Steck-Salathe (Sentinel Rock, Yosemite, CA) Trip Report

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Steck-Salathe (Sentinel Rock, Yosemite, CA) Trip Report

Postby SRCFCDirector » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:33 am

Steck-Salathe (Sentinel Rock, Yosemite, CA) Trip Report
BONUS: A Biblical View of Fear

By Calvin Landrus, Executive Director – Solid Rock Climbers for Christ
June 2017

Last September, I attempted a route in Yosemite about two months after my cardiac stent placement. (Read more about that at viewtopic.php?f=2&t=875) I was with SRCFC board member, Pastor Jason Graves, and while we did fine, we were too slow, forcing a retreat from about half-way up. I was very pleased with how it went considering all things.

To come back another time to attempt this notorious sandbagged route was of interest to me because I knew it was within my abilities to complete the route in a day. For Jason, it was a different story. He came into the climb recovering from shoulder injury and not in the best of shape. After bailing, he was convinced that the route was beyond him and that he was sure he wouldn’t want to attempt it again. Well, I knew the fire in his belly would return and sure enough when I asked in early 2017, he was in for a rematch on the Steck-Salathe.

Fast forward to the last week of June 2017, he and I rendezvoused in the Valley (that’s what climbers call Yosemite Valley). On the way there, I listened to a sermon on the radio and the preacher shared a thought I carried with me on the climb and that I am still meditating on: “God does not change His plans to calm our fears.”

In climbing, we most often choose to put ourselves in positions where we experience fear. Why do we do that? Not so much for adrenaline but for the joy of personal growth as we push through our fears. We can do that because we trust our abilities, partner and gear that will catch us if we fall. (And as Christian climbers, we know God has our best in mind.)

In life, there are many things we encounter on the journey that cause fear to raise its controlling voice. Sometimes, it could be only perceived fear or it’s something we should really be afraid of. In all cases, what does fear most often cause us to do? Stall, procrastinate, take no-action. That’s when we need to turn to God and the truth in His Word.

Luke 12 contains many great thoughts on trusting God in times of worry and fear. Verses 29-31(NLT) sum it up well with Jesus saying, “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”

Then, the Apostle Paul exhorts us in 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT): “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” There are more in scripture, but what more do we need to move out in those times of fear and doubt.
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Yosemite Falls from Top of the Sentinel

Back to Yosemite. As I go into the route, you might want to review the route on Mountain Project at ... /105862873.

On June 26th, we left the car at 5:00 am, reaching the base of the route just after 6 am. Since we had done the first six pitches, they went relatively fast. We were probably delayed 30 minutes from a “simul-climbing” team that we let pass us. The two hard pitches of the Wilson Overhang and squeeze/bypass with traverse to layback crack went well. We reached our high point of our previous attempt without any question that we should continue.

The “challenging for many” 5.9 pitch after the rappel turned out to be super-fun and my favorite on the route. The slab pitch was Jason’s lead and it went down quickly. After this pitch is where things slowed down. I struggled up the 5.10b offwidth/chimney pitch but eventually got to the top of the pitch. Jason was up next for the famous Narrows pitch and he did a great job of getting into and up this squeeze chimney.
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Calvin going into the 10b pitch.

Then it was my turn to follow the pitch. I tried several times to get established in the squeeze chimney and I couldn’t. Each time I tried, I would slither back down the easy chimney. I was getting frustrated and then I remember that some had gone outside the chimney. I swung the few feet over and quickly found the climbing reasonable, albeit quite exposed. I committed to going that way although a big problem was looming ahead.

The problem was that the rope was behind (on the inside) of a chock-stone about 30 feet up. That meant that I would need to get back into the squeeze chimney or…well, choose an alternative.

Is that how it can be at times when we follow Jesus? We are pretty sure He wants us to go in one direction but then we go the other way, getting ourselves into a deeper mess. But even then, when we have messed up, God still provides a way.

When I reached the chock-stone and could no longer go up, Jason’s next projection piece (there were none after the first piece he place at the start of Narrows) was within reach plus there was a sixty year old bolt nearby. So I anchored myself into those pieces, untied from the rope, quickly weaved the rope from behind the chock-stone, tied back in and finished the pitch. (NOTE to SELF: If you were ever to do that pitch again, go on the outside. The climbing is hard but is still in the 5.10 rate and is well protected.)

The next pitch was another chimney pitch and was my lead. It was only 5.7 and was supposed to be FUN. It had another narrow section with a chock-stone in it. I had to choose going on the outside or the inside of the obstruction. I went up and down several times trying to decide and then screwing around, I found myself falling…on a 5.7 pitch. I was now mad and squeezed through and up around the outside of the chock-stone. That was then followed by the fun chimneying.

The remaining several pitches went fine and as Jason was following the last pitch, I realized that he had a chance to free the entire route. As he was working hard on the steep 5.9 last pitch, I told him he couldn’t weight the rope. And sure enough he didn’t, I was first to congratulate him a great free ascent.
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Smiles on top

We reached the summit of the Sentinel as the sun was going down. We had some challenges along the way but it was with big smiles and with thankful hearts to God that we enjoyed the moment, and only for a moment, as we had a long way to go back down to the car.

About two-thirds of the way down, we came to this steep buttress that seemed to have the pathway down but we were not sure as it was a moonless night and we couldn’t see beyond the few feet our headlamps illuminated. So we decided to bivi (sleep on the ground with very little clothing) on this nice large platform. We slept for a while as the night wasn’t too cold. When the temps dropped enough that we couldn’t stand it any longer, we built a small fire and waited for the sun to come up. With full light, we made it the rest of the way down in short order. And then a shower and all you can eat breakfast at the Ahwahnee hotel put a perfect bow on a grand adventure.
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Morning fire after cold bivi felt awesome.

We both had fears and doubts going into the climb. For me, they continued to rumble in my mind until we reached the top. We had to trust that in God’s provision of strength and wisdom to keep going. That’s what we must do in life too with our fears. Trust God and get about doing whatever God is calling you to do. Prayerfully, get after things for His glory!!! And remember, fear might accompany God’s plan for you.

BONUS: Jason produced a short video of the climb. Not a lot of climbing shots (which is good because he should be belaying me) but it will give you good feel of the day.
Calvin Landrus
Solid Rock - Climbers for Christ
Executive Director
Site Admin
Posts: 249
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:32 am
Location: Smith Rock, Constantly
Has thanked: 143 times
Been thanked: 78 times

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