Well, while Laura was putting in a show on Cardinal, a few of us had a grand day on Royal Arches.
It seems that it's been kind of a wet spring so far, and Yosemite hasn't been spared. After less than a minute's debate, we decided to fire up the route, even though every other pitch was either slimy or had a racing fall of water on the cracks that would've kept us on route.
Not one for alpine starts when there's no approach, we started at 9:00am to a slippery and cramped chimney with the only holds akin to grabbing dead mackerels and standing on sloping bars of soap. (Oh, how I much prefer dry rock sometimes...) Regardless, we were off the deck and just decided we'd go as far as we could.
We got into our usual flow and with simul-climbing a few of the pitches, we were making really good time---which enabled us to take some of the steeper lines for fun (I recommend running the 5.8 lieback on pitch 6 and bypassing the 5.6; along with doing the 5.7 finger crack off left on pitch 7---which places you on the big rounded flake with a couple of big exposure friction mantles, bypassing the class 4 crack---which was flowing with water anyway).
Other than a couple of pitches done in soft rain, and having to go barefoot after the pendulum pitch, it was a fairly tame and leisurely---but by no means less-than-spectacular---day. We hit the rappel route at about 6pm and started the long descent (11 raps for a group of four, most of them double rope with some 3rd class down-climbs thrown in). It's truly wonderful to be high up on a moonless night, watching the stars come out, seeing the campfires, joking, taking pictures and listening to the murmur of a Valley getting ready for bed.
We touched down just before 11pm to a silent Ahwahnee then drove back to camp for a tasty dinner and a celebratory bottle of wine---and the anticipation of another great day of climbing within a few short hours... ...and it all pretty much looked like this.