Bye Bye Yosemite

Well we have left the craziness that is Camp 4 and Yosemite, and entered another wild place LA. This is california I guess. If you made it a country I read somewhere that it would have the third highest GDP in the world, and LA is its capital.

How crazy are LA residence to elect the terminator as their Governor, I mean a part Austrian ex body building actor as the head man. Then I remember that they also elected good old Ronald Regan who was also an actor as their president a few years ago, when we had a special relationship with the US. I wonder if Ron and Maggie ever got it on?

Then even more outrageous than that they elected, then re-elected (or was it a fix) good old George W. Bush, who pretty much took on the role as if he was playing risk, ‘I go for world dominitrix(sic)’ – as if he could spell domination?

Anyway we had an interesting drive down, we now know our hire car can not only off road like a jeep, but also do 86 mph in a 65 zone. Fortunately the policeman believed the story that we were in a rush to get to the airport, and yes we would slow down, so let Llion off for being Welsh. I glad he didn’t clock us a few minutes before when I was driving well in excess of 86!

Anyway I am about to try and shave my beard, I will give you a before and after shot for entertainment, as my razor is somewhere in the depths of the trunk of the car.


After (..with dirty goaty beard left, it will be gone by morning)

Andy K getting interviewed in Camp 4

Andy K capturing the film makers imagination with a bear story.

Still resting!

It dawned on me this morning that whilst Snake Dyke on Half Dome is only 5.7 so fairly straight forward you basically have to do a half marathon to get to and from what is essentially a 2000ft easy alpine route. Having done it in a day, I can tell you that I still ache and have zero energy left and Llion is essentially the same, we look and feel like zombies.

We have made the decision to quit whilst we are ahead, so El and the kids will get to see daddy a few days early as we are going top head home tomorrow. The weather in Yosemite is quite thunder stormy in the afternoon and given the routes we have ticked in the last week and finishing on half dome it just seems appropriate to say enough is enough, and have a few days rest at home before returning to work!

Had another good night in Camp 4 this time being entertained by Andy Kirkpatrick, for those who don’t know Andy is about to guide Phil Packer the guy who took twelve days to complete the London marathon up a Zodiac or Tangerine trip on El Cap to help him raise even more money for Help for a Hero(you can donate through this link). He has currently raised a cool £1000000 but wants to raise more. I would urge you all to donate what you can as this guy has real guts there is a video of him on the London Marathon on Andy’s Blog.

Interestingly Bear Grylls did an expedition to Antarctica where he needed rescuing at great expense and only managed to raise £20000 for the charity he was supporting. So Phil is doing an amazing job.

I have criticised Andy for his attempt on the Eiger, however Andy worries about this being seen as a stunt. However Phil has raised so much money, that this really can’t be described as a stunt. Andy is one of the more accomplished valley rats, having notched up the most impressive aid routes on El Cap. He is actually sat behind me in the Cafe getting ready to run up Zodiac in a day before Phil arrives.

Having instructed a wheelchair bound child in a Climbing wall and rigged a hoist to allow them to get above head height under her own steam, I know that not only will this be a great fund raising adventure for Andy, Phil and Team, but a great sense of freedom for Phil.

Andy took his partner Karen Drake a paraplegic up Zodiac last year (UKC Article), and hearing the stories yesterday, It sounded Epic, but his determination and stubbornness paid off, and they topped out. It is a shame that there isn’t more opportunities in Climbing for disabled athlete to enjoy our vertical adventures.

Good Luck to them.

Camp 4

Today was a day of rest we did very little other then laze about and filled the day with tourist things like going to watch ‘The Spirit of Yosemite’ a highly visual and emotive look at what makes Yosemite, Yosemite. I might recommend it to the LAMFF panel.

To a climber the spirit of Yosemite probably rides high on El Cap, every climber must dream of scaling this cliff’s impressive walls. they all rush here to test there wit against a foe as large as El Cap and a lot of ego’s are burnt in the process. A leveller of men (…and women) El Capitan rides as the ultimate roadside crag. Like moths caught in by the bright flame of the campfire, all climbers head to Camp 4.

Essentially Camp 4 is little more than a dust side of the valley floor with little more than a few hundred bear boxes, a make do refugee site situate in one of the most stunning valleys on earth gives the climber a living spirit. Truly international Camp 4 has always been focal point. So much so that when the park service tried to shut it down some ten years ago the great and the good of American climbing got together and lobbied to get Camp 4 made into a National Heritage Site. Ten years ago I was at the official designation party held by the Park Service for climbers.

The Camp now shares itself as a working monument to the ongoing development of climbing of which Yosemite is probably at the forefront. Take Uli Stecks latest rampage on his honeymoon. The huber brothers and of course our very own Leo Houlding have all helped keep El Cap up to date which the cutting edge of climbing.

I was reminded of my first visit here last night, whilst chatting to some young climber who have just finished university and are here to climb for a month. They have there tick list, a dream list of routes. I have done enough of ticking those in the last two weeks to keep me going for a while. These guys though were raw with excitement for the rock though, and that is what the spirit of yosemite is a raw quest for adventures in the vertical, any grade… any style.

