2nd Free Ascent of Basketcase: a story

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Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 29, 2006 - 08:52pm PT
Basketcase 2nd free ascent: A day with Ed Ward
By Peter Haan, copyrighted 2006

It wasnít Edís first visit---I think he had come over from England in the late Ď60ís announcing beforehand in a letter to Royal and others that he was going to bag the second ascent of the North America Wall in a solo, cleverly frog leaping any need to climb in the Valley at all beforehand. Clearly a very efficient plan. He was Ed Ward-Drummond then, later becoming just Ed Ward, why I donít recall. But soon after arriving, he had met up with our various realities and had to actually train like the rest of us, just seeing what he could do as his schooling progressed in the Valley. Itís true, it would have been really impressive had he simply arrived full-blown from the head of Zeus as planned and flash-soloed the second ascent of the North America Wall, beating out Lauria and Hennek. But this dream of omnipotence most of us had had already and hastily recovered from, so we smirked communally, as people do, implying we would never have made such a mistake ourselves.

So on this latest visit in the mid-70ís, his newly revised plan was to get up notable crack climbs in the Valley, smile more and check us all out; a plan that was working well enough and considerably more practical than imagining Yosemite as a simple plum to pick, viewed from the safety-zone of oneís home. I think he was having fun even and he was making new friends, and the warmth was finally finding him.

Kind of elegant, and mostly honest, he had a bonafide adventurous spirit, done the FA of the awesome Trolltind Wall in Norway even, and liked hanging out in high sketchy places where perhaps he worked out in symbolic fashion his particular questions and passions. With his background in the Isles and Europe, he was very good on steep faces and liked to be Bold in Nature, his favorite theme and obsession. There was a really pretty non-climbing girlfriend who was being tortured at the time but Lindy eventually disappeared. Ed was on some kind of unconscious mission, but werenít we all.

So he was bright, an engaging witty conversationalist and in a number of respects, a powerful climber with a very strong back. Kind of an English version of a manís man. Sort of. In those days he still hoped for international acclaim by the way. So here he was in the Valley, and I was back up there too, climbing off and on a bit more--- like a weekend climber---some years after my better-known and devotional days of 1970-1972, but now beset by a complex construction career that still has a hold on me. As we were both intellectuals of sorts, and both wanting some difficult exciting stuff to try, we had started climbing together; it seemed to be working.

We did Hawkmanís escape and I added a dangerous 5.11 finish to it. Ed loved the long steep face pitch on Gleasonís route and just came alive on it. We were having fun right away. And so we went for more.

Less than a month after Donini and TM had aided the crux on their first ascent in 1972, Bridwell and Klemens freed their superb route on Basket Dome across Tenaya Canyon from Half Dome that July. And then Jim and Mark began to aggressively campaign me to do the second free ascent as soon as possible before some of our nemeses got a hold of it. It was a feared route of course, as most of the very early 5.11s were, and this climbís crux was offwidth to make it more repellent to most. Since the approach was hours long involving rigorous brush management and some route finding, the practical attractiveness of this amazing climb was reduced to nearly zero even when able parties would scope it out from the eastern end of the Valley floor. They were seeing what was involved in reaching it and then getting up it. It would be a coup, but also because it was hard to reach, honor would allow one to avoid it and still be a hardman. So there it sat, a somewhat friendly dome sitting on the edge of Tenaya Canyon with a sweeping left facing dihedral of about 7 pitches facing southwest towards the Valley and Mirror Lake---an all-too-obvious line, a natural puzzle of great beauty with its own savage crescendo, each pitch building on the last and then a strange deeply cleft denouement in the summit pitches.

We parked up on the Tioga Road in the morning. Although it was early, it took quite awhile to reach the base of our formation. It was a moderate enough hike down to the rim of the canyon on a frequently traveled park trail, but then leaving it, an aggravating, highly detailed struggle to descend steep tongues of squatty vegetation that were incredibly packed and tightly growing from the seasonal snowpacks; this bit lead to a similarly festooned traverse to the start. The Dome is located fairly high up on the north side of the widening mouth of Tenaya Canyon as it merges with Yosemite Valley, Half Dome right across from us. The rock was absolutely perfect, dazzling white and all ours that morning. It feels alpine here. Surprisingly and astoundingly aesthetic, like parts of the Nose, Elephant Rock, and the Hourglass. What a reward for such a really bitchy approach. What a stimulating secret place but possessed of an opera house view of the upper Valley from which only a few other people had ever gazed.

The earlier pitches are in the 5.9 range, with a few holds and other forms of relief for the climber. These lower sections turn out to be less unrelenting than they appear from below. Protection ample, just happy climbing, but with a worrisome view of the developing overhang of the dihedralís crux pitch #5 a few hundred feet above. Ed is keeping up well, spending less energy on the offwidths than I was thinking he would, but eventually starting to fade a little after hundreds of feet of fast paced crack climbing in thinning air under a blazing alpine sun.

Rather than a stiff vertical main wall typical of lots of other Valley routes, happily the Dome is more in the 80-85 degree range. But the dihedral itself arches out slowly above us as we set up for pitch #5. Ed is in a reasonable stance in the crack and with big sloping footholds, well anchored. I am thinking starting out from the belay, that this crux canít be so hard, 5.11b; what was wrong with Donini? So I pretty much swarm up the initial longer section of increasingly overhanging offwidth hammering in two bongs, climbing over them in the standard manner and starting to turn the corner in a somewhat flamboyant and overly hasty manner. I was in fantastic shape, but not climbing very much at this point in my life. And then stunned, I see the flare into which I realize I am going to have to move.

As one would expect with it changing from overhanging to vertical, the formation is getting incredibly smooth, the crux flare above is basically a sluicebox for snow, scree and water during big weather, and so has become really slick, like something produced in a marble shop. And the crackís edge that I am so happy to have, disappears too early becoming the flaring 45-degree facet of the same slippery nature. Itís reminiscent of the left side of the Hourglass just after the undercling, less complicated, but harder and ever so much safer. I am thinking, at least it is not overhanging at this point, just the lower half of my body is, as it still is in the regular crack trying to dangle and slip out of view! Progress has really slowed down just before this, the method is arm-barring, modified arm-barring and quiet tiny moves. With the demise of the more orthodox offwidthing below I am starting to realize this is a bunch of unusual very very powerful moves coming up, bringing me out of the crack, in an overhung posture.

I donít like what is going on and am having a hard time accepting that there is not some really subtle trick to make all this stop being progressively more hideous. And I am in a hurry, getting a little exhausted but still too cavalier in the face of a world-class problem. I make the first set of moves to gain the bottom of the flare but am in error. I come flying out of there, sweeping the wall for a 25-35 foot well-belayed fall that is more like an amusement park ride than a life-threatening development, one of the five or so leader falls I have ever taken in 43 years. Royal used to say in his oracular riddling manner that you never actually fall you let go. But in this case I am pretty sure RR is quite wrong.

My first feeling is what a phenomenal relief; this natural bastard was trying to give me a heart attack. And frisky little falls can be very stimulating, refreshing---- although in those days leader falls were still rare and really really rare in big cracks. But most of us had practiced falling and belaying quite a bit when when we began climbing, back in the early sixties. So the feeling was on a basic level, pretty familiar. The pain and pressure can seem nearly infinite in actual cruxes, like torture finely applied by a truly uncaring world. I deeply rest on a stance by the belay for forty-five minutes, emboldened but really winded. Ed is a bit blown out by all this but still a solid guy on my rope, still impressively and totally committed. Sometimes the belayer is more upset after a fall than the leader. Thatís right, there is nothing like hitting your head against a brick wall, so that stopping has to be nothing short of enormously beatific and enlightening.

We are worried since it is getting later in the day, we are way the hell and gone up here and truly loathe the idea of a retreat from the base back up through what we thought we would never ever have to struggle again---or even look at---especially going uphill.

I am thinking I can get the moves though, but we will just have to see. I feel the altitude since I donít live in Yosemite anymore, and have only been up for a couple of days from Santa Cruz this trip. Working the whole pitch again, I get up to the crux with more economy and proper pace, and start to think the sequence out more astutely. I just canít believe how delicate this is going to be, transferring myself in 1Ē stages, arching to the right severely and strictly into this flare from the overhanging conventional offwidth just below it, trying to get my torso back over my overhung feet that are trying to detach by this very position I have to take. I make the first move, the one that ejected me an hour earlier, and can hardly stay attached. But with the knowledge that it is going to be more balance than usual and a micromanaging tradeoff between one counterforce lock and another while losing the knee bar, I progress, using unbelievable amounts of power seeking security in the flare in an orderly but granular transition that is nearly impossible at least for someone my size. And there are absolutely no edges of any sort in the crack, neither on the main wall nor on the dihedral face, my usual secret tactic to unlock some cruxes. With no edge to the crack, but only the nearly perfectly smooth flaring facet for my right hand, I arch into the flare arm-barring and palming over a period of 5-10 minutes for just one or two feet of progress, toying with my left leg and right foot as they get more and more tenuous in the overhanging sections right beneath my waist, with a real risk of everything just sinking into disorganization and ineffectiveness.

In the flare now with the shocking problem below me, I realize that these had just been the hardest offwidth moves I had ever done, at least in context on a lead. Oddly delicate too with nothing but pressure to make the moves. No safety valve and no clever, secret and sophisticated combination no one else would see. And I now realize why the incomparable Jim Donini and TM had finally aided this section.

Following, Ed struggles up the lower section but the crux is just not going to happen without tension after repeated vigorous stabs below it that are really wasting him, determined as he was. We spend a lot of time here and I realize we are going to be benighted. I want to be impatient but squeeze this out of mind. I canít see him until he gets to the base of the last 10 feet or so, at the crux. I think, British Ed probably wants to be beknighted, but does he want to be benighted, grinning to myself. Eventually continuing upwards, darkness approaching, we gain a small bumpy ledge inside the upper chimneys and just anchor in somehow, hardly enough room for the two of us.

We start to wait for dawn as night falls quickly. We think we saw some 5.8 above us, and we have no daylight left so sticking here is indicated rather than some hare-brained junior attempt to lead semi-hard free stuff inside weird deep chimneys in total blackness on weathered rock for who knows how many more feet all without any beta whatsoever.

Since I had ever so much experience in the Valley at this point and about twelve years of climbing, we didnít have any bivy gear, any food to speak of, and no more water. We are in something like turtlenecks and cotton pants. And no lights of course. We are above 7,000 feet, albeit in good weather, but as anyone knows, the night is going to be at warmest, high 30ís. We may not have even had a second rope for godís sake. And the thing is going to be about 10 hours long. A plan only young man would form since they are always and without exception, invincible.


