Half Dome Rockfall?


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Trad climber
Jul 9, 2015 - 12:01pm PT
I'm interested to see if they look for a logical free connection, or go with the 20th century approach of "bolts from here to there". May be blank enough that it's moot, of course.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 9, 2015 - 12:09pm PT
Climbing Magazine ... Clint ...
Dang, I'm finally famous! :-)
But I was not the first or only one to wonder about how/when the climb will be reworked. I mean, Brandon and Greg already went up there and came back down before I even posted....

Better yet, see the fresh 7/9 update of Brandon and Greg's report - more details and up-close photos of key points in the rockfall section:


The newly posted photos suggest to me that the belay stance atop p12 (5.11c corner to tension traverse right) is intact, although there is a freshly broken block just to the outside of it.
That block is not needed for the stance, but people might touch it, so it should be tested carefully.
The p13 handcrack to chimney looks intact, but as Ron noted, who knows if chockstones / flakes in the chimneys loosened up, etc.

Trad climber
Portland Oregon
Jul 9, 2015 - 12:26pm PT

Jul 9, 2015 - 12:05pm PT
Smart people are waiting. Who wants to be the first to test if the rest of the flake/chimneys are still attached good? YOu know- the ones hanging out into space, non supported by that flake and ledge that went buh-bye..

"yur lead",, naww YOU can ave it~~~Noooo, I insist YOU get the first lead! OK, we will flip for who belays..

I'm wondering why it would be better to be belaying UNDER the guy up there testing the flakes.....

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jul 9, 2015 - 12:34pm PT
I confess to temptation here. I also confess that it's 41 years since I've done any climb longer than a Grade IV, so the odds of acting on that temptation are nil.

Still, if I were to make it across first, would it now be the "Robbins-Eleazarian Traverse?"

Oh well, even if my wall climbing is hibernating, my dreaming is operating full force.

wayne burleson

Amherst, MA
Jul 9, 2015 - 02:04pm PT
Nice work Clint! But I think those bolt estimates may be a bit low. The friends of the OP who came upon the missing ledge could probably better estimate. Some short penji's might save some bolts... but we need to keep it A0, right?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 9, 2015 - 02:43pm PT
Yeah, those are guesstimates "for sure"! (And since you were there in June your estimate is probably better than mine).
Something at an "accessible" grade (like the rest of the climb) would be good, since a lot of people do the route.
Actually I've been somewhat surprised at how many people use the Skinner bolt ladder at the top - it's really part of the free version of Half Dome Direct NW Face, not the original Regular NW Face to the left (where I believe the aid crux is).
But I guess the Skinner bolts made it onto the supertopo for the Reg.
And some people may just want to get up in the easiest way at that point.
There's certainly room up there for a couple of different ways to bridge the rockfall gap.

Trad climber
Pasadena, CA
Jul 9, 2015 - 03:55pm PT
I remember there was a lot of junk up there

Boulder climber
San Diego
Jul 9, 2015 - 04:21pm PT
Anyone find any chalked holds in the debris field at the base of the wall? That would surely make for a really nice souvenir.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jul 9, 2015 - 04:25pm PT
With all the visible loose rock at the top of the flake it's easy to imagine smaller pieces falling down behind the flake and slowly but surely wedging it off over time.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Denver CO
Jul 9, 2015 - 05:01pm PT
I never really thought about it before, but I guess all these big features are potentially expando flakes, and you could force them open by dropping a rock down into a crack, and then the temperature changes and there are brand new stresses and it opens, then the process repeats. I guess all the features we climb on are going to fall off eventually. That's what they're doing in slow motion, exfoliating. As for Ron's concern, maybe someone could rap down from the top to survey the loose rock situation. For the big features still connected, there is really no way to tell what's holding them on. You could also just wait to see what happens, as long as you want.

Social climber
Jul 10, 2015 - 08:52am PT
Anyone find any chalked holds in the debris field at the base of the wall? That would surely make for a really nice souvenir.

Mashed up old dropped 'biners?

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jul 10, 2015 - 10:03am PT
For the big features still connected, there is really no way to tell what's holding them on. You could also just wait to see what happens, as long as you want.
^^^The definition of Yosemite big walls.
Even Greg Stock would like to know what sort of magic glue holds Boot Flake to the Big Stone.

I don't want to speak for Greg but......
Greg and colleagues have shown that diurnal expansion of large flakes due to the heating/cooling cycles is significant. This must strain (stretch) the rock where the flake is attached to "baserock" (whatever THAT is in the Vertical World). Yes, even "solid" granite is plastic. This is in addition to winter freeze thaw cycles (water expands just as it turns to ice).
Each strain cycle likely causes micro cracks in the connection between slab and base. They grow. The result is inevitable......sometime in the future.
(Musings of a NOT geologist)
I highly recommend "Geology Underfoot In Yosemite" by Allan Glazner and Greg Stock. Which reminds me I need to read it again.

