In the land of giants – my Yosemite experience

It does not matter how spoiled you are by traveling or climbing adventures, Yosemite WILL impress you, in a humbling sort of way, where you won’t quite be sure if you understand it yet. It is a combination of pure naturalistic perfection, unreal play of light and colors wrapping grand adventure walls, testing you for all that you are worth.

Camping life:

There are a few camping options, but the most popular among climbers is the legendary Camp4, notable for its contribution to rock climbing.

It is a very basic campsite, with just the basic amenities – water source, toilets, food storage boxes and camping tables. I arrived quite late in the season – end of October, when the temperatures were getting lower, and precipitation higher, so I did not have any issues getting a spot – the campsite was emptying. However, usually, the campsite is overfilled with people waiting for a spot from super early hours – the camp office opens at 8:30am and works at first-come-first-serve basis, i.e. bunch of climbers lining up from super early hours hoping for a spot.

Some people just sleep in their vans, but one should be careful where you park your car, as the park is heavily regulated and towing happens quite frequently.

There are also a few lodging options; wherever there is a climbing campground, there seems to be a luxury hotel. As it is the case for many nature parks, the visiting population is segregated to their activities and choice preferences. Ahwahnee hotel served me well too as someone who was staying at a climbing campsite. WiFi, comfy chairs, warmth from massive fire-cases, and lots of space in beautiful light served well a few times as a perfect place for long dark cold evenings, and rainy days.

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All that you need

Climbing:

Climbing was grand and humbling; the grades were harder, the climbs more sustained and pitches longer.

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The Grand Walls of Reed’s Pinnacle Area

I am fairly new to crack climbing  –  when learning to jam in Squamish, I basically had to force myself to ignore any rock face features, but I did get up some low 5.10 cracks in Squamish, and felt quite solid on anything below. However, even a 5.8 in Yosemite knocked out any of the little confidence I had about crack climbing.

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Most of the crack climbs I got onto required high jamming confidence and quite confident technique, and hence I had to deal with quite a few challenges in the routes I’ve done.  Trusting yourself, trusting that you do have the ability to do the sequence … Mind games, total mind games..

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Open Books Area

However, regardless of the challenges, the climbing was purely spectacular and plentiful. It was hard, but it felt that this was the right way to be. I did some routes in the Open Books area, and Reed corners.

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The most exciting climb I got onto was the Braille book. Marked as 5.8+, the climb felt as high tens, with long super sustained pitches.

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Looking down the first pitch of Braille’s book route

Many older routes in Yosemite (and everywhere) have harder much harder grading, hence route-establishment route should be considered when choosing which grades to climb. The climb (https://www.mountainproject.com/v/braille-book/105833552) followed a sustained corner system with occasional bulges and small roofs to go over. Gear placements were tricky at sections, and movement tricky. The first 4 pitches were 40-50 m long of sustained stemming with barely no rests – quite a work out for them legs !

It felt tricky and exposed, but was definitely an enjoyable solid exhilarating climb.

We found a new rope on top of the first pitch, and wondered why was it there; it appears that someone had an accident there the day prior …

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Finishing Second pitch of the Braille’s book

 

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Views from the top of Open Books area; quite a way to end the day

Mountain Running:

There is a lot of beautiful hiking trails around Yosemite valley, which means there are plenty of mountain running trails. I had a few fun runs around the area, most notable – run up the Glacier Point starting with the 4-mile trail from Yosemite valley. The climb has a sustained comfortable slope, and a nice trail. It was easy to sustain light relaxed running gait, and the progress up the slope was quite quick. The views were unfolding fast, and any fatigue thoughts did not even have time to take shape in my head. Upon the first good lookout of the Half Done, I indulged into my favorite new trail food discovery – tiny honey pack. The trail then climbed upwards entering hard packed slippery snow, compacted by hundreds of climbers, careful not to slip off  the steep drop, I  made my way up soon emerging at the glacier point. The run was 7.5 km in length with 1km elevation gain.

Experiencing it:

I can keep on talking forever about the time I spent in Yosemite, but it’s better to see it. Below are some photos to illustrate the range of beauty there. I did not have enough time in Yosemite valley. The temperatures dropped to -15C at night, and after enduring some of them I decided to head out to warmth… I am planning to be back to Yosemite in the near future, and to actually learn its ways… spend all month experiencing the legends of these walls…

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The colors of Yosemite
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Morning sun bringing life to cozy fields
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The sea of Granite – how is this perfection even possible ?
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Rice Noodles

 

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Morning mist
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More Yosemite colours

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Night at the valley
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