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Meadow in the Sky – A Tour of the Tuolumne Meadows bouldering by Walker Emerson

 Belmont, Blog, Gear, San Francisco, Staff, Sunnyvale, Trip Report  Comments Off on Meadow in the Sky – A Tour of the Tuolumne Meadows bouldering by Walker Emerson
Jun 252015
Kenny tank boulder PG blog-1180609

Kenny Manuel enjoying a V1 on the Tank Boulder

When I first thumbed through the new bouldering guide book for Tuolumne Meadows, I thought to myself, “Theres no good bouldering in Tuolumne.” But I was dead wrong. Spoiled by the glitz and glamor that are common amongst guide books today, I first missed the essential features that make this book exceptional. It’s not flashy, but that is by design; it represents the locals’ attitude towards climbing. It is not out to sell you with a full spread of a climber on Thunderbird v12, the boulder that put Tuolumne bouldering on the map, or the new Holy Rails v13/14. Instead it is a guide for those who wish to pay homage to the mecca that is Tuolumne Meadows.

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Antonio Go slapping for the slopes on “Conquistador V8″

Bouldering in Tuolumne is nothing new; climbers such as Royal Robins and Warren Harding established some of the earliest boulder problems. Discarding their ascents as merely amusement, they left these boulders unnamed. Over the years climbers have ticked many of the boulders. Often problems went unreported and unrepeated for years, hidden gems in the forest climbed many times for the “first time”. Today there are many climbers establishing new problems in The Meadows. This past weekend a group of Planet Granite Route Setters including myself were invited on a tour with a few of the current developers in Tuolumne Meadows. Matt Arnold, Creg Pheris, and Lucho Rivera have put up hundreds of new problems here and were kind enough to take us to some of the new stuff and a few old classics.

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Lucho Rivera on the Pywiak Boulder

The new guide book lists over 1,200 problems at 32 different climbing areas. With countless features such as sun and shade conditions, pictures of the parking areas, and star ratings for each bouldering area. Rich bios from the current crew of climbers personalizes the  guide, giving the book a face. It is obvious that the author, Charlie Barret, has spent a great deal of time focusing on the details that make a guide book extremely functional, elevating it from the depths of your pack into your hands as you follow its precise directions towards the promised gems.

The first day, we rallied at the parking lot for May Lake. This is the first area listed in the book, which is ordered west to east along highway 120. Matt Arnold spent a summer in 2007 at the high sierra camp on the edge of the lake and established many of the areas problems. May Lake is one of the most beautiful settings I have ever climbed in. The Tuolumne domed skyline dots the horizon while the deep sapphire water sparkles against the blue sky.

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May Lake with Cathedral Peak, Matthest Crest and Tenya Peak on the horizon

We climbed some warm ups on the edge of the lake. Matt showed us a project that are listed in the book, I got pretty psyched and made some
efforts to jump for the holds above the uneven landing, but even with six pads it was hard to commit to the jump. We then hiked a few minutes to the infamous Battle Tank, a large hunk of a boulder with a steep 30 foot roof. The rock in this zone is a swirly sedimentary mix a 150 million years old, and was transported 250 miles from the Mojave desert to the top of the Sierra Mountains during a tectonic upheaval. The problems range from vertical V0 to steep 25 move V12s. We crawled under the boulder to explore the holds on the belly of the beast, the cool air under the rock ignited my psych. I traced the obvious line with my eyes, a big rail that spans the entire roof. Matt sprayed me down for the flash attempt. Spinning around and knee baring through the roof I managed to flash “Heavy Artillery V9” which was pretty exciting. Lucho finished up the classic “Hand Grenade V8”  he had been working. We then all tried a problem Creg had put up called “PBR Prow V6” We finished the day by hoofing it past the May Lake to another erratic called The Tank. This is a huge boulder with a dozen problems. Finishing off the day on “Crank Tank V7” and “Solo Endeavors V9” we hiked to the car in the evening light with sore legs and sun burned arms.

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Danny Harris on the “Giving Tree v9/10″

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Danny Harris on the “Giving Tree v9/10″

The Battle Tanks area is definitely worth checking out. It is one of the best zones in Tuolumne Meadows, getting three stars in the book and is worth every step of the hike.