But along with this profoundly intelligent situation, I have my half-length ace bandages on my knees under my pants for protection in the offwidths, and I can take them off for the sagacious but gross process of wrapping these filthy things around my head, face and neck mummy-style to trap some of the heat I will be losing through those very vascularized areas. I naturally offer one of the two immediately to Ed, as any decent partner would, and he is grossed out by the idea, nearly offended and certainly shocked. You would think I had offered my underwear, but those sure werenít coming off! He thinks he isnít going to need the ace bandage, but I donít have a clue what he thinks itís going to be like soon as night descends. And I had used this bandage trick on other forced bivouacs to great effect, and knew ďthe sooner the betterĒ. In fact one night I had had to sleep in newspapers like a bum at Sugarloaf as Greyhound had lost my luggage when I was fifteen. I knew that small tricks like this could be the way you survive or at least shorten the approaching all-night spanking.

Time passes, the temperature drops some more, itís a clear sky with almost no breeze, and we are just going to get damned cold. And wonít be having much else to think about for many hours. It becomes obvious enough even to an upper-crust Englishman, that protocol may have to be re-assessed. So quietly at the end of this re-assessment, about two prideful hours into the thing, Ed says in the darkness, ďPeterÖ.you donít supposed I could have one of those ace bandages?Ē In Queenís English of course. It was actually quite elegant and funny even at the time.

So off one comes; I rearrange my remaining one and Ed wraps his face and neck up as best he can in my other scuzzy old ace bandage, and we go forth a little bit more into this challenge similarly festooned. I am also realizing that wearing one less ace bandage is a huge step down from the bulletproof 5-star effect of two.

But this isnít delivering us from trouble. It really is damned cold. So nearly involuntarily in a moment of mutual nonverbal grunted assent, we start to bearhug each other as thoroughly and completely as possible, shaking away in the black guts of this large chimney a pitch and a half from the summit as if something really terrible had just occurred in the world, besides the way we were now garbed. Although warmer in our spazzy clench as time goes by, the un-united portions of our bodies are really getting crispy. We keep changing configurations to relieve other parts that just canít be this cold any longer, but also hating to do so since our desperately created heat races off into the alpine air like a precious life-gas of which we know we only have a fixed amount.

It is an interesting experiment, surviving in this manner, all conventions and inhibitions aside cheek to cheek, perched on this awkward tiny bumpy ledge for seeming endless wretched hours, almost unable to talk for the deep cold trying to take away the little warm spots that were still left of us.

I wondered if this is wild for Ed, hugging a climbing partner way off in California 8,000 miles from home, on a late summer night deep in a chimney at higher altitude after a really hard climb that bested him. But necessity has brought us to stay here, and everything else, all other issues, just shelved as big zeros. Our world is now in a newly established order to get through this, and with dignity. Getting back home is now absolutely trivial; staying is everything; staying warm is now more important than imagined personal boundaries and our respective individualities; starving is now essential and more important than eating, all because the original priorities (climb, go home, and eat) would now kill us. We know the rest of the climb is no challenge, we already have it and we just missed reaching the top by half an hour and the ever-so-longed-for archetypal level walk-off to the car.

Needless to say, as soon as it was possible to see what was happening above us in the colorless early light, we break up our death-grip on each other, start really getting cold separately in belay and lead. Shaking and stiff, I jerk towards the top, climbing grossly and ferociously, almost hatefully and lifelessly robotic, but seeing that it was a very smart thing to endure the night down there on the hideous ledge. For blindly climbing this odd crude stuff to the summit in a circuitous route that I actually am having to think about, I see I might have fallen in pitch dark the night before amongst very rough features or less dramatically, become separated from Ed spending the night in makeshift slings mid-lead on who knows what sort of hastily established anchors somewhere inside the granulated summit.

Soon after, time dragged us both away to our separate pursuits and responsibilities, and I never saw Ed again. He lives in Berkeley, last I heard and is a friend of Al Steck.

end


bachar

Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Jul 29, 2006 - 08:56pm PT
Basketcase! whoah, a blast from the past. How many ascents has that thing had? Great story Peter. Any photos?
sketchy

Trad climber
Vagrant
Jul 29, 2006 - 09:39pm PT
Good writing, I could really picture the offwidth. Great memory as well, I can barely remember the pitches I climbed the weekend before. Got any more?
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 29, 2006 - 09:56pm PT
Thank you! And thanks for all the photos you posted a month or two ago, of climbs and climbers in the 1970s.

Clearly an excellent adventure, one still well remembered. And a darn hard climb!

I ran into Ed Drummond a few times in the 1970s, in Yosemite and then in the Bugaboos. As an impressionable teenager I was pretty awestruck, but he usually had a fair bit to say. A strong climber and interesting writer. It would be fun to hear his half of the story, unprompted.

Anders
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 29, 2006 - 11:40pm PT
Hi,

John and buds, no photos damn it, just---as usual---running with it because it felt so good. And since we weren't carrying food nor water not etc, of course we couldn't consider a camera. By this time, though, I was in fact photographing some, finally (the earlier posted stuff for example). But you know, when it got hard or fast, the camera got left behind. We had little idea of history. It is all in memories, now. So I felt, christ, post this story before it is too late.

I am working on about a dozen other little vignettes like this, by the way. It's fun and challenging for me to pull it all up. These were times that were important to a lot of us here, even now, and must not go unacknowledged. There are thousands of us here on this forum that either were part of the 60's-80's period or want to take it in. The climbing world is standing on our shoulders in ways. Climbers before me, did not treat these areas, and damn, they disappeared on us all. After all those profound, life-changing experiences they had had...a big silence. If only Pratt and Sacherer, and now many newer climbers, had had more power and more time to write in what ever fashion, to convey to us what they went through, with all the extra stuff that makes a real experience, not an engineering report. Pratt's writing, though just a few pieces, is exceptional and worthy, and should have been an incentive for later climbers. He lead the way.

best to you, P.
WBraun

climber
Jul 30, 2006 - 12:06am PT
I remember when you went there Peter. You guys were awesome. I went there too years later but a thunderstorm came and cos, Shipley, and me ran away hahaha. On the drive back, (we came in from Porcupine flat), cos and Walt were playing my guitar driving me crazy, so I took it from them and threw it out of the car. They were shocked but laughed their asses off. A great day anyways.

Later I woke up one morning and was going to free solo it on sight. I told Shipley and he told me I was nuts and shouldn't go there.

So we both free soloed the Steck Salathe that day instead, bummer!

Never did go back to Basketcase. What a cool line. You're lucky you went Peter. It's a true gem.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 30, 2006 - 12:24am PT
Thanks for writing it down for us to read Peter. Great story, and well written.
GoMZ

Trad climber
Paradise
Jul 30, 2006 - 12:56am PT
Thank You for posting this great story.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jul 30, 2006 - 01:38am PT
Peter's posts here are always good, and this one was great.

If Big Mac would put a TR section on the website, this sort of thing would not get lost in the morass.
bachar

Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Jul 30, 2006 - 03:13pm PT
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Jul 31, 2006 - 12:31am PT
Thanks for the TR Peter,
Great writing. Every time I've gone by and looked up I've wanted to be up there. It just looks wild. Too bad I'll never climb that hard.
Zander
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jul 31, 2006 - 11:16am PT
great stuff!
Good point concerning the historical continuity which links the generations.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 31, 2006 - 12:23pm PT
Friggin' great story!
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Jul 31, 2006 - 01:29pm PT
Peter, I'm always glad you act on those impulses to write your recollections down and share them with us. Ed Ward wrote a little piece for Ascent I think. White something, White Elephant after bailing from the NA Wall? I think he mentioned dropping a shoe off one of the lower pitches and packing it in.
Nate D

climber
San Francisco
Jul 31, 2006 - 06:29pm PT
Engaging read - thanks for sharing!
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 31, 2006 - 06:53pm PT
I just read this again...and my first thought is "damn, I wish I could write like that!" My second was, "I want to try Basket Case!". Oh wait, maybe it was the other way around. Peter, this is Supertopo at it's best!
Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Yosemite
Jul 31, 2006 - 07:38pm PT
Peter,

Great story of an excellent adventure. I also have enjoyed the photos you have posted. I am working on improving the
Yosemite Climbing Association website and would like to have a section in it with personal accounts of climbing adventures on the site. I also would like to have a (historical climbing)forum hopefully without the politics and the slander, sort of in a question and answer format to be used as a tool for gathering climbing history. Would you be interested in donating or lending some of your stories and photos to be put on the website? www.yosemiteclimbing.org.

Thank,
Ken Yager
David Nelson

climber
San Francisco
Jul 31, 2006 - 07:52pm PT
Absolutely incredible writing! Thanks for taking the time, and think about another when you have the creative juices flowing. It is not easy to write like that.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 31, 2006 - 08:39pm PT
Hi again buds,

Ken/Chickenskinner,
just let me know what you need. (peterhaan@mac.com) I am ever so into what you are doing and would certainly contribute. And a million thanks for your stunning and important contributions to us here and to climbing as a whole. The Hourglass article is now final, and you could have that too along with the Salathe article and this article.

And John V., and all the rest of you, thanks for your kind, generous encouragement. It makes a Big Difference to hear from you. John V, I was amazed by your story a year or few ago, regarding climbing with your son. It had the most amazing quality developed in it. How is Inez?? I called her shortly after she moved to W. VA, and she never returned a msg. Probably in Austria.

I am working on some more of these recollections, such as:
-doing the first unroped ascent of Crack of Despair
-doing FA of Wheatthin
-FA of Call of the Wild
-climbing Crack of Doom, Twilight Zone, Crack a Go Go.
-racing Bridwell down the talus at Arch rock when he took a horrible fall in the talus
-Surviving a fall in North Dome Gully as a big snowstorm approached at night
-My time with Molly Higgins
-Climbing with Ritchie Goldstone
-Pouring Bob Locke's ashes off of Dana into the couloir
-spending too much time with Ament, in a tent for a couple of weeks
-rescuing Vern Clevenger on Mud Flats when he was a teenager

Each one of these events was packed with stuff that is worth writing about, especially now that 30-40 years have gone by. And to structure it into stories is, although difficult, enriching to me.

Once again, I want to stress: it is shocking and disappointing that there is not more written lore from 1950-1974 on Yosemite. I think I have read it all, btw. and it just is not enough... As I have said elsewhere, climbing was almost a Beat phenomenon, and just doing it, was all that could matter. At least that's what we thought then, and now we see how we starve... there is more to see in these old events, as we transition from oldstyle accounts that read like engineering field reports or coy tales of self-aggrandizement, to our current emotional and complicated era. At any rate thanks and I will post some more stuff soon.

