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> 360 degree Panorama from the summit of Tenaya Peak
Panorama from the summit of Tenaya Peak

Tuolumne Meadows (Aug-Sept 2004)

I had the very good fortune to know someone who was on the Tuolumne SAR (Search And Rescue) team who invited me to come up there to climb. It turned out when I got there that I knew more of the people, but that is just another hazard of climbing on the road for 5 years. So I drove my little truck up onto some firewood logs to try to level it out, moved my food bins into some bear boxes, set my stove up on the picnic table and went climbing. My main goal was to tick off a bunch of the moderate classics and get back into climbing shape. Sending some harder stuff was a secondary goal.

Lembert Dome

Lembert Dome at sunset
picture of Lembert Dome

This fine dome is within easy walking distance of the campground so it saw a lot of action. I was asked by a Japanese couple (after I took their picture in front of it) if it was half dome. I climbed NW books many times, mainly this was because it was quick and easy (easy enough to solo). All you needed were sticky shoes, a chalk bag, and a nut tool (in case of booty). It was particularly nice around sunset. We also did a number of the slab climbs on the SW face and "Crying time again" and "direct NW face". As you can see, it is pretty photogenic.

sunset soloing on NW books
picture of NW books

Fairview Dome

Fairview Dome from the N
picture of Fairview Dome

Fairview is probably the most impressive dome in the area. It's north face is some 900 feet tall and in view of the highway. The "regular route" is one of the "50 classic climbs of North America" made famous and crowded by this book, so of course I had to tick it off. We timed our approach nearly perfectly, as we got there just before 3 other parties, but late enough that the party who started much earlier (when it was cold) was 3 or so pitches up. Every time we looked down we were more relieved that we were above the cluster brewing below us. We followed Ted's beta of stretching the first 2 pitches to good ledges to avoid hanging belays. After the first 2 pitches the climbing got a lot mellower, and we cruised on up.

The next time we went to Fairview it was to do "lucky streaks" some 7 pitches on the NW face (just left of the dark triangle on the right side of the picture). Unfortunately someone was just starting up when we got there, so we moved on up the wall and did the "great pumpkin", 4 fun moderate pitches. Then we did "lucky streaks". The 10d crux pitch was rather unnerving for me, and the hanging belays were no fun. By the time we got near the top our feet were killing us too much to enjoy the crack climbing and we were ready to be done. Walking back down barefoot wasn't so great either.

My final trip up Fairview was via the descent. It was a pretty grueling hike with 600 feet of rope at the pace set by Bob. This was part of a SAR (I was drafted because they were short people), we were the backup plan in case the helicopter couldn't make the short haul for some reason. We weren't needed as the short haul was a success. All I have to say is I am still kicking myself for not bringing my camera up with me. I'll just draw you a mental picture... about 45 minutes before sunset with the orange light coming in low from behind, in the background are the peaks of the sierra crest freshly dusted with snow from the night before, There are a few storm clouds with fresh snow building over the crest and lit up by the golden glow, In the foreground is a red helicopter hoisting a rescuer and a hypothermic climber (he spent the previous night out) into the sky. I'm telling you, it was the money shot. (a pair of climbers had started up the previous morning (when it was threatening and then snowing) and spent the night out, the next afternoon one of them was able to make it down and to the ranger station. They picked about the worst night of the time I was there to be out, as I was cold at the campground standing around a campfire with lots of warm clothes on.)

Dave on Crescent Arch
picture of crescent arch

Daff Dome

Believe it or not, Daff stands for Dome Across From Fairview, which it is. My only previous climbing at Tuolumne was "west crack" on Daff Dome (a pic at the bottom of my old yosemite valley page) , but there were other climbs to be done, including "crescent arch", the first pitch of "bombs over Tokyo", and another run up West Crack.

Cathedral Peak

Cathedral peak from near the south
picture of cathedral peak
Ever since I hiked past it on the John Muir Trail a few years ago I have wanted to climb Cathedral Peak. Finally we got around to it. Of course nothing goes exactly as planned. We missed the cutoff trail and bushwhacked, meanwhile Crystal lost her camera and turned back to look for it... Eventually we got to the base, and Andy was trying to explain to Manuel that we might not actually use a rope "you guys are crazy man" (say it in a Spanish accent). In fact we didn't use a rope, although it was like alpine training, as we had a rope in the pack. I think it is about 5 pitches, and was quick and very enjoyable, although the screaming wind was a bit more than I wanted. Then we dropped down to Eichorn Pinnacle. Supposedly there is an exposed 5.4 way up this, but Andy ended up doing some 5.9 or so offwidth with only nuts and hexes for pro. Luckily he didn't fall, and we tagged this summit, Unfortunately nobody was standing by to take a photo of us from the summit of Cathedral.

Chad and Andy head up Cathedral Pk
picture of cathedral peak
Unicorn and Cathedral Peaks
picture of unicorn and cathedral peak

Other Areas

I also climbed at plenty of other areas, Olmstead Point, Tenaya peak, Stately Pleasure Dome, Kitty and Puppy Domes, the Gunks, East Cottage Dome, Unicorn ... trad, sport, solo, bouldering, lead, follow, toprope... you get the idea. Here are some pictures.

Stretching for a rest on Dark Angel
picture of dark angel
Tam goes for the same rest
picture of dark angel
The amazing crack pitch on the OZ
picture of the OZ

Non Climbing!!!

Amazingly enough, there were a few non climbing activities, such as eating and sleeping, as well as slack lining, fire poi, and jumping in the usually frigid creek. So, of course I got some pictures of these too.

Creg testing his balance on the highline
picture of the OZ
Raptors pass by Lembert Dome
picture of hawk
Snow at the SAR site
picture of Tuolumne

Bob, Sean, and Pat recovering from and reviewing mayhem on the bicycle track
picture of bob, Sean, and Pat
twirling fire poi at Tuolumne Meadow
Pic of me twirling fire

The feel in Tuolumne is very different from Yosemite Valley. For starters, it is much less developed, just a small store, gas station, visitor center down the road, and a lodge down the road the other way. Unlike the valley, when it was cold, you couldn't just go to the lodge or the cafeteria and warm up. Just one huge campground, (supposedly the largest one in the national park system). The weather was also a lot cooler, even when it was hot. It felt more like a national park, and less like a small tourist town overrun with tourists. There was one really cold weekend with snow.

I also managed a few side trips, like climbing the Prow in the valley, and the Palisades traverse further south in the Sierras.