Yosemite Rock Climbing Trip: Munginella


I read an article in National Geographic about my heros Dean Potter and Tommy Caldwell and their awesome Yosemite climbing adventures.   I thought, “I want to go to there.”  I left my summer internship at a plastic injection molding factory and called my buddy Danger who is always down for adventure.  He told me his sister Kirby was going too; I said “sweet”.  We planned on setting up top ropes and finding short easy bolted routes but…  Danger’s family’s friend Tony offered to let Kirby borrow a harness and shoes.  We left with a trad rack.  The trip’s dimensions had drastically changed.  We were geeking out as much as you might think.

Experience Levels:

Max can sport climb 5.10s pretty reliably and have followed someone climbing trad once.

Danger had bouldering experience and has lead sport a few times.  He did not know how to clean a route.

Kirby had never been climbing before.

Reading Material:

Yosemite Free Climbs and our invaluable copy of How To Rock Climb by John Long.  I cannot recommend John Long’s book enough.  It has super beta for everyone from beginners to experts.  We all read the book cover to cover in the car and were feeling much more confident.

Trip Report:

After 1 day 7hrs of driving we get to Yosemite

Realized we brought the tiny tent...

We get to Camp 4 around 5:30AM to get a campsite.  Why so early?

We received this dire warning from crazy guy who smelled like fish: ”There are thousands of people in the valley man.  Ya gotta believe me man there are thousands of people in the valley man.”  He offered more advice but it’s not funny in writing; ask me to do an impression.  Anyways he was right and a line to check in had already formed at 5:30AM.

Learning to Rock Climb

On our first day we organized all of our gear and Danger and I taught Kirby necessary climbing skills (knots, belaying, cleaning, back clipping, hand jamming, etc.).   Then we found a 5.4 route called Regular Route.  We practiced placing gear and got our multi-pitch tactics down.


Regular route (5.4)

Either the route has become overgrown since 2003 when our guidebook was written or we got horribly lost.  Oh ya, and Danger was mangled pretty good by an evil shrub.  It was getting dark so we decided to rappel down. We realized that we only brought 2 belay devices.  Luckily I knew what to do, double rappel.


Double Belay!

Now it was time for the big time, the dreaded Munginella (5.6).  I did not have much trouble getting up to the first belay tree.


Munginella (5.6)

I then belayed Danger and Kirby up to the first belay tree.  I then went in the wrong direction and went way off route to the right.


Oops, the wrong way.

Luckily, someone had recently installed solid bolt that people who went off route could use to pendulum back to where they are supposed to be.  At this point I was out of gear so I made my first anchor (4 equalized pieces) and performed my first ever legit hanging belay.


First ever hanging belay and anchor!

We could see the top-out point so Danger and I decided to leave Kirby at the first belay and proceed without her.  I made it to da top thanks to an ancient Friend cam.  I belayed Danger up without incident and then Danger belayed up Kirby.  Kirby climbed up 2 pitches straight like a superstar.  It was neat.  She made it to the top just as it got dark.


Still smiling

I cannot overemphasize how awesome Kirby was/is.  We left her tied to a tree for at least 2 hours and did not complain once.  I highly recommend Kirby.  Anyways, the hike down was pretty easy. We went the wrong way once but it was immediately obvious that it was not the trail, even in the dark.  I will never forget that day… Oh Dip! I wanna be back there!


Thanks for bein’ super awesome adventurin’ friends!


Thanks guys


Realized we brought the tiny tent…

Realized we brought the tiny tent...