PH




ground_up

Trad climber
portland, or.
Jul 31, 2006 - 08:55pm PT
This is the stuff that makes the forum worthwhile !
Thank You Peter !
Hardly Visible

climber
Port Angeles
Aug 1, 2006 - 12:33am PT
Great story Peter, I look forward to more.
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Aug 1, 2006 - 01:38am PT
You're too kind. Inez is alive and well in the holler, and she is in fine climbing shape. A few years ago she told me about an adventure the two of you had on an obscure route on the Column. That was the first I heard about the other use for Ace bandages. She didn't know the name, so I'm guessing that was the Direct Route, now all but forgotten, except for a line on a photo in the Reid guide.

I look forward to more of your recollections.
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
Aug 1, 2006 - 05:38am PT
Excellent story Peter. I never climbed with Ed Ward (I wasn't at that level), but talked with him a couple of times. Mad Dogs and Englishmen comes to mind.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Aug 1, 2006 - 07:46am PT
Nice stroy Peter. Haven't seen Ed in 25 years.

More, please?

Best, Roger
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2006 - 10:01am PT
John V,

Thanks for the update on our Gnarling. Yes it was the Direct Route on the Column (III 5.7). We started really late, had a brief routefinding problem down low, solved it, got a pitch below the top and had to bivy in the little forest just below the summit. We made a fire, kept it stoked all night and ace-bandaged ourselves then too. RR, Vandiver and I used to do this route unroped in the spring back in the late 60's and 70's as a get-in-shape program. We had it down to about 60 minutes. Sometimes we would link it with So. face of N. Dome and descend N.Dome Gully. I will have to write something on Inez and I huddling away, tearing all the branches off of oak bushes for the fire, talking endlessly like college freshmen staying up all night on their first week away from home.

For those of you who are enjoying this little tales I am posting, I would recommend Doug Robinson's books btw. He is a wonderful writer. He lives in Aptos, CA (Santa Cruz) with his cool family, and still writes and climbs/teaches/coaches.

best, P.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 1, 2006 - 10:53am PT
I second Peter's recommendation of Doug's book, it is full of wonderful writing and wonderful stories... and even some great black-and-white photos. I learned about it thanks to Dingus who mentioned it in a previous post recently.
Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Yosemite
Aug 1, 2006 - 03:24pm PT
Hi Peter,

Thank you. I am going to add a story or personal adventure section to our website and once I have done that I will contact you. Keep writing those stories down they are priceless.

Ken
426

Sport climber
Buzzard Point, TN
Aug 1, 2006 - 04:24pm PT
PH, thanks and great words.

I often thought of you on Salathe soloing when we did the route. My role was the free climbing cutie so I got all the wide. It helped me thrash my way up, just knowing you had done it big lonesome style when I was a tot. Looking forward to more vignettes...

Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Aug 4, 2006 - 04:57pm PT
Peter, I enjoyed your story and its vivid descriptions of a remote testpiece.

I just finished Jim Perrinís book on Whillans, The Villain, which I highly recommend. Peter and other off-width experts will be amused by Perrinís assertions about US off-width proficiency. I was reminded of the following passage from the book when Peter described in the story maneuvering around a bong after placing it for protection:

ďIt took American climbers some time to realize that wherever you could place [a bong], you could also find good jams. [British climber] Martin Boysenís 1967 free lead of the crux artificial pitch of the American route [Frost, Fulton and Hemmings]on the south face of the Aiguille de Fou [in Chamonix] caused great consternation Stateside, but proved exactly this point.Ē The Villain, p. 250.

Oh, really? Rather cheeky, that. Despite this bit of chauvinism, the book is excellent, full of great stories about Whillans, as well as British climbing in general and related debauchery in the 50s through 80s. The Brits have a tradition of great climbing tales and a rich climbing history.

Peter, thanks for the nice addition to Yosemiteís stories.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Aug 4, 2006 - 06:03pm PT
Peter.... green with envy!!! Good job man.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 4, 2006 - 06:41pm PT
Rick A, thanks for your read and thanks for the recommendation of Perrin's recently published book. I had not noticed it, but will now order it! I read his giant Mirror in the Cliffs anthology back when it was published, so am looking forward to his own view on the incredible Whillans. Wow. My favorite writers in the past are of course Gervasutti, Terray, Patey and some of Dave Roberts, with the microscopic amounts of Pratt we have left today among others.

And thanks Russ, as always. Making you green with envy makes me red with embarassment .

best, PH
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Aug 4, 2006 - 07:47pm PT
hahaha! Peter, you 'da man!
pc

climber
East of Seattle
Aug 4, 2006 - 08:32pm PT
I believe that the two of you "Mr Red" and "Mr Green" would create a truly beautiful baby blue offwidth.

;)
scuffy b

climber
The town that Nature forgot to hate
Aug 7, 2006 - 12:41pm PT
Great story, Peter. It really flows well. I wish I'd let you drag
me up some of the Wide in the old days instead of sticking to the
thin & crimpy I concentrated on back then.
Those unplanned bivies are certainly draining.
Thanks for the beautiful contributions.
Steve
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 28, 2007 - 09:12pm PT
As we're into the spirit of bumping, I thought I'd add this one. No need to mention the "C" word.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jan 28, 2007 - 09:48pm PT
What Scuffy said, in particular, what about Gollum left?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 29, 2007 - 11:18am PT
Superb story Peter. Thanks for posting it. I hope and assume that you are planning on a book sometime yourself to contain all these gems. Ed's piece in the 1973 Ascent, "Mirror, mirror", about his epic route on the Troll Wall in Norway, is one of my all time favorites. I wish that he had been more prolific as a writer as I really enjoy his incisive wit and black humor.

Very little writing has emerged from the post golden age generation in Yosemite and your contributions and experience are singular and very valuable indeed. Especially since you have a predilection for the wide and wild shared by only a select few!
Your tales are like the gold thread woven into an already splendid tapestry to render its beauty unsurpassable. Keep spinning please.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Jan 29, 2007 - 11:57am PT
Excellent story which really conveyed the feel of the climb and events. Thank you for posting this; and look forward to reading more.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 12:50am PT
bump
Double D

climber
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:21am PT
Ed...thanks for the bump as I'd never seen this before.

Peter...great story! I meant to meet you at the Nose reunion but got sidetracked. My loss, I'm sure.
MisterE

Trad climber
My Inner Nut
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:23am PT
Ed - bumpmaster General!
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Nov 12, 2008 - 10:07am PT
Somehow I missed this story before -- glad Ed brought it back. First rate climbing and reading.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 12, 2008 - 10:47am PT
Good story, gives me a chance to talk about the first ascent, not that it matters much after all these years. When I got to the Valley that spring, TM told me he had discovered a great new line. He said that he had been looking at it with binoculars and had the gear figured out. I'll never forget the look on his face when we got to the bottom of the route- pitch after pitch of wide cracks loomed above as he fished out the knifeblades and other, mostly small gear, from his pack. Having come that far, we decided to give it a go even though we only had a couple of larger hexes. As the "wide crack guy" I ended up on the sharp end. On the crux pitch I had to constantly down climb to clean gear for the climbing above. I probably climbed the damn thing three times. I finally gave in to exhaustion and used a single aid move at the crux. I'm sure that I could have freed the pitch if I had the right gear. Back in the Valley I ran into Mark Clemens and told him about the climb including beta on gear. The next day he and Bridwell nailed the first free ascent. I still haven't learned to keep my mouth shut- oh well.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 12, 2008 - 10:50am PT
Hi again everybody. It actually is hard finding photos of Basket Dome, at least showing Basketcase. But I found that http://www.yosemite-17-gigapixels.com allowed me to develop a zoomed side view of the route.



zoomed in a bit more:


Mtnmun

Trad climber
Top of the Mountain Mun
Nov 12, 2008 - 11:18am PT
Hi Peter, great read, I'm sitting here with my morning coffee, procrastinating getting into the day and was stoked to find your well written story on the Taco. Cheers, Jude
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Nov 12, 2008 - 11:25am PT
Great story, Peter, thanks.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 12, 2008 - 12:08pm PT
Nice recollection, Jim.

I have never done "Basketcase" but it is a fine looking line.

This past weekend, Peter and I talked alot about the nature of our collective efforts to get up great routes and how uncertain it was. I remmeber TM telling me about your heroic efforts.

Best, Roger
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 12, 2008 - 12:08pm PT
Hi Peter,

Thanks. Very deep thanks. What you illuminate in the crux is revealing of sensitive stuff. Like your Hourglass story, one of the very best. My body torques about, so fully engaged and squirming with the discomfort of being up against that smoothness, the polished flare bombay moves. The way I squirm now is a direct denial of the enforced posture of being engaged there, locked on but barely, where any such extraneous movement would either pop you off, or distract critically from the gut-busting clinging and pop you off anyway.

You're so right about all those engineering-style accounts. They seem to use everything else in the tale to turn away from talking about the hard stuff, the scary stuff. Pretty soon as the next account gets written, and then the next, a group mind builds up to feeling it's OK not to address the sticky stuff. Yeah, just leave it out. It's all done quite unconsciously but at the same time with relief.

Then you come along and bust that wide open. Yeah, "wide." Thank you indeed. I know how hard it is to do this well, so it's correspondingly appreciated.

Thanks for the photos too.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:43pm PT
Wonderful story. I think you're the only person I ever heard of who has repeated Basket Case. It sounds horrendous.

JL
Nate D

climber
San Francisco
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:53pm PT
Hey Peter,
In case you hadn't, also look at the direct views of Basket from the Diving Board on the xRez Gigapixel site. Quite good - and should be included in the thread as well.

Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:57pm PT
When do the falls dry up?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:59pm PT
I remember about 12 hours, but it depends on the dose... could be as long as 24...
Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Nov 12, 2008 - 03:08pm PT
Wow!



Thanks Peter, for a cool report and congrats on an historic Ascent!

I wanna do it!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 03:31pm PT
If you go up there, you might want to check out Milestone as well.

http://www.stanford.edu/~clint/yos/milestone.htm
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 12, 2008 - 03:33pm PT
Jaybro,

actually back in the day, this is what you had to look like:


Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 12, 2008 - 03:42pm PT
Johno, yeah come to think of it, I don't know anybody doing it after me....I don't. I think the approach is tough enough and the climb hard enough that it took fools to do it in the first place. But a truly great climb and very safe. And if you can't do the crux you could aid it for a few feet like TM and Donini did and not have to rappel off and hike back up the Godforsaken approach.

Thanks Nate. Right. here goes:




Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Nov 12, 2008 - 03:43pm PT
Now really, that Is the kind of line I dream of!
Walleye

climber
The back seat of my 69 Nark Avenger
Nov 12, 2008 - 05:34pm PT
Now that looks like a puker for sure. Mighty Mussy wants to do the thing but he needs someone to go flag a trail to the base so he find his way to it.

