Author Topic: Mt. Conness with Fred. by Jay Anderson  (Read 1058 times)

Big Kahuna

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Mt. Conness with Fred. by Jay Anderson
« on: January 20, 2020, 07:45:34 PM »
Mt. Conness with Fred. by Jay Anderson


Simul-climinbg is something you only want to do with someone you trust, I thought as the rope went tight through the belay plate and I had to tighten my shoes and kiss the ground good-bye. When I got to the part where Mike on lead had said “I'm stymied” I had to wonder what sort of terrain he was currently on, sixty meters above me.
First Climbed by Warren Harding, Glenn Denny & Herb Swedlund in 1959 and freed by Galen Rowell & Chris Vandiver in ‘76, the Harding Route on Mt. Conness (V 5.10) features consistently good climbing on (mostly) firm, white, Sierra granite. This quality climbing, along with spectacular views of Tuoloumne Meadows, Conness Glacier and the arid, interior ranges of Nevada combine with the remote but accessible alpine setting to make this route the popular classic it has become in recent years.
The start of the climb is identified by the sobering memorial plaque placed for Dan Goodrich who was killed by rock fall on an early attempt on this route. For a guy whose name is attached to a number of things in the Yosemite climbing Pantheon, he didn't have a very long life: he didn't quite make it to thirty.
Five ten offwidth at twelve-thousand feet is wheezy enough to begin with, but when Mike yelled up that the amount of rope left was the same as the length of wide crack above me, and that he’d be simul-climbing after that, that’s when I got seriously out of breath. The moves were easy, but my respiration and heart rate accelerated the higher I climbed into the wide section. I no sooner clipped the last, worthless thirty-five year old bolt, and squeezed though the crux when my Mike yelled “okay, that’s it, here I come.”
I better move up into the five nine squeeze, I thought, reasoning that if Mike fell Id at least be wedged instead of yarded. A few rushed moves showed me the folly of this course. My heart thumped like a subwoofer in a popcorn popper. I could not suck in enough thin air, fast enough, to make the down payment on my oxygen debt. I wedged myself in as well as I could, panting and wheezing, My heart was going harder than I remembered it doing for some time. Hhhmmm; How fast is the max for a guy like me? hmm? 220-38=182 well, got that one beat, easy.
By the time my heart was down to it’s theoretical max. I was on the move again, past the hard climbing and hunting up a handy ledge.
Mike popped up onto the ledge, we drank some water and he was off. Although the climbing was going well, we were concerned with time. We’d left the car at seven am to do the six (?) mile approach and hadn’t managed to launch until twelve thirty. It was now maybe three and we were only about five-hundred feet up. We hoped for two more, two hundred foot pitches, but you never know.
“Off belay,’ Mike yelled from above. At least I though that’s what he yelled. I dismantled my belay and made ready. Try as I did I couldn’t raise a verbal response from my partner. But the rope kept tugging at my waist, so, crossing my metaphysical fingers, I started up. The crux of the section ahead was an overhanging face traverse. Its amazing some of the gravitationally-austere situations we take for granted when the time comes to do them, and there aren’t any other options. “Hey Mike, yoo hoo, I’m at the traverse now old buddy, hellooo!” My voice was lost in the breeze. I heard no response, but the rope remained tight. Yahoo! I blindly spread-eagled for obscure holds around a corner.- And to think, Walt Shipley actually soloed this route without a cumbersome rope. Well I had one, and it was probably attached to something. I made the traverse, the rope kept up with me and I caught up with Mike. His lead ended two and a half topo pitches up on a friendly ledge. The wind was up the heat had subsided and it was time to move on.
I ran out sixty meters to a stance in a low angle groove. After that, we were able to scramble to the summit easily. We’d done a ten pitch route in five pitches and four and a half hours. Anne was waiting for us when we got to the pack drop-off point. We drank the rest of our water, ate our powerbars, gossiped about our friends. We started down as the sun dipped behind the western mountains.
We had to hustle, but it felt good. I new we were going to get back with enough light. We were pretty tired as we marched down the trail. I wondered how my partner was feeling. One year earlier he, Mike Friedrichs, had just crawled out of a body cast that he’d inhabited for twelve weeks after taking a seventy foot grounder at American Forks that had broken his back in three places. He seemed to be holding up pretty damn well. The Sunlight gasped its last, just after the perilous creek crossing that we managed with six dry feet. I stopped off at the little house in the campground while my cohorts elected to let their inertia carry them the rest of the way.
When I arrived at the car Mike was supine in the dirt with his head on a pack. “My back is sore,” he said. Fair enough.
There is something out there and it ain't no man.   We're all gonna die!

Jaybro513

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Re: Mt. Conness with Fred. by Jay Anderson
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2020, 08:40:39 PM »
That,was a good day!

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Re: Mt. Conness with Fred. by Jay Anderson
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2020, 01:31:46 PM »
Nice read,
thanks for posting up. 8)
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Big Kahuna

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Re: Mt. Conness with Fred. by Jay Anderson
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2020, 06:16:19 PM »
I have a few more of Old Jaybro Reeds to come  :)
There is something out there and it ain't no man.   We're all gonna die!