Attempt on Ahwiyah Point-Northeast Gully - 4/18/10 TR


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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 24, 2010 - 01:19am PT
Attempt on Ahwiyah Point - Northeast Gully

Ed Hartouni
April 18, 2010

This is a class 3 route put up by David Brower and Morgan Harris in August 1937. It is a part of my recovery plan to first scramble, then climb my way back into shape, allowing time for the back to heal and for me to get strong, both physically and mentally. It is a way of exploring seldom visited places in the park, and to work through some of the history of climbing.

Any of you that have looked at the NW Face of Half Dome has seen this point, you just didn't know what you were looking at... It's name is thought to be a reference to Mirror Lakes, the Southern Sierra Miwok word awaaya meaning "lake, deep" so maybe the point was the landmark for the lake?

I followed the short description in Roper, but on the way over was becoming skeptical of the late spring snow and rather wet condition of the rock. It was a lovely day, and warm.

From the south loop of the Mirror Lakes trail I could spy the route, with some snow choked gullies, wet vegetation, and general "too early to climb" look. But I persisted... how hard could class 3 be, I'd just wander up and see how high I could get...

The route looks something like this, I suppose:

and right were the arrowhead on the route line is the route goes behind the ridge of the point to the saddle, which is then climbed to the point.

Getting to the snow cone at the base of the gully, I determined that it wouldn't go, as I was wearing approach shoes, and not proper boots, nor did I have an ice axe. It also seemed to have the appearance of avalanche debris, and was very packed. Not to be turned away so quickly, I started to follow the diagonal line of vegetation just to the right (west) of the snow, thinking I could work those ramps up and connect in higher.

Wet, rotten rock and bushwacking are almost never a good combination. I stopped at some point, ate some lunch, drank some water, shot some images, and then descended. Having spied Snow Creek from this position, I decided to head over that and scramble up to the amazing cataract jetting out from the slabs.

Snow Creek from across the Valley

Snow Creek

I shot a lot of images of flowers, on both sides of the valley, which I posted in the flower thread

and on my descent from Snow Creek, I was reminded of the fact that this is still an alpine environment. Some of you may have heard this from your climbs and wondered what it was...

The snow field at the right of the avalanche runout is where I had been 2 hours earlier. Perhaps I figured it out and got out of there without being conscious about the thought process, or perhaps I was just lucky...

...but you all best pay attention to where you are this time of year, that was not a fluffy avalanche, but heavy, blocky snow crashing down bad thing to be underneath avalanche. Several other avalanches crashed down after that, but I was already on the trail back to the car.

Ahwiyah Point - Northeast Gully is probably a climb for late May.

Big Wall climber
Apr 24, 2010 - 01:22am PT
You are a brave man. That area scares me.

Social climber
The Deli
Apr 24, 2010 - 02:07am PT
Nice sequence, Ed!!! Glad you werent underneath it!

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
Apr 24, 2010 - 02:10am PT
The 4 mile trail Ed... that is the ticket for recovering old men... stay away from snow slopes in late April.... see you soon...

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 24, 2010 - 02:20am PT
Nice pics, Ed. A little synchronicity at play there?

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Apr 24, 2010 - 02:26am PT
Nice ED!

Thanks for the glimpse

seth kovar

Bay Area
Apr 24, 2010 - 02:29am PT


Thank Ed

. . . not !
Apr 24, 2010 - 03:18am PT
My sister did that route in the early 80s . Pretty straightforward she said 'cept for a very imposing headwall at the top of the gulley . She had already done Gunsight (without the now fixed rope) so I knew she wasn't about the severity . Here's a (not mine) vid of a slide coming right down the gulley . I hope you'll try it again when it drys out . Thanks for posting .

Social climber
Berkeley, CA
Apr 24, 2010 - 03:23am PT
That is RAD Ed, thanks for sharing!


Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Apr 24, 2010 - 10:43am PT
Wow. Nice photos and TR. What's up next?

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 24, 2010 - 10:53am PT
Super-cool Ed!
Beautiful pix and a good day out.

Will you go back when it dries out?
goatboy smellz

Apr 24, 2010 - 11:00am PT
Great photos Ed and nice to see you taking a positive approach for healing those ills.

FWIW no avalanche has ever been fluffy, they usually all come down hard.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Apr 24, 2010 - 11:07am PT

Heal up, Ed!

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Apr 24, 2010 - 11:26am PT
Glad you're still w/ us, Ed!

We looked across the way and figured that you had revised your plans to scramble to put you on the sunny side.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 24, 2010 - 12:04pm PT
thanks all,
I'll certainly go back, Ahwiyah Point is a photo vantage point for some little projects I have in mind... I was carrying 4 cameras with me that day, hoping to get up on top... I knew that Melissa's top out might have been in view (albeit a long one).

I got some scrambling on DFU territory going up Snow Creek (the NPS signage is always so cheery!) which was the objective for the outing, and moved well around the 8 mile loop. Getting back in time for the pre-drive-out bacchanal (thanks Linda!).

I'll be doing solos for a while until soloing is slower than roped climbing...

Don't know what's next... but my photofinisher is happy that I'm shooting film again!

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Apr 24, 2010 - 12:08pm PT
I'm happy too!

Trad climber
Apr 24, 2010 - 12:12pm PT
Yikes, EdHeartMan!

Glad you're here with us!



Apr 24, 2010 - 12:34pm PT
Nice shots Ed. Thanks!

Glad you weren't in its path.


Trad climber
Apr 24, 2010 - 12:47pm PT
nice, ed.

great shots of the avvy.

Boulder climber
Hell A
Apr 24, 2010 - 03:41pm PT
awesome shots of the avalanche Ed. Glad you are still with us.
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