The herds of climbers in Tuolumne have dynamited whatever selfish hope I had for sanctuary in the Meadows. Man, you can't even steal a shower at the Tuolumne Lodge without hearing from the adjoining stall an announcement of the newest line. Bunches of Valley climbers and a frenzy of L.A. youth have shot through the place . . . remember seeing them in the Meadows store with hardware on? Vern Clevenger's loose leaf bundle of routes looks like an underground journal, a cauliflower ballooning in the rough. God. As many new routes in two years as in the previous twenty!
Now and then I deride myself for my blatant self-interest. But then I wonder how any climbers—never mind me—can ever again hope to find that rush of loneliness amid the quiet space of high Tuolumne rock.
For all my complaining, only one young lion has homed in on the greatest wall in Tuolumne, the west face of Fairview. Clevenger did the left-facing arch system-remember?—on the right margin of the west face. Get the name—"Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. "
Now, he and I are going to try to complete the west face route you and I started in 1968, the direct line in the center of the face. We've been to the high point where you and I retreated, though by three more clean and direct pitches than those you and I originally did. Since then, impatient soul that he is, Clevenger recruited Bob Harrington and together they climbed the sixty-foot smooth headwall above our 1968 highpoint. They took all day, trading leads on ten-foot sections to get the bolts in. Neither Vern nor Bob made all the moves, and at one point a bolt served as aid to get another in. So, we'll see if it all goes free.