There is Yosemite Valley, the grandest and most accessible of the typical U-shaped glacial valleys in the Sierra. For those that want easy access but less of a scene there are both Hetch Hetchy and Kings Canyon, though the former is not exactly in it's natural state. For those that desire neither easy access nor fellow visitors there is Tehipite Valley, the poor, ignored, dirty little cousin of the family.
These obscure places are what get me excited so I've wanted to visit since long before I started climbing. With the company of Vitaliy, one of the few people I know who is brave (read: dumb) enough to carry loads to such a place in the heat of the summer, I finally made the trip.
For some reason we continue past the dome, further up the valley and away from the obvious objective. Because we're brave (re: dumb).
Flattery, that's not a good sign.
Up an down, side to side I go trying to find a path that settles into a 5.11 scary traverse to a teeny tiny cam placement to thin face and finally I bolt an anchor to give my heart a break. Vitaliy arrives at the belay and I hope he forgot about our deal until he starts handing me the gear. Crap.
The next pitch turns me into a hypocrite. I go straight up off the belay and place a bolt from a decent stance. Then I go up, right, left, left again, up right, all the while cursing as the apparent edges materialize into slopers or nothings. 40 feet later there is another bolt. Again I go up, eying a dike that looks like a good stance. The closer I get the more difficult it becomes to keep my toes from sliding.
"The sun is about to hit, we better get through the hard slab" Vitaliy echoes up.
I continue and my leg is shaking. No. Another move and it's more difficult and my other leg shakes. NO. Another move and my whole body begins shaking like a leaf. I'm desperately hugging the rock, moving my hand from hold to hold in a panic to find some way onto the dike with the rope going 35 feet down and far to the right.
"NO NO NO NO!" I scream at the top of my lungs as I start to slip. I close my eyes, scream, stand up and slap at the dike as a guardian angel gives me a nudge. Somehow I'm shaking and sweating on top of the dike placing the fastest bolt in the history of man. Thankful.
All said and done the pitch has 4 bolts in 40 meters, the exact thing I bash when talking about first ascents. Hypocrite. The difference here is that anyone is welcome to add bolts to the route. In fact, please do!
As we soaked in the views that night our discussion changed from "what's the best line up this thing?" to "is there any possible way up this thing?"
We hunt around the ledge looking for anything that connects. Eventually we say screw it, we came all the way out here, lets go right up the middle and see what happens!
We are neither prepared nor equipped to murder the impossible at this blank spot. Time is running low, theres a long way to go, smoke is starting to fill the valley from a nearby lightning fire and my wife told me "not to do anything stupid."
-Not enough time
-If we use the few bolts we have on this pitch we won't have enough to bail or continue
-Don't have enough aid gear to follow that path
-Just enough bivy gear and water for an emergency
-Some options are dangerous
-But what about the summit and the glory!?!?!?!?
The litmus test for my decisions in life has, for a long time, been: Don't do what you want to do, do what you want to remember doing. When applied to climbing this usually means sucking it up, suffering, and having some great memories. Should we have sucked it up? Do we want to force something that may not have even been there? Who knows...
I understand that I put this on the internet and that we do not own the route or cliff or anything. However, we are already planning our return to try to figure out a way with the help of more time and resources. We would love to finish this project and climb this wall ourselves. I posted this report because we always post successful trips but that's not the norm and I want to keep it real. We also had a great time and love us some spray! That being said, if you plan to go out there to climb this cliff before us we would love to be invited! If not, let us know how it goes and have fun, jerk! ;)
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Trip ReportTEHIPITE frickin' VALLEY
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