Annual She-climbs Gathering, Sonora Pass, June 21-22, 2003.

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Trip Report 

Written by Michele

Flashback – One year ago, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite, CA. Tori, Cherie, Linda and I (Michele) are heading home after another annual Bay Area SheClimbs trip. It occurs to us that though we got a lot of climbing in, we really did not get to meet the rest of the bunch and socialize and very few, if any, beginners were along for the trip. Hmmm…

Flash forward to September. Tori and I are climbing in Tuolumne County (near Sonora Pass.) We spend a sunny, pleasant day slab climbing on a dome with no one else on the rock. The drive there was not bad, there was a nice, albeit primitive campsite where we parked and lots of opportunities to teach new folks as well as have more experienced folks climb together. Heck, the guidebook for the area describes it as a “good place for experienced climbers to take beginners.” The mental cogs start rolling…

Time – present day – June. Cherie, Tori, Linda and I decide that Tuolumne County would be the perfect place for our annual SheClimbs trip. Excited that we can organize a trip that will be a great opportunity to meet new folks, take folks new to outdoors climbing away from pulling plastic, exchange information, and generally have a fun time climbing, we set about to plan the Annual Bay Area SheClimbs hits Sonora Pass climbing weekend.

Cast of Characters: Tori, Cherie (who helped with the planning and then skedaddled off to Costa Rica to be a surf chick for a week), Linda and myself – The Organizers

Deb, Stephanie R, Stephanie M, Denise, Karin, Beth, Jenn, Sheryl – the unsuspecting SheClimbers that have come to experience slabs, cracks, face climbing, “primitive” car camping (is that possible?), and the endless razzing that I experience every weekend climbing with Linda, Tori and Cherie.

Setting: Tuolumne County – a primitive campsite that is set next to a beautiful river (full of trout we later discovered) that has firerings, but little else as far as amenities go.

Act 1, Scene 1: Friday night…Tori and I tear out of the Bay Area at 3 pm (this means sit in traffic for 1 hr to go 20 miles on the freeway wondering how so many other people got out of work so early) intent on ensuring that we get the campsite that we want as well as welcoming folks as they arrive. We are surprised to arrive 4 hrs later and have been beaten by Stephanie R and Beth who have already pitched their cozy home for the weekend and are busy boiling up water for hot beverages. I like these folks immediately – anyone with a priority on food is my friend. We settle down, start chatting and more folks arrive in ones and twos and come join the campfire. We finally call it a night with a few vehicles yet to arrive and fall asleep to the sound of rushing water. A nice change from the Tuolumne Meadows campground – better translated into Zoolumne Campground…

Act 2 Scene 1: Saturday morning – The final cars have arrived and we all gather for breakfast and introductions. Meanwhile, down by the creek, a fellow from the neighboring campsite is catching trout. Linda is eyeing him with some interest. Better stated, Linda is eyeing the trout with some interest. We debate what he would tell his buddies if 11 women attacked him and stole his trout. And people think the Yosemite bears are bad. We leave the fellow and his fishing partner alone, eat breakfast and organize for the day. Unbeknownst to me, down by the creek, Deb is tossing a kayaking rescue line in to help haul out one of the fishermen who has slipped in. An interesting way to start the weekend. We were bummed they did not offer us any fish even after Deb rescued one of the guys.

Scene 2: We hike on in to the dome destination for the day. It is slab climbing time. Many of the bunch have gym climbing backgrounds so we felt that it would be good for them to get on stuff you normally don’t get to practice in the gym. Tori set up one TR and then she and Linda headed over to set up another. Meanwhile, Karin was chomping at the bit ready to lead on out so I partnered with her. Folks were climbing slabs, learning to rapel, learning to lead belay and learning how hard it is to navigate on and off slabs. Fun was had by all but as some thunderheads started to approach, Tori and I decided the bunch should move on to some roadside cracks.

