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Sandbagged by the Stonemasters

by Maria Cranor
Spring 2010

Swami belts? Check. EBs? Check. Stoppers? Hexes? Check. Nancy and I stuffed our packs into my tiny hatchback. We had pored over our yellow Meyers guides and pondered the Cookie, Arch Rock, Middle, the Apron. We’d picked out some routes we thought we could do, and we were primed for our first trip to the Valley – girls on the loose with rope, rack and, we hoped, the chops to hold our own at the epicenter of the climbing universe.

In the days before the Park Service clamped down on the enjoyable, grubby anarchy of Camp 4, it was possible – and highly desirable – to live in the C4 parking lot, a fizzing social scene at all hours. Shortly after Nancy and I arrived there on this highly anticipated foray to Yosemite, we pulled out the stove and started organizing our dinner ingredients, which fatefully included the catnip of 1970s climbers: a gallon of Gallo Hearty Burgundy.

No sooner had the Gallo made its appearance than a couple of fit-looking locals drifted over, settling in to trade wine access for entertaining tales of derring-do on the crags. The evening wore on, the level of wine in the bottle sank lower and lower, and the stories got funnier and funnier. Eventually our guests retired, leaving behind an empty Gallo jug and a burning question: “Who were those guys?”

About the Author
“I am really motivated by my desire to give back to climbing, which has rewarded me with a zillion memorable adventures and a posse of extraordinary friends.” In 1989, Maria co-founded Black Diamond to do just that by making reliable, progressive climbing gear to help evolve the sport. She can now be found teaching in the physics department at the University of Utah, or pursuing her passion for obscure Scandinavian detective fiction. Maria was the first woman to flash Valhalla.