Monday, May 20, 2013

US Trip 2013 - Take 9; Yosemite Epic RAGE - Part 1

After short rest day in Davis caused by sustained rage-time in Castle Crags, Jordan and I were off to Yosemite Valley. The destination which consists most of our goals for the trip. It was really awesome to get back to the Valley after 3 years since our last visit. I was even more psyched because this time I was going to touch Yosemite granite and do some climbing. I mean, don't get me wrong, highlining is really cool and we had and still do have lots of crazy plans on a high slackline but climbing in the Valley was always my dream.

Rainy welcome to the Valley (photo by Jordan Tybon)
On the 'almost tensioned' longline at one of the Yosemite Meadows (photo by Jordan Tybon)

We arrived late in a night and luckily at the time when Camp 4 still had some space available. Next morning the weather looked pretty good but we knew there was a storm coming. Our friends Preston, Jared, Max and Braden were up at the Yosemite Falls. Knowing that the Yosemite Falls Highline is up and ready to go we decided to pay them a visit and do some training for our "24 hour highline marathon" project. We started kind of early at the morning. I was feeling really fit after all of that hiking we did in Castle Crags and finished running up Yosemite Falls Trail in one hour. That felt really good and I knew I am ready to do the trail in 1,5 hour with the 10kg backpack I will have for the 24 hour run. I got to the Falls and surprisingly none of my friends were there. I assumed that they must be on the Spire rigging their slope highline project. I took some time to eat and drink lots of water and then got on the line and sent it on the first try both ways. That felt really good although the rigging was really unusual. Nothing like anything I walked before. It felt amazing to cross this line. I've helped bolting ad rigging it for the first time back in 2007 together with Damian Cooksey and Jon Ritson but even I tried lots of time I could only sent 3/4 of the line.

Right after my send Jordan and Faith finished their approach. The weather was changing and you could see the storm was coming fast. Jordan sent a line after few caches and Faith crushed OS-FM. As soon as she step off the line it started to rain and hail. We packed our stuff and went back to the woods where we thought our friends set up their camp.

Epic stormy weather (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Wet but happy (photo by Jordan Tybon)

We waited for a while but they weren't there. Later this week we learned they had some epic scary moments during the storm while sitting on top of the Lost Arrow Spire. We hiked down as fast as we could. After getting back to Camp 4 it rained even more. We decided to go sesh Taft Point highlines next day.

Jordan sending (photo by Jan Gałek)
Faith on the way back (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Taft turned out to be pretty epic location. At first it didn't look so exposed but then you look down and you realize it is pretty damn high. We finished rigging to lines this day (short one which is 20 meters and longer one 31 meters). I got the free-solo the short line and it felt really good. I was getting ready in my head for the free-solo on the classic "Lost Arrow Spire" Highline.

Freesoloco on the Taft Point (photo by Jordan Tybon)

I've also sent the longer line OS-FM in an ankle-leash. It would be amazing to free-solo this line. It is really scary and exposed. It rained on us again and we had no time to rig the big Taft Point line so we decided to return after one climbing day. Jordan and Faith wanted to get back to also free-solo the short line and walk the big one and I had the thought of free-soloing 31 meter implanted in my head.

Faith getting epic send on the 31 meter just right after the rain (photo by Jordan Tybon) 
And it got even more epic ... (photo by Jordan Tybon)

The first climbing day was way fun. We went to really easy area just 15 minutes away from Camp 4. Five Open Books has many nice climbs from 5.6 to 5.11. Together with Jordan we did 3 multipitch routes (most of them are up to 3 pitches long). We've started with "Commitment" - really classic 5.9 with some insecure moves on the pitch traversing under big roof, then moved to exciting and really good "The Surprise" with cool 5.10c starting pitch variation. I think Faith and Braden had same amount of routes climbed this day or maybe it was four. At the end of the day Jordan, Braden and I did a group free-solo ascent of the "Munginella" - classic four-star 5.6. It was way fun and Braden's variation on top was pretty exciting offering some bummer hand jams in a diagonal crack.

Jordan finishing "Munginella" free-solo

Day after that I woke up really early and went for some free-solo mission. I climber "Munginella" again and then went for the "Commitment". It was really good although I had a exciting moment climbing through the crux. I went back to Camp 4 had awesome breakfast and because the gear was ready the night before we were off to Taft Point pretty soon. We finished rigging all three lines. Jordan had a bad day and didn't got to free-solo short line and Faith wasn't psyched on it either. I did three more leashless full-mans just for practice and because it was to windy to free-solo the 31 meter or rather it was too much wind for me to commit for such a line ... I was super psyched about the big line (53 meters). We rigged it with double Type-18 MK II and even though I placed many wind dampeners it seemed not to work really well with the brutal updrafts. I went for it in a swami and it was the most crazy send for me in a long time. I was to the point where I didn't know if the line is shaking because of me or the wind.

First direction ... (photo by Jordan Tybon)
And super  windy and shiny way back (photo by Jordan Tybon)

The way back was even more brutal with the sun straight to my eyes but I managed to cruise OS-FM. It felt amazing and I felt strong inside. Faith got some good condition and she cruised line nothing, of course on-sight "full-babe". Her boyfriend Andrew was with us these day and he crushed like a champ on the shorter line and the 31 meter. We all had fun even though it was a super hot day.

Faith on the big line (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Faith had to leave to Colorado the same the speech about highlining and highlining free-solo and Jordan and I planned on heaving a rest day. When I woke up next day I decided I don't feel so tired so I can do something active but not too hard-core. I walked to Manure Pile Buttress and free-soloed on-sight super classic "After Six" 5.7. Despite long await for one team to finish the first pitch it was a really stellar route and I had lots of fun. I walked back to Camp 4 and together with Jordan did some computer work. After this I went for one more quick freesoloco run on the "Munginella". When I was back at the camp three of our friends where there. Anatolij and Clemens were taking a break from their AFF and Grant was going to do some filming with us next day.

