Sentinel Rock, Steck-Salathé Route
By: Greg Opland | Climbers: Greg Opland, Inez Drixelius, Bruce Bindner |Trip Dates: Jun 9-11, 1996
Photo: Gary Clark
FARD HUCKIN' CLIMB!
Bruce (a.k.a. Brutus, the Mighty Brutus, Brutus of Wyde) Bindner - 20-some year veteran of the Valley cracks. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and all that stuff. Offwidth monster and generally great guy. Also a .44 Magnum rope gun! "Do you feel lucky...Punk?"
Inez (a.k.a. Gnar-Gnar Girl, Baby Cakes) Drixelius - shy and retiring... no way, that's not her...she's bouncy and energetic. Gnarly offwidth queen and one of the best climbing partners you'll ever find. Where do you get your energy woman!?
and last (and definitely least)...
Greg (a.k.a. Opie, Wide-body, Mr. 5.7+, "what am I doing up here?") Opland - pathetically weak in the mind and body, but the spirit was willing. Self-propelled haul bag.
Given that my two partners for the weekend had a nasty reputation for doing lots of offwidths in the Valley, I should have grasped the simple idea that the route would have lots of wide cracks and chimneys. Duh! o---o
The ad said: Wanted! Climber-type with strong back and weak mind.
Knowing that was me, I volunteered. The goal was to finish up the maintenance effort on the famed Steck-Salathe route on Sentinel Rock in Yosemite. Over the 45 years since the first ascent, the condition of the fixed pro had steadily deteriorated and it was in need of some upgrading. Last year, Brutus and Inez had climbed the route with none other than Allen Steck (44th Anniversary of the FA!). At that time, it was decided to get the route's fixed anchors back in good condition. Brutus took up the quest and immediately started planning the project for the spring. This was where I came in...like I said, weak mind.
As the time for the project got closer, Brutus reported that he had already completed the replacement of the fixed anchors and that we would be pretty much free to climb and enjoy the route. He'd spent several of the previous weekends fixing ropes and hand-drilling 3/8" replacement bolts. Of course to do this, he had gone up and down the dreaded Sentinel death descent gully several times with heavy loads of ropes and gear. What a monster!
Thursday, June 8:
A couple of phone calls and last-minute e-mail reminders, and I was getting on the plane Thursday afternoon. Sitting in the airport in Phoenix, I'd realized that I made the first bonehead move of the weekend and left my sleeping bag in my truck. With no time to retrieve it, I figured we'd come up with something. But I wasn't happy about it. I flew into Oakland and was met by Brutus at the gate. We retrieved the "bag from hell" (tm) from the carousel and headed for the parking lot. A quick stop by Bruce's place and we had an extra sleeping bag! That was close!
We pulled in and camped in Secret Spot II outside the park around 11p that night. Brutus shot out of the sack at 6:45 the next morning and set about having breakfast while I did my best to ignore him and go back to sleep. I'd already warned him about my slow rising habits, but we weren't in any particular hurry that day, so he let me take my time. I slipped out of the sack and put on some warm clothes. Brutus handed me a Mountain Dew for breakfast, just what the doctor ordered (this was only the first pleasant surprise in a long weekend of amazing organization on Bruce's part). We got things packed back up and headed into the Valley.
Friday, June 9 - Gullyblocks and the Three Barriers
We parked the truck right next to the start of the 4-mile trail, where it would sit for the next three days. We figured if we came staggering back down the trail all dehydrated and trashed, we could just ram face-first into the side of the truck. No missing it that way. We got packed and headed up the 4-Mile Trail about 9:30 or so. The plan was to spend most of Friday making a carry to the top of Sentinel Rock, a vertical distance of about 4000 ft. or so from where we started. We would take large packs to the summit to drop off bivy gear, warm clothes, food and water, while bringing ropes and other gear from the maintenance project back to the Valley floor. If this doesn't sound nutso already, you have to consider that the gully to the top of Sentinel is a total nightmare of steep, loose, and broken everything. Oh what fun.