A great story and a great read. Thanks
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 05:45pm PT
from what the approach looks like we'll have to short haul Fish into the base... or put in a rap route from the top. Even getting to the top is a bit of a hike.

Team OW is ready to serve, however...
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Feb 23, 2009 - 12:45am PT
bump for updated http://www.xrez.com pic...

WBraun

climber
Feb 23, 2009 - 12:52am PT
Believe it or not Peter, I was going to onsight free solo Basket case one morning and Walt Shipley talked me out of it.

It was kinda hot day in the summer and Walt suggested we both free solo Steck Salathe instead, which we did.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 23, 2009 - 12:56am PT
That's a lot of virgin Valley stone right there.

Two hours of casual hiking from the Tioga Road.

OK, maybe the last half hour's a little steep.




But the East Face of BD has some lines awaiting. And that other little slabby dome, well...

EDIT: and there's a crazy looking route on the face of the pillar between Basket Case and Straight Jacket.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 23, 2009 - 01:00am PT
Munge. This is an incredible photo. Thanks for reporting that xrez has got new stuff--I guess that is what you are saying. Anyway, it does not show the "Basketcase" route but instead and way better, a fabulous shot of Kevin Worrall's "Milestone" route on the east face. 5.12b VI (19 pitches). (See previous thread from The Warbler on this. I am guessing it is his best climb.

Let's soup it up so we can see the detail that Worrall was working with. HIs route begins far bottom left and ascents diagonally up right almost to the highest point. He did this a few years ago as a fossil too.


The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 23, 2009 - 01:20am PT
Yes, Peter, that is a great perspective - one not many climbers see.

The first four pitches are cropped out of the frame. Milestone climbs into the frame up steep terrain and into the dark corners below the giant arch, until the left wall of the arch starts to overhang and turns orange and cream colored. Here, atop pitch 8 are some scrub oaks on a bivi ledge in the back of the giant corner, from there the route ascends a ramp which leads up and left to the arete of the arch. Then follows thin face climbing to a 300 ft splitter crack, with the crux 11th pitch. The arrow crack parallels the edge of the arch, getting closer and closer as you climb, ending on the brink of the roof near the arches end, right at the junction of shadow and sunlight on the arches lip. From there 5 pitches lead to the summit up the right margin of the shaft of sunlight which tapers to a point as it drops down the wall.

EDIT: Actually did the route just before I became fossilized, Peter. Having a kid just afterward seemed to be the catalyst that set off the hardening up of the old joints, hence the name Milestone.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Feb 23, 2009 - 01:27am PT
Peter, zactly. Good freshening of the shadows.

Kewl unearthing of a fresh persective on this route. It's an incredible area when viewed in xrez. Kevin, I can see why you were drawn to it.

I just want to try that slab to the right. I think Kevin said there is a spring on top and good bivy site.

July sounds like a good time to go in.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 23, 2009 - 02:09am PT
Munge,

The slab has some great dike lines on it, the angle is real consistent as the photo shows, and the rock is, of course, excellent.

The campsite above might be the nicest rim bivi site I've seen too, when the creek's running.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Feb 23, 2009 - 02:41am PT
done and done then. checking maps for the approach from above now...

thx!



edit- lightened original in the hopes of less data loss.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Feb 23, 2009 - 04:55am PT
Here's a fairly low-res shot of Basket Dome and the slab to the right, from the original Xres:



Below are high-res images of Milestone from Xres:





The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 23, 2009 - 10:35am PT
Nice Clint!

I've wanted to get a shot of the route from that perspective since we did it. Your photos really show the line well, as was obviously your intention. Anyone interested in doing the route could use them along with the description I wrote, and have no problem staying on route. Doing it in a day would be challenging.

The route goes from low dead center to upper left in the lowest photo, leaving the bottom of the prominent right facing corner on a diagonal slash to the soft white arete on its right. Through the center of the photo it climbs the right facing corner/ramp with the clean jagged arete that ends at a pointed white top. Where the ramp ends, dark features lead up and right to a difficult Arches style slab section which ends at the roof at the top of the frame. From the right side of that roof, in bottom of the second photo, a weakness leads up and left on clean rock between the bushes into the white ramp. You climb that for a bit, and then exit right to a belay on stacked blocks below a vertical straight in crack leading toward the arete above. From that arete, the white hand traversing flake is well lit that leads right into the back of the huge shadowed corner.

The route is obvious in the upper part of the third photo, but lower in the frame you actually climb all the way up to the sunlit tree, then down a ramp, and up another ramp to a belay out on the arete. A short, hard traverse left gains a Wheat Thin style flake, not visible in the photo, that parallels the arete for the first forty feet. From a belay at the top of the flake, a tricky face traverse finally climbs to the crack and the crux of the route. Higher in the third photo the route is mostly obvious - the route leaves the crack and belays in the left most hole, as the cracks are not freeable where they pass through the bulge at the line of holes. The Crack Sniffin' Dike above then leads the climber back right to the diagonal crack above the horizontal line of holes. Where that crack appears to end, you traverse right to another parallel, invisible crack. The crack becomes so thin you can't really see it in the photo, but its a splitter 1/4 inch crack, laser straight for 80 feet, right on the softly shadowed arete that parallels the sharp arete of the corner below. 11d as in desperate (prolly 5.12).

In the fourth photo, the exposed belay where the crack disappears around the roof is obvious - from there a long pitch goes up to a belay at the far right end of the long diagonal ramp that cuts through the frame. You can see the Scott - Child route to the left - it climbs the small corner/ramp to the left of the big ramp, the face to the big tree, and up the obvious flake above the tree. Milestone stays toward the right side of that fourth photo, entering a zig zagging left facing corner. In the top photo, you see the end of the flake system at the bottom, and then the Tuolumne style black streak finish dead center. The cracks that continue up and right look fun, but a direct exit is in order at that point.

The bivi site is visible at the very top of your low res photo in the open, flat terrain above the smaller dome. From the bivi, descend to the east behind the smaller dome, then follow its base back to the west. The gully below the east wall of Basket Dome is kinda sketchy.

Thanks for posting those Clint!

KW
MisterE

Trad climber
One Place or Another
Feb 23, 2009 - 11:33am PT
My Gawd, I bet the position towards the top of the arch (geting closer to the edge) is breath-taking
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 23, 2009 - 12:13pm PT
Here is a link to a 2 mb file I created out of merging Clint's five Xrez photos. You can zoom it way up and retain resolution:

files.me.com/peterhaan/tc4il8

and meanwhile, this is what the merge looks like from Photobucket which won't let me post such a giant HR image:


MH2

climber
Feb 23, 2009 - 12:17pm PT
Something about Peter's writing makes me think of getting past fear beyond the climbing type.

Does anyone have a picture of Ed Ward(was -Drummond)? We saw a guy once who stood apart. For reasons I don't understand, other than he wasn't local, my brain made the unlikely guess that he was Ed Ward.

As Mighty Hiker mentioned, it would be interesting to hear the story in the inventive prose of PH's partner.
noshoesnoshirt

climber
dangling off a wind turbine in a town near you
Feb 23, 2009 - 01:40pm PT
Holy crap I feel like an unmotivated slug.

Thanks for the great posts, mebbe today I'll go to that new stone on the river I've been meaning to check out.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Feb 23, 2009 - 02:13pm PT
no doubt

thx Clint and Peter for the motivational merging of the images.

What a bitchen line.

I hate to even ask, because if I have to even ask...

What's the rating on Milestone?
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 23, 2009 - 02:48pm PT
The photos do really show what a cool line it is - intricate and subtle, yet pretty direct overall. Starts at the lowest point of the Dome, and winds its way through lots of wild terrain, ending near the summit. The lower quarter of the route is really good, clean and hard climbing, despite the chaotic structure and brushy ledges. The second quarter is steep, hard crack climbing. The third quarter holds the crux pitches in that amazing thin crack system, and the top quarter is just fun, low angle flake and slab climbing, except for a desperate (11d) thin face section on the 16th pitch.

19 pitches - 14 are 5.11, one short 5.8 pitch, one 5.12b (the 11th), the rest are 5.10.

3 pitches are all bolt protected, 7 all gear protected, the rest mixed bolts and gear.

90 bolts total, all stainless, 15 two bolt belays, 2 three bolt belays, the rest are protection bolts.

Its a pretty incredible and intense climb - even with a bivi atop pitch 8, and prior knowledge of all the pitches, the second day was long for us semi-fossilized guys. A retreat from high would be tricky, but pretty basic from the top of the 11th or 12th. The last three pitches could conceivably be done free with headlamps.

Some day a team will do it in a day - that would be the ultimate style of ascent.

EDIT: just noticed the merge Peter posted above isn't lined up correctly between the top photo and the one under it - the top photo should be shifted east a ways.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Feb 23, 2009 - 04:30pm PT
Here's my attempt to draw lines to match Kevin's descriptions of Milestone:


In the top photo, you see the end of the flake system at the bottom, and then the Tuolumne style black streak finish dead center. The cracks that continue up and right look fun, but a direct exit is in order at that point.


In the fourth photo, the exposed belay where the crack disappears around the roof is obvious - from there a long pitch goes up to a belay at the far right end of the long diagonal ramp that cuts through the frame. You can see the Scott - Child route to the left - it climbs the small corner/ramp to the left of the big ramp, the face to the big tree, and up the obvious flake above the tree. Milestone stays toward the right side of that fourth photo, entering a zig zagging left facing corner.


The route is obvious in the upper part of the third photo, but lower in the frame you actually climb all the way up to the sunlit tree, then down a ramp, and up another ramp to a belay out on the arete. A short, hard traverse left gains a Wheat Thin style flake, not visible in the photo, that parallels the arete for the first forty feet. From a belay at the top of the flake, a tricky face traverse finally climbs to the crack and the crux of the route. Higher in the third photo the route is mostly obvious - the route leaves the crack and belays in the left most hole, as the cracks are not freeable where they pass through the bulge at the line of holes. The Crack Sniffin' Dike above then leads the climber back right to the diagonal crack above the horizontal line of holes. Where that crack appears to end, you traverse right to another parallel, invisible crack. The crack becomes so thin you can't really see it in the photo, but its a splitter 1/4 inch crack, laser straight for 80 feet, right on the softly shadowed arete that parallels the sharp arete of the corner below. 11d as in desperate (prolly 5.12).


From the right side of that roof, in bottom of the second photo, a weakness leads up and left on clean rock between the bushes into the white ramp. You climb that for a bit, and then exit right to a belay on stacked blocks below a vertical straight in crack leading toward the arete above. From that arete, the white hand traversing flake is well lit that leads right into the back of the huge shadowed corner.