El Cap Meadow

Welcome to Camp 4

Need a partner! (Don’t we all!)

Bear Boxes

BAG REVIEW: Gelert Back Pack

I had to by a back hydration system before I headed to the states. I looked at lightweight sacks and platypus system in and around Llanberis after seening that a cheap small rucsac was going to cost about £40 and £20 for a platypus. I then stumbled inside the Gelert outlet shop just along from Petes Eats. I there I brought a rucsac with hydration system for £20. I was convinced the bladder would leak, but no it has done wonders.

The pack is very small. Too small to be useful, but great for a few light lunch items and has been retro fitted with llion 3 litre platypus. For twenty quid I wasn’t too disapointed when both zips handles fell off, or that the material fell apart when I was dragged up the last 80 pitches of climbing. I actually think that for the money it was fantastic value. Although llion has a £5 bag from tescos that takes a hydration pouch as well and that hasn’t stood up any better, however I feel the rough usage certainly make the gelert brand worth considering when I think any tiny rucsac would have fallen apart given the way we have treated them.

It has certain helped keep us safely hydrated and all I can say to Llion now is bitty, please.

M&M’s saved my life

I once heard that someone claimed a mars bar saved their life, they got £50000 and lots of Mars Bars. So if anyone from M&M wants a story, I was saved by a medium packet of M&M’s they spoke to me and stopped me jumping of the North Face of Half Dome!

It has to be said Camp 4 doesn’t appear to be what it once was, although it could be my age and level of tiredness. After we arrived yesterday, we had an early night to get up in time to run up Snake Dyke on half dome. Now an early night was never on the cards when I was last here. I was those noisy bastards keeping everyone awake partying! Although you get a different perspective as you age, an early night consisted of listen to bear boxes open and close, given that each site has 4 bear boxes and six people staying there and that there are around 40 sites, this cacophony went on for several hours until eventually it died to near nothing. Until the kid next door to us awoke with bear fear, and then someone on a neighbouring site returned from 16 hours on half dome (what was he doing for all that time). Anyway he appeared to be shoveling coal out of and then back into his bear box.

I had to restrain llion from chinning him, although if he had I would have laid the boot in when he was down!

We awoke and were out of camp and on the misty trail by 7am. Our training by running up the PYg and down the miners track paid off and we made good time in. The route is described as having a torturous approach and descent, and they weren’t wrong. The climbing is easy and enjoyable other than the third class forever top out, and believe me they mean forever and ever ahem!!

We had seen the clouds building and made a swift departure down the cables, as more people were heading up into the building thunder storm, not the place to be climbing two steel cables/lightening conductors that lead to the highest point in the surrounding area, but that’s Americans for you! Once we were well and truly out of the kill zone the first rumbles of thunder came in and a bolt seemed to hit the summit of half dome, I hope everyone was alright, but a bit of common sense wouldn’t have gone amiss.

We got a little damp on the way out with rain but even wetter on the misty part of the misty trail, how nice was it to be bathed in waterfall spray, rainbows appearing almost everywhere. Llion nearly broke his other toe and I nearly broke mine a couple of time as we spent too much time looking at wet t-shirts on the way down.

We got off and had some pizza and sodas. There are interesting signs that ask you to clean you table before the squirrels down, asking you to ‘help us saved the wildlife’. Which is interesting as a recent piece of research into squirrel death in Yosemite and other busy national parks showed that some squirrels have died of heart attacks due to over eating. There is one wanna be jabber the hut squirrel that I photographed rampaging around the cafe at Yosemite Lodge. Poor thing doesn’t know what he is doing to himself.

POST SCRIPT: Llion reminded me that the walk in was 6 miules and 2500ft of ascent to get to the route, followed by a 9 mile 5000ft descent. Anyway we are both rather tired after that, and sat in the cafe drinking bottomless sodas.

Mist Trail

This Images is not tilted!!!

The lightning Conductors that people climb to the summit of Half Dome.

No we didn’t pledge allegence to the stars and stripes!

Terry and niece Ryan on Snake dyke, just after we passed them.


Llion cruising the runout dyke!

More hot girl on girl Dyke action

Snake dyke

3o metres out and not a runner in sight!

Jabba the squirrel – does he know what he is doing to his arteries?

Half Dome

Me, bouldering sans pad at camp four, the mosquitos were savage though.

Rock Boot Review: 5.10 VMile

Given that most reviews are done by people that have been given there kit i thought I would pass on my thoughts on the kit i have to buy with my hard earned cash. Given that i brought a new pair of Vmile by five ten just before i left on this holiday I thought I better give them a little review. I will endeavour to review some other kit I have used.

The VMile fitted me very well, i brought them comfy for big routes. Unfortunately my first pair lasted but one day, as the leather wasn’t cured right and was falling apart after a day at tremadog. Fortunate Joe Browns still had my size in stock, so replaced them. Anyway 73 pitches of US rock later and they are starting to fall apart again. To be fair to them I have jammed my feet into a lot of cracks, and it is only the velcro that has been effected, apart from that they seem a very good pair of boots.

