Climbing trip to Yosemite

Yosemite-headerIt’s taken me a while to write about my Yosemite trip, because it didn’t turn out as planned.

My friend flew all across the continent for 1 climbing trip, and in this crazy California drought that is going on — it rained on us. It rained on our only climbing day, cancelling our 6 multi-pitch climb. So before I get into the details, let’s back it up.

My friend Lori and I had met at the local climbing gym back home in Newfoundland, Canada 20 years ago. She’s my first climbing partner I ever had, so I trust her completely with regards to climbing, gear, and everything safety-wise. She wanted to come out to California and climb Yosemite for her birthday and asked if I was free to go with her. Um, YES. YES I AM. Now, I mentioned I was scared to do a multi-pitch climb, but I was ready to take it on and brave the Yosemite mountains. After all, that’s how you get over fears, right? Frig sakes. These are the things you only dream of, especially being on the opposite side of the continent. Never thinking you’d ever be one of those climbers who actually gets to go to Yosemite. So when Lori came to California, she rented a jeep and we had a 4 hour girls road trip across the mountains to Yosemite.

Getting to Yosmite

Jeep-to-YosemiteWe ended up using the google maps for GPS on my BlackBerry, which ended up taking us on every type of road you could imagine. It was getting to the point we couldn’t get deep into conversation because one would drive, the other would have to focus telling the driver “okay, in 5km we’re getting off this road, and onto another!” At first it was laughable counting at how many highways and roads the maps were taking us on (I lost count after 14) but then as it continued the entire duration of our drive, it honestly drove us a little nuts. After talking to a few other people after the fact, sure enough it’s the way to get to Yosemite from the Bay Area! Yeesh!

Arriving in Yosemite


Lori-Nancy-in-Yosemite4 hours later, we made the trek across the mountains and into Yosemite.

Yosemite-LodgeWe arrived at our hotel, Yosemite Lodge and unpacked our belongings for the evening, then headed out on the road to get our surroundings inside the park before the sun went down. Oh, and of course check out famous Camp 4.

Yosemite-treesSidenote, the trees are huge in California!

We stopped by to get a couple of snacks and groceries, and when we walked back out to the parking lot we noticed a couple of older looking surfer dude’s gazing up at one of the mountains with their binoculars. We joined in, and started chatting with them for a bit. Then, they got all creepy on us asking which hotel we were at and inviting us up to go hiking and drinking in the woods and whatnot. Silly me, I took off my wedding rings for the trip and left them back home, because I didn’t want to sever my finger off when rock climbing. So there was that. Back to what they were gazing up at. A couple of climbers were on top of the spire with their rope attached to the side of the mountain (think slack lining) wrapping their hands and feet around the line and traversing/crossing over to the mountain. It was crazy and super awesome — definitely wouldn’t be me doing it though.

Travelling-with-makeupCan you tell there’s a couple of girls in the hotel room? Lori laid out all her toiletries first, then I followed suit. Guess which one is mine.

Enough excitement for the evening, we headed back to our hotel with the snacks in tow. We got ready for a night in, changed into PJs and was in bed by 8:00 watching episodes of the Duggar Family. Shortly after arriving back to our room, we received a phone call from the front desk informing us that our power is going to be out the next day (our climbing day) as there was an electrical problem in a couple of the buildings we were staying in. Meaning, no hot water for the morning.

climbing-gear-laid-outA little ticked off, since there was nothing we could do about it in the mean time so we laid our climbing gear out to pack away, slept on it and decide to tackle the issue when we got back to the hotel after the next day of climbing.

Climbing day

Lori-brushing-teethWe woke up at the crack of dawn (for me, that’s 7:30), and realized the power was most definitely out. Lori ended up brushing her teeth with her head lamp on. I had to document that. We noticed the forecast called for rain that day, but we were determined to see what our hired climbing guide thought of it all.


MountainschoolWe got to the mountaineering school shortly after and decided that in fact it was going to pour all day long, making our plans of climbing the 6 pitches dangerous due to the conditions.

Since Lori had travelled all this way, she knew she wanted to get in some sort of a climb that day. The guides were completely booked up the rest of the week, so it was out of the option to postpone the climbing for a day or so. After much deliberation, we all agreed on going out to do a crack climb.

Lori-belaying-guideWe knew the rock was going to be slippery as it continued to rain on us. What I didn’t realize was how difficult crack climbing is.

Lori-climbingHere’s Lori climbing in the green jacket.

For those that speak my language, we did the route called jamcrack and it’s rated at a 5.7. Incredibly novice, right? Add in soaking wet rock, aggressive climbing shoes, a scared newf (me) and you’ve got yourself a difficult 5.9-5.10 climb. Basically due to the rain we made the route harder for us to climb. Obviously.

Nancy-climb-crackThere’s me!

Nancy-crack-climbNot only that, crack climbing has a whole different technique of its own, something I had never practiced doing before, especially with my La Sportiva Miura’s (an aggressive shoe). With climbing cracks (heh), you need the most comfortable pair of climbing shoes, a pair that feels like a set of slippers on your feet. Because you’re going to be shoving your feet into the cracks sideways, then bending your knee back over so it meets up with the opening of the crack. Make sense?

Nancy-top-outCan you see me at the top of the climb? My ankles were sore for days. I didn’t trust shoving my hands into the wall crack, even though we taped them up before heading up the route. Luckily Lori nor I had to do any clipping or placing gear, we top roped up as our guide did the dirty work for us.

Nancy-Lori-climbsHere’s us rain soaked and done our single climb of the trip.

packing-up-climbing-gearWe taped our hands since we needed to shove our hands into the crack for balance.

climbing-shoes-in-rainNeedless to say, it was a memorable climb. Scary for me, but super fun looking back on it.

Unfortunately, we only got to do one climb that day, since it started raining harder after I came down (as I climbed after Lori). Shivering and soaking wet, we called it a day, packed  up our gear and headed back to the hotel. Yet, the power was still out. Long story short, the Yosemite Lodge suggested we can either move to another room in their hotel, or check into the fancy smanchy $500/night Ahwahnee Hotel for the same price. When in Rome Yosemite! You betcha we took that opportunity to check out the famous hotel.

Tea time at the Ahwahnee Hotel in our grubby climbing clothes

Ahwahnee-Hotel-YosemiteAfter heading back to the mountaineering school and getting half the money back from the guided climb, we checked into the Ahwahnee around noon, which may I add was fancy on the main floors but I much preferred the Yosemite Lodge rooms. Little did we realize the rain would let up a couple of hours after we cancelled our climb, and the rocks seemed to have dried up completely. Talk about bad timing! It was far too late for us to go back to the mountaineering school and get our guide back. He lived out of the park, and was most definitely gone for the day. We were the only climbers that ventured out in the rain, everyone else who were probably staying later throughout the week cancelled.

Walking-to-hotel-and-robeWe checked in, and warmed up in the most massive robes known to man. The hiking boots add a nice touch, don’t you think?