|Cathedral Peak - East Face
Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite, CA
June 26, 2005
Darren Rainey, Dave Svilar
After four days in the Palisades, with far more snow marching than we had bargained for and after I totally wussed out on the Venetian Blind route on Temple Crag, Dave and I headed out of the Palisades. But where were we going? Our original plan for the trip called for short approaches over sandy trails to solid, sunny granite in the Yosemite back country. We had discovered none of that in the Palisades, save for a nice, solid route on Mt. Sill. Due to a 30 year winter, Tioga Pass was not passable by car and wasn't scheduled to be open for some time. Where would we go? What would we climb? Armed only with SuperTopo for the High Sierra, we contemplated and eliminated many options from the book until a ranger at the Bishop ranger station informed us that Tioga Pass was opening later that day. So we enthusiastic headed to Tuolumne Meadows and set our sights on many of our original aspirations, including the SE Buttress of Cathedral Peak.
|Darren hikes so fast that the camera only catches a blur. The spectacularly featured and situated east face of Cathedral looms overhead.|
One of the central themes of this trip, at least from my perspective, was bear boxes and high anxiety that my coveted Honda Civic would be mauled and doors sheared, and as a result, an innocent bear destroyed. Fearing this, Dave and I made an annoying habit of packing every scrap of food, tube of tooth paste, bottle of cheap whiskey, cracker crumb or anything else that could emit a appetizing smell into my car and then into bear boxes at our desired parking spot. We would leave nothing of the sort in our tent or in the car. Cathedral would be no different save for the celebrated Tuolumne Meadows as our back drop of loading, unloading. In reference to Cathedral's SE Buttress, Peter Croft's estimates it is "the most popular anything in California." This was in the back of our minds as we counted the 17 granite steps described in the SuperTopo to our turn off of the Muir Trail. We wanted to get an early start to be first or at least not the 10th party on the route. We were the first of 3 parties that day and one soloist that zipped by at mid-height.
|Playing on the east face. Conness and other peaks of the snowcovered Yosemite backcountry in the distance.|
|Eichorn's Pinnacle. Dave was supposed to get Darren's picture standing on top, but I'm scared of cumulus clouds.|
The specific pitches are indistinct at this point but I do remember they were solid, grippy, and super-ultra fun. Dave led a left facing dihedral with a nice crack in the back just below the famous chimney pitch that I thought to be the crux. Once off the summit, we picked our way over to the north face of Eichorn's Pinnacle. After some debate about building thunder heads and weather or not to continue, we decided it could be climbed and descended safely before the arrival of the menacing storm...but not by us. We were both content with our climb of Cathedral. To that point it had been an unspoiled day. Clear skies, warm rock, ample protection points and cheery companionship. So with that we picked our way back to our packs and made conversation with fellow Pacific North Westerners, so and so and so and so from Portland. Dave and I discussed future trips and employment while making the short walk back to our car. With each step, I savored the warm sun, unfamiliar views and sweet smell of spring.
-written by Darren Rainey, December 2005
The following pictures did not fit neatly into any one Alpine Fever entry, but were deserving of publication. If you've never been to the Mobil gas station at the easternmost point of the Yosemite Highway near Mono Lake you need to go. I don't remember much about the gas, but do recall large fish tacos, a vibrant atmosphere, and beautiful women. Certainly the most lively place in eastern California.
On our final day our waning motivation resulted in a rock throwing contest at the bottom of a route. As if to wake us from our lethargy, a bear "chased" us back to the car. We followed a liesurely lunch with a nap. Feeling the call of the northwest we pointed the Civic and it's three good tires towards home, stopping only for a .... hotel.