Occasional postings about Maz and Si's big adventures

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Lost Arrow Spire Tip

This was a big adventure that we had been working up to - an iconic Yosemite climb.  Lost Arrow is a pillar of rock detached from Yosemite Point.  The tip is about 800m above the valley floor and 40m away from the main face.  The plan was to abseil in from Yosemite point, climb the tip and then set up a tyrolean back to the main cliff.  This required much reckoning!

The climb itself is quite tricky - beyond our climbing ability, so we had to aid it.  We bought all the gear we needed (now on first name terms with the folks in the mountaineering shop), and the day before, we consulted Simon's book on aid climbing and practiced ascending, cleaning pitches, abseiling passed knotted ropes and setting up a traverse.  All set then!  Nothing to it!

Up early for the epic 3 hour walk in.  We were carrying 3 ropes and a lot of gear.  The sun beat down on us as we made our way slowly up the gully, passed the dried up Yosemite falls and on to the Point.  Here we looked across at Lost Arrow, and I felt slightly sick!  The abseil in was longer than our longest rope so we tied one end of one rope to the in-situ bolts, backed up with a convenient tree, then tied the other end of this rope to another rope and threw it over the edge.  Si disappeared and I was left alone to double check we had everything.  A voice drifted up from the void "Maz, can you bring the guidebook!" - oh yeah - that might come in handy.

Soon we were both in the gully between the tip and the cliff.  Si got his aid climbing gear ready and I tied the end of the abseil rope to the back of my harness.  Si set up the third rope as he ascended the Arrow.  Most of the placements involved ancient rivets (which we had to tie off with the wire tips of nuts), bashies (hammered in bits of metal with wire hangers), dodgy cams placed in peg scars and the occasional bomber nut.   When Si was at the top of a pitch, he tied off the rope and then I jumared up it, collecting our gear as I went.  Halfway up pitch 2 I discovered that jumaring  along a traverse and cleaning the gear at the same time wasn't as simple as the description in the book!

A couple of hours later, we were both stood on top of the spire.  The abseil rope was still connected to the main cliff (good start) and I had hold of the other end.  We fixed this to the assortment of battered bolts and faded slings at the top of the tip so that the rope was taut and Si set off back to base (you didn't think I was going to go first, did you?!).

The wind was quite strongly through the gap and the ropes were being sideswept in a big loop.  After much swearing and cursing, Si made it back to base and I re-threaded the rope so that we could pull it through.  Then it was a quick check to make sure I'd collected all our stuff before I launched my self backwards and began the arduous task of jumaring up the rope back to Simon.  Much relieved self congratulation and a long hike back to the village for some well-deserved beer followed.

Later, Simon told me that this aid route had been high-lighted as unsuitable for beginners!  Oh!!


  1. Comment from Tom and Sarah

    Classic Jones stuff :-) We're a bit jealous of your weather as it's pissing it down in Yellowstone with "60% chance of snow" over the next couple of days... The trip so far has been fantastic and we're nearly out of Montana and into Wyoming. All we have to do now is work out how to get into and through Mexico without being shot by drug-runners..

    See http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/7186 for details

  2. Oh my gosh! Marian, you are so brave...
    Hope all is well with you :)
    Kitty Ouseburn