Nutcracker: Multi-pitch Yosemite Climbing!

President’s Day started off with another delicious breakfast.  After packing up, we said good-bye to Ron and Liz and headed out.  Unless it’s Summer and we’re camping, I would definitely love to stay at the Blue Butterfly again.  It was a great experience.
We went through the Rock Arch gate and this time, took a couple of minutes to stage a photo of SMS driving the Prius through the Arch.  Maybe it’s a little corny, but I thought the rock arch was really cool.
Go on with your bad self, lil’ Prius along with your incredible MPGs!

SMS and I headed straight to the Manure Pile Buttress to climb the Nutcracker, a 5 star, 5 pitch crack heavy route.  We started at the 5.9 alternative start, which was the most difficult pitch of the day.  I had a little trouble there but managed to work my way through the climbing problem and we were off!

Relaxing on the Ledge, Half Dome in the background
And then we slowed down.  The whole time we were there, only two pairs were climbing- us and the people we were directly behind.  Climbing can be a little tricky because you never know who’s going to show up and when.  As a result, we wanted to start climbing right away because we didn’t know if anyone else would show up.  In retrospect, maybe we should have chilled on the ground for about 45 minutes so we could have just kept climbing without long breaks but really, there was no way to know.
On the ledge

But it wasn’t that big a deal.  The weather was gorgeous and our longest wait was on a really comfortable wide ledge.

 

Taking a selfie from the hanging belay, right before starting Pitch 3

For the third pitch, SMS had to set up a hanging belay, which is a little scary if I overthought it so I tried to ignore the fact that two pieces of equipment and a really thick webbing was all that was keeping me from falling to the ground.  Instead, I just focused on happy thoughts and all the amazing beauty around me.  Cheesy but better than “Ohmygodimgoingtodie!!!!”

SMS climbing Pitch 3

The climbing conditions were spectacular.  There was a small trickle of water down one of the cracks on the third pitch, which is known to happen in the Winter.  It wasn’t too hard to deal with since there were multiple alternate dry footholds.  I personally struggled at the mantle crux, mostly because I was pretty tired at that point and it took me a few minutes to gather up the strength to pull and push over the top (that and a really good belay- thanks SMS!).

Panorama from the Top: Half Dome on the Left and the Sentinel behind, slightly to the left

We hung out for a minute or two at the top, admiring the view.  We didn’t hang around too long though because we had slightly underestimated our water needs.  As a result, we really wanted to get back to the car and the full water bottles inside.

We did it!

After the climb, we headed up the road to see the Tunnel View.  It was amazing!  I had actually told SMS we could skip it and just go get food, but he had said it was close.  I’m so glad he encouraged us to go because it was so much cooler in person.  I’ve seen some incredible photos of this view but it only imparts a fraction of the grandeur.  One of my favorite parts is seeing Bridalveil Falls in the right mid-ground because really, it’s so majestic it almost seems like a film set but then the continually moving water over the Falls made it look more “real.”

This made me flash back to a college religion class, Sacred Geographies

There were so many people taking pictures and we found someone kind enough to take our picture.

Re-hydrated but a little hungry!
We went to Yosemite Lodge and split a cheeseburger and fries.  We were planning on going to Commonwealth later so we didn’t want to eat too big a meal.  You know, a modicum of restraint a few hours before a cheesy delicious nacho feast!
When we were done with our tide-us-over snack, it was almost time for the Firefall.  We pulled into the El Capitan picnic area lot where we had parked for our Nutcracker climb earlier that day.  There were so many photographers in that area!  While the effect wasn’t quite as intense as Saturday’s, it was still pretty awesome and we were glad we stayed.  It was a great ending for our Yosemite trip!
Getting closer!
Firefall!  It’s a little hard to see in this photo but really, the water looks like magna!

We drove home.  On the way home, we stopped at Commonwealth and ordered the nachos and hush puppies-breaded corn dogs.  Both were delicious.  Not the healthiest but we were happy to have eaten from the snack menu.  The rest of the ride home wasn’t bad.  We got home a little on the late side, but we didn’t care.  The weekend was so amazing!

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