I gazed westward at the unbelievable shape of Osprey Overhang for decades as I climbed in Tuolumne Meadows. One afternoon I even scouted the approach. But on June 18 the time had come to do the climb.
My longtime climbing companion Hal joined me and our new colleague Galen for the adventure. We parked our car on the pullout 1/4 mile west of Olmstead Point on the north side of the road and headed north on a blazed trail through mosquito infested swamps. The trail mounted granite slabs to the left of the valley, and on the far side of the slabs offered us the opportunity to bushwhack up a vegetation choked groove. We passed on the opportunity and continued up the valley, This lead us to a much more open groove to the left which we followed without a problem to the top of the bush choked gully. Above us the gully was free of brush. We followed this gully to near its top where we could exit left on ledges. Hal found the way back left passed Osprey Overhang, avoiding bushwhacking and brought us to the base of the climb.
Osprey Overhang has two 5.7 layback and handjam sections plus a 5.3 chimney through the overhang itself. Hal squeezed up the initial chimney moves and arrived at the start of the layback. He found a strenuous wide stem that allowed him to place protection, a #3 camalot, and to gaze at the layback moves above. He didn't like the looks of the layback and so he retreated and offered me the chance to lead. I grabbed the chance. Up the chimney, to the base of the layback. I had pro above me but I was going to have to commit to several lieback moves I hesitated while my leg muscles burned. Eventually I declined the lieback and moved left onto a knobby buttress. I climbed the knobs, found some pro, but generated rope drag since I didn't expect to make a detour when I started and so didn't put long enough slings on my pieces. At the first ceiling I stopped on a small ledge. The place reeked of rat piss but it was a place to stop. So I set up a belay.
Galen followed. She smoothly moved up the chimney and into the stem. (powered through the tough section with only one "fuck" ;-) She noted the burn in her calf muscles too. Then moved up smoothly to join me at the "rat turd belay." Hal climbed up to join us, then took the rack and led on. Around a corner he found great handjams and another layback. This time he placed pro, came back to rest and then pushed on up the layback. The handholds were a bit rounded but good. The granite uunder his feet was pretty smooth, his feet stuck to the granite as long as he kept them high. He completed the layback then came to the base of another steep crack. The handholds were so good he skipped a key foothold in the bottom of the crack as he moved up to the next belay.
Galen and I followed Hal up the layback. Then it was my turn to lead up over one more wall then surmount the 5.3 chimney. The chimney moves were great and I was happy to stick my head up into the sun on top of Osprey Overhang.
There were water dissolved bowls on the top, bright sun, and a cool breeze. I lowered myself into one of the bowls out of the wind and enjoyed a hot-air-tub full of warm sunlight.
There was an easy walkdown along a north ridge that led us to a an easy third class downclimb to the west.
We all agreed that Osprey Overhang was the antithesis of gym climbing. It involved chimneys, liebacks, stems, jams and only a little face climbing.
On the way home we stopped at the pullout where the road crosses Yosemite Creek. We grabbed towels and washed and cooled off in the water. Galen went back to the car first to change into clean clothes. When we returned to the car she proclaimed," it's a good thing I changed I got to empty the rat turds out of my sports bra!" In all my years of climbing it is the first time I've heard that sentence spoken aloud! Hall and I laughed with her until our sides hurt.
Now I have to go back to Osprey Overhang and screw up my courage to do the first layback!
Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty
20 June 2007