The first time I visited Yosemite was on a road trip with my climbing team, Team Texas, summer 2000. We were just passing through on our way from Nationals in Portland, OR to Bishop, CA. As soon as Nationals were done we all packed into the van (16 people and a large dog in a 15 passenger van) and started our drive through the night. We arrived just as the sun was rising and spent the day bouldering in the historical Camp 4. I had never been anywhere like the Valley and at that age and was very overwhelmed be the giant granite walls surrounding me.
What I remember most from that short day in Yosemite was eating SPAMburgers in the Valley View parking lot looking up at the climbers on El Cap only identifiable by their headlamps. It was the worst food I have ever eaten, and at the same time one of the best most memorable meals I had ever had.
Last week I was fortunate to revisit Yosemite. This time in a completely different way, I was able to get the more classic Valley experience. We arrived in the Valley this time in early morning only to stand in line at Camp 4 and get a campsite. Climbed some of the super classic moderates: Serenity Crack into Sons of Yesterday, Central Pillar of Frenzy, and what better way to finish off a trip to Yosemite than climbing the adventurous Beggar's Buttress on of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America.
It was amazing visiting the area and drinking beers at sunset looking up at all the climbers on El Cap. Climbing the super slick splitter cracks and being totally freaked out on the weird pitches and getting completely worked and destroyed on 5.8 offwidths. A little demoralizing but comforting when you hear of some of the best climbers admit to also getting worked on 5.8 valley offwidth.
Can't wait to go back!