Father Time: New VI Free Route on Middle Cathedral


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My twin brother's laundry room
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 23, 2012 - 01:42pm PT
A few days ago, Mikey Schaefer made the first free ascent of Father TIme. He had established the route earlier this summer after two years of work. It's an impressive line on amazing rock. Patagonia published my trip report. More details can be found on Rock and Ice as well.

It was great climbing on natural hard free climbing. The pin scars of hard El Cap free climbs suck.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Oct 23, 2012 - 01:51pm PT
The pin scars of hard El Cap free climbs suck.

AMEN BRO!!!!!!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Oct 23, 2012 - 02:04pm PT
WOW. Congrats to both of you! Wish I was able to do 5.12+ slabs with one arm tied behind my back. Actually wish I was able to lead 5.10 slab with both hands ATM! Well done!

Hope the attention of other STers move out of Lance Armstrong thread and on to this!

Sonoma County
Oct 23, 2012 - 02:10pm PT

Thanks for posting James. Nice write-up on the Patagonia blog.

Social climber
Oakland, CA
Oct 23, 2012 - 02:19pm PT
nice writeup and good photos. THanks

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Oct 23, 2012 - 02:22pm PT
That's rad! However, looks like some bolts next to crack in a couple shots? Maybe the photos are deceiving, but looks like good pro....maybe I'm wrong

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Oct 23, 2012 - 02:23pm PT
High angle slabs, 111 bolts, headpointing - cool - but were any ropes sh#t on in the process? If not, does that mean we're evolving, remorseful, or just too old to give a sh#t?

Trad climber
Alta Loma, CA
Oct 23, 2012 - 02:33pm PT

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Oct 23, 2012 - 02:43pm PT
Super proud effort! I have always wondered why more routes don't pierce through the upper ramparts of Middle's North face area.

Way to persevere on a difficult sounding endeavor. Is there a topo available yet?

Oct 23, 2012 - 02:59pm PT

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Oct 23, 2012 - 03:05pm PT
Very cool! Thanks for the TR.


Gym climber
Oct 23, 2012 - 03:16pm PT
Yeah Mikey !!

Middle Cat, the rock is never better.

Way to shred it Bro, nice posts.

Oct 23, 2012 - 03:23pm PT
Definitely no bolts next to available natural protection. Though I did add three bolts to sections that I had initially used beaks and knife blades to protect. All 3 of these sections involve 5.13 climbing. I thought about not using the bolts but I'm glad I did. Both Tommy and Alex thought it would be scary without them. They also both fell on the bolts...

I drew up a shitty topo for Tommy but need to make a real one. I'm headed out of the country tomorrow for three weeks and probably won't get to it soon but will post one when I do.

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Oct 23, 2012 - 03:36pm PT
^that's what I figured. Nice job! Looks sick
the Fet

Oct 23, 2012 - 03:43pm PT
Very nice work! Congrats!

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Oct 23, 2012 - 03:44pm PT
Must have been your fixed lines I walked by last month. What a beautiful place for a project. Magical cirque like area. Beautiful looking rock and I thought whoever was working way up there was really taking advantage of what the valley has to offer if folks would go off the beaten path.

Grats hope you had a blast up there!!

The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
Oct 23, 2012 - 03:49pm PT
I read the Patagonia report. Waytago, men. Awesome!!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Oct 23, 2012 - 04:29pm PT
Terrific tour de force. Creative and visionary!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Oct 23, 2012 - 04:36pm PT

Big Wall climber
Bend, OR
Oct 23, 2012 - 04:57pm PT
Congratulations Mikey! Looks awesome!

Trad climber
Oct 23, 2012 - 06:46pm PT
Major kudos!

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Oct 23, 2012 - 06:57pm PT
Awesome!!! Now ask him to put up a route that mortals can climb

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Oct 23, 2012 - 06:59pm PT
Congrats Mikey. Saw your ledge, was wondering what was going on up there...don't see too many ledges on MC.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Oct 23, 2012 - 07:00pm PT
Fully Awesome! I'd be on that rig in a second if I could climb that hard!
Ryan Tetz

Trad climber
Flagstaff, AZ
Oct 23, 2012 - 09:19pm PT
Hey Mike that is way awesome!
The Warbler

the edge of America
Oct 23, 2012 - 10:05pm PT
Nice work, Mikey.

I've been scoping that line for a long time, and it's about time somebody with the time got on it. I didn't think it would be that hard - sounds like you gotta want it bad. Looks pretty smooth off the ledges...

