Climbing at Matthes Crest, Yosemite National Park

It’s been a week since we got back to the SF Bay Area. I got to say it has been sad and weird at the same time. The weather has also been gloomy and rainy which is typical for winter in Northern California, and that does not help with my moodiness. Min went back to his old job this week. We lived in the minivan for a few nights and moved to an airbnb a couple of nights ago. I actually prefer my own bed in the car more. Who knows, we might move back to the car later.

One of the things I wanted to do after coming back is write about our road trips and share the experiences and the amazing sceneries through this blog. Let’s start with Yosemite! We both love Yosemite so much. It is probably the best national park if you ask us.

Aug 11 2017

We spent a week in LA with family while packing up our minivan. We left a bunch of our stuff and our Honda Fit there, said goodbye to family and set our GPS to Yosemite National Park. Our friends and we had planned to climb Matthes Crest, which is located at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. We were both excited that we can embark our trip at our favorite park.

GPS took us through Route 395. It is a beautiful drive next to the Sierra Mountains. We saw signs detouring to Death Valley, Kings Canyon and Alabama Hills and wanted to go so badly. “We will go on our way back” we said to ourselves. If you are wondering, the answer is nope, we still did not go on our way back.

Our plan is a 3 days 2 night backpacking and climbing trip. It is basically day 1 hike in, day 2 climb and day 3 hike out. We opt out a tent and just brought our sleeping bag and sleeping pad because the tent is a bit too much weight to bring along with the climbing gears and rope. After we packed our bags on the side of the Tioga road, we started the 5 mile hike from the Cathedral Lake Trailhead to a little lake next to Matthes Crest.

Looking up at Matthes Crest (ridge on the left) during sunset

The gradual but continual uphill took us about 4 hours to get to the little lake. We arrived around 9:30pm, found our friends in the dark, rolled out our sleeping bag and pad, made dinner and went to sleep to charge up for a long climbing day.

When we woke up at 6am the next morning, I was surprised to find our sleeping bag covered in frost. Tuolumne Meadows sits at close to 9000ft above sea level, so it is normal that temperature can drop to freezing temperature at night even in August. We had breakfast, packed up gears and left our camp for Matthes! The morning sun was just starting to warm up the place as we were leaving.

Frost on our sleeping bag in the morning

Matthes Crest is a mile-long of knife ridge, fin rock, situated above 10,000 ft. It was already pretty crowded at the base of the climb as this is a popular route. So we waited for a bit for our turn to go. As usual, Min leads and I follow. We climbed upward for about 3 pitches to a ridge. It was easy climbing (I think it was like 5.5 or 5.4) but since it is the first time for us to trad climb, Min placed many protections between us and we took it very slowly.

After getting to the ridge, this is where the mile-long traverse start. We roped up for simul-climbing, which is another one of our first-time on this trip. I had read all that I can on the web about this traverse beforehand and people said it is almost like walking on a ledge. I honestly didn’t really believe it until I was there. It was indeed not as bad as I had imagined. We took the easier South to North route and planned to come down after the South Summit, which we did. We were so slow that a few people had passed us along the way.

The panoramic view was incredible from the top. Anywhere you turn, the view was just as amazing. The scenery stretched from the green grassy field at the bottom of the crest to the far white snowy Sierra mountain top. It was just so pretty.

As we were approaching the rappel station under South Summit, I found a familiar face that I have seen before! Digging through my memory, I recalled that we had met this girl and her husband while climbing in San Luis Obispo during our mini-honeymoon trip a couple years ago. How cool is that we bump into her again! We chatted a bit before we part our ways. I won’t be surprised if we see each other in the future again.

You can’t beat that view!
Resting and picture time

We waited for our turn to rappel down and after that was a long walk back to our campsite. I was already feeling nauseous the entire day but it had been bearable. Now that we were down from the rock, my body started to feel the exhaustion and the nauseousness was just getting worse. It took me two hours to get back to campsite. We waited for our friends to come back as they had continued on the ridge when we decided to come down. I eventually threw up and felt so much better after that. We set up a campfire to warm up a little bit, shared about our day and went to sleep. Oh, that was a very good night of sleep.

Next morning, I woke up hungry as I did not eat last night because of the nauseousness. We had instant coffee and two granola bars. Oh they tasted so good! One of the many little things that bring enjoyment when you are outside!

Looking up at Matthes. We did that just yesterday!
Cathedral Peak

It was a very pleasant hike back to the car. We got back around 11am. Our friends departed back to SF Bay Area as we spread out our sleeping bag to dry under the sun. This is it. We looked at each other with realization that we are on our own with a journey ahead of us. Smiles on our faces and we can’t wait to see the rest of this beautiful country in the next few months!

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