We turned off the 4-Mile trail about a mile in, and headed up through the trees to the base of the Sentinel. A left turn took us up to the gully along the left side. It was here we ran across the first of the fun parts on the hike in. A three hundred foot snowfield spanning the gully. And us widdout no ice axes! No way around, so we had to go up. Luckily, Brutus had his large waffle-stomper style boots on, and was able to kick reasonable 2" wide steps in the snow as he went up. A stick provided our only means of self arrest, that is to say, no hope of stopping in case of a slide (unless you count stopping at the bottom). We made it up the snowfield, stepping off and continuing up the gully. We reached the first of what Bruce called the Three Barriers. The First Barrier was a short chimney section. I went to the right and was exploring the way just next to it while Brutus told me not to bother. Being too stupid to listen, I started mantling at the top and then found my pack was pulling me off the mantle. I blew off the footholds and started sliding. Had my foot not jammed in the crack, I would have popped off backwards and spread pieces of my anatomy for the next thousand feet. Pretty stupid. Once I got my legs to stop shaking from the near-death experience, I contritely followed Bruce up the chimney to the left. I vowed to listen to his advice the next time!
The rest of the way to the top was uneventful. We passed the other two "Barriers" which were chimney sections as well, passing the packs up at the sections with slings. At the top, we stopped off below the Notch to stash some of the refrigerator-type food in the snow. It was hollow underneath, so the food (in a bag) went in the hole under and Bruce kicked snow off the side to cover it. From there, it's 10 minutes to the summit. We pulled out the stash of gear that Bruce had left previously. I cranked up the stove to boil some untreated water and Bruce headed back to the Notch to collect more firewood for what we hoped would be the next night's successful bivy. We relaxed a bit and finally headed down about 2:30p, arriving at the truck about 4:30 that afternoon. We took four ropes and a small backpack of other un-needed items down with us, leaving only the bivy stuff. A nice quick trip, belying the scary gully in between. The free-solo downclimb of the snowfield in my trashed-out running shoes was a total nightmare. I nearly lost my footing and went for the big ride twice. Hard to believe The things we get away with sometimes! We popped a couple of beers at the truck to celebrate. The fold-out table was set up, the stove was fired up and we had dinner right on the spot, next to the parking area. The tourists were very entertaining, including one bozo who was trying to tease a squirrel (probably one of the infamous "bubonic squirrels") into the front of his car while his wife giggled and took photos. Amazing.
We still had some time to kill after dinner so we headed over to the Mountain Room Bar to socialize with about 8 million of our tourist friends from all over the planet. Around 8:30p we bailed back to the truck to do the final prep and hopefully to meet Gnar-Gnar when she drove in from the Bay Area. We'd been there about 20 minutes when she drove right up behind us and parked. She spilled out of the Inez-mobile and you could hear Elvis cranked on the stereo. Ready to rock and roll!
Inez grabbed some quick dinner and took off her anklet. Her painted toenails glistened in the moonlight. Those were the toes of an offwidth queen! She changed into hiking clothes and we shouldered the packs for the hike up to the bivy spot below the wall. For the second time that day, Bruce and I headed up to the Sentinel. The hike wasn't too bad in the dark by headlamp. Ascending to the spot below the wall, it's fairly solid and easy to negotiate. Nothing like the gully above. We found the spot we'd picked out earlier in the day and got settled down for a night's sleep that would be much too short.
Saturday, June 10:
5am...Bruce shot straight up out of his bag in a brash display of motivation and started getting ready. This began by . . . heating water for coffee? We all drank (coffee and fruitjuice) and ate (croissants and blackberries!) until we were bursting and then started up the approach ramps to the start of Steck-Salathe, leaving our bivy gear for the downhill trip after the climb. Bruce handed me two Mountain Dews (my coffee substitute - this guy really thought of everything!), but my guts were churning with the previous night's beers and a night of apprehensive, restless sleep, thinking about the route, so I stashed them in my pack for after the descent. The ramps for the approach are kind of a wake-up call to sleepy climbers. Some dicey areas really got our attention on the way up. By the time we got to the base of the route, I was really sorry I'd worn the polypro top, and had taken it off. By 6am we stood at the bottom of the first pitch. The Mighty Brutus was ready to go! A caged tiger poised to spring. Very little preparation required, he stepped up to the first pitch at 6:15a and I put him on belay.
Bruce cruised up the easy section at the bottom, took a look at the flared 5.8 grunt above with the chockstone wedged in the middle and then casually fired it off, passing on up to a steep lieback leading to the belay. I followed, making it over the chockstone only by the use of brute force with no technique involved. It was pretty burly. The rock was weird for me this trip to the Valley. Not enough granite climbing recently, I suppose. I got up into the lieback and finally collapsed at the belay, dripping with sweat and feeling generally trashed. Not a very good start, considering we had 15 pitches to go! Gnar-Gnar fired up the pitch with no problem and reracked for her lead on the second pitch. Based on my poor performance of the first pitch, I abdicated my lead of the third to Brutus. Speed was one of the essentials for this thing if we were to see the top that night. We didn't need Mr. 5.7+ up there leading slow pitches, so I prepared to be towed to the top. The next couple of pitches went quickly. The short 5.8 section of the second pitch slowed Inez down for a minute, but she soon found the sequence and scooted right up to easier climbing above. A short traverse to the left and she belayed at another small stance. Bruce did the third pitch to the bottom of the Wilson Overhang. The third consisted of some really nice jamming up a hand crack past a tree, then onto a loose section in the middle. The last part was some 5.8 offwidth (boy, that would be the theme for the day!) up to a large wedged flake below the Overhang. This third pitch was fairly strenuous as well, but I was beginning to feel better. We all were on top of the third pitch by 8:45a, so we were in pretty good shape so far. We hoped to average slightly under an hour per pitch for the three of us to try to make it off by daylight. This would prove to be interesting.
While I was belaying Inez up the third pitch, Brutus was doing some bouldering up the start of the fourth pitch, hooked to the belay by a long sling. He even placed a piece or two before downclimbing to wait for a real belay. When Inez arrived, I put him on and he moved up into the nasty-looking flared slot above. There used to be a flake that you could yard on to fire this pitch off in 5.8 or so. You could still see where the flake USED to be, and the pitch has taken on a nastier tone as a result of the loss. In fact, this section is now into the 5.10b/c range and has a fair bit of stretch between possible pro placements getting up into the Overhang. Brutus, as would be the case all day, simply muscled up into the flare, placed a #4 Friend and shot out the left side into the "knee jumar" chimney above. Good jams put him at the belay in no time. I was able to do some body stemming and felt fairly decent on this section, moving off into the chimney above and to the belay. Gnar-baby cruised it.
Four down, twelve to go. Right on schedule! Pitch five started out in a 5.9 squeeze. Thrashing upward, Bruce towed his water bottle and other harness goodies on a four foot leash hanging behind. The top of this pitch is kind of exciting, exiting to the right across some dainty (and poorly protected) face climbing. Cracks led to the belay at the base of a steep section of cracks above. I followed and left pro for Inez to traverse, and got a real thrill out of the face moves (face climbing? What's that?).
Inez reported on reaching the belay that she fully recalled the next pitch from their previous ascent and that it was a living bitch. Unperturbed, Bruce re-racked and headed up. The pitch was a full 165 feet of nasty. We could hear Bruce breathing hard and periodically grunting above somewhere. That, we figured, was a bad sign. We'd brought 200' ropes as a margin of safety and to run pitches together if we could, so the long pitches were comfortably done without having to stretch the ropes to reach the belays. I went up after Brutus and found an enduro pitch that never let up all the way to the belay.
Steep jams, no jams, arm bars, knee jams and everything else in the arsenal of climbing techniques were required on the pitch. And just to make you real happy, at the top was a 5" crack with bare walls on either side. Brutus called this "5.8+ strenuous." I thought it was solid nasty. With a tight belay from above, and once stopping for a rest hang, I finally made the belay, huffing and sweating. Trashed yet again! Bruce told me how they had bivied on this ledge the year before. I checked out the sparse accommodations and decided that must have been a helluva night. The ledge was just big enough to be comfortable sitting with some really rocky spots where one could maybe stretch out. The only comfortable lie-down spot was right along the edge of the ledge, overlooking a lot of air. Evidently, this was the spot where Allen had snored all night the year before. We watched the swallows making amazing aerial maneuvers right up against the walls beside the belay. The best of which was a backwards barrel-roll just before crashing into the granite. Gnar-Gnar joined us at the belay. I'd swear there was smoke coming out of her ears from the effort. Nasty pitch. One more to the top of the Flying Buttress.
