May I Buy You A Compass?

May I Buy You A Compass?

Guest post from Mrs. Narc:

As any Narc reader knows, this summer was packed with climbing adventures for the Narc and me.  Being that he possesses the vast majority of our combined climbing knowledge, I’m usually content to let him do the trip planning and guiding.  Our vistit to Yosemite was no exception. 

Planning to climb Cathedral Peak (5.6) in Tuolumne before any afternoon storms materialized, our Midwest crew set out early for what the guidebook called a 45 minute approach hike (Correction:  it was 45 minutes to the first landmark in our hike, the hike itself was supposed to be 90 minutes).   When that amount of time came and went and when our jaunt along a well-groomed trail turned into bushwhacking, I broke with tradition and questioned the Narc’s know-how  — after all, it seemed clear that we were not on the intended trail…correction, we weren’t on any trail.  From the back of the pack I asked the others if our bushwhacking might mean we were lost.  My comment fell on deaf ears, three sets of them.  Thus, I continued on.

About to get really lost

Some 70 minutes into our excursion and well on our way up an incredibly extensive talus-slab-o-death (as it’s commonly referred to in the Narc household), my suggestion to reevaluate was again denied.   Somewhere near the two hour mark we reached a plateau and thankfully the other members of the group saw the light…well more like the several hundred feet of talus still ahead of us. 

Dejected, we turned toward the car and attempted to retrace our steps, not an easy feat when we had spent the past three hours blazing our own trail.  Four hours after having departed and with the knowledge that we had been heading in the wrong direction much of the way, we reached our car.  

The talus-slab-o-death (not recommended)

You should never confuse this peak with Cathedral Peak

You should never confuse this pinnacle with Eichhorn’s Pinnacle

Cathedral Peak – waaaaaaaaaaay in the other direction

Figuring our luck could only improve, we planned to try our hand at Munginella (5.6) the next day.  After all, the route is supposed to be a classic and the directions seemed fool proof:  follow the trail from the Swan Slabs to the marked trail near Lower Yosemite Falls and follow that to the base of the climb.  It only took three times up and down the main trail to find the marker for our next trail.  This should have been a big red flag for us.  It wasn’t.  Some time later, we reached the base of our intended climb, or so we thought.  I followed the Narc up the route, cursing every bit of the 100 feet of crack climbing and the Narc for thinking this would be a “good route” for me.
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 I reached the first belay and didn’t have to say a word; the combination of terror, frustration and exhaustion on my face said it all — this climb was over.

Having known me for a good long while, the Narc knew the only way to buy back my trust after such an event would have to involve ice cream.  To Curry Village we went.  While there, we stopped in the gear shop and made our way straight to the guidebooks (our personal copy was in the mail at this point).  As I looked over the Narc’s shoulder, my thoughts were confirmed.  We had again been lost and actually had climbed the 5.
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8 first pitch of Commitment.  

At that point and with the memory of our Tuolumne experience fresh in my mind, all I could say was:  “I am so buying you a compass before our next trip”.  Indeed I did…

Full gallery with a few more pictuers here

Posted In: Pictures


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9 Responses to May I Buy You A Compass?

  1. craig b September 10, 2008 at 9:07 am #

    Sounds like marital bliss. A few more trips and Mrs. Narc will want to settle down and have three or four kids.

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  2. Kate C September 10, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    Oh, great post! I just laughed so hard I spit coffee on my laptop! You do have to watch out for those talus-slab-o-deaths. Things are friggin’ scary. I love the captions on the pictures too!

    Too bad about the lack of climbing. But, and I hope this is true, wandering lost around a wilderness with a big trad pack on is great training for future alpine pursuits.

    And, it’s better to be lost on the way up than the way down. 😉

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  3. steve schultz September 10, 2008 at 9:28 am #

    great story. too bad you couldn’t do cathedral though. it’s pretty fun. That made me smile though….so, thanks.

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  4. sock hands September 10, 2008 at 1:06 pm #

    wow i didn’t even read this one before i posted about ice cream on the last one…. it’s a panacea and allowed me to keep living after making mrs. hands go on a scree-filled 12 mile alpine trek in NZ with one 12 oz water bottle and sandals! [that was just before i became a rock climber and i knew little about long stints in the outdoors since all my childhood wanderings were within 2 miles of a cabin or civilization and never above treeline]… for the record, though, ice cream is not a good bargaining chip when you make mrs. narc go on a 3 day trek that is expected to be warm and dry and ends up w/ freezing rain the entire time and you neglected to bring any cooking gear and planned on eating pb and j sandwiches and cookies for the entire three day period.

    i tried that tactic out as well. epic fail. perhaps i shall blog about it someday. effin bloggers.

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  5. sock hands September 10, 2008 at 1:13 pm #

    WAIT A MINUTE! how can you be sure that mr. narc wasn’t being rad and just convincing you fools to go out and search for ill new boulders? i mean, shit: if i went all the way to the valley JUST TO ROPE CLIMB, i’d lose it! who goes to the valley just to rope up? NO ONE SANE! have you even seen dosage five? i think he was just executing the oldest trick in the book: tell traddies that you’ll go trad climbing, but get “lost” on the way to the route, and instead run around checking out siKK boulders… even if you have to do so w/ out a pad and while carrying a rope, this is so totally worth it in the end.

    i know i know you all went bouldering… there’s photos, etc… whatever… REACH FOR A PEACH THUNDARBIRD, BITCHES!

    hey last thing: when in twolomaeee meadows, did you hear blissful ron kauk new age hippy music in the air? d3!!!! owns!!!!!

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  6. Kush September 11, 2008 at 11:16 am #

    sorry that you couldn’t make it to Cathedral. Supertopo calls the approach 1.5 hrs long, dunno where you saw 45 mins? We did this a few weeks ago and it was solid 90 mins. to the base of the climb. I have a writeup at

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  7. Narc September 11, 2008 at 11:23 am #

    @craig – let’s hope not

    @ kate – it really was a beautiful hike. however, like I discussed with craig last night, when your end goal is to climb, endlessly hiking can be frustrating no matter how beautiful.

    @sock hands – you are awesome and insane at the same time…on the way down I did actually see some decent boulders along the river

    @kush – The 45 minutes part comes from where the Topo says you are supposed to cut up and right on a slope after 45 minutes of walking. We obviously never found this and somehow ended up veering left for an extra 2 hours. Not very smart. I will be sure to check out your trip report!

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  8. Luke September 11, 2008 at 6:12 pm #

    Looks like you can put your I-Phone to use next time you are in the woods.

    Someone made an I phone friendly interface that could help in these situations.

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  9. Narc September 11, 2008 at 6:35 pm #

    I TOLD Mrs. Narc that I NEEDED that Iphone before we got to Yosemite but would she listen?? No. Were any actually available for purchase in the greater San Francisco area at the timw? Well…no.

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