After packing up the car, we made our 30 mile commute to the
parking area near the base of The Nose to eat and prepare to climb.
Our plan was to climb the first pitch of Cosmos on aid as part of our
“on site” preparation to climb The Nose at the end of summer. This would be a good climb to do this
morning since according to the guidebook it had shade until around noon, and we
were experiencing a heat wave… yesterday the temps were around 100F.
The shaded, pine covered trail quickly turned to a rough as we head up to the base of El Cap via the Zodiac Talus field.
In the scorching sun, with overly heavy packs, this approach was
heinous. Dave, though not happy, kept
it together, while Alex was visibly unhappy as she struggled to keep from
toppling over as she stepped from boulder to boulder. The approach was taking far longer that it
should have and the route was in full sun.
When we reached the base of the supposed climb, we realized why. The climb we just walked to was NOT the climb
we meant to do today, it was Pacific Ocean, the climb we planned for
Monday. Alex had been questioning Dave
when they started the approach about where they were going since this did not
seem to be what she remembered from the previous evening’s planning session. Regardless, they had something to climb, just
not on the day they intended.
Once geared up, Dave began aiding the first pitch (C1 or
11C). Climbing in Yosemite for the first
time and aid climbing somewhere he NEEDED to use aid gear was a bit
nerve-racking for the belayer and the initial exposure of being on El Cap for the climber. Alex breathed a sigh of relief when she finally heard, “OFF BELAY,
When Dave returned to the ground,
the pair retreated to the shade of a tree for a snack, water, and to make
Father’s Day phone calls. Cell service
has been patchy at best while in the park, but up on the cliffs the service
seemed best. While Alex was on the
phone, she heard Dave very calmly say “Alex, there is a snake, we should move.” Alex very quickly realized it was a
rattle snake and moving was a good idea. Alex got off the phone,
telling her mom “I’ll call you right back… nothing’s wrongs…. There’s just a
snake….. ummm… it’s a rattlesnake… so, yeah, it is poisonous…. Call you right
back!” The snake slithered among our
gear for awhile before finally making its retreat.
Alex called her parents back, explaining the
situation, and probably giving her mom one more thing to worry about all
summer. As the talked, she heard Dave
say “Uhh… Alex…” She knew from his tone
that something was wrong, but she needed to stay calm. OH CRAP! Rattlesnake right next to the rock
she was sitting on. She quickly
scurried away while trying not to startle her mom on the other end of the
phone. This snake was persistent! He once again slithered amongst our gear near
the start of the route… the route which Alex still needed to ascend and clean. Finally, our “friend” slithered far enough
away that Alex could begin ascending while Dave kept an eye on his
Cleaning this route was quickly turning into a very
frustrating situation for Alex. Normally
she cleans gear like a champ, but today she was having a hard time getting the
aid climb weighted gear to budge.
Banging a hex on her nut tool and rubbing knuckles against granite were
wearing on her in the sweltering sun.
“This sucks! This is NOT fun anymore!
I just want to be down from here!”
were running through her mind.
Dave noticed how miserable and disheartened Alex looked each time she
arrived at a new piece to remove, and yelled up “You don’t have to do this… you
can rap down and I can clean the last few pieces, you look miserable and there
is no need to be miserable!” Alex
accepted his offer, though reluctant at first because she didn’t want to be a
pansy… but knew it was silly to be this unhappy doing something that was
supposed to be fun.
Ironically, by the time Alex rappelled and Dave ascended, the sun make a quick retreat and left the wall in shade. Dave cleaned not only their remaining pieces of gear, but
also freed a blue offset nut left by a previous party. That plus the hook he found on the ground
while Alex was ascending made today a +2 day for gear!
The pair loaded there packs and started their way down the
“worst approach ever with heavy packs.”
You can guess who made that quote…. Apparently it was an overall rough
A clean-up and reorganization of gear was followed by a dip
in the chilly water of the Merced River that flowed just across the road from
their car. After a hot, sweaty, tiring
day, the river was a refreshing change of pace!
A drive to Yosemite Village to fill water containers, check out the
grocery store, and make dinner was on our to-do list before heading out of the
park to sleep.
OOPS! We forgot the can opener at home... but we had a big screwdriver!