Sunrise in Yosemite Valley
Glad I am not Claustiphobic
El Cap Sunset
Happy to be on the Summit
I was wanting to do one last big route in Yosemite before I left. I had been climbing with Kathy from Seattle, doing some long moderate routes and cragging. We knew Derrick and Ari were going to do the Steck Salathe and I suggested that we should do it as well. Kathy was a bit skeptical but once she found out it was one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America, she was on board. I had wanted to do this route for many years but could never find a willing partner, luckily Kathy had no idea what she committing to.
We got an early start and began hiking in the dark, following the guidebook info which suggests the climbers trail leaves the 4 Mile Trail after .5 miles we stumbled around in the dark trying to find. Finally we decided to keep hiking up the trail til we hit the creek crossing which was probably 1.5 miles up the trail. After that the approach was straightforward and involved some exposed terrain and scrambling to get to the base. To my surprise there were 2 parties at the base of the route. We knew Derick and Ari would be there but there was another team that just beat us to the base of the route. This concerned me, and I was not looking forward to being stuck behind another party, plus they were hauling a pack which inevitably would be knocking rocks down on us.
The route was burly from the first pitch on, no real easy pitches on this route, it would be 16 pitches groveling, strenuous climbing. After about 5 or 6 pitches the party in front of us decided to bail, they had had enough. We quickly caught up to Derrick and Ari as Ari was stuck in the narrows. I got to lead the narrows pitch, which was very interesting and a bit spicy on the exit. Kathy started up the next pitch as the sun was setting. I would then lead the next 2 pitches in the dark to the summit where Derrick and Ari had waited for us. We topped out at around 9:30PM which was pretty good considered we had a late start waiting on the party in front of us and having to wait for them early in the climb. The decent was epic in the dark and took considerable time with the tricky route finding. Overall this was a huge day on an amazing route that I will never forget. Lots of chimneys and wide strenuous cracks with an alpine feel, that left us fully worked.
Everyone should do this one!