Monday, October 13, 2014


This weekend I headed out at 5:45 am Sunday morning from the stables parking lot with the goal of climbing The South Face of Mt Watkins with Will and Naomi. Between “reading” descriptions from The Super Topo guide and Yosemite Bigwalls guide by Erik and Roger, we figured that we would be at the base of the route around 8:30 am.

I put “reading” in quotes above because I only skimmed the directions in regards to the approach, and peaked at the maps. After all it’s MT WATKINS right? – How could you walk up Tenaya canyon and miss it? – Well we did miss it, until we made 5 hours of mistakes in wrong turns and misguided steep scrambling.

Six hours and two minutes after leaving the stables parking lot we arrived at the base of the route! We decided against climbing out of the ditch given how late we arrived at the base. (translation/clarification: “topping out on Watkins, El Cap, or Leaning Tower, is just crawling out of The Ditch, so really do have to “enjoy the journey.”) So, we had a great adventure, exploring various slopes and tiny trails in Tenaya canyon, found a cool water hole, our legs are super fit -or will be when we recover, and we now have a gallon of water stashed at the base of  The South Face Route!

I just got through presenting stories to The AAC International Climbing Meet Friday evening. I was telling them how we have these incredible wild walls here in Yosemite AND they are so accessible and close to your car door. –Funny sort of “foot in mouth” adventure for Sunday. I don’t call 6 hours close to the car door.

Points to remember:
-bring people with you that like to adventure. We had an adventure, the outcome was unkown. We got to explore around a beautiful canyon, in a beautiful place. Our group was joking and laughing and having a good time.
-Read CAREFULLY a couple sentences from past travelers, guidebooks, the net, etc. and save yourself 2 hours, or 3.
-Love the journey.
-When you hike up Tenaya Canyon and you reach West Quarter Dome on your right, THEN you will be far enough up the canyon to head left up to the base of Mt Watkins. (West Quarter Dome is the smaller and on the right when looking up at the two quarter domes.
-when you find a better way don't be stubborn to make the change over to it. Just do it.

I had a great time sharing stories with the AAC group on Friday evening and a super time instructing some of them at the base of El Cap on Saturday morning. I learned a few things “teaching” these experienced climbers. How lucky am I?- Getting to teach a class at the base of El Cap?  I am fortunate that I've picked up techniques from Europeans, Puerto Ricans, South Americans, Brits and Ozzies, Russians, and Asians. I was reviewing some of the ways to use cordelettes with the AAC folks and right there in front of everyone made the decision I'll never double fisherman my cordelette ever again. It reduces the flexibility of the cords use. It deploys
quicker when left untied, derigs quicker, more flexible in application and in adjusting once applied. I'll have a video and or images to post in the future about this. Yes, yes, I'm sure many of you our there are saying DUH, why did it take you so long to figure that out? (Big Thanks to Carol Kotchek and the AAC for inviting me to participate.)

Saturday afternoon I got to go up five pitches on The East Buttress of Middle Cathedral with Diane Payes. Again, we didn’t top out or even get out of The Ditch. That was better then OK for us, we got to climb on awesome granite terrain, with a beautiful alpine glow light on El Cap across the valley, and earn our meal with The AAC group later that evening.

I hope you got to summit something this weekend, or crawl out of a ditch, or just embark on something where you didn’t know the outcome before starting.