Father Time.

Cool name too. My last big route in Yosemite was father time for me, since then it's been mostly kid time.

Congratulations, way to keep the spirit alive!
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Oct 23, 2012 - 10:28pm PT
Very nice. Middle still drawing big dreams. Congratulations. Nice looking corners up high on that face.

Trad climber
it's all turtles, all the way dooowwwwwnn!!!!!
Oct 23, 2012 - 11:59pm PT
way rad

Social climber
Oct 24, 2012 - 12:03am PT
This simply kicks @ss.

Big props to Mikey and friends!
Captain...or Skully

Oct 24, 2012 - 12:16am PT
Nicely done, Mikey. Loved your TR, man.
Great pics, too. I'll bet you were inspired by the lizard visit. He's like " c'mon, man, you can do this sh#t, too!" Then you pop a couple pushups......Hehehe.
Diggin' it all.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Oct 24, 2012 - 12:21am PT
Nice Mikey.

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Oct 24, 2012 - 12:30am PT
very exciting to hear middle cathedral and first ascent in the same sentence.
way to get after it!

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Oct 24, 2012 - 12:34am PT
Great people are keeping the Middle stoke alive. Sorta wished we would have worked on a few hard things. The only really hard stuff Kevin and I did was Mother Earth and Black Primo and I don't think either of those get any traffic. Father Time looks like the Next Step, and a mighty big one at that. You guys have to be stoked. I am and I'm just eyeballing the pics.

As usual, Jeff Johnson took some great shots!


Big Wall climber
El Portal/Chapel Hill
Oct 24, 2012 - 08:12am PT
Heck yeah! It is great seeing MC get the attention it deserves!

The Granite State.
Nov 13, 2012 - 12:51pm PT

Nov 13, 2012 - 03:31pm PT
Yea Mikey!!!

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Nov 13, 2012 - 04:07pm PT
sick, sick, sick!!!!!!!


Apr 11, 2013 - 05:38pm PT
Well I finally got around to making a topo for Father Time.

Credit: mikeyschaefer

A printable PDF can can be found here. http://mikeylikesrocks.com/dropbox/Father_time_topo.pdf

Credit: mikeyschaefer

And here are few photos from Tommy Caldwell and Jonathan Siegrest attempting the 2nd ascent the day after I finished the route.

Jonathan on pitch 7.
Jonathan on pitch 7.
Credit: mikeyschaefer

Jonathan on "The Boulder Problem" pitch 13
Jonathan on "The Boulder Problem" pitch 13
Credit: mikeyschaefer

Tommy on the opening 5.12 traverse section of pitch 14.  Big air poten...
Tommy on the opening 5.12 traverse section of pitch 14. Big air potential here.
Credit: mikeyschaefer

Pitch 14 the "Athletic 12c".  Definitely one most amazing pitches I've...
Pitch 14 the "Athletic 12c". Definitely one most amazing pitches I've ever done and extremely pumpy!
Credit: mikeyschaefer

James Lucas on pitch 16 some of the only crack climbing of the whole r...
James Lucas on pitch 16 some of the only crack climbing of the whole route.
Credit: mikeyschaefer

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 11, 2013 - 05:47pm PT
Cool, Mikey - thanks for making and sharing this.
tinker b

the commonwealth
Apr 11, 2013 - 09:21pm PT
nice job mikey, but do you really think you are 5'4"?
The Warbler

the edge of America
Apr 11, 2013 - 09:57pm PT

Trad climber
Mountain View
May 23, 2013 - 06:41pm PT
A trip report from a recent attempt:


The google translate is pretty amusing:


If you pulled on gear on the 5.13 pitches would this be a fun outing at 5.12 A0? Is the bolting pretty sparse on the easier pitches? Which of the 5.12 pitches would be the hardest?


Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
Jun 28, 2015 - 11:17am PT
From the MP page- this is pure gold

"This is by far my crowning achievement in Yosemite and one of the proudest things I've done in 22 years of climing. I spent 60 days spread out over 2.5 years establishing the route. Done ground up and drilled all by hand. Almost all of the climbing above pitch 6 was done rope-solo on the first ascent using bits of aid when I was too scared to free climb. For the free ascent I lead every pitch but one 5.10 up high.

