Sunday, July 25th, 2004

Lucky Streaks, On the Lamb, and Little Sheeba

It turned out to be a perfect weekend. I do not use the word “perfect” casually, so there is no doubt that this weekend was perfect.

It first started out with me driving all by myself on Friday evening after work for four hours from the Bay Area to Tuolumne Meadow Campground to meet Allen who was already there. It sounded awful, didn’t it? But with a bag of Wasabi peas to keep my awake and a good Book on Tape to keep me entertained, I actually enjoyed this lonely experience.

On Saturday morning, While we were contemplating hard on what to do for the day, we overheard Hamid and his partner Adam mention Lucky Streaks (5.10d, 6 pitches) on Fairview Dome. Hahh! That stopped our struggle and we copied the idea right away. Although I felt out of shape on the short uphill approach, I felt extremely calm and confident on the entire climb. I led Pitch 1 (5.9), Pitch 4 (5.9), and Pitch 6 (5.8, full 200 feet), and followed Pitch 2 (5.10a), Pitch 3 (5.10d), and Pitch 5 (5.9). It seemed that my small fingers had given me the advantage at the cruxy finger crack section.

Back at the campsite, we met some old and new friends: Jerry, Kat, Noriko, Hamid, and Ricardo. And as usual we had a nice chat around the campfire and learned with awe that Jerry has traveled to tens of countries and knows 3 or 4 languages. Now I know when I go back to China and travel around in the back country, whom I should go for information.

I gained so much confidence on Lucky Streaks that I proposed to do On the Lamb (5.9, 5 pitches) next day. That was a climb I had always wanted to do but had always dreaded doing. The climb follows a horizontal crack near the top of the Lame Dome (aka The Lamb). The climb is equally hard for the leader and the follower because the rope goes sideway and a fall means a nasty pendulum. When we pulled into the parking lot, three climbers (I later learned they were Ed, Gary, and Steve) were about to leave for the same climb. Ok, there was no rush for us to rack up then, and we spent some time chatting with our friends, Nina and Volodya, who suddenly appeared in the same parking lot.

We had been warned about the confusing approach of the climb, but we were lucky (or thanks to Allen’s navigation skill and determination in stopping me from going too high up) to find the start without much detour. The party of three got lost on their approach though and ended up way above the climb. By the time when they got down to the beginning of the horizontal crack, I was racked up and ready to go. They kindly offered to let us go first. I led this 5.8 180′ pitch and enjoyed every bit of it. We had planed to swing leads, but forgot to make adjustment when we free soloed the first pitch listed on SuperTopo, so Allen ended up leading the 5.9 crux pitch. (Note: On a traverse like this, it’s recommended that the weaker climber do the lead.) Oh well, the crux felt easier than I had expected, so it was no big deal. I finished this amazing route by leading the last 5.8 pitch. We spent less than 2 hours on the entire climb, and topped out a little after noon. On our way back, we made a small detour to Little Sheeba (5.10a, 1 pitch), which was described in SuperTopo as “one of the finest single pitch cracks in Tuolumne”. I led it onsight, which was a milestone for me because this climb was the first 5.10a trad I had ever led.

To further perfect the weekend, I even had my swimsuit in the car! We dove into Tenaya Lake on our way out. The water was at perfect temperature. I immerged myself in the peaceful view surrounding me, and could not find a better word to describe the weekend than PERFECT.

Oh, did I ever mention I do not use the word “perfect” casually?

Adam at the crux of Lucky Streaks. I bet he practices yoga.

This seemingly blank section is the crux of On the Lamb. You can see Gary hanging out at the belay before the crux pitch.

Depending on how you position your camera, The same spot can look either really hard or really easy. This is the beginning of the last pitch of On the Lamb.

This is a perfect example how a digital camera can be easily abused.