Saturday, September 11, 2010

Labor Day in Yosemite - Commissioner's Buttress

For those that have not known me since my college days, the screen name "MrPulldown" might be a bit of a enigma. Since it has to do with the web many think that it is associated with a pull down menu. However the term pulldown, has its origins back from the last year of College. At the last house I lived at during my senior year, I lived with a bunch of rock climbing friends. A slang term for climbing was to pulldown. One day needing a screen name, I used Mr Pulldown to describe myself; I have been using that screen name ever since.

So this picture is not one I took from this trip. However I did take it one winter day many years ago. What whould a post about Yosemite be without a picture of the Valley.

Through the following years, climbing was a sport I followed with varying degrees of passion. In the most recent years, I would describe myself as a retired rock climber, though I will still climb a few times each year. This last labor day weekend was one such time.

Through one of the original climbing roommates a large block of campgrounds were reserved, the notice to congregate was sent out, and the jingle of climbing gear once again rang in my ears. This year not only did three of the four original roommates show, along with several of our friends from the same time period, but my wife, brother, father, and son was also part of the adventure. In fact this was the first time my infant son visited the Valley.

So how was Yosemite Valley Labor Day weekend 2010? HOT. When we rolled in Friday the high temp was reported to be 97 degree, with the following three days predicted to be in the mid 90's. The crowds were not much of an issue. Once our vehicles were parked in the campsite, the shuttle fulfilled all of our transportation needs. However I did find a traffic backup traveling East into the Valley right before the 41 split. Though the popular trails were at maximum capacity, the climbing spots were only moderated busy. Our crag day at the Church Bowl did not involve any waiting. I guess climbers tend to stay away from the Valley on such popular weekends.

The real climbing was done on Sunday, when my brother and I roped up to climb Commissioner's Buttress. It is a lesser known 5.9 on Manure Pile Buttress. The climb was recently featured in January 2010's issue of Rock and Ice Magazine, as one of the best unknown climbs of Yosemite. Though the name does not spark instant conversation and the one star rating doesn't get tons of press, the climb is a true Valley classic. First ascent by Galen Rowell and Joe Faint 1969, the route has often been described as "old school". What seems like an awkward fashion term, old school in this case harks to the Golden age of climbing where routes were hard and the men who put them up where even harder. CB is truly a vertical rock adventure. If you have got to the point of pumping out 5.9's in the gym, you are in no shape to lead this climb. From finger locks to off widths this climb takes you through cracks, lie backs, stems, and roofs.

The above picture is not my own. I must give credit to "Trad" from the the SuperTopo Forum .

CB starts to the right of the famous Nut Cracker route on the Manuer Pile Buttress. Stay low on the approach till you pass the large buttress, then head towards the rock. The climb starts at an odd long rock that has partially broken off the main buttress, a pine tree is located right in front of the rock. 100 feet up the main crack is a large pine tree. The first two pitches of the climb are the most notable. The rest of the climb is just to top out and is dirty and lose. The climb tops out above the nutcracker platform. Down climb 3rd/4th class to the main gully trail used for decent. The option of bailing to the right after the first two pitches is possible.

A topo of the route can be found the Reid Falcon Valley Free Climb Guide. Unfortunatly i could not find the topo in the Supertopo's Valley Guide.

So the next time you get a chance head out to the Valley and enjoy the good tidings the mountains bring, and don't forget to pulldown!

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