It seems that every year Yosemite gets a little gift from the weather gods and is graced with a stint of Indian summer. Usually, it’s a time when I feel like being a local is cheating. Spring like conditions provide shorts and t-shirt weather, with hardly a soul in sight. Some years it is more welcome than others, but regardless I can’t remember a year when I haven’t gone down to the Cookie in January or February and cursed myself for overdressing.
Last year I learned my lesson when I met my good friend Corey Rich at Reed’s Pinnacle in late January. Corey, a professional photographer, lives in South Lake Tahoe and is the definition of a workaholic. I’m usually more exhausted after a day with Corey than most full climbing and training days. The guy doesn’t stop. How many people suggest meeting at 5am and preface it with “I don’t think we have to get a super early start or anything…” It’s a good thing he is one of the most enjoyable people to spend time with, or I think he would have worn out all of his friends by now.
A day at sun-soaked Reed’s Pinnacle was just what our Vitamin D starved bodies needed during a very wet winter last year. I’m always one to prepare for the worst, usually arriving with enough food and clothing for an unplanned bivy. Given that Reed’s is no more than a stone’s throw from the road, I probably could have left my second puffy coat in the car, but I opted to bring it, “just in case.” As the sun crept higher in the sky, my layers started coming off and soon resembled a small mountain of cotton, fleece, nylon, and goose feathers. One would think that being so prepared I could add shorts to the laundry list of things I crammed into my backpack. However, those don’t necessarily fall into the category of “emergency preparedness” items, so they were left behind. I spent the warmest part of the day climbing in a stylish outfit of full body long underwear. The skin tight black outfit wouldn’t have been so embarrassing had I been sport climbing in Europe, in fact I would have fit right in. Luckily for my pride, we had the crag to ourselves that day, but I swore I would never forget shorts again.
This year has been no exception to Indian Summer. In fact it has basically replaced winter by offering up more climbable days than any of us can remember. While we’re rejoicing as climbers, the poor earth is parched and thirsty. It’s been hard not to enjoy, especially when we were graced with of access to Toulumne earlier this winter. It’s basically been a climbers dream and a skiers nightmare; even seeking shade for better climbing temps. We’re due for some much needed rain and snow now, but I know if it’s good soon, I’ll not only have two puffy coats, but my shorts as well. And if I forget the shorts, just hope you aren’t at the crag on the day I’m in my full body long underwear outfit.