Tuolumne—Cathedral Peak

After sliding around on slabs Saturday, an early start and a gasping march to the base and the main event: Cathedral!

With the security guard.

My own trip up was uneventful, even approaching efficient. Alean counteracted my slowness at cleaning gear by not placing much, and apart from a few fat-Santa moments in the chimney the climbing itself felt manageable. Which is not to say I could envision leading it. I would have been berating myself for this cowardice even without all the un-roped and unfazed free-soloists breezing past me—but that was a nice touch, Tuolumne, thanks.

Anyway, whether I deserved them or not: stunner, stunner views. Very few routes allow someone so amateur so much top-of-the-world; to sit on that summit block and watch the shadows skim the granite was a privilege and a gift.

“In our best times everything turns into religion, all the world seems a church and the mountains altars.”—John Muir, first ascent, 1869

Mountain folk may point out the impending weather in that photo. Indeed! Start to finish—from the moment Casey recognized the buzzing in his helmet as static (and not a bee) to the first reflection of our headlamps off the license plates at the trailhead—the retreat was nine hours of retrieving stuck and abandoned gear and people. No harm, no YOSAR report, no foul, but a long day nonetheless. Thank goodness In-N-Out doesn’t close ’til 1 a.m.

More photos (mostly sky porn) here. I’m using my phone at the moment, forgive the mess.]