One of our big goals for this Yosemite Trip was to learn aid climbing, both leading and following on jumars. We were lucky enough to find two great location to practice and learn.

Housekeeping Boulders:

Oddly enough this bouldering area also had 2 practice C1 aid routes on bolts. The two routes are located on the first huge boulder to the left of the LeConte Memorial. There is on route behind the boulder on a gradual overhang and another route on the right side of the boulder under sharp overhang. There was a group on the sharp overhang on our first visit so we ended up on the gradual overhang. This route is actually harder. The bolts are very far apart and I had to get on the top ladder step to reach the clips. Often it took a few attempts to clip and I had to use a rivet hanger to reach one bolt (loaned to me by the neighboring team who offered coaching as well). We visited the wall 2 more times on the trip using the sharp overhang route which is easier… at least to lead. That route took the life out of us as we tried to figure out the best way to jumar up and clean. We tried a re-aid technique, a straightforward jug technique (most taxing) and one jumar/grigri ascension technique. Re-aiding seemed to be the best way, but overhanging jugging is a fine art we’ll need to work on for sure.

Church Bowl:

After practice on the bolts, we felt pretty good about trying to aid on trad gear on a wall. On our last day in the Valley we went to Church Bowl wall across the street from the Majestic Hotel. We had seen a good finger crack on the right side of the wall perfect for aiding at C1 on another day we were trad climbing in the area. Damien was first up the wall. The biggest difference is the uncertainty of placing gear above your head and not being able see see fully how it is seated. The other big thing was getting used to the fact that the gear doesn’t have to be good enough to take a fall. Just good enough not to pop when you step onto the ladder. I found the same thing when I led the route later. We also both agreed that jugging up a straight face with infinitely better than an overhang!

I see big walls in the future! I could definitely get more into aid climbing!

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