Each year at the end of July the Tennant’s take off to Tuolumne Meadows for an annual trip!
This was my 5th year in Tuolumne, and it was the best year! In the past, since I was originally invited, Chris and I had strange schedules with work, or events, but this year we both got to stay the whole time, 9 nights + 9 days together. Since there was a mishap on reservations, long story short I forgot to make them (Chris should probably stop planning this LIVE fantasy baseball draft the same weekend of reservations), we were staying Steve’s site, my father-in-law, for the first couple days then a couple days later, we moved into our own site. I worked my magic to get us a spot! After checking recreation.gov religiously everyday for a month, I managed to get us Monday – Friday of our 9 days, and we had planned to do first come first serve for our last night. All and all… We went into the trip with no objectives, r no crossing our fingers for NO rain, and wanting to climb as much as possible!
A little background on the trip… Each year at the end of July the Tennant’s take off to Tuolumne Meadows for an annual trip. No one can pinpoint the year it all began, but the rough estimate was in 1992. Steve spear-headed the trip, and invited friends and family. Each year there are consistent faces, and some that come and go, and apparently years ago they had 60+ people at one point during the trip!
Back to this year… We arrived on a Friday night, and no trip can start without a pit-stop at The Mobile in Lee Vining. We fulled up with fish tacos, steak ceaser salad and beers, then took off up the pass. As we entered the park, we caught a killer sunset, and jammed to our “welcome back” music.
As we pulled into camp, we were stoked. My father-law is a master when it comes to picking camp sites, pays to have many years of experience, and we were excited to see we had a full block-party of sites. Later in the trip occupied the middle spot of the block to complete the line-up. We unpacked, and were ready to relax! The bulk of the crew had settled-in earlier on in the week, so we said our hellos and figured out were everyone was. The night was a great kick-off, campfire, weather stories, and caught up on what we had missed, while looking forward to our first full day.
Weekend days are the best with this crew, there are lots of cooler carries, and usually a wall assault as we take over an area. 14 of us set out for River Wall (the belays are from rocks in the river), where we put up multiple routes and top roped the afternoon away. I loved this spot, and it set the tone for how the trip would go for us in the climbing department. The climbs were slab-tastic, hard, and balancey, so it was great practice for technique. As the afternoon progressed, we listened to the thunder roll into the area, and by the time we broke everything down there was an ominous cloud over camp. We knew it was raining at camp (it had actually hailed, and dumped rain that created huge rivers and pools throughout the campground) so we avoided it and headed to the West End of Tenya Lake. Everyone took a dip, and then sat on the beach to watch lighting strike in the distance. It was a wet evening, but not the worst we had experienced in past years. Our tent fared well, we just had wet shoes and chairs that were outside.
// Day 1 Climbing //
- River Wall | near Daff – assaulted the wall… did multiple routes
The next day the weather was perfect! It was a clear morning, and everyone went their own ways. Hubs and I climbed John Henry, a fun two-pitch slabby face. It’s such a fun climb, and I felt strong afterwards, and was fired up! The second day is when everyone started to create objectives for themselves. Hubs and another friend decided they wanted to check the Third Pillar of Dana of their tick-list, so they lined up a climb (Direct Northwest Face) the day before. You would think I felt left out, but I got to climb a new route! My father-in-law took me up a three-pitch secret topo route called Polly Ann. The route has a bit of everything (slab, crack, knobs), and every pitch was fun, but the last pitch was QUALITY with perfect golden knobs. We rappelled with two ropes, and I got to learn how to set-up the rappel! This knowledge came in handy later, and I got to impress hubs with my skills on Zee Tree.
// Day 2 + 3 Climbing //
- John Henry | Lambert | 10a
- Polly Ann | Lambert | 5.8 | new-er route, no book topo
- Little Sheba | The Lamb | 10a
The following day was what brought on my confidence, and push to be on lead. I talked about this one already, because I was too stoked not to share. Find the story here: My First Lead
// Day 4 + 5 Climbing //
- White Flake | Stately Pleasure | 5.7R
- The Shadow Nose | Stately Pleasure | 5.9R
- Zee Tree | Pywiack | 5.7 | My First Lead
Since Nick and Paige, had arrived earlier in the day, that evening we moved into “The Hotel” and occupied our site. It was nice to use the site for more than just the bear box and fire pit. So, yes, I do mean “The Hotel” and yes, it is just a running joke in camp. We inherited this big, roomy, tall Coleman family tent. It has room dividers, we never use them, but it gives us enough space, to have two sides of the tent (our sleeping side and our clothes/changing room side), and lots of head room to stand up. This year we even upgraded and bought a snazzy double thick, blow-up Aero Bed with a headboard, after buying cheep mattresses in the past and only getting 2-3 uses until they stop holding air. It might sound silly to go to these lengths, but when you are sleeping outside for 9 nights you can’t sleep on the ground, or even on a Thermarest. It just hurts! Anyways, the mattress was already set-up (we were using Nick and Paige’s tent until they returned) with our sheets, blankets, and comforter, so we just paraded it down the block-party, into “The Hotel” and settled in for the rest of the week.
After leading my first climb the day before, I was feeling confident, and ready for some fun CLASSICS and obscurities, which became a theme for the rest of the trip. On Day 5 we headed for Stately Pleasure to climb Great White Book. We have climbed on Stately in past years, and I have always looked at “The Book” and it rarely has people on it. I have never understood why, because I have always been told it’s fun! Chris (Hubs) and Steve (father-law), led the charge and I brought up the rear, which allowed me to take in the view… it doesn’t get much better than getting to sit above Tenya Lake, and spy Half Dome off in the distance.
// Day 6 Climbing //
- Great White Book | Stately Pleasure | 5.6R – CLASSIC
I wasn’t sure what to expect on the climb, other than it’s a huge crack that climbs similar to off-width. I hit my groove after a bit on the first pitch, and once I reached the belay I understood why Chris wasn’t too stoked on the climb. The second pitch has NO gear, but as Steve reminded us, it’s only 5.6, climb it like that! It ended up being my favorite pitch! It’s just a different style of climb, and ended up being fun + tiring all at the same time. Like all days, after our walk-off we headed to the lake, took a refreshing “shower” dip, snacked on kettle chips and sipped on beers until dinner time.
Day 6 brought a curve ball! The weather was shit when we got up, the puffy had already built up, and the forecast was rain. We tried to beat out the weather and get in a few laps, first by going to The Lamb to climb Little Sheba ( for a 2nd time )… it started to sprinkle, and so we went further west to Olmsted Point to climb in the canyon. The view from the canyon is amazing! You get a perfect view of Half Dome, as you stand in the shadow of Clouds Rest.
As we hiked down, it got warmer, and humid as we kept walking towards black cloud cells. We were determined though and continued, as we began to set-up it sprinkled, then stopped. We broke out the ropes, and started to gear up, and it started to open up! We covered everything up, finally called it quits, and of course the rain stopped again. At that point we called it, game over, and we raced back up the canyon to the car as thunder boomed over us!