With one week left of winter break and most of my friends / climbing partners back in school I was riding solo and contemplating what to do with my free time. The surf was flat so that was out. I had solo aid climbed Guadalupe rock too many times in the last week...so what to do... go to the Valley of course! The weather showed warming in the forecast so five and dime it was!
Sometimes the solo drive to the Valley is really peaceful (once I'm out of the city)
The roads were in far better shape than a week ago. Still really slippery on the Valley floor though.
I fixed a line on Mockery 5.8 to warmup on. It was a pretty fun face climb that was quite different from most climbs in Yosemite. Make sure you stay on route because there are some dinner plate jugs ready to break off. The crux for me ended up being a mantle move to the anchor. Overall, it was a fun route and I would go back and lead it. BTW there is a second anchor installed next to it, so I was able to do some relatively easy scrambling to get to it and then move over to the Mockery anchor, instead of having to rap from a tree first.
Three guys showed up and they said they were going to setup on Keystone corner, so I decided to fix a line above Five and Dime. Oh boy is that climb sweet!!!
The 3 guys I met there lived in the Valley and were really nice people. They let me take a ride up their rope on Copper Penny (which was awesome and I got clean!) and I let them use my rope for a few laps on Five and Dime. I took some shots of them which I said I would post here.
After Five and Dime I quickly went over to Fern Spring to fill up my water bottles and then it was off to Arch Rock before the sun went down. The guys I had climbed with earlier said there were some fixed lines in good shape over there, so I was stoked to sneak in another climb before dark. I ran up the talus field, and saw a fixed line on English Breakfast Crack. Score! I pulled my gear out of my pack and was set to start climbing. The 5.9 finger crack start is probably one of the more beautiful lines I've climbed IMO.
I was laughing my way up the finger crack and then got into the OW and chimney section. I had cruised the 5.10a OW earlier so I thought this 5.9 OW would be a cruise. WRONG!!! I didn't realize how tired I was before I got into, but man I was grunting my way up this thing. I guess I have less practice in "tilting" OW than straight ones, so I had to improvise some new techniques. With every move up my technique got a little better, but my strength was diminishing. At the end of the short chimney section after the OW, there is a rattly overhanging finger crack and then another chimney (did I mention this climb is awesome). By the time I got to the anchor it was starting to get dark and I was pretty spent from the wide section, so I decided to rap instead of doing the second pitch in the dark (I'll be back). I kind of f*#ked up though.... In my rush to get on the climb before the sun went down, I fixed the lower end of the rope to a tree so it would feed well through my jumar and micro traxion, instead of just weighting the rope....well I didn't leave myself enough slack. I couldn't get the rope into my belay device to rap...shit did I seriously do that?! I contemplate what to do and then came up with a plan. I brought a couple extra sling just in case (good thing) so I made a prusik with one and attached it to the anchor and to the rope above me. I weighted the rope with my jumar and moved the prusik up every time I did this. Eventually I pulled all the stretch out of the upper section of rope and it gave me just enough slack to get into my belay device....woohoo self rescue!! hahaha.
On the way back I celebrated with a bowl from Panda Express. Gotta love MSG! (It stands for mega super good right?)
Winter day trips are always hard to motivate for, but I'm glad I got out there and had some fun!