The weather forecast put the kibosh on our planned grudge match with Geek Tower. We got to the valley late Sunday morning, imagining some play on the Gollum hiding out from the dire rains. But the weather looked good, our spirits were high, and we settled on a little bigger adventure: SKI JUMP!!!
I had never heard of Ski Jump (III 5.7) until le_bruce asked around about it. There's a decent line drawing of the formation in the Roper Red guide. Some key words from the Green guide hooked me:
the last of which goes up an incredibly loose chimney... Despite the loose rock, this is a rather nice climb and makes for an adventurous day.
We didn't have the topo or description with us, but I felt pretty sure I knew where it was. We parked in the turn-out after Cathedral area, and headed up east across the huge U-shaped long valley.
Near the base of The Inconsolable Buttress (oops, my bad) we sorted ourselves out and scrambled the half mile back over to the massif of Phantom Pinnacle, Hangover Buttress, Harris's Hangover, Ski Jump, and Spireview Point.
placeholder: Hangover Buttress, Harris's Hangover, Ski Jump
Nice views of El Cap from that side:
I was slower coming up the hill behind le_bruce, so he entertained himself thusly:
We third-classed the first pitch or so, roped up when it became more steep and less secure, and cut right a little too early (but still fine). Here's looking back after our first rope pitch:
This area is my new favorite part of the valley! Very loose stuff, decaying smashed tree stumps, thick lichen and poor friction in places. I did catch the jet-whining sound of an inbound granite missile (not much bigger than a golf ball) just before it pinged into my thigh, and I dodged a lot of bark and logs falling down. But we were close to really good looking rock above and the overall position and surroundings are just unbeatable:
Church Tower in foreground:
Higher and Lower Cathedral Spires, Higher Cathedral Rock poking out in between, some glimpses of Middle Cath and Church Tower:
Having fun is what it's all about! We really enjoyed a new (for us) part of the valley.
le_bruce choosing a well traveled path as usual:
Check out this glorious tasty morsel!
The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed, if not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost...
Sadly, it was time to go.
We reached the ground just before the rains started, but it was never really an angry rain. Just a nice companion for an afternoon hike to check out Phantom Pinnacle and the canyon above there:
So it was a good day. But the day wasn't over yet. I was too lazy to head over to Gollum at 5pm, but Bishop's Terrace is close to the road. Let's make the most of this training day! Imagine if you are 17 pitches up something with a last pitch of 5.8 tasty crack when the heaven's open up on you. OK, here's a gentler version of what it might be like:
Wringing the extra water out of my socks before launching up...
Racked and ready to launch...
In the rain, the first bit off the ground was a little cruxy, but not too bad. The little face traverse after the optional belay was the worst part for me:
Right about this time it stops raining!
It's a wonderful crack, but I was over-gripping like it was wet and my life depended on it.
At the top, I settled in for a MAGNIFICENT display of mother nature. The camera can only capture so much:
Time to bring le_bruce on up.
What a frikkin awesome day!
We capped it off by forgetting our headlamps, deciding to rap down the crack system instead of the right-side free hang, getting the rope stuck a bunch and an extra hour of dicking around in the dark, going back for headlamps, impromptu leads and gear tags and belay device tags, etc. Just some more typical "pretend we were having a cluster-fudgesickle epic in the cold/wet/dark." It was a beautiful moonrise. Not bad for a day trip to the valley! Good times.