<-- Map of summer 2015
     climbing roadtrip 
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JULY
4-5
2015
Category: California
Trip Report #: 193
Partners: Cole with the white Toyota Tacoma with Arkansas plates (Climb 1) / Cristobal from Chile and Josef from Czech Republic (Climb 2)
Rock Type: Granite
Elev: 4,000-5,000 ft

YOSEMITE 2015: 
2 Days of "Cragging"
Climb 1: Serenity Crack to Sons of Yesterday (5.10d, 900')
Climb 2: Central Pillar of Frenzy (5.9, 550')
Two of the best multipitch crack climbs in the Valley.
INTRO

The initial plan for this trip to Yosemite was to climb El Capitan via The Nose in a day with my friend John Plotz. But then a day of intense thundershowers and John's job schedule caused us to cancel (delay, hopefully!) our plans to climb El Cap. Disappointing! But better to bail from the ground then be 2000 feet up El Cap trying to go fast and light with no waterproof gear when water is cascading down the rock in sheets and lightening is booming in the sky around you...

Anyway, as a result I found myself wandering like a lost soul in Yosemite Valley. After a day of (unsuccessfully) trying to be content on the Valley floor, I still had a couple of days to spare before I needed to meet my friend Dow for some climbing in the Eastern Sierra. Luckily, a walk through Camp 4 announcing at random "anyone looking for a climbing partner?" usually turns up more than a few takers. 

On July 4, I climbed Serenity-Sons with Cole in the "white Toyota Tacoma parked at Camp 4 with Arkansas plates". This route links up Serenity Crack (3p) and Sons of Yesterday (5p) for 900 feet of sustained 5.9 to 5.10 crack climbing. It is one of the best 5.10 crack climbs in the Valley....it is just so, so good. (Note: I'd first climbed Serenity with my friend Ross in 2007. We had planned to continue onto Sons - who wouldn't?! - but we had to bail at the top of Serenity due to a significant backup at the base of Sons. I put the route of my list for a future someday. Which arrived in July 2015!). 

On July 5, I climbed Central Pillar of Frenzy with Cristobal from Chile and Josef from Czech Republic, who were superb climbers that had met each other in Camp 4 but were kind of limited by a small rack (Cristobal had some gear he'd brought on the plane from Chile, but Josef hadn't even planned on coming to Yosemite and had hardly more than a fraying harness and rock shoes). Central Pillar of Frenzy is one of the most popular 5.9 crack climbs in Yosemite, 550 feet of everything from fingers to hands to offwidth to chimney. (Note: I'd first climbed Central Pillar with my friend Ross in 2007. It was such a great route I felt like I needed to do it again.)

The following page gives a route overlay, pitch-by-pitch description, and photos for each of the two climbs. 

CLIMB 1 - JULY 4
Serenity Crack to Sons of Yesterday
(ROYAL ARCHES AREA, 900', 8 pitches: 10a, 10a, 10d, 5.6, 10a, 5.9, 5.9, 10a
)

Cole and I had a great day of climbing together. We shared our stories of our bad climbing accidents / injuries (his in April 2014, mine in Sept 2010), did some math problems, and both had a craving for coconut water the entire climb, so we had a lot to talk about. We started the route at 5:30am, and as a result we had the route to ourselves for a couple of hours and were back down drinking coconut water while the train of climbers we rapped past sweated their way up the route; needless to say, I'm all for the early start, especially on a route like this. Cole led the 5.10a pitch off the ground and the 5.6 pitch at the start of Sons, while I led the other seven pitches of the route. What's cool about this route for me is that it is a continuation of a sequence of 5.10+ routes where I've begun to be more comfortable (and actually prefer!) being on lead again, which has been a frustration I have dealt with since my climbing accident. It feels great to be getting back on the sharp end.

ROUTE OVERLAY

PITCH-BY-PITCH
Key: Serenity Crack Sons of Yesterday
Pitch descriptions:
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach 
~5 minutes from Ahwahnee parking lot
Serenity begins on left side of wall, just right of the huge left-facing corner. Sons begins from the end of the last pitch of Serenity.
 

Pitch 
1
5.10a, 160'
This pitch is pretty unique: Hundreds of blown out pin scars the size of #.75 to #1 Camalots create a practical ladder up the pitch. Unfortunately, secure gear is not available for about 40 feet (offset cams are your best bet); plus, as of July 2015, the bolt we expected to find 35 feet up was not there. Needless to say, the first part of this pitch is very unnerving to lead. But quite enjoyable for the follower. Belay at a pair of bolts.
1a.    
1b.    
1a. Cole leading Pitch 1. Even though I led all of the other pitches of the route (except the first pitch of Sons), I'm not sure if we would ever have gotten to the rest of these pitches if Cole had not offered to lead this pitch. 35 feet of 5.10 with little to no gear is not my thing. I understand the desire to keep the route free of bolts between belays, but I know neither Cole nor I would complain about a bolt or two to protect an ankle-breaking ground fall on this pitch (the bolt shown on the topo was not there). It was a super fun and definitely unique pitch to follow though. Great lead Cole!

1b. Pin scars the size of #.75 to #1 Camalots.
Pitch 
2
5.10a, 130'
Beautiful jams to a cruxy crack switch which involves stepping right at a knob. Continue up more crack to a pair of bolts.
2a.    
2b.    
2c.    
2a. Looking up the start of the second pitch. Now this looks like my sort of climbing - thin hand jams are my specialty!

2b. Looking down at Cole on the crack switch step across near the start of the pitch.

2c. Cole nearing the top of the pitch.
Pitch 
3
5.10d, 100'
Steep flakes and overhanging hands leads to a beautiful, thin splitter. The crux is a section of tips jams just before the bolted belay.
3a.    
3b.    
3a. Looking up at the start of the pitch. Really fun flakes. The crux 10d section is out of view over the hump.

3b. Looking up at the crux 10d fingercrack. Great finger locks. Two methods: (1) Sew it up, hang out, get tired, or (2) plug in a bomber piece and go for it. It's a clean fall on good gear. 


Pitch 
4
5.6, 150'
Climb easy terrain up a groove and past a tree to a pair of bolts.
4a.    
4a. Cole leading off the first pitch of Sons, which rambles from the top of Serenity to below the obvious crack in the top left corner of the photo. 
Pitch 
5
5.10a, 120'
Climb past a short steep section of thin hands to sustained slightly off-fingers jams to a belay perch on a small tree. Belay off a fixed anchor.
5a.    
5b.    
5a. Looking up the second pitch of Sons. This is a sustained pitch, probably the hardest of Sons.

5b. Looking down from the belay perch in the tree.
Pitch 
6
5.9, 105'
5.7 to 5.8 to 5.9 hands in a right-facing corner. Pull a bulge to a pair of bolts
6a.    
6a. Looking up the 5.7 to 5.8 to 5.9 corner at the beginning of the third pitch of Sons. So fun!
Pitch 
7
(can link with Pitch 6 with 70m rope)
5.9, 105'
Steep and sustained hand jams through a little roof and up a bit more hand crack to a pair of bolts.
7a.    
7a. Looking down from the top of the fourth pitch of Sons. I had linked the third and fourth pitches into a 200+' pretty sustained lead. We had a 70m rope, and I had about 10m of rope to spare give or take a meter or two, so linking these pitches might be pretty tight with a 60m rope. Another idea is to link the fourth and fifth pitches of Sons, which would be doable with a 60m rope.
Pitch 
8
(can link with Pitch 7 with 60m rope)
5.10a, 90'
Arching splitter hand crack which involves a section of walking with your feet in an offset crack (or you can put your hands in the crack and smear your feet below, which is the more strenuous but less heady to way to climb it). Final crack is about 30 feet of 5.8 offwidth (#3 for first half, #4 for second half). Belay at a pair of bolts. 
8a.    
8b.    
8a. Looking up the fifth pitch of Sons. The offset crack walk begins where the crack jogs in the photo.

8b. The final 30' offwidth. I just climbed it as a knee-in-torque-foot kind of offwidth and didn't worry about any fist jams. This is the only part of the route where a #3 or #4 is the only thing that fits for protection. Depending on your comfort with runout 5.8 offwidth, you can: (1) leave the bigger cams behind and run it out, (2) bring only a #3 and protect the first 15' and run out the last 15', or (3) bring only a #4 and protect the last 15' and not the first 15', or (4) bring both a #3 and #4 and be completely comfortable on this pitch but have a heavier-than-needed rack for the rest of the route. 
Pitch 
9
(optional)
5.8, 40'
40' of friction slab to a tree. Most climbers don't climb this final section.
9a.    
9a. The 5.8 friction slab to the tree is on the right side of the photo. Most climbers don't climb this final section. Friction slab seems out of character with the rest of the route anyway.
Descent 

