My arrival in the USA was quite stressful, because I had to make it to the DHL office next to LAX before closing time. They had my new VISA card, without which I would be unable to rent a car.
Luckily, my flight arrived an hour early in LAX. The immigration service was pretty ridiculous. Why have people check in electronically if you’re going to make them redo everything in front of an immigration officer later on anyway…? Once I got past all of that though, I quickly found myself in my ride for the next three months, with a working VISA card to boot. Yes :)!
Since I was going climbing in Yosemite and I didn’t want to depend on other people having all the gear, I had ordered quite a few new climbing toys. There were also some packages with gear for my JMT hike. So, the next day, as I drove towards the Valley, I picked up my 8 packages along the way. Everything had arrived exactly where it should have, which was a big relief.
All of the driving around, and shopping for food, had taken quite some time, and I was still 300 km from Yosemite, so it became obvious I wouldn’t make it there before nightfall. There were quite a few campgrounds nearby though, but they all charged a ridicilous amount of money for a spot. Between 30 and 40$ just for setting up a tarp? No, thank you.
Luck was on my side though and I found a perfect spot to spend the night (albeit in the car) right next to Bass Lake. While driving along the lake, I saw my first black bear! A few minutes before I had also seen a badger stroll acros the road. And in the morning, a couple of deer came grazing right past my car. Good spot!
The next morning, it was now June 3rd, was spent marking all my new climbing gear with fancy sparkly nail polish. By late afternoon I made it to Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley. Only a couple of minutes later I met Robbert and Toby, two German guys. Toby had hurt his foot climbing, so Robbert was eager to go climb some pitches with me the next day.
Later that evening, we all went bouldering for a couple of hours, together with a group of Americans and a couple of Canadians. Since I didn’t have a camping spot yet, and it was 11PM by now, I put down my bivy bag next to Robbert & Toby’s tent. No ranger came to kick me out :).
My illegal camping spot was about 30 meters from the Camp 4 ranger’s booth, so it didn’t take a lot of effort to queue there early at 5AM and get assigned my own spot for the rest of the week.
After I had set up my tarp, Robbert, Jess (one of the Americans) and me headed over to Nutcracker, a classic multi-pitch crack climb which I had climbed last year as well. Unfortunately 2 pitches up it started raining, so we had to bail. Good thing I had a set of 70m twin ropes, so we could rappel all the way to the ground in a single go.
The Americans were leaving the next morning and they had quite a bit of food left over, so we were all invited for a delicious dinner. Afterwards we chased a coyote through the campground, but it (predictably) got away. Fun times :)!
Toby & Robbert were also leaving the next morning, so I had to find a new climbing partner. I was barely out from under my sleeping bag when Beat from Switzerland walked up to me, eager to go climbing. The Germans had directed him towards me, thanks guys!
We decided to give Nutcracker another go, but needed some extra gear. Just as we were discussing this, a random Englishman popped his head out of a nearby tent and told us he had plenty of protection we could borrow. I love Camp 4 :). Just as I had made it to the top of pitch 3, the rain started pouring down even worse than the day before. Again the 70m rope saved the day, as Beat lowered me down to pitch 2 with about 1 meter of rope to spare. We bailed from the now familiar “bail spot”, which had turned into a miniature waterfall.
The weather forecast for the next few days isn’t looking very good, with rain predicted basically every day. Let’s hope it turns out to be wrong!