Yosemite Valley is awesome. Full stop. The tall granite boulders make for great lines; interesting climbing, impressive features and often a bit scary! There is also plenty of history surrounding the boulders here from Ron Kauk’s Midnight Lightning to Jerry Moffatt’s Dominator. Suffice to say there has been plenty to do and we arrived psyched with long wish lists and ready bodies. We have been here for just over two weeks and I am not sure where to start! The classics, I suppose. Camp 4 is full to the brim of them, from problems like Initial Friction (V1) and Cocaine Corner (V5) to Midnight Lightning (V8) and Thriller (V10), there is something truly fantastic for any climber. The three notorious V8’s at Camp 4 (Midnight, King Cobra and Bruce Lee) are all brilliant, all hard and all totally different styles from one another. One block holds Thriller and the Force – I was ecstatic to climb both test pieces. And then there is Dominator, right there slap bang in the middle of the camp ground yet still has had few ascents. On the other side of the Valley there are more treasures to be found; the LeConte area holds some gems such as Conan (a crimpy V9), Flatline (a highball, scary V8) and Panic Room (a burly and high V9) while Candyland boasts The Diamond (V8), Once Upon A Time (V3) and Shadow Warrior (V12). The latter is a hard compression problem that I was very psyched by. I put some time in and can do all the moves and some good links but we have decided to leave the valley for pastures new. Next time on that one! One of my favourite problems here was Cindy, a highball V10 that required compression, technique and a good head. This climb really made me think about the ability some climbers have to “switch off” their brains when they need to and just go through the motions. I experienced this on Flatline, the aformentioned highball V8. Flatline’s crux is low down but the top section has some hard moves on small holds and is at a height I would not wish to fall from. For some reason that day I was able to “switch off” and I flashed it. Cindy was different. For a start, I tried the top section a rope first so one may liken the process to headpointing rather than ground up highballing. This felt necessary and sensible for me on this particular boulder. When I tried to boulder it from the ground, I got to the high section twice and backed off, too scared to commit to the moves. The third time I “switched off” and did it – now what was different on that attempt? And how did it differ to Flatline? I have come to the conclusion that some people are naturally very good at controlling their fear and some are not, and some (like me) are in the middle. Sometimes I can do it and sometimes I can’t and I haven’t quite worked out the difference. One thing I have realised is that I have a certain capacity for it; if I try a highball in the morning I want to try something normal sized in the afternoon. My mental strength can’t deal with too much in a short space of time!

So, we are moving on. Partly due to wet weather and partly due to that itchiness that comes with staying in one place for a bit. Motivation dipped a bit and we decided it was time for a change. Ibex is next on the list, followed by a return to Joe’s Valley for David to unleash his newly healed skin on some unfinished business and then perhaps Moab on our way back to Boulder.

Worth a mention is San Fransisco; a beautiful and vibrant city that was home for three days while Yosemite was awash with rain. We escaped the tumultuous weather in the Valley and went to visit friends in the city. It was great, we ate good food, had laughs and saw the city – perhaps just what you need half way through a trip! Thanks again Si and Jackie for your hospitality and for showing us the best food in town 🙂


San Francisco

Midnight Lighting, Photo David Mason

Half Dome in the Snow, Photo David Mason