The route goes from low dead center to upper left in the lowest photo, leaving the bottom of the prominent right facing corner on a diagonal slash to the soft white arete on its right. Through the center of the photo it climbs the right facing corner/ramp with the clean jagged arete that ends at a pointed white top. Where the ramp ends, dark features lead up and right to a difficult Arches style slab section which ends at the roof at the top of the frame.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Feb 23, 2009 - 05:45pm PT
How long did it take to put it in? 19 pitches never comes easy, but face it often harder due to belays, etc.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 23, 2009 - 05:58pm PT
Nearly perfect, Clint.

The first pitch is just right of the obvious corner, on the face, which is actually a soft arete with faint diagonal slashes all the way up it parallel to the line you drew.

All good up to the hand traverse at the arete above the white ramp. There the route follows a shaded left facing corner above the second sunlit bump on the white flake. Above that its slightly left of your line, in the very back of the shaded corner to the tree. There's a fine steep splitter crack lurking in there. From the tree, the crack you use to downclimb the ramp is right up against the overhanging wall of the big corner, to the left again of your line.

The traverse to the cracks, the dike, and to the lip off the roof is exactly right, but the pitch off the belay at the lip climbs up and left off the belay on 5.11 face, left of your line, then under a left facing short dihedral/roof, up a white corner, and then back right to the end off the big diagonal slash. You saw the tiny left facing flake that you lieback off that belay to get over the bulge above the slash. Instead of continuing straight up above that into the zig zagging left facing corner, the route climbs up and left in those scallops toward a grey circular spot, touches the base of a left facing, left leaning corner, and directly up the blank, as in blankety blank, face into the zig zag.

From there it's exactly right.

The Scott/Child is right too.

There you go, fine route finding job in cyberspace, now somebody's gotta climb it!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 23, 2009 - 06:19pm PT
Munge,

It was a LOT of time and effort, not the best style, but we did the best we could. I was psyched to do the route finally in two days with no fixed ropes and no falls, after 3 trips to the Valley and 8 or 10 days on the rock putting the route together. We tried to do a ground up ascent, but ... It's a long story.

Clint has an outline of the sequence of events on his long hard Yosemite freeclimbs site, I believe it is.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Upper Fupa, North Dakota
Feb 23, 2009 - 06:21pm PT

Werner says: I was going to onsight free solo Basket case one morning and Walt Shipley talked me out of it.

Usually when someone like Walt says it is a "bad idea" ........ well....... you get the idea.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 23, 2009 - 06:24pm PT
My experience with Walt was that he was always concerned about the safety and well being of others, not always his own.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 25, 2009 - 01:35pm PT
In June of 1975, Kevin gave an account of the first ascent of "Milestone" in Old Geezers! (Yes you!) Write up your FA Stories and tidbits

The first ascent of "Milestone" by Kevin Worrall

Karl really does have a good idea, even though most people aren't taking him seriously, I'll start with the last, and maybe the best Valley FA I've done.

Sometime in the mid seventies, after Bridwell did Straight Jacket on Basket Dome, he told me about a long straght in crack system on the wall right of that route and near the arete of a massive right facing arch that dominates the southeast face of Basket Dome. He was really excited about it at the time, and said he thought you might be able to faceclimb to it, or that I might be able to.

Went up the Snow Creek switchbacks 30 years later to scope it out. Schwacked almost all the way to the base and saw potential for a start. Couple days later walked up Tenaya Canyon and way up the talus past Half Dome with some glasses and my camera. Began to see a line from the lowest point of Basket Dome up through some disconnected features, to three giant ramps that switchbacked nicely toward the crack system Bridwell told me of. From the end of that three hundred foot crack a weakness appeared to lead for five or six lower angle pitches to the top of the dome. Careful inspection of the photos I took that day led me to believe a route was there, and that it might not even be that hard.

There is a route there now, but it's kinda hard.

It took my partner Sean Shannon and I three trips to the Valley and some twelve days of climbing, bolting and working the route, before it was ready for a ground up ascent,

Not a ground up "trad style" ascent but more of a redpoint. With a trad flavor. We did start at the ground and climbed up, for two days, on the final ascent.

We tried to do a true ground up ascent, but what I was hoping to be 5.9 or easy 5.10 pitches at the start turned out to be four good 5.11 pitches in a row. Thin face crux on the pitch off the ground. Pure crack in a bombay flare, tight hands to rattley fingers to offsize pod on pitch two. Arches style thin, relentless, 11.d edging on pitch three. A tricky routefinding problem with a vertical step on pitch four.Two days of climbing and the hard looking part was still way the f#ck up there.

Rapped to Valley, went to SAR cache, got six static ropes from Werner and a ride back to our car at Porcupine Flat, hiked back to the rim, bivied, and rapped 1000 ft down the top of the climb to check it out, and determine if it would be doable. Living in San Diego with a wife and kids kinda takes the adventure ability down a notch or two.

Looked good...real good, but hard. The "hand cracks" Bridwell told me about were arrow cracks, with a few fingerlocks here and there. The rock was excellent, the position the cracks took spectacular.

Returned a year later, rapped down and did the upper five pitches, starting at the last belay on the crack, perched on the lip of a forty foot roof at the end of the massive 600 ft arch. What was to be pitch fifteen was 5.11 face right off the belay followed by linking small corners and arches up a rolling slab to a splitter crack finish and a good ledge.

Pitch sixteen meanders after a steep lieback flake, to a mantle, that places you below an 11d slab with three bolts, some dime edges and not much else, that gets you to a flake system, the belay comes after 180 ft.

Pitch seventeen has two easy 5.11 sections and ends liebacking a four inch thick flake separated from the wall by three or four inches. Super clean. The belay is standing on the flake where it becomes a thin ledge with a deep clean crack behind it.

The flake system continues up and right toward the summit of Basket Dome, but pitch eighteen follows the plumb line of a Tuolumne style black streak. All bolts, one cam in an overlap near the top of the 10.a pitch. Sweet slab climbing, perfect rock, way up there.

The belay below the last pitch is positioned below the steepest bulge in that zone and the climber mantles a big ol diorite knob with a stopper behind it, clips a bolt and does some thin 11a moves in a stemmy bowl to immediately easing rock and a big belay tree nearly at the dome's summit.

On the drive home we decided to do whatever we had to do to link these upper five pitches with the lower four we did a year before.

Our third effort we allowed ten or twelve days in the Valley. The ramps I had hoped to follow in the center section of the route were ruled out due to a thirty foot long, eight foot high blade of vibrating stone sitting with its ass end on the ramp and its snout cantilevered out in space. We found a route around this obstacle, that led us up into the bottom of the huge arch, and happily to a perfect bivi ledge atop pitch eight.

From our previous high point of four pitches we did a short 5.8 pitch to the base of a vertical straight in, straight up thin crack -120 ft 11.d. A desperate flared barndoor lieback start to pumpy fingers and hands, then up a steep stem corner with tiplocks to an exposed flat belay ledge positioned in the center of a 200 foot long arete.

Here the crack of pitch six becomes a ramp/hand traverse that turns the arete and leads back into a deep bowling corner that is the start of the huge arch above. This 5.10 pitch finishes on a handrail traverse with exciting distance between cams to a stance below roofs and a vertical corner.

Pitch eight (11b) liebacks a thin crack to hands through a roof, then up a steep leaning offsize with a bomber edge to more roofs, and finally the bivi ledge.

Two gnarled scrub oaks, each with a sleeping spot below, share an inspiring view of the Northwest Face of Half Dome, and a view straight up the unclimbed arch.

Pitch nine downclimbs a ramp to the left, down mantles a ledge, easy 5.11, to an easy ramp that rises to the arete of the arch and an airy three bolt belay.

Pitch ten is bouldery hard 5.11 moves sideways off the belay to a 1 inch thick flake that miraculously winds its way forty feet up the steep wall toward the three hundred foot crack system. The belay is atop the end of the flake.

Pitch eleven is the route's crux. Desperate face climbing left off the belay reaches the crack after twenty five feet. Good jams and fingerlocks disappear after twenty feet, and the angle steepens.

At this point we made a decision that will surely be controversial. The crack would take A1 arrows or A3 stoppers. At the time the 00 cams had not come out, and even those would have been hard or impossible to place in the leaning crack. We bolted it, rather than fix pins. Given the length of the route and the diffculty of the climbing on the pitch (12b) in comparison to the majority of the route's climbing, we decided it was the way to go.

After the pitch's 12b sequency, super thin crux, are forty feet of sustained 5.11 high body tension moves ending at a diorite knob that allows a shakeout. More thin crack leads to a band of giant holes that march across the face in a quartz band. Rather than follow the crack into the holes, the route exits left to the far left hole, a six foot high mini cave with a sandy floor.

At this point two parallel cracks are leaning at about a 30 degree angle, roughly paralleling the arete of the arch that was exited far below, and inching closer and closer to the edge as they rise. The cracks become unclimbable where they pass through the bulge above the holes, but some thirty feet higher again become climbable.

Fortunately, the far left hole belay positions the leader within a few steep moves of a dike that pops 3 inches out of the wall. A mantle places the boots on the lip of "The Crack Sniffin Dike". An exciting sixty foot 5.11 traverse brings the leader back to the coveted crack and a two bolt belay.

Pitch thirteen (The Hangnail Pitch) begins with good fingers for twenty feet to the end of that crack. At this point the crack system is double, so the leader moves down and right (5.11) to the neighboring splitter. Here his feet are about ten feet from the lip of what has become a forty foot roof below (the arch). Eighty feet of continuous, leaning 11d arrow crack with 00 cam pro brings the climber to the belay and even closer to the roof's lip. This amazing, laser straight splitter is the only flaw in the slab for nearly two hundred feet to the left. The leader should carry some prussiks on this lead as a fall and a pulled piece could mean a Touching the Void situation.

Pitch fourteen is easy 5.10 and becomes almost horizontal at it's end, with the leader's feet at crack level and protection placed by leaning over and peering into the crack at your feet. The belay is at a point where the four pitch crack system, "The Bridwell Cracks", finally disappears around the lip of the arch's roof.

The last 5 pitches I've already described.

Every belay on this route has two stainless bolts. All bolt protection is stainless, 90 bolts total. Six pitches have no protection bolts. Three pitches have all bolt protection. Most of the bolts on this route were placed on the lead, but not all. Some hero could have certainly done the route ground up, but we were happy to do it as we did. It's a good, hard, classic route, Great variety, quality rock, awesome positions and exposure, a line that starts at the very bottom of the dome and follows a mostly obvious route to the summit.

