Slab Happy Pinnacle T.R.


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Big Wall climber
So Cal
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 14, 2009 - 11:58am PT
I had often wondered about the Slab Happy Pinnacle area but had never been up there. It looked like an arduous hike but the rock looked really good so Dan Hershman & I went up there to have a look.

After negotiating a tricky cliff band to access the ledge we traversed back left to the pinnacle along the base of the wall. The way we approached up the gully, we ended up directly below "Golden Years", a superb looking 8 pitch route with several pitches weighing in at 5.11+ to 5.12a. Moving left along the ledge system, we arrived at the golden pillar that is the Slab Happy pinnacle formation. Tremendous rock up here!
A radical looking route put up by Jonny Woodward & Darryl Hensel is found here called "The Big Juan". It goes up to the layback flake 60' off the ground via a 4 bolt face rated 5.12b. Above, the route has several pitches of sparsely protected 5.11 face that the Reid/Meyers guide calls "bold & beautiful", & it seems fitting.

The Dihardral looked weird. Two fixed pins in a corner leads to 2 more corners to gain the main corner but it looks improbable. Frank Sacherer free climbed this route in 1964! Yowza! That guy was studly!

We ended up getting on the easiest rated route there, Slab Happy Center, rated 5.10b. A short lieback corner leads to an arete to gain the first bolt, which was a modern one. The moves seemed hard for 5.10b. Above a tricky sequence gained a dike/knob band that leads left to more features & more bolts.

I whimped out at the step up to gain the second bolt. You are looking at a 15 to 18 foot fall, 25 feet off the ground. I managed to downclimb back to the bolt & retreated thoroughly humbled. *(Edit)* This route was done free in 1974 by Vern Clevenger, George Meyers & Tom Carter. Doing some quick math means the 4th & 5th bolts are 35 years old.

Dan went up & hiked the step up move & soon was at the 4th bolt which was a 1/4" screw top piece of crap. He couldn't see the 5th and final bolt & it was some 60' to the belay, so he came down, lowering off the 1/4" bolt. Damn, this is a stout route for the grade!

I went back up & soon found myself figuring out the moves above & soon saw the last bolt some 35' above. I tied off some horns that were pretty poor but it was something to slow me down if I fell. I gained the last bolt & had to do some trick moves above to gain the belay. I even tried to "rodeo clip" the belay slings but to no avail. I just had to do the final thin face moves looking at a scary fall onto a bolt I was sure would break if I fell onto it. Thank god the rock quality was good. *(edit)* The rock here is much steeper than these photos make it look. See the pic below of Dan on the 5.9 2nd pitch to get a sense of the steepness. ***

Success! Dan followed & was soon off on the next pitch, a 5.9 face traverse to cracks that led to the top of the formation.

Good stuff. The belay/rappel anchors need modernizing but I left a new sling on top & several others at the other stations we rappeled from.

We also did "The Silent Freeway", a 5.10c lieback that is superb. Really gool liebacking & stemming lead to some face moves out left to gain a stance. One of the best routes of its grade in Yosemite!Edit) You get a good look into the Left Side route which looks great. I'm gonna go back there soon to do it. Steep & wild cracks on flawless orange stone.**

This is a gem that deserves more traffic. Perfect rock. perfect protection, what more could you ask for? What a great destination, I highly recommend it.

Trad climber
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Oct 14, 2009 - 12:03pm PT
Fantastic! A TR with good pics and an area that is so effin cool. Nice Job!

EDIT: I gotta say more! The center route is a beauty. The rock quality is superb with knobs, horns, flakes... you name it. It can be intimidating but it is all there. Just clear your head and let it flow. Those bolts do need replacing...

Dihardral spit me out twice before I figured it out. Another classic that would be high-trafficked if closer to the bar.

Get out there boys and girls! This area is great!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 14, 2009 - 12:16pm PT
Really nice! is that chimney on the right slab happy left? that looks interesting...

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Oct 14, 2009 - 12:19pm PT

Good job. The rock does look pretty sweet up there.

Thanks for posting it up!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 14, 2009 - 12:29pm PT
Nice, Bill.

In 2004 I checked out the area with Lin Murphy, and we tried the Center Route. Made full use of a cheater sling on the first bolt and aided on a #0 TCU. I went out left and replaced that first bolt. I backed off of the moves above it, too!

