Half Dome Rockfall?


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Gym climber
Jul 8, 2015 - 11:56am PT
So true, I see climbing everywhere in media now. I say we go back to hexes and Liberty biners. That will thin the crowds.
looks easy from here

Ben Lomond, CA
Jul 8, 2015 - 12:09pm PT
Thanks. I saw Greg's estimate of the slab that fell off being 200' tall, but that didn't really click until I saw the image of the whole face with it highlighted.

That's a big chunk of rock!

Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Jul 8, 2015 - 12:17pm PT
This is the account of when Scott Sinner and I came across the missing ledge system on top of pitch 11

July 5th, Scott Sinner and I woke up at 3:45 am for a car to car ascent of Half Dome's RNWF. This would be my 3rd time up the wall, Scott's first. Arriving to the base of HD, I noticed that the climbers trail no longer existed and some alterations to the spring at the base. I shrugged it off just thinking it was from the recent storms that have been coming though the Sierras.

Scott took the first block to the top of pitch 6. I took over from there since I was familiar with the route. After completing the Robbins Traverse we were exited to enter the chimneys and simul away. I moved out onto the face to climb pitch 11 (my least favorite pitch of the route). In go mode, I followed the terrain that was present. Soon I found myself 140 from the belay. It turned out I was climbing the down climbing portion of the free variation.

I remember yelling down to him at some point that I don't remember any of this. Yelling back "I thought you've climbed this before!"

I was so confused. Stopping and looking at the topo, I knew something was not right. I was lowed 60 feet from a block and was able to back clean some gear, untie, pull the rope and got back on belay.

There was some frustration between Scott and I. He was annoyed because I was wasting time and the fact that I do not see the obvious ledge system. I kept telling him, "Dude, there is nothing there!" I swung around on a pin to check thing out. That's when things dawned on me...the whole system flaked off.

I came back to the belay and Scott tied in to check things out. Yep... the whole ledge system was no more.

This is when I called Dave Miller. We climbed the route a few years ago and Dave knows the route better then anyone I knew. I asked him if he has heard anything about any rock fall on HD. He was blown away! After our conversation he went online to do some research. That's when he created this thread.

Scott and I were both stunned! We hung out at the belay for a good while, laughing and eating Sour Patch Kids before we started to bail.

[Click to View YouTube Video]

While bailing, everything started to make scene. The base, the broken trees and all the trash...

Retreat turned out to be not so bad. Scott and I have gotten good at retreating with one another, that's one thing we are good at. We only had a 60m and 2 grigris. We managed to get down with a mix of down climbing and rappelling. We bootied some bail gear from previous parties. When on the ground, we only left 1 nut and 2 carabiners from our own rack.

When packing up, we ran into a group of 3 foreigners who were going to climb the route the next day. They spoke little to no English. We tried to explain what has happened...we only hope they understood and did not attempt the route.

I really want to thank Dave Miller for getting the word out. I did not want anyone else to go up there and epic, get hurt or get rescued.

I believe that this happened during the recent stint of storms in the Sierras. This would explain why no one herd it and why we were the first to come across it.

We are still scratching our heads about the experience...but most of all, laughing about it.

Be careful out there yall! Next time you climb something, double check to see if its still there!


Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jul 8, 2015 - 12:24pm PT
Thanks, drwb! This would make a great trip report, too. Maybe with some luck, we'll be able to find out who made the Last Ascent.


Trad climber
Logan, Utah
Jul 8, 2015 - 02:27pm PT
When I did this route on June 3, my partner led the pitch right after the robbins traverse. While he was standing on a huge chock stone in the bottom of the chimney, the chock stone dropped about 2 feet. I think he broke the route.
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Jul 8, 2015 - 02:33pm PT
Jim Herson and Hans Florine won't have to worry about losing the speed record on that one!

Gym climber
Jul 8, 2015 - 02:48pm PT
I think he broke the route.

Could it be the LA?

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jul 8, 2015 - 04:52pm PT
I think he broke the route.
That's a CLOSE call. Indeed he may have "broken" the route. I'd say you're very lucky to have made it to the top.
Did any of the big flakes feel shifty?
Billy Smallen

Trad climber
Jul 8, 2015 - 06:28pm PT
I know this is way off topic by this point, but I couldn't resist as I am still having the same "I slept on that ledge!" creepy feelings that many others are. Pics from 2005:

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 8, 2015 - 07:18pm PT
I marked the "after" photo from http://www.climbingyosemite.com/portfolio/half-dome-rockfall/
to show the shortest route to connect over the missing flake section.
Given that it's kinda steep and smooth, my guess is it would take 2-3 bolts to reach the old p11 anchor, then 5-7 more to reach the bottom of the 5.11c corner.
This might be thought of as an extension of the diagonal bolt ladder on the Robbins traverse below.

It might also be possible to climb further up left on corners/flakes,
and pendulum far right, but it may be too steep to pendulum that far.

For free climbing, that might involve climbing on the right side of the new rock scar and then underclinging back left?
Would be risky at present due to the freshly broken rock; would be wise to check for loose rock on rappel first,
as Brandon Latham and Greg Stock described some definitely loose sections when they investigated on July 7.
(Watch for their updated report).

free solos 3rd class
Jul 8, 2015 - 08:06pm PT


Big Wall climber
Jul 8, 2015 - 08:17pm PT

Gym climber
Being In Sierra Happy Of Place
Jul 8, 2015 - 08:18pm PT
Thanks for the NPS shots - wow.

RE: the photos -it is an understatement to say "the climber's trail is gone", as stated by drwb in his TR.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 8, 2015 - 09:14pm PT
Hard to tell exactly from photos, but it looks like the right side of the initial chimneys section has solid support.
If it was substantially supported by the loose flake that left, one might think it would have come off then?

Maybe more relevant - might be wise to go higher in the 5.11c corner before tensioning right to the chimney system.
(High enough to get above the fresh rockfall area).

Prior rockfalls in this same area:
1. 1968 - Psyche Flake (former moving chimney - apparently was well above the Undercling Flake?)
2. 1987? - Undercling Flake. This was slightly above the new rockfall, and is shown in one of the old photos in this thread. Was mentioned in "50 Classic Climbs" description.
Roger Breedlove photo, ca. 1974
Edge's 1983 photo - Undercling Flake directly above the leader.

le_bruce's more recent photo - Undercling Flake gone.

original from http://www.markpthomas.com/mountaineering/trip-reports/california/half-dome-regular-nw-face
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Mexico City, D.F.
Jul 8, 2015 - 10:18pm PT
He definitely broke the route. Well, there is a great opportunity up there now to reconnect the route.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 8, 2015 - 10:28pm PT
there is a great opportunity up there now to reconnect the route. I wonder if there is a way that would maintain the overall grade of the route, and not a run out 5.14 pitch?
Yes - see my 7:18pm post and photo above.
Many options; one is fairly simple.
Maybe an even better option will be possible on close examination....

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Jul 8, 2015 - 10:38pm PT
nobody should be allowed up there anyway, unless they are Native Americans or John Muir,

going to rap bolt that broke-ass route this weekend,

did anybody find a blue colored sling clipped into the wreckage?

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Jul 8, 2015 - 10:43pm PT
Love ya Sprock!


Trad climber
the middle of CA
Jul 9, 2015 - 10:56am PT
Climbing magazine made a whole story based off of Clint's post.

Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Mexico City, D.F.
Jul 9, 2015 - 11:50am PT
I can't believe nobody has bagged the FA yet. It's the most iconic rock face on the planet.

Just realized also that nobody is ever going to repeat Alex Honnald's solo.
Messages 121 - 140 of total 164 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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