Name: Bob Banks

Birthday: June 29, 1971

Occupation: Regretfully full-time employed


30 pitches of climbing

300 pull-ups

30 boulder problems

30k run

3 Olde English 800s

The Yosemite Challenge

Car trouble, a stolen wallet, injury, lack of preparation, lack of sobriety and virtually zero training. We had it all for this one. Compared to last yearís meticulously planned event, I canít believe Iím here today to tell the tale.

So I show up at the palatial Florine residence in Yosemite West on Thursday afternoon, June 28th, with mere hours left before the clock strikes midnight, and no idea what to do for the Challenge. The original plan (which was to bang out Stainless Steveís 4 Yosemite formations in a day) never came to fruition, as my sometime partner in climb the Stainless One was severely hindered by some chronic foot tendinitis, rendering merely walking uphill an endeavor of Olympic proportions.

So the afternoon was spent with Hollywood Hans banging out alternate ideas. Fortunately, Hans was two weeks late on doing his own Challenge, so we decided to combine parts of the two and help each other out.

So here goes: more pics are coming, along with video (hopefully)

30 pitches of climbing

Ok, I admit, doing this with world speed climbing champion Hans almost felt like cheating, but come on, I was in a pinch.

We were up at 4:45am Friday morning and out the door 15 minutes later. By 5:45am we were blasting our way up the Royal Arches. 14 pitches were down and we were back to the car in less than two hours. It was going to be a great day I could tell. We followed up with Bishopís Terrace (3 pitches), Commitment (3 pitches), Munginella (3 pitches), the Nutcracker (5 pitches), and After 7 (2 pitches). Hans continued with the full version of After Seven, and also did After Six to make up his 37 pitches.

The climbing was all really easy, virtually all of it done simul or solo, but the best part was that it was almost all unclimbed by me. With the exception of Munginella and Bishopís Terrace, it was all new ground. Luckily route-finding was effortless since I was following the master speed demon himself. We were done climbing in around 5 hours, a time that easily would have been much more without Hans' knowledge of the routes. Thanks H!

300 pull-ups

Back to Hansí house for lunch break and pull-ups. The H-Man was spending the rest of the day house bound, finishing up his Challenge with daddy duties hanging out with the adorable 7 month -old Marianna. He did 37 pull-ups, polished off 37 oz. of beer, and got working on his 37 oz. of ice cream. Meanwhile I did sets of 5 pull-ups every minute for an hour. Now I havenít been doing pull-ups lately, but this was a total joke. I think I could do 5 a minute indefinitely no matter what kind of shape Iím in. I guess Iím sort of good at pull-ups. Maybe next year Iíll do them in sets of 10.

30 boulder problems

Back into the Valley to finish the day bouldering and running. The bouldering was harder than I thought it would be, but mainly because my feet were killing me by this time. A bad omen considering I was slated to run for a few hours after this. Fun though, all done at Housekeeping, Sentinel and Cathedral area boulders. Nothing too hard, but hell, bouldering in Yosemite never seems to be truly Ďeasyí.

30k trail run/hike (The Mist Trail)

Hereís where the real pain began. Starting at sometime around 4:30pm, Stainless jogged up with me to the base of the stairs at Vernal Fall before sending me on my way. I wasnít moving very fast, but I was moving at least and had a pretty positive outlook on finishing the day this way, sort of looking forward to a long run by myself. By the second set of stairs up to Nevada Fall though, my legs were quaking, and by mile 6 both quads were cramping up. Uh, oh. Frequent stretching sessions followed, but I was severely slowed by the final stairs up to the cables and was reduced to 3 or 4 steps up, rest, and repeat. I summited Half Dome at 7:15pm (thanks go to the kind gent with the watch up there), had a Clif Bar, turned around and hauled ass in an effort to make it down before dark. Hampered going down the stairs by a severely cramped calf muscle, I stretched long enough to recover and ran the rest of the way down in good time, reaching Stainless at the base of Vernal sometime around 8:30-8:45. For the first time in many years I felt like puking while exercising, basically holding back nausea for the last two miles. Luckily Steve handed me a beer as soon as I returned and the precious elixir worked it's magic. I recovered remarkably. We ended up walking the last mile and a half back to the car, sipping cold ones and trying not to trip over rocks and potholes in the darkness.

Sandbagged by the Deli!

The final touch on the Yosemite Challenge was to be 3 Olde English 800s and/or Elephant Malts to be consumed in typical climbing-bum style outside Degnanís. To anyone whoís spent time in the Yosemite, this is essential for true Valley liviní. But NO. Shut down by a closed deli before 10pm on a friggin summer weekend. Unbelievable. What in the hell has happened to Yosemite? Where have all the dirtbags gone? We drove back to Hansí bitter, tired and anxious for payback to the Naziís who run Yosemite, payback which came the next evening, but then thatís another story.......

Final Thoughts

The absence of drinking and smoking made this yearís Challenge, although physically harder, a frickin picnic compared to last year, where I essentially collapsed without finishing and could barely move for two days afterwards. After this Challenge I was completely coherent, and the next day I climbed all day long without much trouble. Go figure. I think Iíll hit up the smokes and sauce again next year just to make it more sporting.

Extra special thanks to:

'Hollywood' Hans, Jacqueline and Marianna Florine - Yosemite hospitality at itís best!

'Stainless' Steve Edwards - support crew extraordinaire and originator/operator of ĎSasquatch Camí