Scene 3: Crack climbing…many folks seem unconvinced of the fun of crack climbing. I was not convinced of its value until I wandered out of a protectable crack of a moderate grade route only to find myself in polished slab land and…Karin, Tori, Sheryl and I set up some TR lines and proceeded to climb them while waiting for the rest of the brigade to show up. Sheryl and Karin showed very good form for relative beginners at cracks. Sheryl also showed extreme skill in being able to swear like a sailor. She is not allowed to hang out near my young nephews. The rest of the group showed up and Steph R decided to hop on a route. The crag is called Hamburger Rock for a reason and the sharp inner edges of the cracks were taking their toll on fingers and feet but with the peanut gallery razzing, technique was improving. Jenn and Steph M were also unconvinced that this would be fun, but again, some friendly razzing got them on route and moving on up showing good form despite sore hands and feet. The mosquitoes started coming out, so while most of the brigade escaped back to camp to start up the campfire and food Linda and I spent a bit of time working out the moves on an awkward leaning wide crack (cupped hands versus handstacking versus fist jams?) before escaping to the insect free safety of Jenn’s car and heading back to camp also.

Scene 4: Dinner…not very primitive. We had the best grub I have had camping ever. Period. The culinary contributions were spectacular from Denise’s homemade turkey chile to Linda’s salmon to Steph R and Beth’s three varieties of grilled veggies and on and on. I was full, happy and content. We socialized, enjoyed the campfire (and seconds, thirds, and fourths for me) and then called it a day.

Act 3: Scene 1 – We all packed up the cars and headed towards some face climbs that Tori and I had scouted out the weekend before. Unfortunately, the rough road took its toll and two cars did not make it to the climb site, but decided to head home instead. We were disappointed that four folks could not join us for some small, edgy face climbs to complete out the weekend. The highlight of the morning for me was watching Deb do a spectacular job climbing and I think that her smile could only be matched by the one on my face when I got up Sun morning and she had made pancakes with fresh strawberries and maple syrup for everyone. All psyched up on her achievement, we convinced her to sneak onto the second route and do that as well. After another good run up the route, she was completely stoked and we had to remind her to kindly drive safely home. Denise also had a good run on one of the routes and was trusting her feet on small edges the more she moved up. And Karin got another nice lead in on a very different style of route. That was what we wanted to weekend to be – folks trying new things and having fun! Okay, I think that Linda, Tori and I were the only ones who had a lot of fun on the cracks, and you do get used to the razzing after, let’s see, it has been two years...

Overall, a very successful and fun weekend was had by all and may our next annual Bay Area gathering be just as fun!

Front row L to R: Denise, Karin, Tori. Back row L to R: Michele, Beth, Sheryl, Stephanie R., Deb, Jenn and Stephanie M.
Sheryl takes a picture of me taking pictures.
Sheclimbers on the approach to Herring Creek Dome.
Front to back: Jenn, Stephanie M., Beth, Stehphanie R., Karin, Deb, Tori, Sheryl, Michele.
Jenn on Sea of Tranquility, Herring Creek Dome.
Jenn on Sea of Tranquility, Herring Creek Dome.
Tori takes a nap as Sheryl belays Jenn with a Munter hitch.
After her nap, Tori goes over the anchor setup with Jenn and Sheryl.
Sheryl on rappel.
Top to bottom: Tori, Deb, Stephanie R., and Beth.
Denise on Sea of Tranquility, Herring Creek Dome.
Denise points out the route.
Denise approaches the anchor.
Stephanie M. on Sea of Tranquility, Herring Creek Dome.
Michele and Stephanie M. on Hamburger Rock.
Stephanie M. demonstrates the proper crack technique.
Stephanie R. on Hamburger Rock.
Stephanie M. on Hamburger Rock.
Michele having fun on the OW. Is that possible?
Tent city. L to R: Tori, Michele, Sheryl, Stephanie, Beth and Jenn.
Campground view.
The waterfall near the campground.


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