Yosemite – The International Monkey Playground

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 24, 2015      

Hayden Kennedy

(Editor’s note: We’ve got our wonderful 5Point Film Festival going on here just a few blocks from WildSnow World HQ. The big deal this year is the Yosemite climbing component. We thus digress for a moment from ski alpinism to monkey alpinism.)

Hayden Kennedy stoked to the moon on the North America Wall of El Cap.

Hayden Kennedy stoked to the moon on the North America Wall of El Cap.

Hayden Kennedy and Walker Macky after another adventure in Yosemite.

Hayden Kennedy and Walker Macky after another adventure in Yosemite. Click images to enlarge.

Yosemite California is the land of enormous granite walls, perfect weather, all types of climbers running from the “man,” ten dollar ice cream cones, the infamous King Cobra (16 ounce malt liquor) and of course the international monkey gathering place. “The Valley” has a rich history of climbing from the golden years of big-wall climbing in the 1960’s to the progressive new age big-wall freeing climbing that is happening as we speak.

The pulse of vertical energy in Yosemite is palpable and has been felt in the climbing community for 50 years. It’s truly a place for climbers of any level to find themselves and experience a piece of the American climbing dream.

I found Yosemite when I was 13 years old and it changed my life entirely. Since my first days climbing on the moderate classics I have spent months of my life living in the boulders, gearing up for walls, playing music in El Cap meadow with friends, hiding from rangers, fighting dehydration after a long day on the granite, partying with my heros. Most of all, learning what it means to be a climber.

James Lucas follows an incredible corner pitch on the Free Rider on El Cap.

James Lucas follows an incredible corner pitch on the Free Rider on El Cap.

One fond memory that comes to mind when I think about my early Yosemite days was when my Dad and I climbed Half Dome for the first time. Our goal seemed simple but we surely got the granite smack-down!

After a long day of climbing we found ourselves exhausted climbing in the dark toward the infamous “Big Sandy” ledge on the Northwest Face. I had been fantasizing that Big Sandy would be a huge ledge with room to sleep a football team. Once we finally arrived I realized the reality was that we were going to have a cold and uncomfortable night on a tiny perch! My Dad didn’t say a word that night as we froze; he had much more experience with suffering at that point. I didn’t sleep a wink that night and my mind wandered into the wild imagination of a 13-year-old boy. Yosemite affects everyone differently and the only way to find out what it’s all about is to go and live life on the skin in the Mecca.

There are so many heavy hitters in Yosemite but one that comes to mind over them all is Colorado native Tommy Caldwell. Tommy is probably one of the most humble and kindest humans on the planet. I have never met anyone quite like him and honestly his attitude and style in life has had a profound affect on me. I have been lucky enough to climb with Tommy around the world and it’s been a treat to travel with him.

This past winter Tommy and his climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson free climbed what is likely the hardest big-wall in the world: Dawn Wall on El Cap. This is a huge step forward in the progression of climbing and Tommy is the mastermind. Prior to this climb he has established some of the hardest sport climbs, boulders and alpine lines in the world. His resume is pretty impressive.

The whole family will be in Carbondale:  Becca, Tommy and Fitz.

The whole family will be in Carbondale: Becca, Tommy and Fitz.

On Sunday April 26th Tommy will be presenting for the 5Point Film Fest here in Carbondale. The event will be amazing and not to be missed. If you happen to be in our area please come support both Tommy and the 5Point Film Fest on Sunday. Celebrate Yosemite! (I know WildSnow is read around the world. At least for those of you in the U.S., look for 5Point on the road if you can’t make it to the core festival here. If you’re in Europe, now you know what we do in little Colorado villages. Come visit us next year!)

5Point Film Festival’s evening programs are sold out but tickets are still available for Yosemite Sunday with Tommy Caldwell and friends. On Saturday afternoon, we recommend DRAWN with Jeremy Collins and Metanoia with Jeff Lowe.

Ben Ditto leading the first pitch of the Nose of El Cap.

Ben Ditto leading the first pitch of the Nose of El Cap.

(WildSnow Guest blogger, Hayden Kennedy has been lucky enough to be dragged up some nice mountains by strong climbers. He grew up in Carbondale, Colorado and cut his teeth in the Elk Mountains. Adventures with awesome parents Michael and Julie Kennedy instilled a love for alpine climbing near and far. He ski tours as well, though we suspect he fantasizes about granite while gliding powder.)


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