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Valley Cragging 6/26/99

By Jim Herson

There's only one thing better than an El Cap route. Two El Cap routes.

As a special wedding present to Jess I decided to introduce Chan, the man who always gets his way, to the concept of compromise. After back-to-back nerve wrecking weekends of buying bay area real estate (OUCH!) I was in desperate need of some R&R on the big stone. Chan, always eager to take advantage of my emotional vulnerability, insisted we climb the Nose. Any reprieve from the bay area housing market madness was fine with me. I was totally open to any climbing suggestion as long as it was the Salathe. So we compromised. We climbed both.

For the perfect weekend warrior ascent it's important that the night before a climb you spend more time commuting than sleeping. On this we over achieved thanks to bay area traffic... As a sleep deprived new parent I found this annoying.

Up by 3:30am, started the Free Blast at 5:30am, and topped out on the Salathe 8hr 10min later. Although pleased with the warmup, having climbed well while conserving strength, we still made a couple of small, time consuming blunders. No biggie since we were feeling refreshed and amped for the evenings activities. Left skid marks on top, sprinted down the East Ledges, and back to the van by 3pm.

Valley Syndrome has been known to immobilize motivated climbers for entire summers. There's no known cure or preventive measures. When we hit the Valley floor the suffocating heat sucked the life right out of me. All I wanted to do was sleep. Climbing the Nose was a distant second in priorities. However the prospect of negotiating with Chan, who was just going to get his way anyways, seemed overwhelmingly exhausting. In this case the shortest path to my pillow was to just climb El Cap again.

It took us almost 2hrs to repack, munch, and walk to the base. At the base I realized I forgot my sweat shirt, hat, and enough food for the night but didn't have the energy to walk back to the van to grab them. The 4th class approach upto the base of the Nose was desperate and I started dozing off while Chan led the first pitch. An ominous start.

Fortunately we had enough sense to realize we were totally out of it. We opted to skip the fun speed tricks -- no simul or pullup the slack/solo climbing. Instead we did the boring old belay thing which bought us nothing as those silly self locking belay devices make it next to impossible to catch some shut-eye at belays.

We moved slow but steady until sunset. Then, even with a spectacular full moon, we crawled. Progress was so slow we might as well have been down climbing. I didn't bemoan this fact to the rather ragged looking gentlemen who were almost halfway up the Nose on day five of their three day climb...

Eventually the sun reappeared and re-energized us and we gunned it for the top. A 15hr Nose for a 26.5hr somewhat tiring day. I couldn't help but notice that our step lost some of its bounce on the second trip down the East Ledges.

Our disappointing Nose flail fest cost us the prize 24hr ascent and our real goal of linking in Nutcracker for a pitch count greater than our combined age. Nevertheless the 70 pitches of climbing made for a pleasant day of cragging.


From: Diane Did you really buy a house? It made me feel like sneaking out to my car for an afternoon snooze just reading that! -Diane
From: Ann ... PS to Thor: Congrats on the linkup.Anne wanted to do something like 67 pitches in the gym yesterday but I would not belay her that long.
From: Evan So you found a matching nut? That's handy. What happened with the house -- no wait let me call you. -e
From: John Sounds exhausting. We were at the beach - Gualala sipping wine and gorging on homemade raspberry crumble. Maybe it won't be so bad if my finger never heals......... John
From: Jeannette Impressive! Guess that means you need at least two kids to slow you down! One kid and a new house doesn't cut it! jeannette
From: Jessica Jim, The gift, Jim, was this story. Please, do tell more. Honestly, I haven't laughed so hard in a long time!!! You certainly have a way with words. But that thing about Chan always getting his way... we might have to do something about that. Jessica :) p.s. Is it still true you can't make it to THE event? I thought if I pestered you enough (kinda adopting Chan's approach) that combined we could torture you enought so that you would just come...
From: Sherry Yikes, I'm tired just reading it. Very impressive. My latest escapade is nowhere near as awesome, but it did make it on-line. Check out:
From: Clint Wow, back-to-back classics. I can only imagine the kind of shape you guys are in!! Clint
From: Mimi 70 pitches...not bad. lemme see, what did i do last weekend? i climbed a 20 meter 5.9 in Logan Canyon, led by Jacques, the bad-ass bolt clipper. I think I only fell once, and hung a bunch of times.

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