Yosemite Fire Updates

Good news from this afternoon’s DNC briefing…

1. Power is on in El Portal and Yosemite West and they expect to have power in the Valley by 8pm tonight, with the possibility of permanent power (rerouting lines around the burn area). This means that it wasn’t a totally stupid thing to take things out of the cooler last night and put them back in the refrigerator, and that Tom is probably enjoying a hot shower even as I type.

2. Air quality is improving: the health alert has been lifted as of today (7/30). The air quality hasn’t bothered me too much, although I’ve been avoiding running in the stuff. However, I work with a bunch of asthmatics, and they have been pulling heavily on their inhalers.

3. 140 is open again – with a CHP escort between 8am and 8pm. We don’t really use this corridor often, but the fact that they’ve opened it up again, means that the fire is unlikely to jump the road and head uphill toward our house.

4. The best news: The fire is now 40% contained (up from 20% this morning). Kenny talked to a firefighter who said that the threat to El Portal has “abated” too. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but since El Portal is directly downhill of us, if they think the threat against El Portal has diminished the threat against our neighborhood has probably also diminished.

Keep your fingers crossed that the conditions don’t change for the worst, but for now we seem to be looking pretty good.

Tom has a bunch of Telegraph fire status links on Yosemite Explorer if you want to follow the action like we have been the last few days.

The record-breaking day

There’s been a great deal of excitement and story-telling about the new speedclimbing record on the Nose, recently obtained by Hans Florine and Yuji Hirayama. 2 hours, 43 minutes, 33 seconds. In addition to the details from Hans, ElcapPics turned in an entertaining and suspenseful narrative on Supertopo. It was very exciting, the media was there, even The Big Hats, like Superintendent Mike Tollefson, were out in the meadow. There were multiple champagne celebrations, and I cheered until I was a hoarse.

A couple of highlights for me:

On the Sunday attempt, someone reviewing video of the King Swing made a comment about how the guys made the monster swing look something like Bandaloop’s vertical dancing, and Hans joked about throwing in a move. Who would have thought that in the middle of a down-to-the-minute record breaking attempt, Hans would actually go through with it? Could it be that he was actually having fun up there?

Sean Jones brought a posse of local El Portal kids out to the meadow to watch, and cheer. I loved the energy that they brought to the meadow. Afterwards, they gathered around Yuji to congratulate him and one said that they hoped the Hubers wouldn’t break their record. When Yuji replied, “I don’t care. The Hubers are my friends,” I hoped it would be an attitude toward competition and sport that the kids could carry with them for a while.

There was inspiration everywhere I turned that day. I met a guy who works for Architechtural Digest who came up from the Bay Area for some climbing, and to film the event. He’d been in a car accident that left his left arm hanging by the skin. Although he thought he’d never climb again, a short session at Swan Slab convinced him otherwise.

Tom Frost, at the age of 72, did the 4th class scramble to the base of the route to see the guys off… after sleeping on the floor at our place because it was too much trouble to pull out a futon. (I wasn’t there, and take no responsibility for that decision.)

And lastly, although I could go on and on, I was impressed with the number and diversity of people that came out to support these guys. From Hans’ posse of friends drove up from the Bay Area for the morning, to the crazy-fit guys who filmed them on the route, to the locals who took time out of their day to swing by, to the guy who rode up for specifically to see Sunday’s attempt and stayed through the record-breaking effort on Wednesday.