It was too easy to cook up a nice breakfast and sort gear in the cabin so we got a sort-of late start hiking to Manure Pile Buttress from El Cap meadows as the road on that side of the Valley is still closed from Camp 4.
Gear up at the base of After 7 and off we go. This was to be Steve's lead all the way. John's first multi-pitch route ever.
Pitch 1 is the crux - 5.8 hand/finger crack with a funny thin face traverse right 2/3rds of the way up. Steve fires it, John is nervous but fires it too! I last climbed this pitch in 1978. Weirdly enough this was 31 years AND 31 lbs ago.
Steve on Pitch 2 - little 5.7 face/crack
The views as you climb up Manure Pile are great. The little waterfall on El Cap (Horsetail I think) was getting blown up now and then. Middle Rock is across the valley and the Sentinel across and up valley.
Pitch 3 was an unexpectedly wide crack. Turned out to be possible to climb the face on the left, then stem across the crack for a pretty airy little pitch.
Couple more nice pitches with a mix of easy climbing and more challenging sections including another wide crack or two.
The last pitch was nice - up a little corner, few 5.6 moves to get right then only one more wide section that could be laybacked.
The way we did it, there were 6 pitches. Little John did great. Got to the top at sunset and the lighting in the Valley was incredible. My camera battery died before I got any shots. Could have been the cold! By he end of the day it was cold and very windy. Got down just as it was getting dark enough to break out the headlamps for the hike back to the van. One stop in Mariposa for pizza, Bucks in Merced for caffeine and home at 1:42am.
I was there.