Brutus offered the next lead to me. Before climbing the last pitch, I was just about ready to do some leading. But after that, I was feeling too wasted to be fast and deferred to the master. Time was the enemy here, and I didn't want to slow us down any. He fired the 7th pitch off quickly, moving up along a loose- looking set of flakes up and right of the belay to an old sleeve-style bolt. A burly exit put him on a dirt ledge with a fair sized tree just below the top of the Buttress. I followed and belayed Inez while Bruce headed across the 3rd class traverse behind the Flying Buttress. The rappel anchors (previously slings around loose blocks) down to the start of the free variation to the route (bypassing the headwall aid pitch) had been replaced by Bruce with two 3/8" bolts and rap chains. Once Inez was up, he belayed us over to the anchors and rapped down to a 2-bolt anchor at the bottom of the gnarly looking 5.9 OW crack to the left of the Flying Buttress (we counted the traverse as a pitch and the rappel as a pitch).
The 10th pitch looked grim. The wall is very steep on the left side of the Flying Buttress. This was one thing I recalled from doing the Sentinel before. The dang thing is way vertical! Some tricky face climbing was possible next to the wide crack to make progress. Bruce moved powerfully up to what appeared to be the main difficulties, a right-turning kink in the 4" crack. This was the only time all day he said, "Watch me!" but he moved right into the wide section above, stopping once to comment that the crack was wet. Oh goody! I did slightly better on this one, and Inez enjoyed it as well. I really thought this was one of the better pitches on the route, with varied and difficult climbing that made you think. The belay was in a small corner below the sole face-climbing pitch on the route.
Gnar-Gnar was feeling froggy by this time and wanted to leap on the 11th pitch. She'd tried to lead this pitch the year before and gotten off-route before having to back off. Payback time! She led off strong, reaching the first bolt that comes about thirty feet out. A left-traverse leads to a second bolt by a hole, and she steadily moved up the pitch. Discontinuous cracks lead up and left to the belay spot, with a couple of pins and one more bolt where a really dicey step left puts you on the last section to the top of the pitch. I found this to be one of the most exciting and scariest on the route for me (I ain't no face climber). Inez had done it with very little hesitation, moving powerfully to the runout first bolt. A very nice lead! We joined her at the small belay stance below a flaring chimney torture chamber. Bruce grabbed the stuff and headed up.
This pitch was one of the most physical on the route. The first few moves led to a squeaky clean offwidth section that was a real grunt. A small ledge was reached and then the really fun part started. The 5.4 chimney variation to this pitch that takes you up the back way to the ledge below the Narrows had been blocked by recent rockfall. We would have to do it the hard way. The pitch even had Brutus grunting (again, a bad sign), but as usual, he just continued right on up to the belay. I made it after lots of struggling and weird body contortions. When Inez came up, the real fun started. I think she had a lot harder time because of shorter legs and arms, and had to really work to make the belay. We were getting tired (except for hardman Brutus) and it was starting to show. The belay was a nice little shelf just below the Narrows in the bowels of the north face. While belaying Inez up, we discussed if I could get my rotund butt up the inside of the Narrows, or whether we should get a rope down for me to climb the outside.
In the end, I decided to go with the guaranteed way and do the outside of the Narrows. If I got stuck, we would be hosed and lose lots of time. This was something we were running out of very quickly. When Inez got to the belay, we straightened up the stuff and Bruce led off up the squeeze. A four-foot chimney gets reduced to a 12-inch slot by a ceiling on the left wall. The trick, once you shove your head and shoulders up into the slot, is to get your legs and knees up in there to push off of. This pitch took Bruce a total of about 10 minutes to lead. He stopped at the chockstone above, took part of the trail rope and put some cams and nuts on it. A few swings later, we had the other end, down the outside of the chockstone and were back in business. Gnar-Gnar headed up, taking one small slip while getting into the slot, most definitely due to simple fatigue and the fact that her legs could barely reach the other side of the wider chimney. The second time, not problem and she squirmed up the slot. She checked to make sure the trail rope was o.k. and continued to the belay. I checked my watch when Inez got to the belay and it was 6:57p. We had four pitches to the top, and about an hour and 45 minutes to do them...
When my turn came, I swallowed and began chimney out to the outside face. The chimneying was very solid on the way out there. The exposure of exiting this slot near the top of the north face was huge. I continued chimneying out and was able to brace off an unseen offset shelf on the outside of the slot, which made things actually doable. I got up a little higher and then turned around in the slot and started chicken-wings, stemming and knee-slots to get up the wide crack (5.9+). Considering the nature of the climbing, it went surprisingly well. Lots of little footholds on the outside wall helped, as I wiggled my way past the four historical bolts, placed during the first ascent by John Salathe. I got past the chockstone and was soon at the belay.
