Rock Climbing on Turtle Rock

Monday, August 28, 1989

Mark on the edge of Turtle Rock near our rock "bedroom"

After not sleeping much, I felt quite good. The sunrise over the mountains was magnificent and we were up doing breakfast, packing up, and getting ready for the day.

Mark and I went to the stream to get water and treated it with 5 drops of iodine per quart plus 10 drops of lemon juice to kill the iodine taste. Peter had given us a hair-raising tale about the protozoan disease called something like giardia that you could get from untreated water. He had had it in the spring. About 10 days after drinking the infected water you get severe diarrhea which may last 10 days. Without medical treatment, it subsides only to reoccur periodically.

Mark stops to take another whiff of the butterscotch smell of this huge Jefferson Pine tree.

Mark heads back up Turtle Rock with our water bottles. Two of our group can be seen on top near our camping area.

Yo has his morning devotional time on the edge of Turtle Rock.

We did constant battle with tremendous swarms of yellowjackets, and that was quite bothersome to most of the campers. I was pretty well used to that from North Georgia camping.

After packing up an getting our packs down off of Turtle Rock, we received instruction about the use of the carabiner and the making up of a harness called a swami for the purpose of rock climbing. We were instructed about belaying and were shown the rock face we were to climb. It was 30 to 40 feet high and near vertical in places. We were to use the yo-yo method with the rope passed through an anchor at the top of the rock and the belayer below to support the climber.

I was chosen as the first climber with Mark as my belayer. With considerable difficulty I made it up about 10 feet in a sort of trench in the face and then had difficulty finding handholds for the continued climb. Getting up that rock for the next 10 feet was one of the most difficult things, physically, that I've ever done in my life.

With Mark and Tish as my belayers, I am headed up the rock. At right above, you might ask "What is wrong with this picture?" and the answer is "Everything!". I've always said that I learn things by making all possible mistakes first. I'd have to suggest that I was helpful to the climbers who followed me - you can always learn from a bad example. I think I was responsible for the mantra called out to all the other climbers "Get your butt out!" When you hug the rock like I am doing, your feet slip because you don't have much force exerted perpendicular to the rock to increase your friction. And if you keep your arms over your head like I am doing, it fries your arms.
My arms were burning, I was completely exhausted, and the handholds on the vertical face were more like fingernail holds. I found quickly that my fingers weren't very strong. I was frightened, and really didn't think I could do it.

OK, so I've learned one lesson. Get your arms down below the top of your head. You have more lift, and your arms don't tire as quickly.

With a couple of rest periods, I decided to give it one more go. The encouragers from below convinced me to "get your butt out!" and that makes a lot of difference. When you are scared, you tend to hug the rock, and then your feet slip.

With butt out, heart pounding, arms burning, I took the risk with the tiny hand holds and moved up 5 feet to get my foot on a tiny 2" outcrop.

From there on it was relatively easy, but I reached the top gasping, totally spent, and had to lay back on the rock a few moments, panting.

Next, Tish went up that face and also found it difficult. Mark and Jeff belayed her. This route was called the Shangri La route - they didn't explain why.

After she made it, Mark went up with me belaying him. He more or less went up it like a squirrel. He said it was more difficult than he expected, but I think that was just to make the old man feel better.

Ankie went up the route called "skyline" because you were right out on the edge with a view toward the mountain range. Jeff and Lai Kit also went up that route and then we broke for lunch.

The teamwork involved in belaying a climber was neat and contributed to the spirit of the group. At right above, Ankie and Tanya belay Lai Kit on her climb up the skyline route.

Lai Kit moves up the skyline route. We cheered her on enthusiastically because she told us that, coming from the teeming city of Hong Kong, she had never even been camping before! And here she is climbing a near-vertical rock wall. She was game and got a thrill out of everything. You could see the excitement dancing in her eyes.

Jo takes on the skyline route and moves right on up it. At 63 he was our oldest team member, but he certainly kept up with the group and was an inspiration to us all.

Above, Jeff heads up the skyline route with Ankie and Lai Kit belaying him. At left, Tanya heads up the rock with Mark belaying her.

Mark wanted to try another path called "Pregnant Lady" which had an overhanging rounded hump on it.

It looked impossible, nearly straight up and with an overhang!

He had to skirt around the side to make it around the overhang.

It took a lot of arm pulls to skirt to the side of the hump. Peter was impressed with Mark's climb. He kept muttering "His arms must be fried!"

It looked impossible, but with his strength and agility he made it up. He was pretty exhausted when he reached the top. It is incredibly strenuous, and he had to make some very tough moves, pulling himself up by his hands.

Finally he popped over the top.

I was of course very proud of Mark for his climbs, but even more proud of his positive, enthusiastic, helpful spirit in the whole enterprise.

I can't say I enjoyed the climbing much - it strained me to the utmost. But I enjoyed the belaying, and the idea of cooperation in the climb. Jo decided to try the climb I did and I belayed him tightly. He was very pleased at getting up both climbs.

As we were preparing to leave, Jeff and I got our packs ready and did another water run and met the group on the trail. As he and I were walking down for a water run to the creek, he said to me "You've raised a fine young man there. I'm not just talking about his climbing ability. He's been so helpful to everyone. You ought to be proud of him." I assured him that I was!

About mid-afternoon we set out for parts unknown, it being the protocol of the adventure not to tell us where we were going. Jeff leads the column as we head out. We hiked steeply uphill with some breath-taking views of the Sierras to the east of us. It was a very tough hike for me - I had a very heavy pack and I was exhausted from the rock-climbing. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the view and enjoyed being among the magnificent large trees. I also enjoyed the fellowship - the stress and cooperation of the rock climbs was beginning to mold us into a cohesive group.

Ankie, Tanya and Lai Kit on the trail. It was mostly uphill, and some quite steep. We had great views across the valley to the distant Sierras.

We were hiking upward, and at this point we could get views back toward Turtle Rock through the trees. These were magnificent Jefferson Pine trees, some about 5 ft in diameter.

Yo and Mark along the trail.

Yo and Ankie celebrate reaching our destination at Lower Jackass Lake.

No one was more glad than I to get there. With my heavy pack and the exertion of the rock climbing, I was about to drop when we reached the campsite by the lake.

The small mirror-smooth lake was caught in a hollow, and the ridge that held it gave wide-open magnificent views of the distant mountain range. Huge Jefferson pines lined the rocky ridge. It was on this containing rock ridge that we were to set up camp.

This view is ESE from the containing rock ridge that holds Lower Jackass Lake.

I was hurting, and sore, and so exhausted I could hardly move. I don't know when I've had a more exhausting day. I dragged through supper and felt better as we entered a very meaningful sharing time around the big candle.

Pete and Bobbi Ann make it a practice to read some inspirational story, poem, or thought at our sharing times. Then we all shared our feelings about the climbs, about feelings of success, about not comparing ourselves to one another.

I chose a soft area at the base of a 3 foot diameter pine tree to put my sleeping bag. I crawled into the warm sleeping bag in a state of total exhaustion. I still did not sleep all that well, but at least I was not on a rock, and I was comfortable and rested pretty well. At probably 5am I was wide awake and decided to put my glasses on so that I could see the stars better. This was one of the great things about sleeping in the open with no tents, etc. The brilliant sky and the band of the Milky Way were clearer than I have seen them in a long time. While I was staring at the sky for a period of a half hour or so, I saw 11 meteors, two of them bright enough to leave trails which persisted for a noticeable length of time.

August 29
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