First Summer Trip: Yosemite National Park

I’m currently writing from my dad and my room at the Yosemite Valley Lodge. It’s Monday, and I’ve decided to write a little bit every day or two instead of writing an entire recap post after the trip.

Today we climbed a 5.8 variation of Munginella, a 3-pitch route. We quickly learned that crack climbing was a whole different type of climbing altogether — climbing 5.11 or something indoors has no connection to possessing crack climbing skill. My dad pulled on a sling at one point to continue up the route, so now we joke that he climbed 5.7 A0 for the day. Our Yosemite Mountaineering School (YMS) guide, Greg, is a great climber and has some pretty good stories. One of them features his friend, who one day forgot to bring his climbing shoes to a 5.11c multi-pitch climb. Alex Honnold came strolling up, asked what was wrong, and then told the friend to “just climb it in approach shoes.” Truly, he is indeed “No Big Deal” Honnold.

While today was great, Saturday and yesterday (Sunday) were not. A big rain and snow storm came in, knocking out our Half Dome hopes for good, as well as any big multi-pitch climb. We drove out of Yosemite yesterday and attempted to drive in a different way on our return, but the road was closed due to snow. “Chains Required,” the sign read. I’m guessing our Nissan rental car didn’t have what it would take.


Today we climbed up the 600-foot Manure Pile Buttress (a quite unfortunate name… if only it was more known by its other name, “Ranger Rock”). A little less crack climbing, thankfully, and a good mix of everything. The weather in the Valley was perfect — certainly the best we’ve had so far on the trip. We topped out before noon and then spent some time eating and talking with Greg near El Cap, and he pointed out the noteworthy parts of the climb up The Nose route. Tomorrow my dad and I will go on a hike, and we’ll climb again on Thursday, our final day in the Valley. We wrap up the trip with two nights in San Francisco.

OU’s baseball season ended earlier than desired, but I’m excited to get to work in the fall with the team. Summer ball with also be fun; not only is my good friend Brad on the team, but my former teammates Michael Neustifter and Derek Mueller will also be on the team, and my high school coach, Coach Stone, will be coaching us.

Russell Moore posted a picture of him recording new episodes for his Signposts podcast, which is one of my favorites (others include Radical with David Platt, The Briefing, Knowing Faith, and The History of Rome). I’ve been reading some Augustine lately — what a great writer and thinker — but I’m also excited to read Dan Brown’s Origin soon. I need some fiction to mix it up.


Yesterday, Wednesday, we hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls — the top of the waterfall shown below. My dad hurt a tendon near his right ankle, so our climbing week ended early, and now we are in San Francisco for the next 48 hours. We drove through Napa Valley earlier, which I viewed as a less impressive Yellowstone in a way: a place worth visiting but not worth a return. This writing, on Thursday, will most likely be the last of the trip. Tomorrow for dinner we are reconnecting with a friend of my dad who lives in San Francisco, and Saturday before our flight we may go check out Stanford’s campus. We get back Saturday night, and I flight out Sunday morning to McAllen, TX to join Abegale’s family at South Padre Island. Soon, I hope to blog on a thought experiment my dad and I discussed and pondered as we hiked.

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