John Muir climbed Cathedral Peak, an icon of Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows, in 1869 without a rope and in heavy boots. He also climbed to the top of a tree in a Sierra storm to really experience it…I’ll take a rope and climbing shoes please.
Route and I ventured into the High Sierra the first weekend of November to find the bright side of our dry fall by climbing this notoriously busy peak out of peak season. Given that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I wanted to highlight a few of the things I was thankful for during this adventure.
I could not get over the view of Echo Peaks and Unicorn Peak towering over Budd Lake. I’m thankful for being able to watch the light move across the landscape as we climbed higher and higher, the view somehow just kept improving.
From the first belay station, I was taking in the view when I noticed a ribbon of trail to the south-west and recognized the John Muir Trail. I was transported back to 2012 when Squirrel and I camped at Cathedral Lakes after a short-mile day hiking our first section of the JMT. We used my fancy camera I lugged 57 miles to zoom in on the summit of Cathedral Peak and spot climbers sitting on the tippy top and now I was climbing toward the tippy top. I’m thankful for that trip down memory lane. Or is it memory trail?
Looking at the Tuolumne Meadows forecast leading up to our climb, I worried I would shiver all the way up the peak. Thankfully the sun warmed us for four of the five pitches. At the fourth belay station the warm sun rays were just out of reach, but that gave me the chance to try my massive socks over my climbing shoes. I even sewed loops on my toasty socks so I could clip them to my harness. I am thankful for my onion-like layers keeping the shivers away.
When tied to your climbing partner, it can be hard to capture the summit moment. But I’m thankful for a fellow climber that captured this moment of Route and me with Cathedral Peak’s shadow stretched out behind us.
Route loves climbing as much as I love backpacking with Aspen. While we have a lot of shared interests, these two favorites can be conflicting at times. Since Aspen was with my parents for the weekend, we decided to do all the non dog-friendly things – multi-pitch climbing in a National Park. This was also Route’s first High Sierra climb and he was like a kid in a candy shop…on Christmas…in Disneyland. I’m thankful to be a part of his first delicious taste of High Sierra climbing.
We ended up summiting at the same time as a seasoned Cathedral Peak climbing couple. I’m thankful for their assistance in finding the down climb route. And for not ditching us as I crab walked 60 percent of the time.
Our SuperTopo High Sierra Climbing book estimated the time from car to peak to car as anywhere from five to seven and a half hours. It took us closer to 11 hours…while this made for a long day, I’m thankful for the alpine glow lighting the mountains beyond mountains.
I am also thankful we were on more level ground before we had to get the headlamp out, which I am thankful we packed.