Monday, March 30, 2009

Northwest Face of Half Dome

Going to Lander, Wyoming twice has really made me start thinking about rock climbing.

Big wall climbing is one thing you sure are going to remember. Last fall Neil and I climbed the NW Face of Half Dome wall style. It reminds you that going fast and light is right, as hauling takes more time than climbing. And we went to Yosemite to go climbing.

We arrived in Yosemite later than planned, due to tire issues. It was looking like rain. We had planned to climb Serenity Crack as soon as we got there. At the base of the route a party of four was looking ready to climb. Every belay, as far as the eye could see, had people at them. Welcome to Yosemite in fall.

Serenity Crack the day we actually got to climb it. We went in the afternoon and had most of the route to ourselves.

Somehow we found ourselves the next day hiking up to the base of Half Dome planning to climb the first three pitches, sleep at the base, climb to the top of pitch 17 the next day, bivy, and top out the day after.

At the base of the route we got to meet the resident bear.

The first few pitches went pretty quick. I wasn't able to get the first pitch free (5.10c), but we were fixed to the top of pitch three, and back down at sunset. Just in time to watch somebody in a wing suit base jump from the summit. Dusk is their favorite time to jump so the rangers can't catch them.

The Real Deal Neil

Looking West towards El Cap and North Dome

The start of pitch 6, 5.9

Pitch 9

The Robbin's Traverse pitch 10

Pitch 12, great face and crack climbing

The crux 5.9 section of pitch 12. You are standing on the tip of a thin flake and have to step left to the crack. Very exposed.

We had to bivy at the top of pitch 12, after we fixed to the top of pitch 14. We had wanted to make the top of pitch 17, but the chimney pitches in the dark seems worse than the narrow bivy. We rapped with leaving the haul bag and most of our gear at out high point. Only with our sleeping bags, puffy coats, and food we managed a night of light drizzle.

We woke at 5:30am to cloudy skies we had lost the starry sky much earlier in the night. When it got light it kinda looked better to the west, but Tuolumne was getting rain. At that point on a wall that big, up is better than down.

It cleared up to be a fine day. Looking down pitch 16, 5.9.

The Double Crack, pitch 17. A straight in 5.9 hand crack, one of my favorite.

Neil getting to the far side of the Thank God Ledge.

Top out at sunset. A little late, as we planned to do the 8 mile decent trail that day. We ended up hiking well into the dark and just slept out in the woods a few miles from Curry Village.

Mount Watkins. Had an failed attempt on this face later in my trip.

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