Or perhaps this post should be called “a hopeless attempt to visit the highlights of Yosemite Valley in one week”.
Altogether we spent about 10 days in Yosemite National Park. My Dad thought perhaps that was his longest trip ever in ~70 years of visiting Yosemite. We had seven of those days in Yosemite Valley, but that was barely enough time to start on the list of things I wanted to do there. It’s an incredible place really.
The first day found Ferda and me on The Grack, a three-pitch 5.6 finger crack on Glacier Point Apron. The finger crack on P2 is seriously outstanding.
It gets pretty thin by the top of the third pitch.
We enjoyed the views of North Dome across the valley where we had been just a few days earlier. The Grack ended up being the only climb we did in Yosemite where we needed to rappel to get back to the ground (it took three rappels with two 50m ropes).
With my parents we went on a couple of hikes and enjoyed some of the valley’s iconic spots like Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall.
On my Dad’s birthday we took a tour of the Ahwahnee Hotel where we learned a (very) little about Native American history in Yosemite (they got screwed, as usual), the history of early public land protection in California and the US (President Lincoln first set aside Yosemite Valley for protection at a time when his major concern was abolition of slavery), and “parkitecture” and the construction of the Ahwahnee (there are crazy fancy hotels at Bryce and Zion national parks as well). The real birthday celebration was dinner in the Ahwahnee’s amazing dining room that evening.
The following morning Ferda and I headed over to Five Open Books to climb Munginella. Munginella has three short pitches (all 5.6?), and many people recommend doing it as a two-pitch climb with 60m ropes. However, if you do that, you miss Munginella’s highlight: belaying with your feet dangling over a narrow ledge two-thirds up the route while enjoying the amazing view of Half Dome across the valley.
For one of our hiking days we drove around to the Glacier Point Road and walked out to Taft Point and up Sentinel Dome. Thanks to Dean Potter we had all heard of Taft Point. It was a place he loved (and the place he died). Somehow my Dad had never made the walk out to Taft Point. The views there and from the top of Sentinel Dome and on the trail between the two along the valley edge are phenomenal. Seems that we never got tired of looking at the ever changing views of Yosemite Valley.
My Dad wanted to repeat one of the classic hikes that he had done many times before: up the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls, then continue up to Clark Point, and close the loop by walking down the longer but less steep John Muir Trail.
Along the Clark Trail you get to see Half Dome from the “other” side (!) (in the center of the photo) plus Mount Broderick and Liberty Cap:
We capped our stay in the valley by climbing a classic Yvon Chouinard route, After Six, the first route on Manure Pile Buttress. The crux is the polished awkward dihedral (5.7) on P1. The third and fifth pitches are quite fun, but highlight might be the face climbing near the top of the sixth (and last) pitch. It’s a little runout to get there, and then there’s one pin scar pocket that thankfully took my red Alien perfectly because, even with that piece, it’s a bit runout again — super fun face climbing to the top. (You can, BTW, move right early and avoid the runout section like the groups before and after us did.)
From the large flat summit of Manure Pile Buttress we once again marveled at the great views, to the west:
Cheers to a fantastic week in Yosemite Valley.
The Valley is one of my favorite places on Earth, despite the crowds. When I was a kid we could pack up an go up for a weekend and find easy camping and ride bikes everywhere with no traffic. Those days are past!