We also tried the Dihardral - I couldn't find a 5.10 way to exit left from the first corner; apparently I needed to go a bit higher (after reading the description in the Roper guide).

I've heard the Left Side route is quite stout.

Golden Years looks cool, but too hard for me. Also, Kelly said a key flake broke on the crux traverse, so that little bit doesn't go free anymore.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Oct 14, 2009 - 12:36pm PT
Good Levy. Very good to see photos from Slab Happy. Nice TR! Here are some notes.

It is true, the rock is absolutely incredible up there and featured to some degree. The view from the Slab Happy area is unique and stupendous.

The Center Route originally was 5.9 A4 by the way.

Note in the last two photos showing Silent Freeway, you can also see the first two pitches of the incredible left side route (now 5.11a, originally aided). I tried to push it free back in 1971. The crux is the ten feet after the chimney egress. The roof above is pretty mindblowing too but not quite as hard as the blank trough out of the chimney.

The route, Golden Years actually has NOT gone free yet, according to one of the first ascensionists Tom Davis. So there is actually an opportunity there to claim the true free ascent of it.


Trad climber
Fresno CA
Oct 14, 2009 - 12:57pm PT
Great TR for a superb formation and area. I'd done the Center Route in its 5.9, A4 incarnation, several decades ago. The last placement was two rurps back-to-back and upside down. I believe the original Center Route was a bit to the right, and the traverse into the crack lower, than the pictures you show of the free version now.

Hats off for two excellent climbs and an excellent TR.

Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Oct 14, 2009 - 12:57pm PT
Nice pictures and report.

right here, right now
Oct 14, 2009 - 02:11pm PT
The Left Side of Slab Happy is stupendous and burly.

Largo called it a grunt; which it is overall... the final exit from the chimneys, on hands through the bombay section is really cool (clearly visible at the top of those photos).
I found the crux, as shown in current topos, to be the twin cracks leaning left (as Haan describes) shown just above Dan's head in your first photo.

I recall previewing The Center Route on the way down and thought it looked sketchy.
Ditto on the problematic aspects of Diehardral (visually).

The whole formation looks really neato from a distance too.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Oct 14, 2009 - 02:18pm PT
Basically there are six route at least up there, all perfect rock, interesting rock usually, and no one around whatsoever. I guess most of the climbs are even world-class.

Gym climber
obsessively minitracking all winter at Knob Hill
Oct 14, 2009 - 02:20pm PT
Greg and Joe and I went up there last fall; Joe and I got to watch GB putting on a drill clinic as the daylight waned there at the 1st-pitch anchor that I believe you guys used. The rock in that area is something else.

And if the Dihardral is 5.10, I'm not sure I ever want to know about the Woodward route....12b? You know it's desperate, and you won't be toproping at the crux.

There were some fixed ropes on Golden Years, not sure what that was about but I have heard that a hold broke at the business and it's much harder now-- maybe they were looking for a way around this? Who knows.

Oct 14, 2009 - 03:15pm PT
Beautiful !!

Social climber
San Luis Obispo, Ca.
Oct 14, 2009 - 03:19pm PT
And where is "Slab Happy"?

Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Oct 14, 2009 - 03:26pm PT
Great TR, guys!!!!

Looks like a wild one, for sure!

Barcus Edit: Got the book?

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Oct 14, 2009 - 03:30pm PT
Around the corner to the east of the East Buttress of El Cap and above Shultz's Ridge and Loggerhead Buttress, accessed via the Split Pinnacle canyon.

Social climber
san joser
Oct 14, 2009 - 03:34pm PT
Very nice TR, Bill.

If you plan on getting up there again, let me know and I'll give you a rope to fix... I'll come by soon thereafter and replace what old bolts/ belays I can reach. This area is too nice to let a few rusty time bombs scare everyone away.


Oct 14, 2009 - 08:07pm PT
Gnarly knobs and cracks.
Great perspective in those last pics.

Trad climber
Oct 14, 2009 - 08:54pm PT
It looks great up there!

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Oct 14, 2009 - 08:55pm PT
That featured granite looks delightful to climb, from my chair. Glad you brought back the pictures.

Trad climber
los angeles, ca
Oct 14, 2009 - 10:10pm PT
Soooo very nice! I'm so sorry I missed it, but champers isn't climbing 5.10 yet!
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