When Ann, our friend Alice, and I pull up into the Whitney Portal area, all I know is that there are some climbs on the Candlelight Buttress I want to find. I have a general idea where the buttress is, but I’m not sure which of the massive granite faces south of the Whitney trail to head for. We wander around the Meysan Lakes trailhead area, and head off in the wrong direction until I ask some cabin dwellers for help. They send us up the Meysan Lakes trail a ways, then up a draw towards two huge sunlit faces.
We huff up maybe 1000 feet to the base, where I am happy to see a variety of bolts and anchors. I’m looking for a new route my friend Steve Cox has just finished the first pitch of, named “I Walk The Line” in honor of Johnny Cash. I think I can see the first bolt, but there’s no way I’m getting on it without sighting at least one more. There are some other well-protected routes on the face I consider dogging on instead. But just for kicks I check my cellphone, find a pretty good signal, and call Steve. After a couple of tries we connect! Steve gives me beta on all the climbs on the face in front of me, saving “I Walk The Line” for last. I had the first bolt right, and the next, he assures me, is just around the corner above a big knob. I decide to go for it.
It’s a sweet route, and the rock dust from the drilling is still fresh. Almost all the moves are done on big fat crystals, with a couple of thinner spots thrown in for excitement. The bolts are ten to fifteen feet apart – close enough for security but spaced enough to make you pay attention. And there is a lot of air behind you to enhance the feeling. I estimate the rating as mostly 5.8 with a couple of 5.9 spots. It’s a thrill for me, and I’m smiling big when Ann lowers me back to the anchor without an inch of rope to spare.