Monday, May 30, 2005

Northeast Buttress of Higher Cathedral, 5.9

My weekends are still dedicated to Yosemite squeeze chimneys and flaring off-widths.

Reed's Pinnacle Direct consisted of a drop dead gorgeous 5.9 hand crack up a vertical wall. The last two pitches, actually on the Regular Route, started with a tunnel where we were inside the belly of the rock for about 80'. In the cave - a deep, dark squeeze chimney really - the rock wavers back and forth from 8 to 20 inches wide. To find the path through the slot we had to slither up and down, back and forth, just guessing where the cave might open up next. It's totally wild!

The East Buttress of Middle Cathedral was fun, partly because we passed up speed-climber Hans Florine on the eighth pitch. He was cruising the 5.8 pitches in Nike ACG approach shoes, but was held back a little by his partner, a client I think. I asked if I could pass, not realizing that it was Florine, shortly before the eighth pitch, then took a quick variation around him and his friend. He came flying by us shortly thereafter and introduced himself as Hans. I noticed the boots on his feet and asked if he was Florine. "I is," he said.

By far and away the most gorgeous route to date was the Northeast Buttress of Higher Cathedral. If you do one big route in Yosemite, make this one it. Incredible! Sustained 5.9, and a beautiful soaring dihedral up pitches 5-8. Chimneys, off-widths, hands, fingers, fists, lie backs, stems, wild traverses, everything you could ever want. A crazy journey!

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