© Neil Bennett Photography 2022.

Washington Column, Yosemite

South Face of Washington Column, our first good sized Yosemite climb with a bivouac ("bivy"). Not terribly hard but a good intro to Yosemite climbs, fairly steep, dozen or more pitches maybe, no real route-finding difficulties, “interesting” exit at the top, and so on. My partner said he would organize food and water and as he was always healthy and strong I figured leaving the food in his hands was fine.

Day 1: We left Camp 4 and probably walked there, wandered up some talus, found the start of the route, climbed a few pitches to a huge ledge, fixed to the top of the roof above and settled in for a bivy and supper. My partner was, and still is, cheap, so the food he brought along was, in total, part of a bag of dates. I can still remember so clearly. After eating a few I think we read the recipes on the back, imaging what we might make, but after saving a few for breakfast we were out of food. Turns out the amount of water he brought wasn’t really enough for one person let alone both of us so we agreed that I would look after the food and water for subsequent outings. That worked much better.

Day 2: We are maybe 1000 feet off the ground, steep rock but a straight in crack so easy aid (this was 1969). I was maybe 50’ above my partner, who was standing on a little ledge, and because the rock wasn’t vertical I could climb up my aiders, grab the crack then stand up on the piton to really stretch out the placements and climb a bit faster. I reached up and put my fingers in the crack and felt something slimy. I quickly pulled my fingers out and a little frog hopped onto my shoulder. It looked at me, said “ribbit”, and hopped off. Oh man, I felt so bad. The frog had just hopped off my shoulder 1000' above the ground with no frog parachute. And it was my doing… A couple of seconds later my partner said “Hey, a frog just landed on this ledge”. Apparently it looked at him then hopped back in the crack. The rest of the day and climb went by pretty easily, except for being parched and hungry, and the exit on popcorn granite was a bit hairy, don’t really recall the descent (no blueberries on this one) but eventually we were back on flat ground thinking about what was next.

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