10 raps with a single 70m rope*, as follows:
Rap 1: Top of P5 of SOY
Rap 2: Top of P4 of SOY
Rap 3: Top of P3 of SOY
Rap 4: Top of P2 of SOY
Rap 5: Tree just 20 feet into P1 of SOY
Rap 6: Tree midway up P1 of SOY
Rap 7: Top of P3 of SC
Rap 8: Top of P2 of SC
Rap 9: Bolted station off to the left of SC
Rap 10: Bolted station off to the left of SC
*The guidebook recommends rappelling the route with two 60's or 50's and makes no mention about whether or not a single 70m rope works. We found out that it works quite well. However, whether a single 60m rope works I cannot say for sure either way. A few of our rappels seemed to have somewhere between 20-30 feet of rope to spare, so it would make for some rope-stretching rappels. 
a.    
a. Cole rappelling.



CLIMB 2 - JULY 5
Central Pillar of Frenzy 
(MIDDLE CATHEDRAL ROCK, 550', 5 pitches: 5.9, 5.9, 5.8, 5.8, 5.9)

Cristobal and Josef are endlessly enthusiastic, which made for a really fun few hours of climbing. Since we climbed as a group of three, the leader climbed with both ropes and the two followers climbed together, staggered about 30 feet apart. The route requires two ropes anyway for the rappels, and the belay ledges can accommodate three pretty easily, so it's actually a pretty good route to do if you have a group of three. Cristobal blasted through the first four pitches in two long leads, while I led the final long pitch. Surprisingly for such a popular route on a Sunday, there was only one other party on the route and they were already a few pitches up when we started. It was probably the 95° heat that kept climbers away. But the route starts to loose its sun by midday, plus there was a pleasant breeze once we got a pitch up, so we were actually pretty comfortable. We were down with plenty of time for Cristobal and Josef to go swimming in the river and for me to go satisfy my new addiction of coconut water. Can't really beat a day of "cragging" (at least by Yosemite standards) in the Valley.

ROUTE OVERLAY

PITCH-BY-PITCH
Pitch descriptions:
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach 
~15 minutes. From a pullout at the junction of roads near El Cap meadow, cross the road, find a trail, find a carabiner sign, and head to the base of the obvious pillar on the left side of Middle Cathedral's NE Face.
0a.    
0b.    
0a. A photo of Josef and Cristobal at Camp 4, a few minutes after I walked up and asked "anyone looking for a climbing partner today...?" and was answered with "sure, do you have gear, we don't have much, what should we climb?"

0b. Somehow the three of us fit into my overloaded Subaru and we drove ~5 minutes to the pullout near the triangle intersection in El Cap Meadows.
Pitch 
1
5.9, 100'
Begin in a right-facing corner on the right side of the pillar. Climb this slick corner to a final move (crux) pulling onto the pillar itself. Belay at bolts. 
1a.    
1a. Josef belaying Cristobal on Pitch 1.

Pitch 
2
(Pitches 1 and 2 can be linked with a 60m rope)
5.9, 100'
Head left and up a stellar finger crack system to another bolted belay.
2a.    
2a. Looking down from the belay at the top of Pitch 2. Cristobal had linked Pitches 1 and 2 in a rope-stretching 200' lead.
Pitch 
3
5.8, 110'
Continue up a stellar hand crack, through a roof, and then up an offwidth (3.5-4" cams work well) to another bolted belay. 
3a.    
3b.    
3a. Looking up at the start of Pitch 3, which begins with a fun 5.8 hand crack and goes through a roof. Really fun climbing.

3b. The 5.8 offwidth above the roof. The guidebook recommends up to 3 3.5-4" cams, but Josef was okay with just 1!


Pitch 
4
(Pitches 3 and 4 can be linked with a 60m rope)
5.8, 90'
Climb sweet twin cracks up to another bolted belay. 
4a.    
4a. Josef nearing the top of the twin cracks of Pitch 4. Again, Cristobal had linked Pitches 3 and 4 in a rope-stretching 200' lead (the topo shows these two pitches as 130' and 100' but together they sum to 200'....).
Pitch 
5
5.9, 160'
Climb an easy chimney, then continue up featured cracks to a final belay. 
5a.    
5b.    
5a. Looking up at Pitch 5. I led this pitch. It starts off pretty easy but there are some tricky fingery moves up high.

5b. Cristobal and Josef at the top of the route.
Descent 

Four raps with double ropes down the face to climber's left (not over the route)
a.    
a. The last rappel. At least on the rappel route to the left of the pillar, you definitely need two ropes.