Spring is here and with it we should be feeling some sort of relief from the heavy snow laden winter but really it has us wondering the winter ever went. The Sierra much like the rest of the Western Hemisphere experienced the warmest and driest winter on record. Being a climber this made for amazing climbing days but being a nature lover it has me concerned for our environment – it’s meadows, rivers, lakes and the central valley with it’s orchards, farms and the hundreds of thousands merging into millions of people who rely on that food. But, I try and not dwell too long on the harsh reality that stares us all in the face and look more to what good things I can do with the time that I have – primarily what a great climbing season the winter was and what a good one the spring looks like it will be.
We spent a great deal of time in Bishop – where there were almost too many splitter days – so much so that we had to force ourselves to take rest days. Bouldering occupied the first of the winter months. I returned to the Buttermilks and the Tablelands with some very specific (some even leftover from years prior) projects in mind and to my surprise and delight most all came to pass quickly.
Yayoi Left – V8; Morning Dove White – V7; Working Class – V8; Pope’s Roof – V7; Wills Arete – V5; Grotesque Old Woman – V7
Acid Wash Right SDS – V9; Strength in Numbness SDS – V9
And while these problem are by no means groundbreaking ascents they did mean a lot to me and kept me pretty inspired to keep trying things and seeking out lines that suit me. Soon enough though this had me with a whole list of new projects – most of which had me feeling like I was beating my head against the wall. It was time for a change before I got too burnt out.
Luckily or unluckily, depending on your take, Tioga Pass was open late into January and I took the opportunity to try my hand at Midnight Lightning – making amazing progress and getting some un winter crack climbing in as well. Ben and I then took another trip to S.Utah for some more Limestone fun. I had about two weeks of time there and didn’t fixate on any one thing but mostly developed a program of getting in as many pitches and pump as possible in a day. I climbed some really great routes there – Baleen – 5.12a, Purple Haze – 5.12d, The Infadels – 5.13a. I tried Indulgence and the Cross and I gave a go at Coach at the VRG and found all to be of quality and fun movement – all things to go back for! Sadly my two weeks went by far too quickly but I left for Yosemite to help our non-profit Sacred Rok with some youth trips and do some climbing. I went out crack cragging at the Finger Licken clif and did some routes I had never climbed before as well as some recently put up lines. With Sacred Rok we took the kids out scrambling around on rocks and trails and playing in the snow. Their excitement and wonder of the natural world inspired me in ways that felt refreshing and new. These trips with the youth inspire dreaming and stories and show me what it means to find yourself and your path. I was excited about all the potential I was seeing in the freedom of being outside and everything that a life lived following a dream has to offer.
Once again I returned to Bishop in the later half of the winter and I primarily focused on route climbing. I made a new girl friend climbing partner – something I’ve been longing for in my climbing for years – and together we descended on the Owen’s River Gorge for 12 pitch days and routes that seemed improbable. I was given permission to start climbing on an old discarded project from 12 plus years ago and after a few guy friends made some ascents of it I successfully made the first female ascent of it – Holey Wars 13c. I tried my luck on the steep roof crack Looney Tunes (5.13b) and was excited to be clipping the anchors on my 3rd go. I went for another steep and reachy (manufactured) classic 13a called Aurora. I had it so wired that I incorporated it into my mega pitch training days down there. And just when the season was getting too hot and the rattlesnakes were making their appearances I made an ascent of a line called Fight Club (5.13b). This is a line that seemed so unlikely for someone of my frame but I tried it anyway for the fun of seeing what I could do – and at the last possible moment on the last possible day I had before once again returning to Yosemite I successfully redpointed.
And so here I am back in the land of the giants starting another spring and summer climbing season. And where Sacred Rok will be hosting a series of youth trips into Yosemite for day trips, trail work days, camping trips and hopefully continuing to inspire in the youth that sense of wonder and purpose. I kicked it off the season by climbing Separate Reality and Tales of Power – two classic lines that epitomize Valley free climbing. From this view it looks like it will be a long and dry season and hopefully a season of long routes and adventures. There is one adventure that we have been planning for a while and will take place in June – Ben Ditto and I are getting hitched – this may just be the biggest adventure yet!