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Forgotten Classics in Yosemite


by John Dalbey

December 29, 2001

Paul and I had a brainstorm of climbing a bunch of forgotten/obscure climbs in Yosemite Valley that didn't make it into the Meyers guide. It might be fun to put together an article on "Forgotten adventures in Yosemite Valley." So last weekend was our first trip in what might become a series.

We met Saturday morning in the Church Bowl parking lot for breakfast, and while trying to choose a climb, noticed "Book of Revelations" in the Meyer's guide. Being listed in Meyer's should have technically disqualified it from consideration as an obscure climb, but we fell in love with the name, and we had a hunch that it is seldom climbed.

We climbed an adjacent climb, Aunt Fanny's Pantry, to bypass the first pitch on "Revelations", cause neither of us felt like leading 5.11. (Even if we DID feel like leading 5.11, it's doubtful that we would have succeeded, cause we aren't that good :)

I belayed in the pleasant shade of the "Panty" while Paul started up the third pitch. While rated 5.8, we thought it was a bit harder. There's little bulge to surmount which is strenuous, then a tricky hand traverse that got our juices going. I started climbing the crux pitch, got up about 5 feet and backed down. Too steep, and too sketchy pro. Paul took over and fiddled in some marginal TCU's and squeaked his way up a thin layback. He was lost to sight after that, and I sweated in the sun waiting for him to finish. I couldn't hear any calls from above, but the rope pulled taught, so I assumed I was belayed and started climbing. As I worked my way up a series of difficult moves I gave thanks I had let Paul lead. I would have been scared silly. The pro was dubious at times, the moves were steep and harder than the 5.9 rating. At times one was pulling up on grass hummocks and mossy dirt clumps that threatened to rip out of the cracks. When I reached the belay (and the top of the climb) I suggested we rename the climb to "Book of Vegetation", and Paul said while he was trying to pull out enough grass to find a handhold the name which occurred to him was "Sumo Gardener."

Our hunch was correct, it appears "Book of Revelations" is not often climbed. Though it is far from a horrible climb, one could easily find less nerve-wracking routes, such as the one we found the next day.

"Church Tower" seemed an appropriate choice for a Sabbath day outing. It's a tiny pinnacle which is located in front of the Cathedral Spires. This was a marvelous and completely enjoyable climb. We did the East Arete route which is described in Roper's guide. Roper rates it 5.5, but we thought it should be rated 5.6c ("c" for caution). There's some loose rock on the first pitch, but nothing that can't be avoided. There is quite a bit of exposure, fun climbing, 2 pitches of leading each, a fantastic panoramic view, and a wonderful, tiny summit block that is just big enough to sit on. The approach takes about an hour, but the climbing is less than 4 hours, so it's not a demanding day at all. Take a long runner to sling the summit block for the rappel, but a single rope will get you down.

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