Arrowhead Arete history question

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Fluoride

Trad climber
on a rock or mountain out west
Topic Author's Original Post - May 15, 2006 - 10:12pm PT
Just did that route this past weekend. Simply spectacular. Almost had an alpine feel with the approach, somewhat heads-up route finding up higher and cool summit/ridgeline descent (man, that exposure was sublime). Defintely not a typical valley climb but so very worth it.

When did this route first get done and who did the FA? Saw a bunch of really old pins on it that I imagine have been there since it originally went up.

Thanks in advance.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 15, 2006 - 10:21pm PT
Arrowhead Arete 5.9 Yosemite Falls; Upper, East; Arrowhead Arete Area, 1956 Mark Powell Bill Feuerer

Roper indicates that it is rated 5.8 (rating creep?). He also writes:

"This is the arete which, when viewed from Yosemite Lodge, rises in striking profile above the Arrowhead Spire. Seen from Yosemite Village, it is deeply cleft on both sides by the great gashes of the West and East Arrowhead Chimneys. This classic route was once regarded as 'possibly the most continuous difficult fifth-class climb in the country.' It is particularly amazing that the first ascent party did the route all free."

good show Fluoride!
Loomis

climber
Praha, Ceska Republika
May 15, 2006 - 10:23pm PT
Mark Powell and others, 1958. Was considered the hardest route in North America when it was established @ 5.8. I have done this route 3 times and love the remoteness of the route. On the 3rd time, did a scary var. pitch.

Edit: Yes, 1956, was going on memory...
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
May 15, 2006 - 10:31pm PT
Mark Powell and Bill Feuerer. 31 October 1956. Powell was involved in probably 20 first ascents in the Valley from the mid-50s to the mid-1960s. Feuerer was a frequent partner of Powell's and was the "Dolt" of Nose fame.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 15, 2006 - 11:18pm PT
Memory serves me that it was THE horror climb then, and that Powell did little else after.
Dingus Milktoast

climber
NorCal
May 15, 2006 - 11:27pm PT
Peter

Powell broke his ankle badly on Arrowhead Spire (not Arete).

DMT
Fluoride

Trad climber
on a rock or mountain out west
Topic Author's Reply - May 15, 2006 - 11:56pm PT
Thanks Ed (& everyone else who answered)!! I knew someone here would know the answer. I knew it was a very very old school free climb but I was thinking 60's, didn't realize it was 1956.

How'd they even come across it back then? Did they just go up the old Indian Trail and come across it? Very proud for those guys back in that day.

That had to have been one of the most fun valley climbs I think I've ever done. The first couple pitches weren't much but after that, holy crap it was an amazing route. The views of Half Dome/Porcelain Wall and the backcountry behind there were mind boggling. I'm going to download some pics tonight and post 'em tomorrow.

The top out and descent were almost as rewarding as the climb itself. The summit was great, but that ridgeline you have to traverse to finally get to the 3rd class area was wild. I had no idea it was that exposed. Definite DNF territory. Then once you get to the three raps, going off into that long freehanging space where the caves underneath each section are so green and wet...looks like somewhere a Gollum would live. Even doing the raps on that route was a complete blast.

I don't know very many people who have done it, but those who have, they've all done it multiple times and I can totally see why. I'd go up and do that route again in a heartbeat.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 16, 2006 - 12:48am PT
welcome to the obscurists club...
Fluoride

Trad climber
on a rock or mountain out west
Topic Author's Reply - May 16, 2006 - 01:14am PT
Heh, thanks Ed. I'm enjoying your obscurity threads quite a bit. I'm lucky at the moment I've got a good partner who is up for doing the seldom done stuff. I smiled when I saw the Commissioner's Buttress pic (not sure if it was in fact CB but someone else guessed it) cause that's one that's on our list.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
May 16, 2006 - 11:53am PT
The AA was probably the first true adventure climb I did (around 1971, with Phil Gleason). We got rained on and lightning dashed that arete exit, the one thin as a saw blade, just after we've made our way off of it. Then all those free raps down the gulley to the left with ice water pouring over us. I have forgotten many climbs, but not that one. A great adventure!

