Nov 14 2011

Kauk Slab

All in all it’s been an amazing fall in Yosemite. Yes, we’ve had some rain and snow in the valley, but it’s nothing like last year around this time when we were graced with several feet of snow before Thanksgiving.


Along with cragging, I’ve been enjoying wrestling the granite boulders of Yosemite Valley. This past weekend I had planned to meet up with friends at iconic Camp 4. Arriving in the jumble of boulders, I was surprised to find that I had accidentally left my cragging shoes in my pack. Normally not that big of a deal, six of one half dozen of the other I thought. But as I set my TC Pros on my pad, I could almost feel the glares and dumbfounded looks as people walked past on the trails. Most boulderers probably have never heard of TC Pros, let alone the fact that they are high tops and the farthest thing from the flashy, downturned, neon colored high tech shoes of the modern age. I’m sure they were thinking, “who invited the trad gumby out to the boulders?”


But, never the less I wanted to climb, I wasn’t about to let my shoe choice stop me. I started warming up and was completely blown away, why hadn’t I ever made this mistake before? The tiny edges of the warm ups felt like bivy ledges. One thought popped into my head, pure stroke of genius, “perfect day to try Kauk Slab!” For those of you who don’t know about the Kauk Slab, it’s located smack dab in the middle of Camp 4. While it’s not necessarily the most striking problem in terms of height or stand aloneness, it definitely has held my attention for many years. Not only was it established by the legendary Ron Kauk, but I had tried it a handful of times in the past and been bouted. This coming from someone who actually likes slab climbing (I’m pretty sure there are only a handful of us left in the world).


I roped my friend Justin into heading over there with me and trying our luck at the shoe eating climb. Our first couple of goes were pretty pathetic, forgetting how to even hoist ourselves more than four inches off the ground. A couple of climbers occasionally walked by and taunted, “that’s a really good run up!”


Our perseverance started to pay off and we were getting higher and higher, standing on tiny edge after tiny edge. I even fell once with my left hand on the “jug” (a half pad crimp near the top). Luckily the next go I was able to keep it together at the top and summit the boulder.


After my little victory we moved down to some fun little problems at the bottom of Camp 4. Alex and Stacey came to join us after his last attempt to break the speed record on the Nose. After some pleasentries and small talk they asked how our day went and I could hardly contain myself, “I did the Kauk Slab, it was a miracle!”


“Really! No way!” He said with a big grin. “I just did that last week, how the heck did you do it? I only had to make one move on the slab and then dynoed to the top.”


I got so excited and replied, “TC Pros! They were my ticket!” I started to wonder how loud I had actually screamed, and worried that the glares would return.


“Mine too!” He exclaimed. We all started laughing. Who knew that two trad gumbies could actually boulder…well, as long as we have our secret weapons and a wall that is significantly less than vertical.



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  • I don't think I did a single move that day, you definitely carried the torch.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:21 am
  • Hey Beth, I bought the TC Pros this last summer and really dig'm for all sorts of stuff including some slab here in Squamish. Great all-round shoes. As well, I saw you speak in Skaha and really enjoyed your talk. You really inspired me. You're a great ambassador for Petzl and climbing. All the best.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:26 pm
  • I'm glad that you love the TC Pros! They're pretty awesome shoes. And thanks so much for the kind words on the Skaha talk, I truly enjoyed my time up there and hope to return for some more fun! All the best, Beth.

    November 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm
  • Hi Beth
    Ed here – u know – random yosemite climber who you constantly run into in the winter. Anyhow glad you put that one up and love slab like I do. I'm 6' + so I managed to turn that climb into a one move wonder. Soo much more impressive to see it actually picked apart and climbed tat way. Good work!

    June 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm