Jose Mighty

I couldn’t wait to set foot on that Valley floor again. My desire to be there was only trumped by my desire to have Ellen set her eyes upon the first view of Halfdome and El Capitan.

The trouble was that Ellen had taken a near-fatal combination of allergy and motion sickness drugs; Climbing El Capitan would have been easier than rousing her. Thankfully, I managed to pullover at that first turn-out and snap some pictures so that she would have a clearer memory of the site.

The first day of our stay we met up with Ellen’s aunt & uncle and spent a great evening in El Portal in a hotel right next to the raging Merced river. It turns out that our arrival in Yosemite coincided perfectly with the spring thaw which produces great views of the waterfalls and rivers at their highest output volumes. We spent the next day catching up and completing our initial Valley reconnaissance.

As Rob & Vic were off, we were on to our next destination: the legendary Camp 4. This campground is known as the birthplace of modern rock climbing in North America. Climbers gather from around the world to live like dirt-bags and climb on the fine granite of the valley.

Our chief concern upon setting up camp would be those pesky bears, notorious for their penchant for breaking into cars. As we have been living in the van it proved difficult to clear our home of all its scented remnants. Luckily enough there was ample room in the bear boxes at camp and we were able to sleep soundly knowing the van would be okay; Well at least I was able to sleep soundly. The rangers do a thorough job of chasing the bears away anyways which we learned at around midnight one night when rubber bullets went flying and a bear was chased through the campground.

But enough about bears, we had come to worship in the temple of the climbing gods with the rest of the congregation. I had fallen in love with Yosemite bouldering 3 years ago and I couldn’t wait to hop back on the technical granite. Although the bouldering was great, it was the intrigue surrounding the trad climbing that got me. Even on the boulders we attempted slab and crack problems to try to learn these befuddling techniques. We managed to make a few friends that got us top-roping some crack climbs. This was a must do since the valley is more known for its cracks, long climbs and big walls. By embracing these other forms of climbing we hoped to have a richer experience and to hone our skills.

Climbing aside, the valley was a great destination mainly because of the characters whom we met and interacted with there. Such as, a travelling ex/sabbatical teacher, cool lake tahoe couple, legendary valley homeless guy, beer drinking guide who was around in the golden era, Euro climber who shared beta for Italy, Ellen’s relative who had climbed K2 and Denali (as well as bouldered with us), aid climbing beat poet who was into the zen of climbing, and 3 wild young guys tackling serious climbing objectives in their first year of the sport. The list goes on and the experience was rich.

Everyone should check out the valley and camp 4, the experiences will undoubtedly have you coming back. I have to say I may be cammed… I mean hooked.

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3 Comments

  • Yoda bear
    17 May 2010 | Permalink | Reply

    No way! YOU MET THE LEGENDARY HOMELESS DUDE??
    I heard a rumor that he’s an author of a book about quantum mechanics.

    • Richard
      17 May 2010 | Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, I couldn’t believe it! Chongo! Apparently he’s working on another book about relativity. It’s weird to be around people that talk about Kauk and Bachar and actually know them!

  • kdpants
    18 May 2010 | Permalink | Reply

    that’s nutso!!! so so coool. this post makes me miss you guys A LOT. sounds like such incredible times. happinessssss.

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