Heaving fun on the "After Six" 5.7

Following morning we packed up our camping stuff at the Camp 4 and prepared our bags to be hiked up the Yosemite Falls trail. We got the bear-boxes and our wilderness permit and by the end we realized how ridiculous heavy our bags are. We had to hike all that shit in just two people? I think that was the most strenuous hike I ever had. The 50kg bags definitely slowed us down but we still managed to get to the top of the trail in 2 hour 10 minutes. We went to set up our camping in the same spot where I stayed during 2007 Spire trip. As soon as we started setting up the tent it started to rain an by the time our stuff and us were inside it was pouring like crazy ... It even hailed for a while. We had to spend 3 hours in a tent waiting for the weather to clear up but it finally got sunny.

We started rigging the Spire around 18.30 or 19.00. The line was pretty much finished at 21.30. We got back to our camp, managed to start a small fire and soon went to bed.

We slept really long but even a good sleep didn't erase the tiredness in m body. We met up with Grant which already hiked up to the Spire early at the morning. I was kind of sceptic about free-soloing this day. As soon as I got on the line in an ankle-leash all my worries were gone. I knew I can do this. I walked the line like this four time full-man and I was planning on free-soloing later this day when the condition is perfect. Then I thought, why not do it know. I practically free-soloed this line (I don't find ankle-leash safe ...). So I went for it. First steps and the walk back were a bit nervous but at the end I had a solid walk and couldn't stop myself from shouting a bit at each anchor. It felt amazing to accomplish this long time goal of mine and I must say it came pretty easy. It was not as hard as I imagined it would be ...

Free-soloing the Spire FM (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Jordan got many good walks in a harness and ankle-leash but felt too tired this day to solo. I got another one-way free-solo to the Spire and then we went back to the campsite. I collected bunch wood earlier this day so we had a raging fire.

Jordan practicing on the L.A.S. in an ankle-leash (photo by Jan Gałek)

Next morning Braden showed up at our camping spot. He was going to do some shots with his small helicopter but the weather conditions turned out to be too windy for it. We went together to the Spire. It was cloudy and windy day but at least on Spire you couldn't feel too much wind. I walked the line free-solo FM again and then went back up. Jordan was going through a mental battle so Braden got on the line. He did many walks in a swami-belt, then an ankle and I knew he's going for it and so he did. He free-soloed the line one-way to the Spire. It was a super stable and controlled walk. It was nice to watch.

Braden free-soloing Lost Arrow Spire

I had to motivate Jordan a bit and make him believe that he can do it so we rappelled down to the flake together. He sent the line multiple times and then switched to ankle-leash and started to feel strong. He untied and went for a free-solo. I think he was still nervous and after three controlled catches he finally walked it to the Spire. I felt really happy. I was so glad he overcame this blockade in his head. I know it was his goal to so I was just excited for my friend.

I walked the line one more time free-solo one way before we de-rigged. After quick packing we ran down to the Valley were we met up with some friends. Same day we left to Braden's place were we could stay for the last few days thanks to his and his moms hospitality.

Happy "tripple freesoloco crew" ;)

Some facts about free-soloing "Lost Arrow Spire":

- 55 meters to the notch,
- 880 meters to the valley floor,
- 16.5 meters long,
- about 0.5 meter - 1 meter off level.

List of people which soloed this line:

- Darrin Carter (1994, FM, multiple times),
- Dean Potter (2001, OW),
- Sean Snyder (?),
- Corbin Usinger (OW),
- Andy Lewis (2009?, FM),
- Michael Kemeter (2011?, OS-FM),
- Jan Gałek (2013, 15th May, FM x 2, OW x 2),
- Braden Mayfield (2013, 16th May, OW),
- Jordan Tybon (2013, 16th May, OW).

I would also like to thanks Libby Sauter and Mason Earl for all the gear support. We couldn't do this line without it! Thanks a lot!! Special thanks goes to Braden to for letting us stay at his plays, climbing together and the gear.

During last couple days I did quite a lot of climbing. I went twice to the El Cap Base and did some classic splitters. The list of sends includes:

- Sacherer Cracker 5.10a,
- La Cosita, Right 5.9,
La Cosita, Left 5.7,
- Moby Dick, Center 5.10a,
- Little John, Right 5.8.

Getting some good fist jam on the " La Cosita, Right" after first thin finger locks section (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Easy section on the "La Costia, Right" (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Near the top of the "La Cosita, Right" (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Bomber handjams on top of "La Cosita, Right" (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Yesterday Jordan and I climbed our first 'real bigwall' here in Yosemite. I know in terms of Yosemite it's not quite so big (when on the Nose you have around 30 pitches or so). We climbed on the right side of El Cap on the route "East Buttress" 5.10b. Thirteen pitches of glorious climbing. I was lucky enough to lead all of the because Jordan just wanted an easier day. With our 80m rope after free-soloing first easy pitch I was able to link the route just in seven pitches. Whole action took us 6 hours from which 4 was just climbing. I wish I took a different T-shirt for this route. My shoulders are completely burned ...

Bomber handjams on the "Sacherer Cracker" (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Fist-jams section (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Just before the last part which is ... (photo by Jordan Tybon) 
... OFF-WIDTH - my favorite! (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Today we are going to rig and walk "Cascade Falls" Highline in a couple hours. Faith and Jerry are on their way so it should be a pretty fun day (did I just rhyme?) ... Well, after finishing this post I realized I didn't have a single rest day in a while and looking on our schedule it might be that it will stay like this till the end of our visit in Yosemite. It  is time to RAGE even more!! ;)

Peace & SlackOn!

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