Brutus and Inez had discussed the lack of time and what we could do about it by the time I got to the belay. He would lead the next pitch, bring Inez up, and then continue up the next two pitches, running them together with the 200' rope. At that point, he would be only one easy pitch from the top. A pitch he said was no problem to do in the dark. This left me to the belay ledge for quite a while. Once Inez left, I tried to get as comfortable as possible, and drifted off snoozing once in a while. I could hear the climbing going on above, but couldn't keep track of where everyone was. What a place to hang out, though! After a while, I got my windbreaker out, as the sun fell lower on the horizon and the temperatures started to drop. I could barely see that far when I saw a tiny Bruce climbing the last section to the huge pine tree on a shoulder far above. I heard some screaming about rope drag and then he was finally there. I could climb!
I was cold by this time, and shivering as I started up the next pitch. The initial move was balancy and steep. I decided to stay with climbing in the dark, as opposed to trying to use the small mag light that we were all carrying. The moon was nearly full, but was shining on the other side of the valley from somewhere behind the Sentinel. A small bit of reflected glow helped a little as my eyes adjusted to the lack of light. I climbed the pitch, wondering how we get ourselves in such crazy situations, but at the same time very happy to be near the top of such a wonderful one-day accomplishment. My joy only lasted a little while.
I climbed through some easier broken ground and then squinted upwards to see the rope disappearing into a dark maw above. Another chimney?! Shit! Once in the chimney, my prospects were even more grim. My two partners, much smaller than I, had both climbed up the Chockstone Chimney, BEHIND the chockstone. That left me with no other option than to climb the same tight section, which appeared way too small in the dark from below. I squeezed up into the hole trying to just get through the section. I cursed and moaned my fate, and wished I was skinnier to no avail. In the end, I nearly gave up, but the desire to get off was too strong. I was able to do some sideways body jamming and slithering to get myself past the section. The only sound in between the spates of profanity, were the occasional grunts and the grating sound of my locking harness carabiners against the rock as I wrenched upwards in the dark. Finally, I cranked free of the last bottle-neck move and breathed deep, glad to be out of the clutches of Sentinel. The belay came soon after and I collapsed onto the chockstone by Inez, totally spent and sweating bullets from a gun that had long since emptied. One tough one to go. Then the top!
A short while later, I was once again left alone on my chockstone to ponder the meaning of life, as Inez glided up into the inky darkness. I was having trouble staying awake while making sure the trail rope remained free, and continually caught myself nodding off, only to wake up suddenly. By the time Inez made the next to last belay at the huge pine, The rope came tight quickly and Bruce yelled "Belay On!" I took off for the top, feeling a surge of renewed energy, knowing that the top was easily reachable from the end of this pitch. I guess I got a little excited as Bruce had to scream for me to slow down. A lot of rope drag was making the belaying difficult. The pitch was fairly easy up to a point, where the rock became black and slightly mossy. With the darker rock, the features disappeared and "braille" climbing became necessary. It also got a lot steeper in the last hundred feet or so, and I got to experience what Brutus had referred to as the "stinger in the tail" of the route. The Steck-Salathe was going to let us know who was boss right up to the very end.
Clinging desperately to holds I could barely make out in the dark, I shoved my hands into cracks to retrieve the gear. If I couldn't feel a stem (Friend) or a wire (nut), I knew it was a fixed pin. I pulled into a steep crack section, hanging from my fingers, and realized I was next to a stopper. I tried in vain to loosen it from the crack with one hand, but ended up leaving it rather than taking a fall on the pitch (I'll get you a new one Bruce!) The last big surprise was a wide section above where slimy fist jams got me within reach of a small flake at the top. I reached into the crack to retrieve the unknown piece of pro inside, but couldn't get it. I called for tension and had to hang to get in far enough to get the piece. #4 Friend. The rest of the way was easier and totally trashed but getting happy, I reached the next to last belay. I found out later, there was supposedly an inside edge to the wide crack that allows steep, but very manageable climbing. I'd totally missed it in the dark.
