Manrico Dell’Agnola returned in May 2010 to the enchanted Californian valley.
The first time was in 1982; the last time was in May 2010. The Yosemite never ceases to amaze, always showing a new side. In 2010 Manrico dell’Agnola tackled the adventure with Marco Garbin, Olindo de Biasio and Santiago Padros. Alongside Manrico was Dolomite.
Hired a small car and, as I drove out of the underground car rental bay at San Francisco airport, felt almost lonely. Just for a second and then, as soon as I got onto the road which was to take me directly into the most beautiful valley in the world, I was filled with a strong sense of freedom.
A four-hour drive, with country music and the landscapes I love. I thought about how, when you travel with several others, you always go the wrong way as everyone thinks they know better.
At the Camp Four car park I met up with Santiago and Olindo and immediately afterwards Nick, a Dutch boy I’d met the previous year at Indian Creek. I also saw Cristoph Heinz and other alpinists I know, which boded well for a pleasant time.
The idea was to take the climbs one day at a time without being obsessed with over-ambitious and difficult targets.
I’d already been to the Yosemite valley several times yet I have to say that you’re better off not thinking about “El Cap”, also because there are loads of great formations with so many wonderful routes. To my shame I only discovered the fantastic Serenity Crack only almost thirty years later: four amazing pitches, not too easy, which I climbed with Marco.
Little equipment, bare chested and in shorts, no thoughts of bivouacs or difficult ascents and the assurance of a good steak at the camp in the evening. I discovered another side of the valley, another dimension that I like, a different and pleasant way of climbing mountains, a long way from obsessions.
Climbing sections of famous routes isn’t bad either, for example climbing the first 10 pitches of the Salathè then descending to base following ropes fixed under the chest is a classic. Ten great and testing pitches which were even given a name, as if they were a complete route (free last, I think). You don’t get anywhere but instead climb over an enormous expanse of white granite.
A few years ago I’d have found this to a sacrilege but now I think I can afford to do this, at least in my old age. Who knows what Royal Robbins would think…
Given the season and heavy spring snowfall the Tayoga Pass and Glacier Point road were closed so we’re trapped to some extent, not being able to escape fast towards the warmer eastern areas in bad weather. The rather unsettled weather forecast and low temperatures did not make the approach towards the great mountains easy, so I didn’t feel the slightest guilt about wandering around fairly low cliffs or rock faces, quite the opposite – I felt free.
I also perfected my knee bar technique in cracks, which I was very keen on. I didn’t for once want specific plans or peaks that had to be climbed but just the wish and need to climb in the most beautiful valley in the world.