Early in the noughties I spent around 3 months working in the Bay area of San Francisco. Towards the end of the assignment I had the chance of accompanying a colleague (Gerardine) for a day or two to Yosemite. As a rock climber, Yosemite is pretty much the promised land – insanely scenic, massive cliffs, huge climbing history. How could I refuse? Only problem – it was Labour Day weekend. Yosemite would be absolutely rammed. Much as I wanted to visit Yosemite national park, I felt the volume of visitors and traffic would really hinder it from being the spiritual experience I wanted it to be. Also, the project I was working on wasn’t going well, and I didn’t want to give the client any excuse to welch on payment. So I reluctantly decided to give the opportunity a miss, and to spend the long weekend working instead.
Gerardine was still keen, so made the two hour drive to Yosemite on her own early on Saturday morning. After gaining access to the park she grabbed a bite to eat at one of the restaurants then joined a small guided tour to hike up and down Half Dome – one of Yosemite’s most famous peaks. This is quite a long hike, and it was getting quite late when they got back to the valley floor. Ger had intended to drive back to San Francisco that evening, and mentioned this to the guide. The guide, who was renting a house in Yosemite village, wouldn’t hear of this and insisted that she spent the night at her place. Tired from the hike, Ger didn’t take much persuading, and accepted the offer gladly.
The next morning she was chatting to the guide over breakfast when a couple of guys turned up, both in their mid thirties and both really fit looking. They introduced themselves, and one turned out to be the owner of the property, who as well as being the landlord of the guide, was also clearly a close friend. The two guys stayed for breakfast and described themselves as climbers on their way for a days climbing one of the Yosemite big wall routes. After breakfast, and thanking the guide for letting her stay, Ger spent the rest of the day sightseeing in Yosemite valley, before making the two to three hour journey back to the Bay area.
When I next caught up with her, on the Tuesday back at work, she gave me a quick rundown on how her days in Yosemite had gone. When she mentioned the climbers I jokingly asked what their names were in case I reckonised them:
Ger: “Someone called Ron Kalk, or something”
Me: “Not Ron Kauk, bloke with long hair”
Ger: “Yup, that was him. You actually know him?”
Me: “Not exactly, I know of him. Can you remember the name of the other guy”.
Ger: “Peter something, Coughed, Kraft??”
Me: “Peter Croft, you’re joking!”
Ger: “Yes I think that was his name, you don’t know him as well surely?”
Me: “Man, they’re two of the most well-known climbers in the US, actually anywhere for that matter”
So I missed out on the chance not only to visit Yosemite (I still haven’t been there) but to hobnob with two genuine climbing legends. Oh well.
Visit these links for information on Ron Kauk and Peter Croft