The lower pitches are classic Middle Cathedral, bullet proof gold sculpted rock with incipient cracks and features with almost no crack climbing. Not as steep nor as well protected as many prefer these days but nonetheless amazing climbing. The climbing is generally slow and hard to figure out. Mostly 5.10 climbing except for two pitches of 5.12 and a single pitch of 5.11. Just climbing the first 10 pitches would make a great single day outing.

The upper half is very different than the lower. The rock continues to be amazing but the angle kicks back severely. The first few pitches on the headwall are slightly overhanging. More cracks appear on the headwall but it still feels more like face climbing. The meat of the route is pitches 12-18, which break down as 5.12-, 5.13, 5.13-, 5.13, 5.10, 5.12, and 5.12-. Though the climbing is a bit steeper it is still very technical and continues to be exciting.

Without a doubt pitch 13, 14 and 15 are the most amazing pitches and also the hardest. Each pitch is quite different and requires a different skill set. Pitch 13, "The Boulder Problem," is definitely just a boulder problem and was the crux of the route for me. Only 3 bolts long but it packs a punch. It is probably V8 if done correctly. Pitch 14, "The Athletic 12c" is more power endurance and it is the pump that will spit you off. No single move is that hard but the open laybacking near the end of the pitch is extremely sustained. I originally thought this was 12+ but subsequent ascents have said closer to 13b. The final crux pitch, "The Index 11d" is not powerful nor sustained but it lacks holds. This is classic granite houdini climbing. Stemming, scumming, smearing, back stepping, palming, and high stepping are the beta for this tight corner pitch. Jonathan Siegrist who attempted a repeat said he was totally baffled by this pitch and couldn't do many of the moves, he has climbed 5.15a...

The show isn't over after the crux pitches. A couple more engaging 5.12 pitches remain that are harder than most people will want. Alex Honnold almost wobbled off pitch 18 a runout 5.12-. He said it was kinda "real." I told him I put that pitch up rope solo 1800ft off the ground and he should stop being such a pu$$y. He agreed.

It only took 12 hrs after I finished the route for someone to attempt the 2nd ascent. Tommy Caldwell and Jonathan Siegrist gave it a go but were shutdown after climbing well into the night. Tommy sent all 3 crux pitches after working them a few times. Alex Honnold made the 2nd free ascent and first one day ascent two days after Tommy and Jonathan's attempt. He had someone jumar for him and he also had to climb well into the night. He managed to flash the boulder problem but had to work the remaining 2 crux pitches. He also yo-yo the The Index 11d pitch with the rope clipped above the crux (light duty if you ask me...) The 3rd free ascent went to Tobias Wolf the following spring who spent 3 days on it. It has been attempted numerous more times but no free ascents.

The best strategy is to climb to pitch 10 on the first day hauling a bag with a portaledge. There is a ledge to hangout on but not good enough to sleep on. No need to move camp higher as this puts you just below the business. Can fix ropes from the base of the crux pitches down to the camp easily. Climb to the top and then rappel back down grabbing your camp as you go. Most teams will probably want 3-4 days on route. All of the anchors are two bolts and it is setup with chains to rappel. After hitting pitch 6 it might be more direct to rappel the Smith/Crawford which also has good bolts and chains. Either way will work though.

Whatever you do resist the urge to hike up the gunsight and rappel into work on the crux pitches. This shouldn't be treated as sport climb like El Cap is these days. If I could manage to get the rope up there all by myself, hand drilling bolts from stances, a repeat ascent should be able to start at the ground and go to the top"

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Jun 28, 2015 - 11:58am PT

Whatever you do resist the urge to hike up the gunsight and rappel into work on the crux pitches. This shouldn't be treated as sport climb like El Cap is these days. If I could manage to get the rope up there all by myself, hand drilling bolts from stances, a repeat ascent should be able to start at the ground and go to the top"

Vintage, that is some good stuff.

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 21, 2015 - 09:00pm PT
Bump for a good route put up in good style.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Oct 22, 2015 - 04:54am PT
Wow...Wow......Wow! Missed this the first time around. Now that's climbing....way to go Mikey!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Oct 22, 2015 - 09:33am PT
If anything would inspire me to be a 5.13 or better climber, this would! Pretty incredible. And funny smack-talking with Alex Honnoldx :)

For now I'll have to savor my 5.9-5.10 adventures.

Trad climber
No. Tahoe
Oct 22, 2015 - 03:19pm PT
Kudos, James.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
Oct 23, 2015 - 03:49am PT
More of
Mikey's climbing accomplishments


Oct 23, 2015 - 08:36am PT
Great read. Thanks, snowhazed, for the cross-post.
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