By Dave Yerian - Co Founder of Jam Walls
It was January in Yosemite, Dave Schultz and I were high up on the Endurance Corner Pitch of a climb called Astroman on Washington Column. Here two walls join and an obvious crack forms with offset moves. I can’t see Schultz yet as I blindly reach in for finger locks and my feet stem between both walls. Just before the belay, as I climb towards Schultz, I think of another time in a different January with Werner Braun when we got snowed off and with ropes freezing, and had to rappel to the base in a life-saving retreat.
This time, a year later, with only one rope and a rack, things were different. Schultz and I moved thru the Harding Slot, the elegant finger and hand crack that led into the Bombay Roof. There it was the absolute point of no return for us, no matter what, we could only go up. Above the Harding Slot lies a tricky, sequential 5.11 finger crack. To do it you must use your feet like you were bouldering. With massive exposure, this led up to a ledge just before the Switching Corners Pitch (SCP). This is one of the most exposed places on the route where all you can see is air below you. Schultz starts out on the SCP, bouldery slashes of horizontal cracks which lead to an alcove where you transition to exposed face and an arête that will take you to easier moves and later lead you to a ledge for a belay. If you fall on the 5.11 pitch and go over the edge, protection is bad and it is possible to die.
Next came the more elegant part; the final 2 pitches. Once at the belay the climbing difficulty eases into a 5.9, and 5.10a fist crack. This pitch then takes both of us to a ledge below the summit. At that point when you look down it’s all air to the base, but when you realize where you have just come from, it’s our first real reprieve. Both tired and elated we look at each other. Schultz leads the final pitch on crumbly 5.10+ face climbing leading to a roof where a hand crack takes us to the summit. We started the climb from the Ahwahnee Hotel parking lot. As we descend down the treacherous North Dome Gully we run back to the same parking lot with our toes screaming out in pain. We hit the watch back at Schultz’s VW bus for a total car-to-car time of 4hr and 50 min. Werner Braun and I were supposed to do the climb but Schultz found me instead. When Werner found out he was angry at me for a month. I was never any good at waiting!
Dave Yerian floating “The Tube” 5.11 – Cookie Cliff