Columbia Rock 2x
Peak 7,566ft P300 CS
Eagle Tower
Boundary Hill P500
Peak 8,971ft P500

Wed, Oct 18, 2017
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
Columbia Rock previously climbed Wed, Jun 8, 2016
later climbed Wed, Jan 3, 2018


I had a somewhat fitful night as I often do when sleeping in Yosemite Valley in the van. I have these dreams about rangers accosting me and such because this used to happen quite frequently, and these wake me up periodically, only to find of course, no such disturbance. I finally found a place to park that hasn't gotten me disturbed, but the dreams linger on. I planned to hike up the Yosemite Falls Trail and tag a handful of summits west of Yosemite Creek that I had neglected over the years. The 5hr hike came in at less than 15mi, but with over 7,000ft of gain and almost 8mi of cross-country travel, a fairly beefy day.

Construction work on Northside Dr has torn up the Camp 4 parking lot and the road between it and Yosemite Lodge. I parked at the lodge and crossed the roadway where they've a set up a break in the barrier to let the Camp 4 guests cross the road since they have to park likewise. The construction work got started sharply at 6a and it was noisy as hell as I walked through the quiet camp. How these folks can sleep through this cacaphony is beyond me. It almost looks like a plot to clean all the climbers out of camp and Yosemite.

The Yosemite Falls Trail starts just behind Camp 4's parking lot (or what remains of it, currently), taking about 3mi to climb up to the edge of the North Rim. Smoke in the Valley seems to have discouraged any early risers as I found myself the only one on it when I started just after 7a. I paused briefly at Columbia Point (and the benchmark there) along the way, the smoke making photos rather dull. Yosemite Point comes into view past this as the trail climbs the narrow gully between Upper Yosemite Fall to the east and Eagle Tower cliff to the west. When I reached the trail junction at the rim, I turned left to start the cross-country, heading up to Peak 7,566ft only 0.4mi away but another 800ft higher.

The summit of Peak 7,566ft proved to be the most interesting of the day. I found a 10-foot boulder balanced on a 5-foot pedestal, overhanging on all sides. On the side I had ascended was a rotting log leaning against the boulder. Did someone use that to climb the thing? Curious, I walked up to it, dropped my pack and got high enough on the log to get my hand in a pocket on the boulder, but I could see no semi-safe way to do better. Down I went. This would have been great for a ladder, but without that I decided to lean more logs against the boulder. Some I found laying nearby, others I dragged a short distance. They were all rotting, but I figured a collection of such logs would be better than just one. And the last one was the longest, extending high enough to provide something to hold onto as I made the delicate move from the logs onto the rock. It worked surprisingly well, though I doubt it would pass a consensus vote for a positive safety rating. I left a register while I was up there and then gingerly climbed back down. That was fun!

I next headed south off the summit in search of Eagle Tower. This is a very nebulous "summit", it turns out. There is no point along the cliff edge that I followed that has more than about 10ft of prominence, but the location marked on my GPSr roughly corresponds to a rock outcrop I scrambled down to that provided a birds-eye view of the trail below and Upper Yosemite Fall nearby. After satisfying myself that I had done all I could here, I reclimbed back up towards Peak 7,566ft, going over its SW Shoulder and then down to Eagle Meadows on my way to Boundary Hill. The meadows were thankfully mostly dry, more swamp than meadows normally. I crossed the Eagle Peak Trail as I continued west and then northwest up to Boundary Hill another 1,200ft higher. The name is an odd one since no current boundaries are close to this point. It must be from back in the late 1800s when Yosemite was a California state park and the park boundary included just the Valley and the north & south rims. The summit proved a little dull, rounded like one might expect from the name and devoid of any real views. To the northwest could be seen the higher Peak 8,971ft through the trees and it was to this that I headed next.

It would take another hour and a quarter to reach the last summit, the cross-country like that to the other peaks, consisting of a mix of slow and cruising sections, luckily no real bushwhacking anywhere today. The summit was similar to Boundary Hill, rounded and forested, not too exciting. I found a register here left by a Martin Molnar (relative of Laura?) of Groveland, in 2014. One other person had signed in the same year, having approached from the north starting at White Wolf. I enjoyed the 2,000-foot descent over 2.5mi off the northeast side, dropping into the Bluejay Creek drainage and eventually meeting the maintained trail near where Bluejay merges with Yosemite Creek. I turned south to follow the trail back down to the Yosemite Falls Trail, not seeing another person (though I did see a bear) until I had started the descent down the looong stairway. I then began to run into folks regularly, passing probably about 3-4 dozen all told before I got back to Camp 4 around 3:30p.

I repeated much of my routine from the previous day, showering at Half Dome Village before driving to Yosemite Lodge where I got dinner and a few beers at the Mountain Room. Upon entering, I spied Chongo in the same corner where two couches meet, but chose to select a table at the opposite end of the room to avoid another distraction. One evening was good, but a second might have some of the shine wear off. Indeed, he spied me about an hour later and came over with a collection of his books that he thought I "might be interested in." While I was perusing them, he said he was going to step out to get high. The books were hard to read. They had long, run-on sentences and noticeable grammar and spelling errors. The book purporting to explain relativity and quantum physics does so without a single equation. I really couldn't follow other parts of it very well. The book on religion/monotheism is nothing I haven't discerned from a Richard Dawkins article on atheism. The most interesting was a book titled, "How to be bitchin, Part I" but the title was more clever than the quotes inside. After about 20min I decided to leave the books on his couch and duck out of there before he returned. Chongo would have to find other buyers for his wares...


Mason comments on 10/29/17:
Haha, Eric and I tried to climb 7566 two years ago. I had broken a rib about a month prior and was not up to that summit block, but that didn't stop Eric from dragging a few logs over. His efforts were not enough to make it to the top though. Congrats on the summit!
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