Friday, October 19, 2012

Yosemite's East Buttress, and Utah's Orin Hatch

It was great to get away for five days to Yosemite national park where I didn't hear a single commentary on the upcoming election.  We spent 2.5 days of good climbing starting with the East Buttress of El Cap.  It's a route that's been on my list for a long time and I've either been too afraid, or just didn't have the time.  In fact, I haven't been to Yosemite for almost 10 years.  With a forecast for 0% chance of precip and 68 degrees, It was a no brainer.  After leaving SLC at 12:30am Sunday... er, monday morning we arrived early evening Tuesday night for a 5:15 start on the East Buttress.  After watching two parties of three in front of us bail, it was past 8:00am, time was already getting tight.  So we hammered in to pitch one with Kevin on the lead.  It was a nice, wide chimney with a squeeze section to make it interesting.

Then following that was the technical crux (however far from the real crux) of a polished 10b move off the anchor to an expanding 5.9 tube with rattly fingers in the back.  It went well, although not as easily as I had hoped.  Liking pitch 2 and 3 puts you at around 260ft, a bit longer than the rope, but after some struggling and confusion we worked it out.  Such is life with new partners.  Then Kevin took the sharp end to link 4 and 5 in a pretty cool 300ft or so section of easy class 4 up to hard 5.8 (I know, it seems the two are mutually exclusive, but not in the valley). Then the crux pitch 140ft starting with a 2 foot wide arete with 2000ft exposure to one side and no pro leading into a desperate (5.9, ya really) pin scared rail to 100ft of 5.9 offwidth... sick.  I wouldn't force this on anyone, but when you get through it its awesome.  I only almost pitched off 2 times.  Followed by kevin taking the 5.5 ramp to the money 5.7 vertical pitch.  Then I finished it off with 280 ft. of 5.7 to the ridge of El Cap.
About 2000ft off the valley floor, 1000ft up the route

After a quick clean up we headed for the east ledges decent and thankfully had someone to follow.  For all of you 'canyoneering types'  We did a single line rap of a fixed line that must have been over 300ft long, hanging down into pitch black with nothing but a dull headlight shinning on the smooth vertical granite at your feet and a void everywhere above, below, and to the side.  It was surreal.

 An excellent route I would recommend for anyone with the skills to do it.  It is not for the faint of heart, and just because you may be able to climb 10b at the gym, or in BCC, or even LCC, doesn't mean you can do it in Yosemite.  Try out some local routes before jumping on this one as there is no easy out, and the ledges are not good for sleeping after pitch 3.  Falcon has it listed as 13 pitches, we did it in 7, I've seen other who do it in 9.  I read somewhere its about 1400ft.  Not bad for a days work, but far from it's big brothers just down the wall to the west, where the real climbing begins.

 That being said, i must move on to the painful, (but hopefully quick) item of Orin Hatch.  He was the only one (other than Jim Matheson) who responded to my letters about Ski Link.  Matheson responded with a very nice clear reason why he was not supporting it.  Orin Hatch responded differently.  I've post the letter here for you to read.  It is scanned and then changed to a jpeg, sorry the quality is so bad.  Chances are you got the exact same letter since he didn't even acknowledge my position or reasons for Ski Link.  Things I think you should notice:

1.) "The bill also requires compliance to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and Endangered Species Act of 1973" yet what about the 2003 Wasatch-Cache Revised Forest Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement?  It's actually in direct contradiction to the newest, most up to date forest plan?  Why didn't you mention this senator?  Is it consider lying if you just leave some things out?  Check out this excellent article to help explain:

2.)  "Estimates show that with this new transportation system more than 500 permanent jobs could be created and infuse more than $50 million in to Utah's economy."  As one un-named state official once told me.  "No one in the utah government structure (except just a few who aren't players) actually recreates, nor do they know anything about recreating.  Rob Bishop doesn't even play golf."  For those of us who have been to ski resorts, worked for ski resorts, even built ski lifts these numbers are absurd.  How many people does it take to run a new ski lift?  Well, lets say 2 lifties at the bottom and 2 at the top plus 1 mechanic.  Total=5.  how many of them are permanent employes or NOT seasonal? Only 1. So if you hired two groups of people to cover an entire week we would have a total of 10, and lets through in 1 manager so eleven total new jobs.  Note:  No more ski patrollers would be required or groomers, because we aren't actually opening 'new' terrain.  So total new jobs=11 total new non-seasonl jobs=3 maybe?  Not to mention the other 9 are minimum wage, no benefits jobs that add maybe 10,000 in income per person.  So 90,000 total gross income increase for the part timers, and lets say 35000 for the mechanic and 20,000 for the manager (these number are very generous for utah) Total jobs created= 11 total new income for people in utah (most of them not local) $145,000.   How about total temp jobs for construction?  From my experience working with Doppelmyer Lifts Company (who builds most of the Canyon's lifts) we operated with a total crew of less than 100 people to build 3 lifts in 6 months.  So one lift, being generous 50 people.  How many of those people where actually from our state?  less than 1/3.

So hire 15 local temp jobs, and bring in 35 outsiders for one summer to create 11 new jobs and $145000 in poverty level income.  That is pretty close to '500 permanent jobs and $50 million in Utah's economy' ( I realize I'm not taking into account additional ticket sales, people coming in for the 'new' interconnect, etc)  So even my educated guess (based on actual experience in the industry)is off by 100% we are still talking almost nothing added to the economy.  I do think Canyon's will see some more tickets, and solitude may get a few mores skiers, but we will have forever sliced the Wasatch in half.

3.) "I continue to be a strong proponent fir giving Utah more local control over Utah's land, and this proposal has a lot of local support."  By giving Utah control of Utah land do you really mean giving Canada control of Utah's land?  And by local support who exactly supports ski link locally?  Why haven't they all posted their support?  I do see lots of opposition.  Please let them post their support for ski link that way we can effectively boycott their products.  Oh wait, or is this why they aren't posting it?

There are definitely other things in the letter that are incorrect and completely wrong, but I'm going to just stick with these few.  Again, I apologize for continuing to use this site for posting these things, but we must act, or as Black Diamond may do, we may end up moving out when their is nothing left.