Monday, May 11, 2009

Lost Arrow Spire

Next on our agenda - The Lost Arrow Spire, a 300 foot spire that sits at the top of the wall just below Yosemite Point and to the right of Yosemite Falls, 2500 feet above the valley floor. To climb the spire you hike up the tourist trail to the top of Yosemite Falls, rappel into the notch between the spire and the rim on two ropes fixed on the rim. Then you climb two pitches to the spire tip trailing the fixed ropes. To get back to the rim you have to fix the trailing ropes to the spire tip and do a Tyrolian traverse back to the rim.
Our plan was to do the 2800' hike/climb Friday evening, bivy at the top, and climb Sunday. We packed our gear and headed up the trail an hour before dusk.
The Spire is directly above Rudy's head in this pic.

(click image to enlarge)
As we climbed past the upper falls the sun went down and a full moon rose over the southern horizon. There was enough light from the moon to climb without a headlamp. We met some guys who had been walking a slack line that day across the top of the falls. At the top we dropped our packs and detoured to the upper falls overlook to look straight down on the falls. The wind was howling at about 40mph, just a taste of what we might be in for the next day. We made camp a few hundred yards back from the rim and Rudy and Scott went to bed. I walked over to the rim in the moonlight to get a look at the spire. From Yosemite Point I caught a glimpse of the spire below. It was terrifying to look at, lower and further away from the rim than I had expected, glowing in the moonlight in the howling wind.
The next morning we fixed our rope and rapped into the notch. After stepping out left onto the exposed face Rudy performed a bold and powerful free lead on the first pitch up to the Salathe ledge which included a 10a fist jam into a 9 off width. I tried to free the pitch but grabbed for my aiders almost immediately. I took the clean aid lead on the second pitch stepping off the ledge left I traversed left on some tricky placements and then straight up on bolts 120' to the spire tip. What a rush. I got to sit alone on the tip for thirty minutes while the other guys jugged. I was thew first on tyrolian and to scoot off the spire tip onto a rope took everything I had - but once in md-air it felt just fine. Amazing climb.
Scott on Tyrolian in this pic.

(click image to enlarge)
Rudy told me he wants to learn to aid climb after doing the spire and we have said we will train this summer and return in the fall to climb El Cap.
Scott left Sunday morning and Rudy and I went cragging at the base of El Cap. The highlight of the day was Sacherer Cracker, a five star 10.a crack.
Sunday night Rudy left so I set out to make new friends. One thin g that's great about the Yosemite climbing community is a real friendliness and many opportunities to meet new partners.

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