I just hope they last another 73 pitches, although I think i might only get three weeks of climbing out of them, which for a pair of boots that cost £70 is just poor.

For fit and use they get 5/5 for durability 2/5

Yes, we’re back!!!

Well we fell down the wifi equivalent of a very long deep well, since I last blogged, we have been on the road again. However I can’t remember if I blogged about Epinephrine, I think I did but I have a suspicion that the wifi crashed along with my post. Suffice to say that there iswn’t a route I know of like it. I did a 60 metre pitch, of which 30 metres were sustain back and footing. We got up to the conventional pitch 5 where due to Llion tiredness and my lack of moral fibre for tackling another 30 metres of confined chimneying we backed off.

We should have rested our hangover rather than climbed that day. The following day we drove from Vegas through Death Valley to Toulome Meadows. It was great to finally leave the desert behind, and actually stop sweating for a few days! The altitude means running is a little hard, but seeing as we are just walking and climbing there isn’t much of a problem!

In the few days in Toulomne we have climbed several classic routes Dyke Route on Pywiack Dome, Cry in Time Again on Lembert dome, South Crack on State pleasure Dome and the classic of all classics The Regular Route on Fairview Dome. We drank heavily after that, and this morning we have driven down to Yosemite where we will no doubt spend the rest of our holiday.

To give you some figures we have climbed 73 pitches, driven 2000 miles and had an amazing time. Our bodies are growing weary, we plan to do snake dyke some time soon, as well as do some bouldering (will I make it up midnight lightning?)

Anyway as ever some pictures of the journey so far.

Vegas at night

On top of South Crack, 5.9 Stately Pleasure Dome

Bold friction slab on South Crack, Stately Pleasure Dome. Photo of Bishop resident we sneakly overtook!

South Crack, SPD.

Topping out on Cry in Time again!

Cry in time again on Lembert Dome

Wenger Wiggle 5.9 r Lembert Dome

Wenger Wiggle 5.9 r

Left Hand Water Crack 5.7 r (my Arse!)

From a desert campsite to the snow, how lovely did that feel?

Dyke Route, the Rainbow of recalcitrance for the E1 leader!

Dyke Route

The Low point of our jouney, the physical one anyway, we did reach about 200m below sea level a few miles on!

Into the Valley of Death!

Descending of Fairview Dome

Topping out on Fairview Dome

Running it out on Fairview Dome.

Fairview dome.

Fairview Dome

Yosemite View

The Ten Pitch Fairview dome wall!

View the route the day after!

The Giant Dust Bowl

Ever since we passed over the rocky mountains, all I can say I have seen is sandstone and dust. Some of it in Canyons, whilst some makes pretty tower. Some that we have climbed, essentially all there seems to be is dust from the rockies to the sierras. After climbing in Indian Creek our plan was to head to Zion via the Monument valley which would have been impressive if I hadn’t already seen about 2000 sandstone towers. Unfortunately the campsite was full in Zion so we made a dash to Vegas, where we have spent a night partying.

Lets just say that my rent won’t be paid next month, Llion’s kids won’t be heading to University in 18 years time, as he gambled the house on black and it came up red. The suite cost an undisclosed 4 figure some, and as for the party girls well that was my credit card maxed out.

I have to say that vegas is a funny place if you have never been you should, we got over half the price of the room back in tokens that we could redeem in the form of beer, food or gambling or gambling credits. Even better when your gambling they keep giving you more beer, so I have a rancid head today. The plan is to find the campsite and maybe a route to climb in the afternoon heat!

Sweet Suite1

Sweet Suite 2

Sweet Suite3

Rancid Toes




Monument Valley

Monument Valley

More dust and sandstone

Dust and sandstone

Dust and f all

More nothing

Indian Creek

Having been stormed off Castleton Tower, we headed down to Indian Creek for some jamming. Looking at the guide we were woefully ill equipped, only having 3 of each size cam. We climbed twin cracks 5.9 hand jamming that doesn’t need a million size 3 and 2&1/2. It was quite a wake up call (8.30am).

Not as bigger wake up as the 5.10b I lead, having to be sparing with the cams, and tactical with there placement. I shuffled my way up towards the lower off. It was an incredible route, unfortunately, we were definitely short of about 3 cam threes and 4 cam 2 &1/2 for routes like super crack of the desert and the incredible hand crack. It was also hot even in the shade, as I lost about half a stone in sweat on that single pitch.

We are head down through Monument Valley now, just stopped at a proper locals diner in Blanding. Which has a massive U-haul depot for all the people to leave and a storage depot to size of Llanberis. Who would want to store anything here?

Up to the shoulder in a hand crack. An Awesome fight ensued!

Twin Hand Crack 5.9.

A different type of Ancient Art.

Rainbow across the Creek.

A rare free campsite!!