The final ascent we did with a bivi atop pitch eight. The days were getting longer and hotter, and we didn't want to be on the crux pitch in the midday heat. Because we had been working the route, we were able to stock water on the ledges, making hauling easier. We bivied on the Valley rim at a beautiful site behind Basket Dome near the stream that falls down it's East gully. An hour descent put us at the base, and we waited til 11:30 to allow the 11d third pitch to be in the shade. Arrived at the bivi just at dark. Summited the next day at sunset. No falls.

The way to do this route is in a day if possible. Bivi on the rim, leave your sleeping gear, crack it to the base, send the route and return to camp, a fifteen minute walk from the topout. Rapping off above the dike pitch would be tricky, so it's a committing challenge for a one day ascent. Spring has the advantage of water in camp and at the base. Car to camp is two hours. The topo should be in Reid's new guide. The cracks and the upper part of the route are easily seen from Mirror Lake near Basket Dome's skyline.

"Milestone" V 5.12b 19 pitches FA Sean Shannon, Kevin Worrall May, 2004
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Mar 13, 2009 - 04:14am PT


this pic what I think it is?

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 13, 2009 - 07:58am PT
Mungie, did you check out posts 61-80? there is a massive bunch of hi-rez photography there of the route, Milestone. Your photo is of course "of the route" also but it seems you might not have seen those preceding images. You can't see the route Basketcase in your image, btw; it's on the left side of the prominent gray pillar, facing away from the camera.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Mar 17, 2009 - 12:08am PT
actually it is my photo, and it's taken from the Snow Creek Trail... a couple of winters ago... of Basket Dome
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2009 - 12:12am PT
Eddie,

Just let me know when you start going into sepia. I will need some warning.





hugs buddy, ph.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Mar 17, 2009 - 12:49am PT
ok Peter... step one is to develop my own B&W though...

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2009 - 06:37am PT
It's interesting you guys have this photo... certainly some more possibilities for routes there.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Mar 17, 2009 - 10:21am PT
There's a route to do to on the face of the pillar to the right of Basketcase, Peter, maybe you've seen the crack system. It's real steep. Probably mixed free and aid, but these days, could go all free. Giant flakes with hand and offsize cracks behind them, facing up Tenaya. Scary looking.

The giant right facing corner in the right side of the frame is unclimbed, as is the entire east face to its right. I see at least two obvious lines on that face, mostly free, the rock is excellent.


Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 17, 2009 - 11:04am PT
Did you take any pictures while on the route "Milestone" Kevin?
(Pardon me if I missed any mention of that in the text of the thread)
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Mar 17, 2009 - 11:18am PT
Hey Roy,

Somewhere I mentioned that I took some photos of Sean leading the first pitch from the ground, and then some shots at the bivi the next morning, but other than that the cameras never left the bag. Between the climbing, belaying and hauling we just didn't have time to fiddle around. I have hardly ever shot photos in the process of climbing a route, never owned a camera in my early days, just habit I guess. I seem to have a photographic memory of climbing routes - their moves, their features - maybe that's why.

The climbing photography I've done has all been of other climbers climbing independently of me, and some day I hope to rig Milestone to do that. As we climbed the route, I made mental note of the best angles to shoot each pitch, and the best lighting. It's got great potential for photos.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 17, 2009 - 12:00pm PT
Great potential for photos...
and for climbing!!!

Amazing that we haven't seen a second ascent yet?
Or did I miss that too...
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 23, 2009 - 08:52pm PT
"Thatís right, there is nothing like hitting your head against a brick wall, so that stopping has to be nothing short of enormously beatific and enlightening."




Bump
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 23, 2009 - 09:09pm PT
"I make the first move, the one that ejected me an hour earlier, and can hardly stay attached. But with the knowledge that it is going to be more balance than usual and a micromanaging tradeoff between one counterforce lock and another while losing the knee bar, I progress, using unbelievable amounts of power seeking security in the flare in an orderly but granular transition that is nearly impossible at least for someone my size. And there are absolutely no edges of any sort in the crack, neither on the main wall nor on the dihedral face, my usual secret tactic to unlock some cruxes."

bump
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 14, 2010 - 11:56am PT
Real Climbing Bump!
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 27, 2010 - 12:11pm PT
Real climbing bump....again.

Wow, those phtos are amazing.

Kevin, sure wish you would get over your habit of not taking pictures!
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Apr 27, 2010 - 01:38pm PT
Peter, I can't determine if the writing or the ascent is more impressive. World class both! I missed this great read earlier, nice bump Survival.

Thank you so much.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland: what's not to love?
Apr 27, 2010 - 04:07pm PT
Holy shit! Looks phenomenal. I try to imagine plugging up that crux crack pitch as it pulls you closer and closer to the brink out right... phew!

There must be a cousin to Nutcracker on that lower angle dome to the right, or something better.
bob

climber
Apr 27, 2010 - 04:41pm PT
I've been up to the crux pitch of that crack. It is amazing. Lightening stopped us. SH#T!! We had gone 11 pitches up it and that was only where the business begins!
Baskecase looks oh so rough.
Bob J.
MMCC

climber
New Zealand
May 6, 2010 - 08:37pm PT
Another favourite to the front, and an appreciation of Peter Haan's outstanding writing. More please. Or a book. I'd buy it. Even using New Zealand dollars.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 13, 2010 - 10:52am PT
More Haan dynasty treasures, please!
Ŗ ő ō T « H

climber
Aug 13, 2010 - 12:10pm PT
Good view of the route on here (zoom and navigate). http://www.xrez.com/divingboard_giga.html
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
Aug 13, 2010 - 12:14pm PT
thank god, buddha, shiva....bump
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 23, 2011 - 10:20pm PT
is the waterfall running? bump
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 23, 2011 - 10:54pm PT
Whether or not the water is falling, this thread should be linked to another, about the expanded version of Peter's article that appears in Alpinist 33.
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1363776/Peter-Haan-in-Alpinist-33
tom Carter

Social climber
Aug 14, 2011 - 12:24am PT
WOW!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 23, 2011 - 11:26pm PT

in yesterday's evening light
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Oct 23, 2011 - 11:30pm PT
Nice shot Ed!

What were you doing up there? Or did you just get a telephoto lens?

You didn't happen to traverse over there from the West did you?


The lighting in that shot makes it look like there are some interesting possibilities on the wall to the left of Basket Case, without the nasty wide cracks!

You can see the upper pitches of Milestone in the background out at the very skyline of the dome - shallow left facing corners in the sun.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 24, 2011 - 12:08am PT
always looking around...
it's my old Nikkor 180mm F2.8 but on the digital SLR it's more like 270mm in the DX format sensor...
the light was very good yesterday
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Oct 24, 2011 - 12:10am PT
Real sharp edge to edge, I thought it might be a 300.

Makes me want to find a route up those face features!
bergbryce

Mountain climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Oct 24, 2011 - 02:48am PT
Awesome story!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 22, 2011 - 01:02am PT
zowie bump
Powder

Trad climber
SF Bay Area
Dec 22, 2011 - 05:57am PT
What a story!!

Thanks for sharing.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
Dec 22, 2011 - 11:41am PT
bump
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Jan 4, 2012 - 05:28pm PT
Just wanted to get some input by putting lines on a photo. Does this look about right?

Basket Dome Info
Basket Dome Info
Credit: cultureshock

I was on top of North Dome last weekend and could see easy looking XC travel over to Basket dome.

Once over there it didn't seem so obvious how to get down to the base. Is some of it 4th class? Kevin said:
The bivi site is visible at the very top of your low res photo in the open, flat terrain above the smaller dome. From the bivi, descend to the east behind the smaller dome, then follow its base back to the west. The gully below the east wall of Basket Dome is kinda sketchy.

3D Map of Basket Dome from Bing.
3D Map of Basket Dome from Bing.
Credit: cultureshock

I'll probably be trying to make another trip this weekend to scope out the route and hopefully go to the base of the dome. Gotta capitalize on the 120 staying open!

 Luke
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 4, 2012 - 06:06pm PT
Cultureshock person, if you are seeking info on the approach to Basket Case, the FA came from Tenaya Canyon in one of the worse approaches ever performed in the western hemisphere. Subsequently, Bridwell and Klemens and than my party came from above, off the Tioga Pass road, diverting from the trail to follow the western and then the southern surfaces of the dome, staying as high as reasonable, traversing high to get to the base of the dihedral you climb, not below it.

By the way I am not sure this climb has had any other ascents; it seems a shame as it is a safe and gorgeous climb whose difficulties slowly mount through the pitches. A great classic. Should you fail to do the crux (quite likely) you can aid it easily, as our very own Donini did back in the early seventies. Whatever you do, you will not EVER want to reverse the approach.

Kevin's superb route may also be lacking attention; I don't think there has been a second ascent...and it is one of the Valley's great lines. And to think he did it when he was forty.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 4, 2012 - 06:13pm PT
Report back on this, if you would cultureshiock, I'm developing a renewed intrest in it.
bob

climber
Jan 4, 2012 - 06:14pm PT
Milestone..........ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Bob J.
Zander

climber
Jan 4, 2012 - 07:31pm PT
Cultureshock,
Approach is line 2 in this photo, I believe.
Z

Credit: Zander
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Jan 4, 2012 - 07:45pm PT
Thanks Zander. That seems to make sense for Basket Case. I was thinking that you might come in from the other side for Milestone... Not "1" in your photo but further towards Watkins.

Bob J, you have been on MileStone correct? Did you approach per "2" in Zander's photo (like for Basketcase) or something more like 1 or to the right, like I showed in my photo above.

Thanks for the note Peter:

Whatever you do, you will not EVER want to reverse the approach.

I was thinking it wouldn't be so bad to reverse the approach if you don't have any gear... I assume it's just really time consuming bushwhacking?

Basket Dome Approach
Basket Dome Approach
Credit: cultureshock

Here is an Xrez version with the left approach approximation. Seems I drew the horizontal (in yellow) part on a higher "ledge" system than Zander (now in green). Ah the power of ignorance...

 Luke
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jan 4, 2012 - 07:51pm PT
I meant to go up on that one because it was the only old school off width that I never did. But I broke my leg in the summer of 1976 and when I went back to the Valley the only guy who would go up was Yabbo, and he had already done it - with who, I can't say. Maybe Dale or Kauk. I don't know anyone else who has done that route, and it had to be the best off width line in the park. Probably still is. Must be an entirely different experience with big cams.

Great article by Peter.

I did a bunch of climbing with Drummond that year - including the 2nd ascents of Free Wheelin' and Quicksilver. He was very skilled on the open face, and could run the rope with the best of them.

JL

bob

climber
Jan 4, 2012 - 07:57pm PT
Luke, we came in on the blue line in your photo one time, but closer to the mini-dome in the gully butted up to it. Its smooth sailing and definitely the way to go. I've gone up, down, and even across and back from Snow Shed (sp??) trail. Warbler did a really nice description of it in his Milestone write-up.
Get on it
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 4, 2012 - 08:27pm PT
Larg, I bet it was Dale. He was WAY more motivated then Kauk, and he really dug offwidth. It is hard to imagine that in his day, he would never have done the route.

