First up we headed to the spot known as Knob Hill containing a short bolted 5.8 and 5.9 route. We parked and found the spot with ease the only problem was that the two anchor bolts were no longer there. We were pretty disappointed as it looked like a fun warm up route with a bit of a crack to practice with. Will had a bit of a look around and found a few old slings used for different routes that were beyond our climbing ability so we had lunch while checking the guide book for another climb. It was 2:30pm on day one and no rock climbing had yet been done...
Not far along the road we walked down to another spot called Five and Dime Cliff where the other people there described the 5.8 route called Mockery as fun. The guide book described it as hard. Will set up to lead the climb while the other people top roped an overhanging 5.10c nose called Bijou. Despite falling a few times on the gnarly looking route they all looked pretty fit so we were both wondering how we would stack up. Will very quietly made his way up the 5.8 I could tell by his silence that he was concentrating hard and not having a whole lot of “fun". He did make it to the top though and once down reported that the climb was much much harder than the 5.10c climbs he had done elsewhere. I toped roped the climb but used the rope quite a bit and no way could I have led it.
Exhausted after our one climb we retreated to the campground for some food. Dinner was these amazing sausages that a friends dad Bob had brought for us. We ate them in buns with other good stuff and had to use a lot of self control to save two sausages for another night; to this day we still salivate over the delicious flavour. That evening or it could have been the next night we went to a ranger talk about bears, everyone was telling us to keep an eye out for them as the lack of snow and warm temperatures meant that they hadn't gone into hibernation yet this season. It felt like everyone we met had had a recent beer encounter so we were eger to learn more. The ranger told us some pretty interesting stories about his three close encounters with Grizzly bears and how the black bear is just a species of bear so not all of them are in fact black. They can be brown, grey, yellow brown, black or a mixture of. We saw photos, skulls, beer skins and knew what to do if we saw one. All that was left was to actually, physically, see one.
The following morning at ridiculous o’clock while I continued sleeping in the back, Will woke up and drove us to the Tunnel View look out to capture the sunrise. He was a little early for the sunrise but eventually it came up and he captured some stunning photos before retiring to bed again for a couple of hours. By 10am we were searching for the next climbing spot but the more we read the guide book the less doable climbs we found. We only had a 60m/195 ft rope so any pitches over 95 ft were out like the knobby sounding 150 ft New Deviations route. As was the 5.8, 70 ft route named Costa Rica as it only had two bolts and we weren't yet ready to climb lines that run out. Eventually we settled on a spot known as Cookie Sheet, however finding it was a challenge in itself. We must have driven past it twice before we found the described talus field and it was 2pm by the time we had made the 45 minute approach and had lunch. The whole rocky bear scat covered approach made me a little worried about what I would do if a bear actually came along while Will was half way up the wall. I collected a pile of rocks and we agreed if a beer came I would run up the wall Macgyver style using Wills weight and we would both hang in limbo until the coast was clear.
"Difficulty: High. It's a long, steep climb from the valley floor to the valley rim, and easily rates an 8 out of 10. Consider this question: would you climb the stairs all the way to the top of the Empire State Building? Well, in the course of your hike to Upper Yosemite Falls, you'll climb the equivalent of just over two Empire State Buildings."
Rochelle & Will