Well, we made it back with our bodies intact, but with our egos slightly damaged. Tangerine Trip was a bust. On the bright side we did a bunch of shorter climbs that I have had on my list to do for a while. Here's a quick day by day of our week:
Sunday, we drove up to the valley and then spent 6 hours or so carrying massive loads up to the base of El Cap. Ferrying loads to the base may be the hardest part of an El Cap ascent. That night we bivied right at the base in the dark shadow of big granite.
Monday we cast off on the Tangerine Trip via the beginning pitches of Lost in America and Virginia. I led the first pitch clean at C3+ (moderately hard and awkward, and with ground fall potential.) After Greg ascended the fixed rope up to the belay, he led the mostly free second pitch in good style. Meanwhile Trevor had followed and cleaned pitch one - a real challenge due to the traversing nature of the pitch. Trevor and I then followed the second pitch up to Greg and we decided that we were not moving quickly and strongly enough to realistically finish the route. We decided to bail, but I thought it would be fun to go ahead and haul our gear up to the top of pitch 2, set up our portaledges and spend a night hanging from the side of El Capitan. After hauling our gear up (no trivial exercise) we drank some much appreciated water, set up the ledges and had some canned raviolli. We decided to skip bringing beer to ease the hauling as much as possible, but I offered some Jameson to the boys. They must not be too used to drinking Irish whiskey because they both nearly choked to death trying to gulp it down. "These youngsters are going to need a lot of training" I think. I didn't sleep particularly well, thinking about the suspect flake that my portaledge was hanging from, but I got to watch the nearly full moon make it's way through the ecliptic as the sky cleared and came alive with stars.
Tuesday we rappelled down, carried our loads down (not as heavy, as we dumped most of our water) and secured a campsite in camp 4 before having dinner.
Wednesday we did the Jam Crack in the morning - Greg led the first pitch and Trevor led the crux 5.9 pitch - then I took the afternoon off to take a break from the boys' shenanigans.
Thursday Greg and I climbed the Royal Arches route. It was a nice long route with lots of fun climbing, great belay ledges and an easy 10 minute approach. The descent via the North Dome Gully was the crux of the day. It is a long way down and covers some super scary terrain with loose sand and potential for certain death falls in some sections. We were very glad to have light packs rather than our 80 pound haulbags! The new guide book said to expect up to 14 hours car-to-car, so we were pleased with our 7 1/2 hour time.
Friday Trevor and I got a nice pre-dawn start for Snake Dike on Half Dome (after the Canadians woke us up at 1:30 thinking it was 5:30 - they had already made breakfast before we convinced them that there watch was wrong. Ha!) We hiked 4 miles up the main trail to Half Dome, then 2 miles cross country and on climbers' trails to the base. The route had pitch after pitch of fun climbing on these wild, fat dikes that appear to bulge through the skin of Half Dome. I could do without the hellacious walk up the slabs to top out though. You walk several hundred yards up these steep slabs that get your calves just searing with calf searing calf-searing. (I don't know how else to put it.) That was my first time on Half Dome so I had to take the obligatory Visor Lip pictures before pounding the 8 miles back downhill and ordering a pizza in Curry Village.
Saturday we had breakfast at the Lodge, said goodbye to "the ditch" and I took a shower (my carmates refused one) before loading up and making our way back home.