Brutus was past ready to get off by that time. We'd probably spent nearly two hours climbing the last couple of pitches while he'd sat at the tree. I put him on belay and he took off for the summit. Last pitch. A faint "Off Belay!" echoed down from the summit 130' or so later. I climbed the last pitch to the summit and then belayed Inez up. As she climbed the last pitch, Bruce set the the task of pulling the packs out of the stash, and then headed down into the notch to pick up the goodies for dinner, casually mentioning there was wine in the cup by the fire. This would be the first of many gastronomic delights Bruce would come up with in the next several hours! As Inez came up the last pitch and finally stood in the light of the nearly full moon, I checked my watch. The time was 11:59:45, just short of the end of Saturday!
We were all beat, but very happy to finally be on top. While Bruce was coming back from the Notch, Inez and I spent a little time sorting the loose gear back onto gear harnesses and coiling the ropes into pretty piles. Bruce came back shortly and announced that the entire tongue of snow had caved in on our food! He was able to dig out nearly everything, so we still would be able to eat. We didn't know what was on the menu, as Brutus had done the grocery shopping, but we found out shortly. We started up the campfire and Bruce pulled out the goodies. For the evening's dinner, we had grilled fresh-water prawns (big ones!), rice with broccoli and mushrooms, plus marinated chicken breasts. Best damn meal that summit's ever seen if you ask me!!!
We passed around the bottles for hydration (the water) and electrolytes (the wine - 3 liters of White Grenache, I believe) as we grilled the shrimp and Bruce cooked the rice up. The meal was served in courses, with the chicken tits coming last. For two hours, we ate and drank and talked about the climb and how unbelievable it was, really enjoying the moment and taking the time to breath deep and relax. We built the fire back up and drank more electrolytes. After a while, Inez started to droop and we finally called it quits about 2:30a. Beddy-bye-time!
Sunday, June 11:
The sun was really beatin' down on us by 8am the next morning and things warmed up fast. We all got up to strip off layered clothes from the night before. Bruce pulled, of all things, a Mountain Dew!!! out of the stash pack and handed it to me. What a guy! Just what the doctor ordered. For breakfast, we dined on wine, coffee, fresh strawberries, and toasted bagels with cheese and bacon! This was followed by about two hours of sun-bathing on the summit before finally packing and heading back down the descent gully.
We took the gully pretty easy, stopping for water breaks now and then. We had the remaining gear in big packs, so we were all carrying a bit of weight. We made it back through the scary parts and finally to the snowfield. This posed an interesting problem, as the heavier loads would make an already nasty downclimb even worse. We decided to rope up for the descent. Bruce belayed me down and then Inez before following. His "waffle-stomper" boots were much better step-kickers in the consolidated snowbank. Once we got off the field a short thrash through the dirt on the far side of the stream put us on the way to our bivy spot.
Bruce insisted on making two passes, getting everything down to the trail before shouldering massive burdens for the last mile of "tourist highway." Inez and I were having none of it. We finally talked him into taking everything down. On the way to the bivy, I remembered I still had two cans of Mountain Dew in my bivy stuff that I hadn't drunk the morning we headed up. These lasted about five minutes as we passed them back and forth. The heavy loads went surprisingly well to the trail. The fact that the footing was much more positive helped quite a bit. Once we reached the trail, I went on ahead down the trail. Gnar-Gnar's feet were hurting a bit, so she did the casual descent, accompanied by Brutus. I just wanted to get my load to the bottom as fast as possible before my knees gave up on me. I think I got down about 4:30p or so with Gnar-Gnar and Brutus just behind.
We reconvened at the bottom near the truck, making a large pile with the gear. We spent some relaxing time having a couple of beers and laying out the group stuff so that the owners could reclaim it.
Three years before, the Sentinel had made me swear I'd never do a big wall again, nearly defeated by an experience that took me weeks to digest. Yet here I was again, like a moth to the flame, thrashing in the bowels of the rock for nothing more than the right to stand on the summit with a good climb beneath my feet. Sometimes, you gotta wonder about us climbers.
We finally got everything back in its proper bags and back in the vehicles. We drained the last of the beers and headed for the Bay Area. Mission accomplished! o---o
As everyone knows, partners make the difference with the climbing experience. I've been lucky in that respect, especially with partners I've had in Yosemite. When the chips are down and you think you're up the proverbial creek, a good partner(s) means more than anything in the world. I've had the best.
Thanks, Bruce and Inez, for the adventure! What a Fard Huckin' Climb!
Editor's Note: Greg Opland and Bruce Bindner are Major Contributors to the North American Classics project.