Herson Kids Scurry Up Valley Walls

posted by dpm on 06/15/2013


After reading a few paragraphs of this trip report from Yosemite Valley climber Jim Herson, I started to get a few pingbacks from my satire radar. I checked the URL and it wasn't the Onion, but surely this had to be a joke. Then I started to get jealous that I didn't think of this first. I thought, "Man, on the next April Fool's Day I could have photoshopped some little kids scurrying up the walls of Yosemite and treating El Cap like a playground jungle gym. What a classic prank...but this Jim fella beat me to it."

As I read on, I realized that this is actually not a joke. Jim's been taking his kids Kara (14) and Connor (9) up all sorts of valley walls. They both banged out a mid-winter ascent of Lost Arrow Spire. Connor started placing gear and leading and just after, climbed the East Buttress of El Cap. Jim's also been teaching sport climbing phenom Mirko Caballero how to grunt and squirm to the top of giant walls. Regarding an ascent of Astroman with Kara and Mirko, Jim recounts:

"Continuing our tour of Valley classics, it was time for the Valley trademark -- Astroman (11 pitches, 11c)! Figuring they'd be so lost in the intoxicating granite of Astroman they wouldn't notice a bit of thirst, I went "somewhat" light on water (1/2 lt each). That it turned out to be a scorcher was unfortunate. Instead of arriving at each belay in excited giddiness at having just climbed yet another life affirming Astroman pitch, Mirko would crawl to the anchor, staring blankly with sullen eyes and a dirt dry tongue at the gushing Illilouette falls painfully out of reach across the Valley and dejectedly mutter "I've never been so thirsty." Kara wasn't helping things with her cheerful "Oh, this is nothing! You should have seen the time my dad forgot the water on the West Face! My goodness, that was dry."

This was unfortunate. If Astroman doesn't hook you on the Valley, you're just not going to be hooked on the Valley. I can respect that. But when Mirko said he didn't think the Enduro pitch was life altering I lost it and snapped "What?! Now look here whippersnapper! The Enduro pitch is the 4th best pitch in the Valley that's not on the Salathe!!!" I was so agitated by this complete lack of aesthetic sensibility that I gave the kids a timeout in the Harding Slot."

The finale of this hilariously written story is Kara and Jim's jumarless ascent of El Cap's Nose in a day. She's 14 and tough as nails! That's gotta be some kind of record like "youngest female jumarless whatever" but who cares, it's badass. This is a must read story of a dad and his kids treating Valley walls like a Sunday picnic. Click the image below to read the whole story and see many more great photos.

Kara cruises up Boot Flake on the Nose route. Photo: Jim Herson