By: Jonathan Shen
I remember how the sun was hitting my face at 6:00 PM. I recall how light and beautiful the lake was. It was 2018, my Dad and I were climbing a relatively easy cliff that led to the peak of Yosemite—the 13,000 feet Mount Lyell.
Before climbing, my Dad and I checked for our proper gear such as a climbing harness, belay device, locking carabiner, helmet, climbing shoes, climbing rope, slings, quickdraws, cams, a portaledge, food, water, lightweight stove, and a backpack for extra clothing, sleeping bags and a tent.
As we looked up from the bottom of the precipice, I felt a bit nervous. It was like looking at the Empire State Building on the streets in New York. We checked our gear, ate an energy bar and I put my feet on the first boulder I saw.
As we got higher, my Dad started to drill holes in the rock using the Cams. Then, he inserted the quickdraws so that if you fall, you won’t fall all away down. When we got to around the middle of the cliff, my Dad set up the Portaledge which is basically a big resting chair hung and attached to the rock wall. Most experts use light and durable Portaledge to sleep and cook their food. It was around 7:00 PM and I was clearly exhausted. I sat on the Portaledge taking huge chugs of water while enjoying looking at the endless amounts of trees, lakes, mountains, and wildlife.
As we ascended higher, it became obvious to me that it had gotten colder. We took out our extra clothing set and started to climb much slower this time because of the wind. As we ascended higher and higher, the wind started blowing harder and it was very crucial to grab on the small cracks in the rock as hard as possible to pull myself from falling down.
When we finally reached the top after what seemed like years, which was only around 2 and a half hours, the view was absolutely amazing! It was like standing on top of a paradise roamed by wildlife and rock structures.
“We did it!” my Dad yelled, “we’re standing on the highest mountain in Yosemite National Park!”
Even though my muscles felt like they were falling apart, I still managed to laugh as we left the cliff.
After a while, we set up our tent and started to make a small campfire. We enjoyed the sunset together as my Dad cooked a freeze-dried stew on the stove. After the sun completely vanished, we started to look up at the stars that surround us like we’re in a ball.
“Look!” I yelled, “a shooting star!” My Dad giggled, “what’s your wish?”
I was too tired to think, my wish was to sleep
We went in our tents, opened our sleeping bags and slept soundly with some crickets chirping.
The second day started at 7:00 AM. My Dad and I finished packing everything and we started our long journey back to our car. Going down was a bit easier than going up because all we needed to focus was to slide down and take all the quickdraws.
At the end, I hopped off a few feet, feeling relieved that I had touched the ground. We both were too tired to talk. We hopped in the car and drove off. I looked back from our old Chevy and saw the cliff. I felt both proud and sad. I climbed all the way up, slept a night on that peak and climbed all the way down.
“Let’s come again someday.” I said. It was a beautiful place and I will never forget how relaxing it was to stand on the peak looking down at what seemed like a dream.