Sunnyside Bench with Matt and Adam

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I drove back into the valley after a night out in San Jose, and arrived to find the lower valley full of smoke and fires. (There had been a notice about a prescribed burn when I left) It was quite surreal, El Cap sticking it's head out over a layer of smoke, burning branches dropping off trees now and again, so I stopped to take some pictures. I also went to go and take some pictures of El Cap from the meadows, as it was looking quite nice in the moonlight.

I wasn't as alone as I expected, at 3am in El Cap meadows. There were two pairs of lights, up and about climbing. One pair, near the summit would turn out to be ??? and Chris, two Canberra boys climbing Reticent Wall. It turned out that this was halfway a 36 hour continuous push. Earlier in the climb, they had taken 17 hours for one of the pitches. Two very chill, relaxed, friendly guys. It was a pleasure to meet them.

But they weren't the only ones, there was a party elsewhere, El Cap tower I believe, but I'm not sure, and then to top it off, I heard a clanking coming out of the trees. Walking by moonlight, with an overstuffed daypack, but nothing else came another man. Turns out he had just walked off after soloing Zenyatta Mondata for the last 8 days, and would be returning later for the rest of his gear. He even seemed like he was still sane. Lots of hardmen in the valley.

But all that was just the start of the day. Feeling highly motivated to do some hardcore seconding, loitering, and general slackness, I eventually got up and joined Matt and Adam over at Sunnyside Bench. Adam was looking forward to a finger crack for a change, instead of all the other size cracks that he hated, and Matt was just looking to climb some stuff.

We climbed Jam Crack, after dodging rocks and gravel from the not quite so stylish team above us, and then Adam lead Bummer (the left hand one) Very thin, but he pulled it off in good style, and then I got to toprope it, flashing it no less, much to my delight. I don't often get a chance to get on 10c cracks, and I was very happy with getting up, even if I did leeave blood all over the rock from both knees and fingers.

I then stayed up on top, to take pictures of Matt leading Lazy Bum, (the right hand one) Matt even developed an audience by this time, as they are much more commonly toproped than lead. All was going well, until the crux. He almost had it, but at the last second, didn't quite get the finish holds, and went for a good long whipper, probably about 25 feet. Fun for everyone, and one of the longest falls he'd had in a very long time. Second go he got it, only this time he put in a higher nut, saying, "I don't feel like falling that far again."

Adam came up quite cleanly, and even enjoyed it, this being more of a face climb than crack, and then I ran out of flash card space. This was a great shame, as minutes later, Mark the budgie killing Vet, pulled off the flying ninja move, leaping sideways from the flake to the finish holds, and amazingly, sticking the holds and pulling up to the ledge to join us all.

A fun day all told.

Prescribed burn by night

Prescribed burn by night

Climbers in the dark, El Cap, 3am, Sept 29, 2004

Matt on Jam Crack

Matt on Jam Crack

Matt on Jam Crack

Adam on Lazy Bum

Adam taking a no hands rest