I originally came up with the idea of going to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park for a week of climbing long trad routes earlier this year during one of my frequent injury breaks from hard climbing. My reasoning at the time was that no matter what injury I was dealing with I would always be fit enough to climb easy trad. What I forgot to take into account was that Mrs. Narc and I hadn’t really climbed that many long trad routes so we weren’t even sure how much we even liked that kind of climbing in the first place.
After waking up at 4 am and embarking on a long day of travel from Milwaukee to Las Vegas to Bishop we arrived in Tuolumne with a few hours of daylight still remaining.
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Eager to climb anything, I thought we could run up the Northwest Books (5.6) on Lembert Dome in a couple of hours and be back at camp in time to meet some friends.
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Lembert Dome – Northwest Books is around the corner on the left
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After a few false starts that included forgetting my belay device back at the car and being passed by a group of soloists (and a pregnant woman simul-climbing) we finally got started about the time I had hoped to be done with the route. Nevertheless, we set off for our first introduction to Tuolumne trad climbing.
The 1st pitch had some interesting laybacking up the low angle “book” while the 2nd pitch lacked anything really memorable other than the view of Tuolumne Meadows. Once at the top I decided that we would follow the walk off beta in the Super Topo to avoid looking for the rappel. On the one hand this was a mistake as it took us longer than advertised to get down, but we were treated to some amazing sunset views from the top of the dome. Feeling rather late in meeting our friends at this point, we rushed back to the car just as it got dark.
Mrs. Narc traversing toward the actual top of Lembert Dome
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On top of Lembert Dome with Cathedral Peak in the background
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After a weekend of sightseeing we turned our attention to our main goal for the trip, Cathedral Peak. At nearly 11,000 ft., Cathedral Peak can be seen from all over Tuolumne and it just calls out to be climbed. In fact, it called us to climb it last year but we got hopelessly lost on the approach.
Learning from our mistakes of last year, we set off at 6:30 in the morning and hiked on the correct trail until we found ourselves standing at the base of Cathedral Peak.
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Upon racking up I realized that I had left our rack of nuts in the car 1.5 hours away, and I later realized that I didn’t read the cam recommendation chart in the topo correctly. This left me with 9 cams to climb the entire route which is not ideal (I don’t recommend it). Undeterred, I set off and ran it out made some adjustments to my strategy to conserve gear for building anchors.
While Mrs. Narc and I found that we didn’t necessarily get that much enjoyment from the process of climbing a long alpine trad route, it was hard to not enjoy the views along the way.
Lembert Dome and Tuolumne Meadows from half way up
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Half Dome in the distance
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Once on top, we decided that our dwindling water supplies and the threatening weather required a quick descent which meant forgoing the chance to climb neighboring Eichorn’s Pinnacle.
Obligatory shot of Eichorn’s Pinnacle from the top of Cathedral Peak
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After what felt like an unending number of steps down we finally made it back to the car, and we quickly drove to get beer and soak our feet in the river. Glorious.
The remainder of our time in Tuolumne we did a little climbing, but we mutually agreed that we prefer the simplicity of a good day of bouldering. However, we were constantly reminding ourselves that “yeah, we stood on top of that peak out there” which was a pretty cool feeling.
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Here are a few more pictures from our climbing adventures:
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Thanks Narc! Awesome pics! More Narc trip reports please. ce
Bummer you guys didn’t like trad climbing, but maybe you can give it another shot under better gear/weather circumstances?
Too bad we we didn’t meet up while out there since I was there the week before you guys, if you feel like going back let me know I might be back as soon as end of this month.
I wouldn’t say that we didn’t like it per se, it’s just that we would rather use our climbing “vacations” for sport or bouldering in the foreseeable future.
I take it you’ve left CA?
word to piks and your time