Culture, you use the upper of #2 in your latest image. Do NOT take the lower of your #2. When you get out of the little brush-choked chute between the dome and that little crappy forested arete prior to traversing to the actual base of the route, it becomes completely clear what to do--- you traverse over to it on very easy 3rd class, following the path of least resistance. At no point should you be 4th classing anything to get to the base of Basket Case; it should all be elementary. If you get into real climbing or anything risky, you are off route.

Zander, your line is drawn too low for the traverse; see Culture's upper #2 as noted in this post.

What is so awful about the BC approach? The brush is dense and very deep. At times we were walking on top of vegetation that was 5 feet deep and would fall through it at times. And all the brush points vigorously downhill, making uphill progress much much more icky. And there is quite a bit of this, you are at 6500 ft or so and higher, a direct southern exposure, no water, and some miles from the road.

Granted it is a terrific place to be, the summit. Like Watkins. So as a mere hike....I can imagine a whole lot of other things to do for hikes other than these two approaches..but as we are all saying, the several climbs are flat-out world class climbs.

EDIT: My Basket Case story reached its final and best form this last year (2011) in Alpinist Magazine; I think Issue #33.
Alexey

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Jan 4, 2012 - 10:13pm PT
Peter, thanks for the Great story, I probably reading it third or fourth time after every bump.
But only now I realized that number of assents for this route can be count on one hand ..
Donini and TM
Bridwell and Klemens
Haan and Ward
Dale Bart and ?

anyone anymore?
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 4, 2012 - 10:46pm PT
As to cultureshock's photo with lines -

The pink line for Milestone, or "Orion" as it will probably be known in the upcoming Yosemite guidebook is accurate.

The approach / descent is off though, and I've done it enough times to have it dialed. You exit the ND trail back in the woods well before you can see the backside of Basket Dome. You leave the trail to the left at a dip in the trail, before a slight uphill section to the top of the rounded open ridge which is visible in the upper left of the photo. This is about 300 yds past the end of a long uphill section, which ends at the trail junction to Indian Rock on the left.

Head down the draw to a little meadow and follow the western edge of the meadow down until the terrain changes to steeper angle. This meadow is the headwaters of the seasonal stream which flows down the gully underneath BD's bulging east face. Cross the drainage at this change in terrain angle, and head east, perpendicular to the drainage along the edge of a mostly open flat area for a couple hundred yds, without losing elevation. I think it's the open area above the green line in the middle of the photo.

When the open terrain ends, enter the forest and bush tending in the same direction and descending slightly. You should shortly arrive at the rounded open ridge with views east to Mt Watkins, above and right of the bivy site in the photo. Follow slabs and sandy slopes down to the bivy site.

This route may seem indirect, but it avoids bushwhacking which is abundant any other way.

The bivy site is really nice. From there the blue line is not the way to go.

From the bivy site drop down a steep section into the notch btw the rim and the big triangular shaped slabby dome below and to the right of the bivy site. The photo doesn't show that the dome has a summit with a notch behind it. From the notch, descend wide gully down the backside of the dome to the east, and then follow right along the base of the slabs back around to the west and toward Basket Dome. After some level traversing, several options down steep sandy slopes appear. Definitely don't want to be down in the brush as the blue line goes, but rather above it.

Cross the stream bed to the base of Basket Dome at the biggest fir tree in the gully, growing almost in the streambed - don't descend further to the last crossing option as it is a hellish thicket at that point.

It would be awesome to be out there this time of year - this is a rare opportunity. That little dome has some nice looking moderate 3 to 4 pitch lines on it...


Edit : Peter, just noticed your surprise that I managed Milestone at age 40 - you're a decade off, haha! I'm right behind you, old friend!


Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 5, 2012 - 02:43am PT
All wonderful stuff - thanks! Looks like a lot of potential for new climbs up there, for those willing to work for it. Has anyone looked at the big corner just right of Basketcase?

Kevin's tale of Milestone/Orion: http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=391916&msg=392685#msg392685
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 5, 2012 - 11:26am PT
Mighty Anders, the "big corner just right of Basket Case" is Straight Jacket and the Scott-Child variation, routes from the 1970's. The gigantic (2nd) corner further right of Basket Case is just to the right of Kevin's Milestone (Orion) route (Milestone plays out on the beautiful smooth face verging on that huge corner/arch) this huge dihedral is not a climb yet, nor the awesome east face of Basket Dome even further right---the mini-wall rising above that crazy steep gully running up toward the summit.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 6, 2012 - 03:24pm PT
Anders, I looked at the big corner - it was the first thing I saw the morning I woke up on the bivy ledge. There is a good crack in it, but it is fairly dirty and grass filled, kinda like the first corner pitch of The Good Book was when I went up there to clean it with Yabo. The corner is probably 500 ft long and 40 ft deep.

Hmmm...

The wall to its right is a very beautiful one with golden rock for hundreds of feet, steepening to overhanging as it turns the corner to the east and enters the gully. Unclimbed for probably 1500 ft to the right. The rock looks amazing over there and mostly flawless. Mostly.


Hmmm...


Alexey, something tells me Ed Barry has done Basket Case, possibly with Dale, and maybe Walt told me he did it.

cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Jan 10, 2012 - 12:47am PT
Thanks for all the comments and advice.

I had a great hike and found the base via the gully Warbler described. On the way down, i took a bit of a detour by going away from basket dome instead of towards it... OOPS!

Google Earth of Basket Dome approach GPS track.
Google Earth of Basket Dome approach GPS track.
Credit: cultureshock

The East Face sure is spectacular. I was pretty hard pressed to see anything that might be free climbable. Perhaps better eyes/binoculars are in order.

East face of Basket dome.
East face of Basket dome.
Credit: cultureshock

I might write more later, perhaps in another thread with photos.

 Luke
Ihateplastic

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Jan 10, 2012 - 01:12am PT
Luke... Great shot of a rarely seen face!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2012 - 07:52am PT
Interesting! Here you also get a better idea of how hideous the bushwhack is down along the East face to get to Kevin's route start.
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Jan 10, 2012 - 11:50am PT
that looks like it could be a sport climbing crag! our own ceuse!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 10, 2012 - 12:51pm PT
Ceuse... that'd be nice! yeah, too bad it's not covered with Medlicott knobs.

That wall must be the widest swath of unclimbed clean granite in the Valley.

karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Jan 10, 2012 - 01:06pm PT
hey luke, how long did it take to get to the base?
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Jan 10, 2012 - 03:02pm PT
So I went the "long" aka wrong way, on the way down. It took me about 2 hours to the base from the car. I ran most approach on the trail then had to hike the rest due to cliffs/steepness and route finding. It just over 2 hours on the way back since I knew where I was going. Over 2000 feet of elevation gain from the base of basket dome back to the car.

The GPS data is here:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/140223667

Lap1 is where I left the North Dome trail on the way down
Lap2 is where I met up with the correct approach (midway down the gully).
Lap3 is near the bottom of basket dome where you would go across to climb Milestone/Orion
Lap4 is the top of the "sub dome" ie the top of the approach gulley.
Lap5 is where I met back up with the trail.

From lap 3 to lap 4 is golden. A good way to get from subdome to the base and vise versa. I still didn't get the XC travel from the North Dome trail to the top of the sub dome quite right. It's hard to see and not quite obvious where the least amount of shrubbery is. I thinking I did better on the way down (leaving at Lap1) but just turned the wrong way when I got near the steep part.

 Luke
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 10, 2012 - 09:45pm PT
Luke,

Wow, that was quite the tour you did!

Your lap 3 to 4 was right on, sounds like. You left the trail on the way in a little too early, and then... boldly went where no man has gone before, looks like.

The way to go from the top of the dome is through the clearing/ bivy site just above it, on the east side of the creekbed, and then up and right paralleling that drainage on an open rounded ridge with low angle slabs and sandy slopes. In your last photo with gps coordinates the route is a diagonal line from Lap 4 up and right toward the buttonhook north you took on the way in. You can see how clear it is in the photo

You only go half the distance btw your two trails though, and then jog back left and diagonal thru that open area midway between your way back to the trail, and the start of your cross country walking on the way in. Pretty much parallel to both ways you went, but equal distance from both.

It's about an hour and a half to the base from the car if you get it right.
Alexey

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Nov 21, 2012 - 07:51pm PT
This great tread should be bump with story of 5-th free accent with 21century camelots..
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 21, 2012 - 08:06pm PT
Alexey, I would love to read subsequent ascent reports too, but there are so very few that have climbed this great route.

Twenty-first century protection (Camalots, etc) would not make this climb really very different. It is not a protection challenge at all. When you are doing the crux, you are only about 10-12 feet above your protection and on a smooth vertical to overhanging wall. If you did put a large cam in at the crux, it would have to be deep. The temptation to pull on it would be terrific, too. The challenge is the offwidth climbing itself, those special few feet that are out of view of the belayer and up around the corner you have turned.

Modern big pro, however, does substantially change Twilight Zone; Left side of Slack; right and left side of Hourglass; Crack of Doom; Excalibur pitches; Narrow Escape; probably Edge of Night, for instance.
Alexey

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Nov 21, 2012 - 08:44pm PT
Peter, let me express admiration of your ability to describe climbing you did about 30 years ago and only once. The description is so vivid that I can see this glassy stem box crux and you climbing it move by move
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Nov 15, 2013 - 12:34pm PT
Bump
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Nov 16, 2013 - 12:34am PT
Photos make the heart grow fonder.

I've yet to try basketcase so some Milestone photos will have to do.

Looking up at the last 5 pitches of Milestone. From midway up P14
Looking up at the last 5 pitches of Milestone. From midway up P14
Credit: cultureshock

Crack Sniffing Dike on Milestone. Such a cool feature!!
Crack Sniffing Dike on Milestone. Such a cool feature!!
Credit: cultureshock

5.11D as in desperate. Ben climbing pitch 13 of Milestone on Basket Do...
5.11D as in desperate. Ben climbing pitch 13 of Milestone on Basket Dome
Credit: cultureshock

Enjoy,

Luke
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Nov 16, 2013 - 01:57am PT
Yesssssssssssssss
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Nov 16, 2013 - 02:21am PT
Siiiiiiiiiiiiiick!!!!!!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Nov 16, 2013 - 10:25am PT
Ya gotta be holdin' out on the !!d pitch photos
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 16, 2013 - 01:12pm PT
Definitely a tour de force, Milestone. Perhaps Kevin's coolest ever FA and to think he was practically a fossil by then. (grin).
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 16, 2013 - 05:35pm PT
Great companion read with Salamanizer and Alexey's exploits!

