time reversal

the stories of four physicists separated by the whims of fate

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Tuolumne Meadows (and stuff)

July 26th, 2009 by liz

It’s been a long time since I’ve had time to post here. Basically, I’ve just been working WAY too hard. Luckily though, I managed to get away last weekend with Tucker and my climbing partner (Kevin) to do some climbing in Tuolumne Meadows, which is in Yosemite National Park.

We arrived Thursday night, and there were no open campsites. Luckily, a group of Middlebury College (that’s in VT) saw my license plate and offered to let us camp on the edge of their large group site for the night. In the morning, we got in line for a campsite 30 minutes before the office opened (that’s 7:30am). There were already 15 people in line. Welcome to Yosemite on a summer weekend. After getting a campsite, I took Kevin to “Puppy Crack, 5.6” and taught him how to lead climb. He did really well, so we set out to simul-climb Tenaya Peak, which is a 1500′ climb on top of an approach hike.

Kevin's first lead climb
Kevin’s first lead climb (puppy crack).

After climbing for a few hours, we ran into another group 3 pitches from the top. We could see thunderstorms on the horizon, and knew that we had to get to the top and start down the hiking trail before they hit. The pair let us pass, but on the way by the leader said, “We’ve been climbing since 8 am and we’re really exhausted. Could you drop us a rope?” Kevin and I weren’t going to leave anyone on the side of a mountain in a thunderstorm, so with 2 ropes between the 4 of us we rigged up some creative climbing/belaying and managed to get both us and the other party to safety before the rain came anywhere near us.

Liz on Tenaya
Me partway up Tenaya Peak

We were really exhausted by the time we made it back to the campsite, so after cooking and eating a delicious dinner (we had THREE stoves with us), we went to bed early instead of waiting up for Tucker to get in. In the morning, I woke up and noticed that the extra sleeping bag I’d brought for Tucker was empty. When I wandered outside, I found him curled up in a not-quite-warm-enough sleeping bag underneath the pine trees. He was completely inside the bag with just his ponytail sticking out. Apparently it didn’t occur to him to come inside the tent when we had arrived at 11pm the night before. Luckily the day warmed up quickly, and by the time we were hiking to our climb Tucker was no longer frozen.

We decided to climb “Shagadelic, 5.8,” which is a mostly bolted route on Medlicott Dome. With tiny belay ledges and small knobs, it was a rather terrifying climb for Kevin–he’d never belayed while hanging off a wall before. Luckily, he got over his fear and did an awesome job. After we descended (Tucker rappelled barefoot), we decided it was too freaking hot for more climbing, and went to hang out by the lake and go swimming.

Tucker rappelling Shagadelic
Tucker rappelling Shagadelic

Day three was a little more low-key. There was quite a line on “Northwest Books, 5.6“, but it was a good easy climb for us with a sweet top-out, so we waited. When we finished the climb, we scrambled up to the top of the dome and had lunch in a small group of trees that had managed to grow on the hard granite dome. On the way down the trail, I managed to trip over nothing and fall and sprain my ankle. Woo! Go me.

Tucker and I nearing the top of Lembert Dome
Tucker and I nearing the top of Lembert dome

All in all, it was an excellent weekend. I’m really glad I got out. In other news, I went to LTD-13 last week in Stanford. It was a really nerdy conference (go low temperature detectors!), but man was there some cool stuff. I also got to see some friends at this conference who live in other places, which was nice. I’m also moving this weekend. My current roommate and I had some “differences” (don’t get me started) and I determined I’d be much happier in a different living situation. I’m moving in with Kevin, Nick Harrington (from MIT) and Natania Antler (also from MIT). It’s going to be a geekfest (4 physicists in one house!) but I think it will be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to it. As an extra bonus, our new house has 4 fig trees, an apricot tree, a plum tree, 2 cherry trees, and a tangerine tree. When I move in, I’ll post some pics.

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