The next day, we got an early start and drove to Olmsted Point, the second area listed in the guide. It can be pretty rough hiking around at elevation, so we were psyched that the boulders were road side. Danny, Antonio, and I got really psyched on “The Giving Tree V9/10” two really big moves on perfect crimps. I managed to send, and Danny and Antonio got super close, they’ll be back soon. We then also check out the an older problem called “Conquistador V8” and “The Roof V4”. We Finished the day with a swim in Tenaya Lake.

A new era is descending upon Tuolumne Meadows. Crash pads are joining ropes and racks on the sparkling granite, the age of the boulderer in Tuolumne has arrived. Never has Tuolumne seen so many psyched strong climbers seeking out new limits amongst the trees and glacial polished slabs of the meadows. The Guide book is a great tool to get going in Tuolumne Meadows; there are dozens of excellent lines to keep all levels of climbers busy for a season or two. Most of the lines listed in the book have been climbed only in the last 10 years, and new ones are going up every weekend. After spending a few weekends with the book, get out and see what you can find. Let’s spread out and minimize our impact while maximizing the climbing in Tuolumne Meadows.

“The climbing is epic and endless, it just depends on where your vision and feet can take it. Don’t let a book dictate what you do or where you go, be open and keep exploring.” -Matt Arnold

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Tenaya Lake under the stars


Tuolumne Meadows Bouldering Guidebook is available at your local Planet Granite!

Interested in picking up a copy of the new Tuoloumne guidebook?  We have it all of our Planet Granite gyms – and members receive 10% off!







walker bio photo
Walker Emerson is a contributing writer for the Planet Granite Blog. He also sets routes at Planet Granite under the alias ‘Smash’. When he’s not plugging grips and jugging lines, he can be found on weekends clipping bolts at Jailhouse or sailing the granite seas of Yosemite.

To keep up with Walker’s adventures, follow him on the PG Blog, join him on InstagramVimeo and Facebook.

Get Your Kicks on the Crucifix: by Walker Emerson

 Belmont, Beta, Blog, Portland, San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Trip Report  Comments Off on Get Your Kicks on the Crucifix: by Walker Emerson
Jun 112015
Get Your Kicks on the Crucifix: by Walker Emerson

The Crucifix viewed from the ground on a hot summer day. Photo by Walker Emerson   The Crucifix is a beautiful line that ascends Higher Cathedral in Yosemite Valley. The route follows a series of cracks with a prominent horizontal feature at two thirds that forms a cross. Endless wide cracks split colorful clean rock, and Read more…

Trip Report: Smith Rock Spring Thing! by Erin Monahan

 Blog, Community, Events, Portland, Staff, Trip Report  Comments Off on Trip Report: Smith Rock Spring Thing! by Erin Monahan
Jun 092015
Trip Report: Smith Rock Spring Thing! by Erin Monahan

I peeled open the tent at 6am. Inhaling juniper rich air, my eyes widened at the sight of the Crooked River snaking through Smith Rock State Park. Considering the view, my mind went back to countless journeys weaving through tuff and basalt, two encounters with the Monkey Face, and one cold, September night that had Read more…

Seven Solutions to Fast Track Success : Traditional Climbing’s Big Come-Back by Walker Emerson

 Belmont, Beta, Blog, Portland, San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Trip Report  Comments Off on Seven Solutions to Fast Track Success : Traditional Climbing’s Big Come-Back by Walker Emerson
Mar 252015
Seven Solutions to Fast Track Success :   Traditional Climbing's Big Come-Back by Walker Emerson

Lucho Rivera 3,000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, jugs out the final pitch of the Muir on El Capitan, after a long day. There is nothing I can say that will fast track you to climbing El Cap this season. I hate to give the game away right here at the beginning, but nothing Read more…

From cams to camping: Protecting the cracks at Indian Creek

 Trip Report  Comments Off on From cams to camping: Protecting the cracks at Indian Creek
Mar 022015
From cams to camping:  Protecting the cracks at Indian Creek

One more number three camalot dangles from my harness. I look down at the previous blue cam 15 feet below; I then look up: two smooth parallel walls inches apart lay ahead of me, like a road stretching out into the desert. The chains glint in the sun 40 feet above my head. I have Read more…

Feb 022015
The Finish Line -  Post by Setter Max Zolotukhin

  I’ve recently come to a sobering realization. I will never be as strong as I was in late fall of 2013. And I’m okay with that. It might seem like a strangely pessimistic outlook on one’s climbing career, but actually it’s just reality. I’m 28 years old and have been rock climbing 5-7 days Read more…