Also, it was said by many that if Powell had not badly broken his ankle he would have vastly changed climbing because he was a super talent felled by injury.

JL
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
May 16, 2006 - 02:51pm PT
A picture from the mid-sixties. The climber is Matt Hale. Sorry about the size---the site where it lives keeps 'em big...F11 in IE gives a little more screen acreage.

Dingus Milktoast

climber
NorCal
May 16, 2006 - 03:04pm PT
I have climbed the Arete at least a dozen times. It was my favorite climb of its type in the Valley. But on trip number 11 I fell and shattered my ankle. Now the route I love fosters a cold fear in my heart.

DMT
Fluoride

Trad climber
on a rock or mountain out west
Topic Author's Reply - May 16, 2006 - 08:32pm PT
A couple vista shots I took along the way on route. Cause in addition to the route itself being spectacular, the views from it were such an amazing bonus:







Anastasia

Trad climber
Near a mountain, CA
May 16, 2006 - 10:43pm PT
Beautiful! Now I have to try it out!
I just need to finish my teaching gig before I run off.

Fluoride

Trad climber
on a rock or mountain out west
Topic Author's Reply - May 17, 2006 - 12:38am PT
Yeah Anastasia, it's a definite must-do. Just truly classic in every sense.

However, while Chris' ST guides are for the most part accurate, I have to say the description and topo in his valley guide for this route was somewhat off the mark (we kind of knew the beta for the route but looked at Chris' guide just to compare with what we had). The approach isn't "heinous". He says to not bother with a 60M rope as the ledges for belays are decent. But with a 60M, we linked it so we did the climb in 5 1/2 pitches instead of the 7 pitches he has it at (plus a couple of the belays he has on the topo weren't nearly as good as if you climbed about another 20-30 ft to an even better one than in his book). I think he also had the topout/ridgeline as an 8th pitch...but you'd want to either just freesolo it or if you choose to stay roped, do it in very short sections just slinging a double length runner with biner around the obvious formations. In other words treating it like an alpine climb with short roped sections. You'd never want to do the whole ridgeline in one rope length...way too much penji potential as well as rope drag. But again, it's solo-able anyway.

I'm going to do a write up for the climbing routes section, will go more into detail there.

Loomis

climber
Praha, Ceska Republika
May 17, 2006 - 12:43am PT
rgold, here's a post friendly version of your pic. Thank you, it captures the spirit of the climb for me, Scott.

flouride, cool pic of arrowhead spire.
Fluoride

Trad climber
on a rock or mountain out west
Topic Author's Reply - May 17, 2006 - 01:43am PT
Thanks Scott.

I'm so lame, I didn't a pic of the rock one on the way up cause we were just stoked to get on it and I spaced the camera. I took this pic from when we finished the descent. Was in the shade by that point and the route isn't really visible from this angle, but the formation is still cool:

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 12:59am PT
bump
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:08am PT
great stuff. i added this thread to the route page here.

I'm impressed how many folks have done the approach to get up there!

http://www.supertopo.com/rockclimbing/route.html?r=yoararro
Fluoride

Trad climber
Hollywood, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 12, 2008 - 01:24am PT
Whoa, I can't believe this old post found it's way back to the front page. Man, time flies.

Now that 2 1/2 years have passed and more trips to the valley have come and gone, I can add it's a much better approach in the spring than in the fall. It was SO goddamn dirty and loose when I went up to do it again this past September (this route never gets old). A full summer's worth of dead dry leaves and dirt built up on the ground made for quite a difference in the approach.

I highly recommend doing it in spring. The approach really isn't that bad. But it's in better shape and definitely goes faster when the ground is more saturated and the scrambles less dusty.
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