dicey first piece with my hair brushing the boulder field below. That was sobering, but the suddenly tender elbow on the way home really took the edge off the weekend.

Reflection on things during my time spent inverted off the boulder field on Love Supreme and while icing the elbow seemed to indicate a break from the Meadows action might be necessary.

Time for a day off.

We decided to go for the seldom attempted classic valley linkup -- Half Dome and Mud Flats in a day. This visionary linkup, unfortunately, still awaits a first ascent.

Using Clint's nearly flawless slab approach beta we got to the base of Half Dome in 2:15. There are several in-a-day cruxes. One of these is passing the hauling parties before the chimneys. Having screwed another party in this way a few years ago I happen to know this leads to a cold unplanned bivy. We got off, but you'll have to email Jacques about the desirability of spending that particular night out at 9000'.

Seconding with the pack (which is truly exhausting!) and some simul climbing we made good time (4:30) to Big Sandy. But then we lost momentum with a lunch stop and my failed attempt to free the zig zags. I fell on both the 1st and 3rd zags. Darn. I also tied myself in a knot trying to link the 1st & 2nd without any long slings. Bad idea. Anyway we topped out in a hair under 8hrs, enjoyed the views and a wedding (not ours!) and made it back to the van by dark. The hike -- definitely the hardest crux -- wiped us out for days! It's a great climb. Unfortunately, we missed the Mirror Lake shuttle bus resulting in an extra mile of hiking which, combined with Anne's heartless veto of a headlamp ascent, cost us the classic Mud Flats linkup. Next time for sure.

If my campaign for another attempt, which currently seems stalled, succeeds and we can handle the hike (a big if), I'm pretty sure we can knock down the time by French-freeing the zzags and with more simul climbing (p2-p11, p13-p17, p20-p22). The key is to bring half the gear, a ton of biners and slings (it's basically a clip up on fixed gear) and NO PACK! Plus we'll have to swindle some good friends to meet us on top with extra hiking shoes. The problem is repeating the two other cruxes: dealing with Bay Area traffic departing at 6pm rather than the usual 8 pm, and getting a big enough crowbar to get Annie out of bed at 4:45 am again.

This past weekend it was back to business as usual, although we substituted peaches for blueberries in Saturday's 10:00 am pancakes. Back to Love Supreme, the same high point (a lock from the top) as the Thai chicken weekend, a longer more colorful string of expletives, and a retreat once sufficient blood and skin was deposited. This climb is getting on my nerves. The relationship will have to be resolved soon. Anne doesn't seem psyched to ski into the route.

Due to the threat of elbow pain and belayer mutiny, I was only allowed one burn per day, so we finally got to try our perennial favorite on Pwyiack, Skinwalker, 13a. It's a good climb, with lots of fun, subtle body positions. I finally linked it and Anne got the clean TR with a stomach virus so she should hike it next trip, if we can think of a good warmup we haven't done and something decent to toss on the pasta.


Glossary for the lingo impaired (ie. Diane)

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