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Nutcracker: It Almost Got Me.

Sorry we are jumping all over the space and time continuum here, but I am going to take you back to a little space called Yosemite in a little time know as May 18th, 2013. I had just finished summiting Mount Dana and snowboarding the Dana Couloir/Emery bowl with Brennan and Izzie. The turns down the Dana Couloir were mind-blowing. The drop into Emery Bowl made me curl up into a baby and cry in the fetal position. In my mind of course. I couldn’t let Brennan see my fear… though I’m sure he could smell it. After playing in the snow for a bit we decided it would be cool to head over to Yosemite and feel that beautiful polished granite of the valley walls. Andrew and I would get familiar with 5.8, 5 star, 5 pitch Yosemite classic known as Nutcracker.

Topo image courtesy of

Nutcracker starts on the right side of Manure Pile Buttess. Easily identified by the obviously trafficed finger crack. It’s an excellent route, with clean cracks, good protection and fine climbing! It’s one of the most popular routes in Yosemite and it’s rare not to find a number of parties on the route. Somehow, after sleeping in a little bit and showing up late to the route there was only one party in front of us and they were fast climbers.

Sunshine leads P1) Start up a sort of gully-crack system heading for a belay above.

We simul climb P2) Head up a sort of low-angle chimney-crack system and belay above.

An absolute shit show of people down in the valley but from high up on the granite walls of the valley you would never know. Andrew and Sunshine enjoy the solitude of the wall.

Andrew leads P3) Step right to gain a nice crack running up the wall. Climb this to a stance below an overhang above.

Andrew prepares to lead the third pitch up a wonderful finger crack. Some of the most amazing climbing he’s ever had. I would guess but you would have to ask him, haha.

Andrew nearing the top of the third pitch and having a chat with the dudes in the group ahead.

Sunshine leads P4) Traverse left across to near a tree, then follow the crack up. Mid way up this pitch is a chest high bulge with a fist size crack running through it. This is one of the crux’s of the route. I took my first trad lead fall here. YEW! I successfully navigated my way up/through/over this bulge and was reaching for my next hand hold. Before I even knew what was happening my chest had slammed into the slab. I pushed myself off the rock instantly so I wouldn’t slide off the bulge but instead clear it. I landed like a cat on the balls of my feet about 10-12 feet below my number 2. I love you number 2. Damn you polished granite!

Andrew only saw a cloud of chalk and yelled up, “Did you just fall?”
To which I replied, “Fuck!!!! Yea!” - Pardon my French
“Are you ok?”

Riveting dialogue I know. I’m an art student, surf and climbing bum. What do you expect? Anywho… the fall was actually my favorite part of the climb. It’s cool to know that the gear you place will in fact hold you in a fall. I was actually just testing out my gear the whole time, haha. So, I took ten for myself and caught my breathe then made my way up and over where I fell all the way up the crack to a belay below the infamous “mantle move”.

Andrew leads P5) Climb up to the corner system above and execute the infamous “mantle move”. Continue above in a nice crack that takes you to a flat summit. My personal feeling is that the reputation of this move is a bit overrated. The holds are pretty big and it’s over quickly. There are two reasons to make dang sure not to fall, however; the fall would suck and I don’t recall the pro placement being completely bomber. Ankles have been shattered on this pitch! Be careful!

Andrew is obsessed with mantling. Rightfully so they are awesome! This last pitch not only gave him the fear but fulfilled his quest for the dream mantle.

Andrew the mantle maniac finds his “Dream Mantle”.

Andrew recaps his first experience in Yosemite Valley.

Photos: Sunshine | Words: Sunshine | Beta:Mountain Project

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