Dates: June 30 – July 1, 2012
Ever since I started rock climbing (back in Toronto), I had this seemingly unachievable dream of rock climbing in Yosemite. All around our climbing gym, they had posters of people climbing the huge iconic granite walls of Yosemite, and I remember looking at them and wishing that I could do that someday. Since we moved to California last October, the dream became a bit more realistic. Eventually, we signed up for a climbing trip to Yosemite with our new favorite climbing meetup group (GYCO), and the dream was a mere arm’s length away. We weren’t going to do any of that serious business like sleeping in mid-air, but, nonetheless, we were going to rock climb in Yosemite!
First area we climbed at was an easy and relaxed place called Swan Slab, which was right next to a popular hiking trail. The peculiarities of this location instantly made our group a target of multiple tourists’ photos and questions. All this time, I had a funny feeling that the passers-by were thinking of us as these experienced hard-core climbers, while in fact most of us were climbing really easy and short routes.
In the evening of the 1st day, we headed to another climbing location called Church Bowl. This one was deeper in the valley, and we ended up spending about an hour stuck in traffic trying to get to the place. The popularity of the Yosemite park clearly has its downsides. When we finally got there and found parking (a nigh impossible feat), I was too exhausted to do any more climbing. However, it was fun to hang around all the nice people in our group and enjoy the fantastic Yosemite scenery.
On the second day, we went to the area called “Five and Dime” (who comes up with these names anyways?) This location, unlike the other two, was high off the valley floor. Even the shortest climb there was an exhilarating experience, with strong howling winds in the ears and lots of empty space underneath. Here’s a video of Vitaly getting scared by the exposure.
Despite the blistering heat, we spent the rest of the day in that beautiful spot, enjoying the awesome valley views and the challenges of climbing. As we were about to pack up and leave, we got one final burst of excitement when we noticed a large rattlesnake, coiled up and ready to strike, right next to base of one of the routes we’d been climbing. Fortunately, it decided to leave us alone and slithered away.
We just scratched the surface of what can be done in Yosemite. This place needs a lot more skills and experience than we currently have. However, there’s a whole lifetime of learning ahead – hopefully sometime soon we’ll come back and play in the major league of the Yosemite’s big walls and multi-day climbs.