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Yes, I did it!

--Aug 13-14, 2005 Climbing in Yosemite

I had tried to toprope Generator Crack twice starting off the tree. Despite the best effort I could give at the time, I probably made three feet of progress the first time and five feet the second time before being shutdown by the crack. But today, Aug 13 of 2005, I did it (although still starting off the tree)! All that offwidth training finally paid off!

Ok, let me back track a little bit. For this weekend, I hooked up with Erik Strom (I hung out with him at Lost World once last year). According to a mutual friend of ours, Erik had been scuba diving a lot, but still he could fly up the Rostrum right off the couch. After hearing that, I put out a bait offering to belay him on the Rostrum, and he bit it. That was what we did the first thing on Saturday. After I led the first pitch, I handed over the sharp end to him -- he would be my ropegun for the rest of the route. The climb demands all sorts of crack climbing techniques from finger to hand to fist to offwidth. I had trouble at the 5.11c crux (a steep finger crack ), but got it over with the help from the tension in the rope, about which I didn't complain because we were going for the speed. Everything else went smoothly and we finished the route in about five hours. Erik then toproped the top half of the Rostrum Roof (5.12). As if this was not enough of climbing, after lunch, we drove over to The Cookie Cliff and did Outer Limits. As if that was not enough of climbing still, we then went over to the Generator Crack. Finally, we could call it a day.

The dinner (salmon and vegetables) was cooked and served by El Cap Meadow. When the curtain of night descended, the stars on El Capitan lit up. It was also a night of an intensive meteor shower. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, opening my eyes, and right there, a shooting star running across the sky.

Sunday, we slept in not knowing exactly what we wanted to do -- it was hot in the valley. But after the breakfast, we had decided to go up the Regular Route on Higher Cathedral Spire, which was supposed to be in the shade until early afternoon. I'd never done it, and it was probably fifteen years ago when Erik did it. Shortly after we started hiking, I came to understand why it took Erik fifteen years to repeat this route (but he might deny it) -- the approach was very physical! Escorted by mosquitos most of the way up, we arrived at the base an hour later but 1500 feet higher. We beat the Supertopo estimate by half an hour, which was soon spent searching for the start of the climb. It was my fault -- I printed four pages of Supertopo on one piece of paper (two on each side) as usual and mistakenly pulled out the topo for South by Southwest without reading the title. It turned out that if you work very hard, you can match any terrain and formation around you with any topo. At the moment I realized my mistake, I saw the cross etched into the rock at the base of the route. Up I went. Swinging leads, we made good time at a relaxed pace -- base to base, 2 hours and 40 minutes including chilling out on the summit and taking loads of summit shots.

After a lunch break back at the car, we set out again for Central Pillar of Frenzy. Coincidentally, we finished the route base-to-base also in 2 hours and 40 minutes. That gave us time to toprope the first pitch of Bircheff-Williams (5.11b) before heading out of the Valley.

Now, that was a productive weekend!


Erik just bought a new camera (with 10x zoom). He was carrying it around in one of his socks. Maybe that's why they turn out to be pretty good? I carried my camera (in a proper case) only on Higher Cathedral Spire. I've uploaded all the photos from his camera and my camera. Click here to see all of them. Following photos are just selected fews and they are all from Erik's camera.

the North Face of the Rostrum
the Almighty Rostrum
Mei cleans Pitch 2, a sweet hand crack
Erik contemplates his plan below the 5.11c crux, and then he excutes it perfectly
The crux is below him now
Erik at the bottom of the last pitch (Blind Faith).

Outer Limits and Generator Crack
Mei follows Outer Limits
Erik follows the curve of the Generator Crack.

Higher Cathedral Spire
Mei leads the last pitch
Erik and Mei are happy to be on top.
Shooting is mutual.

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