Cathedral Peak and Yosemite

Oct. 10-11, 2002

random trip report

Dave Altman and I drive up to Groveland on Wednesday night and stay in the funky but expensive Groveland Motel, where most of the rooms are RVs, mobile homes, and teepees. It's only 10:30, but all the bars and liquor stores are closed.

The next day we drive into Tuolomne Meadows to climb Cathedral Peak (10,991') by its south face. Not to make excuses, but I'm getting over a cold; I'm weak and congested, have a crinkling-cellophane sound in my left ear, and have migraine-like visual problems. We walk around the left side of Fairview Dome.

Dave Altman, with Cathedral Peak in the background; we climbed up the left skyline

We went up the left side, left of the obvious chimney.

We start climbing around 1:00. As we near the start of the climb it starts to cool off and the wind picks up. After the first pitch Dave's fingers are numb, and it takes him a while to climb the second pitch. I start to get cold. By the middle of the climb I'm freezing, shivering in all muscles, breathing violently to generate heat. At least I have a pair of insulated gloves.

We reach the summit around 5:30. We waste no time starting down, traversing to the saddle with Eichorn's Pinnacle, walking in our climbing shoes down steep slabs for several hundred vertical feet, doing some traversing to avoid steep cliffs.

Eichorn's Pinnacle, a feature just below the summit.

There's a fantastic sunset over the Cathedral Lakes. We hurry to reach the main trail before it's dark.

It's deep twilight by the time reach the trail, and we still have 5 miles to the car. I've neglected to bring my headlamp, so I have to zigzag in front of Dave. Not an full-fledged epic, but getting there. Fortunately the liquor store is still open when we get back to Groveland.

Next day I wake up very sore. We drive to Yosemite valley. Dave gives me the "climber's tour" of the valley, pointing out countless routes, and detailing their ratings and first ascents.

We go to the Church Bowl area. The popular routes are all taken. We start with a 'flaring chimney', two angled slabs with a handcrack at their junction, the whole thing slightly overhanging. Dave demonstrates the techniques, including the 'knee bar': jamming a foot against one slab, the knee against the other. I try it and flail mightily, using all my energy just to stay up in the chimney. Finally I give up. We do a 5.6 single pitch. Then we drive to the base of Yosemite Falls and end up climbing 'Commitment', 3 pitches of fun 5.7 - 5.9. A nearby route, Selaginella, intersects the Yosemite Falls trail at about its midpoint.

We leave the valley around 6:30 and are back in Berkeley at 10:30, amusing ourselves by discussing the N-dimensional Poincare conjecture.

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