Susan
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Nov 16, 2013 - 06:22pm PT
No longer practically a fossil I'm afraid, Peter, but turning to stone isn't all bad :)

Always wanted to return and photo a team on that route. Luke's clean and sharp photos are great to see, but there's a lot of pitches below that could make some more.

C'mon Luke, you gotta have a shot of that splitter arrow crack up there! I like the way the contrail of that jet is pointing to the top out in your first photo...

Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 16, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
KW, is that first image of Cultureshock's showing the crack that runs to the gigantic dihedral edge?

The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Nov 16, 2013 - 09:58pm PT
You're exactly right on the first shot, Peter.

The next two photos are taken at the belay at the start of the pitch below the pitch in the first shot, one looking down, or back across the dike, the other looking up to the traverse right to the hairline crack which leans and parallels the outside corner of the giant arch. 100 ft of mostly 1/4 to 3/8 inch splitter with a few fingertip sized openings - the only visible flaw in the dome, and desperately clean.

That arch is one of the biggest unclimbed corners in the Valley, I'd say
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 16, 2013 - 10:42pm PT
Thanks KW. Yeah, I agree: that dihedral is just massive and might well be the biggest unclimbed book in the whole region.

But back to your stellar route; the splitters right at the edge of that monster dihedral add so much to your route and route vision. What an adventure!
Salamanizer

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Nov 18, 2013 - 08:46pm PT
Cultureshock, did you do the whole route in a day? How long did it take you. I'd like to get on this route sometime in the spring so a little first hand logistical beta would be nice.

A TR is an absolute must now that you've teased the congregation with photos.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 18, 2013 - 09:56pm PT
Chad,
Judging from Luke's first photo, they rapped in from the top on a long static line,
and tried a couple of the crux pitches.
I don't think they tried the full route.
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Nov 19, 2013 - 01:04pm PT
The always observant Clint has me figured out.

We dropped in from the top with about 300m of rope. We were just short of the crux pitch but climbed the top 7.

I can post a shot of the crux from above later on. It looked very similar to the 11d 13th pitch, but thinner and thankfully bolted. Both pitches are laser cut and leaning. You use the crack more for balance than anything else since it is so thin.

With the ropes in place it took very little time to do the top 6 pitches. I think less than an hour and a half. As Kevin has mentioned up thread there are a few spots of difficult slab. Mostly dime edging and smearing. The bolts are in the right spots and protect the difficulties. The hardest moves are on the 16th pitch which is almost a full 60 meters. The rest of the climbing is very quick 5.10.

I was able to do P14-P19 clean first try. P13 was a good amount harder for me and I had a few hangs. I think you need triples in the Green and Purple C3 range to lead it. It is a very very thin crack!

Once you have gotten past P13, the 11d "hangnail" pitch, you just have to trust your feet to get to the top. All the belays are bolted and have good stances. You could link link P17 and P18 with a 70m rope, but the drag would probably not be worth it. The very short 11- section on the last pitch was harder than I expected having just climbed five pitches in a row of slab.

I was impressed that the route was still very clean. There is a little dirt and grainy-ness, but for the most part buffed golden granite.

Having looked for routes on large domes my self I am amazed that Kevin and Sean found a way to link all the various cracks together. As Kevin mentioned up thread Milestone follows some of the only weakness in that part of the dome. There are no other cracks nearby at all! The position above the roof is both wild and very un-nerving.

Chad, if you end up wanting a partner I would be interested in going back. The route also bakes in the sun. We were super warm when we were on the route on 11/9/2013.

 Luke
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Nov 19, 2013 - 09:58pm PT
That area kinda grows on you, eh Luke?


I can post a shot of the crux from above later on. It looked very similar to the 11d 13th pitch, but thinner and thankfully bolted. Both pitches are laser cut and leaning. You use the crack more for balance than anything else since it is so thin.

The crux pitch is a bit steeper at the crux, but very similar to what you do on the 13th pitch for the bulk of it - the whole pitch is a lot longer than the 13th. Because the crack doesn't lean as much down there, you're able to toe the left edge more than on the Hangnail pitch, where you mostly smear your feet on the face. Man, was I happy to get to that belay hole at its end! Both those pitches are mind burners. And your toes and fingers get cooked along with your brain.

If you only had to hang a couple times on the Hangnail pitch, you're doing good. When I first saw it, I wasn't sure I could climb it. Thing's amazing - so straight and so clean...

I'm glad you're happy the crux is bolted - I expect to be slandered by some for doing it, but for a variety of reasons I think it's the best solution. I won't bother to explain again, as I've done so here before. The lead would effectively be a letter grade or two harder if you had to place all the gear, and probably half of what you put in would pull on a fall. Pins would work great, but that has its drawbacks.

With the ropes in place it took very little time to do the top 6 pitches. I think less than an hour and a half. As Kevin has mentioned up thread there are a few spots of difficult slab. Mostly dime edging and smearing. The bolts are in the right spots and protect the difficulties. The hardest moves are on the 16th pitch which is almost a full 60 meters. The rest of the climbing is very quick 5.10.


Doing those upper pitches after the whole lower route will be a bit harder, and slower. But now you know the beta, so you could probably do them fast or even with a headlamp if you had to. That 60m pitch might be a problem in bad light, but everything above that's reasonable.

There is a lot of tricky climbing to do to get up there.

You could link link P17 and P18 with a 70m rope, but the drag would probably not be worth it


Plus that flake belay with a view of your partner on the black steak is pretty sweet.

The very short 11- section on the last pitch was harder than I expected having just climbed five pitches in a row of slab.

I like how that last pitch ends up climbing over the steepest bulge in the vicinity and it's the easiest way to top out.

I was impressed that the route was still very clean.

We didn't really clean anything up there where you were.. A couple sections down below -the 5th and 6th pitches had some grassy crack sections, but only 10 - 15 ft worth.

The position above the roof is both wild and very un-nerving.


A photo of that last belay with a big lens from the slopes up the other side Tenaya Canyon would be cool. Rope blowing around out in space below the belayer...

If you haven't done it already, a hike up Tenaya with a pair of binos the scope the whole route is worthy.

Hope to see some pics someday!

Kevin
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Nov 22, 2013 - 05:28pm PT
Kevin,

The area is pretty cool. These days I appreciate a longer hike and a touch of solitude. Also that face is super warm which is nice for this time of year. With the road closed it seems unlikely I'll get back out there this year.

Here are a few more shots of the route:



Looking down at the crux pitch.


Closeup of the crux pitch.


Ben starting off on the 5.11 slab pitch with some fun laybacking.


Looking up at the black streak on the 2nd to last pitch. Amazingly featured rock and tons of fun to climb.

 Luke
Salamanizer

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Nov 23, 2013 - 12:22am PT
That route looks amazing. That kind of climbing is right up my alley, but that sure is a lot of hard climbing in a row that needs to all be done in a day. The number of climbers that could pull that one off in a day are probably pretty thin and far between. I'm not sure I'm one of those climbers. Maybe on the very lower end of the spectrum even if I were in tip-top condition.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 23, 2013 - 01:59am PT
So Chad? Go up there and have a terrific experience, like we used to. You are very talented; make it happen. It's a warm wall, to say the least. If you get caught out, it can't be too bad. Accept the pressure and get on it! What a righteous route!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Nov 23, 2013 - 10:53am PT
Thanks for posting those up, Luke, it's so squeaky clean up there...

Peter's right again, Chad

If you want to do the route in a day, here's my unsolicited input -

Hike out to the rim camp in the morning as soon as the road opens in May with enough gear for the climb and two or 3 nights out. That should only take 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. Drop your camping gear at the rim and descend with your climbing gear to the base of the route, maybe another hour if you follow my recommendations for the descent route. From the creek crossing to the route's start is a couple hundred feet - fill all the water bottles you think you'll need for the day on the climb when you cross it.

Cross the creek at the base at the biggest fir tree in the drainage, a little higher than you think you should. Failure to do this could result in a most hellish thrash in the bay tree jungle.

Scramble up the 3rd class to the very base of the route, then leave your water, and climbing gear - ropes flaked, gear laid out ready to go.

Hike back up to the rim - about an hour since you have no load, and you've learned the way to go on the descent. Enjoy the campsite for the rest of the afternoon, and go for an alpine start in the morning. Or chill for a day and rest up - there's water there, and it's a great hang. You could hike to the top of B Dome on your rest day and get that return hike to camp dialed, so it's easier if you top out in the dark the next day. With the slightly tricky descent fresh in your mind, and no load on your back, you should be able do the descent to the base in a half hour.

Climb fast.

If you can do the crux pitch, pitch 11, by around 3:00 or 4:00, you have a good chance of topping out before dark. Pitch 13 could take some time, especially if you are determined to do it clean. The climbing above that is all pretty quick and moderate, like Luke says, but for about 20 ft of super thin slab on pitch 16. As I've mentioned, the last 3 pitches are probably doable with a headlamp, especially if you time your effort just before full moon. A moonrise over Tenaya Peak would light that face up real good.

If you're moving slow, and you get stymied by the crux pitch, you could do a romantic Hahn/Drummond style spooning-man-bivy on the big ledge atop the 8th pitch, and carry on, climbing that is, in the morning, or...bail to the ground, and hike back up to your camp at dusk.

From the top of pitch 11, there is a very good, clean and quick rappel route, all with bomber bolted anchors. I believe you can rap the crux pitch and the short 10th pitch in one. You can rap pitches 7, 8 and 9 in one direct descent from the anchor at the top of the pitch 9 ramp to the arete belay atop pitch 6 . One rap for pitches 5 and 6, one for 3 and 4, and the last to the ground past pitches 1 and 2. They are all 60 meter rappels, and that's only 5, possibly 6, of 'em to the ground from the top of pitch 11. When we did them the ropes all pulled clean.

If you keep climbing past the crux pitch, rappelling is doable, but gets more complicated, sketchier, and more expensive, because the route leans harder up there, and the void is below. You'd have to probably lower the first guy, and he'd have to leave directionals to lower the second. You could have a pretty comfortable bivy in the holes at the end of the crux pitch - you can easily traverse from one to another. Pitch 16, 11d slab, could be tough in the dark, and the only way to aid it would be with a cheater stick for the bolts. That might not even work for the last section to the corners... If you rappel diagonally down the ramp and left, off route, from the belay ledge atop pitch 15, there's a nice bivy ledge to be had. Return to the route in the morning would be casual.





Ŗ ő ō T « H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
Dec 21, 2013 - 01:16am PT
The (yet unclimbed) dihedral would be a real plum.
Credit: Ŗ ő ō T « H
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