After ten months of random, infrequent and mostly electronic communications, the four of us finally sat down in the same room and eventually, the same table. Fittingly enough, that diminutive, round, faux-rustic table was in a corner of the Guest Lounge in Yosemite National Park’s Curry Village.
Pleasantries exchanged, we got down to business. “Matt, you already have a plane ticket?” Dave asks. Matt responds with the affirmative.
“Fly out on the 29th and arrive in Balmaceda on the 1st” Matt continues. He is the only one with a ticket thus far. Ironically enough he is the only one paying rent at the moment with a stable “home.” Dave, Ting Ting, and I are all still trying to figure out where to park our respective vehicles. We hash out some dates and settle on about thirty days in-country. Two days logistics, a travel day, about six days to bring all the gear into the base camp, then a couple of weeks to hang out and wait for the good weather and/or climb. Owing to the lack of spanish speakers on our expedition we opt for the low logistical but high physical hassle of schlepping in our loads and being self-supported. We pull up various photos of the range and the towers and discuss various approach options, in the end settling on the shorter but steeper approach.
We discuss gear lists, grants, food, and responsibilities. The lists get longer and the time gets shorter. There are emails to be sent, gear to be sorted and purchased, and requests to be made. My mind swirls as I take it all in; with the four of us all in one spot the expedition begins to coalesce in my psyche. I feel the building anxiety of forthcoming social interactions in foreign languages and realize, that will be my crux. But for now, I will focus on the reason that we came in the first place, to climb. Yosemite is the undisputed training and proving ground for climbers of all types and that is what drew Matt and I here, to once again refine our systems, strengthen our bodies and minds while regaining a familiarity with each other’s intricacies and personalities.
Tonight I sit here at a picnic table in the darkness of Camp Four with a strip of star studded sky visible between the towering ponderosa pines and soaring valley walls. All around faceless voices of the Valley’s suitors regale each other with tales of past glories and ships of future dreams set sail. This, the cradle of modern American rock climbing is an unlikely but fitting place for us four to have finally connected to nurture one more expedition born of the spirit of adventure.