We're all rolling the dice every time we climb flake systems. I cringe slightly every time I muscle into a steep lieback up the side of a flake.
Stick to face climbs and chimneys if you want 100% confidence the granite won't take you for a ride.
Someday even Reed's Pinnacle will take a ride down the hill.

Ice climber
Jul 10, 2015 - 10:28am PT

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 10, 2015 - 02:07pm PT
I wonder how much longer this one on the Third Pillar of Dana will last? ...


Trad climber
Jul 10, 2015 - 02:16pm PT
Ok, any bets on book flake?

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jul 13, 2015 - 08:35am PT
Man, this is so lucky that nobody got whacked. The majority of days this time of year, there are always climbers all over the route and bivying at the base. I've done it over 4th of july, and it was covered with parties.

The odds that the route was empty was dodging a bullet. It would have creamed anyone at the base. Since the lower part of the route is a little left of the rockfall, perhaps someone on the lower part of the route would have been spared.

Like others, though, I once bivied on that long ledge at the end of P11. Freaky.

From the photos, there are three layers of flakes right there. The outside flake seems to be what is gone. So the runout chimney is history. The A1/5.11 crack to its left is still there.

If some 5.12 free variation is done to replace the missing rock, I feel that the bolts should be placed close enough to aid them, Keeping the route grade where it was. The 5.9 chimney looks like it is gone.

There used to be a flake sticking out of one of those chimney pitches a little higher up. You had to layback around of it. It was kind of spooky, but It fell off (someone said 1987), making that move easier.

The Robbins Traverse pitch is hopefully mainly intact. It was a cool pitch, and had the hardest mandatory free moves on the route, IMO. I remember doing it and thinking how hard that must have been in old clumker shoes and caveman gear used on the FA. It was one of the better pitches.

The traverse free moves reminded me of Jackson's Wall Direct on Castle Rock in Boulder Canyon. I always thought it was a little stiff for 5.9.
Vic Klotz

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Jul 13, 2015 - 01:39pm PT
Robbins ladder, part two?

Mountain climber
Jul 13, 2015 - 10:36pm PT
Using the stated estimate of 800 cubic meters of rockfall and a density of 2.75g/cm^3 for granite, that's 2,200 metric tons of rock that fell, or 2,425 U.S. tons.

That's equivalent to 27,500 people (at 176lb each). Imagine that on top of you next time you sleep at the base. Sweet dreams.

Sport climber
Dresden, Germany
Oct 5, 2015 - 09:24pm PT
We climbed the Half Dome Regular up to and including the 11c-crack variant of Pitch 12. The new bolt ladder and the following traverse/mantel to the begin of the sickle-shaped 11c crack variant poses no problems, just a few moves at about 5.9 (reportMantel2Pitch12.jpg). The pitch itself is unchanged (reportPitch12.jpg). The same is true for the regular pitch 13 (reportPitch13_start_detail.jpg shows the belay station and reportAbovePitch12_overview.jpg the whole Pitch 13).

However, this last image shows that there is no convential way to do the transition from the end of the 11c variant to this belay station which is about 6 m to the right and 3 m up. Either you have to throw a rope sling around the block below the belay (reportPitch13_start.jpg). However, to do this, you probably need advanced cowboy skills. If at all, the sling will catch the loose block at the lower end of this image which also indicates the boundary of the rock-fall zone (a jagged line rising from the bottom to the right edge of this image).

Another option would be to further work up above the end of the 11c variant to get to a bolt 6 m above, or to a rusty piton in the corner at the same height, allowing a pendulum traverse to the block at the base of Pitch 13 (reportAbovePitch12_detail.jpg). However, the dihedral to the bolt/piton is completely blank (reportNoCrackAbovePitch12.jpg), so one has to throw a rope to the piton (the rope will not catch the bolt), or bring very small artif gear, or a 6m-clipstick. Finally, the images reportBelowPitch13.jpg and reportMissingChimneys.jpg give impressions of the broken zone/missing chimneys below Pitch 13.

In my opinion, the best option would be to place three or four further bolts diagonally up allowing a regular pendulum traverse to the base of Pitch 13. Since such a traverse would be similar to the two traverses at the Pitches 11 and 12, it would not change the character of the route but would allow restoring one of the best climbs in the world.
jose gutierrez

Trad climber
Oct 5, 2015 - 11:58pm PT
Hi Physicus,

Did you bring any cam hooks or beaks to try and aid the mungy seam past the TT bolt after the 11c section? A friend and myself were also shut down trying to get to the second bolt which was ~6m past the TT bolt, we had no aid gear as we were not prepared for anything harder than the original climb demanded. I hate aid climbing and am not very experienced with it, but I was wondering how hard it would have been if we had the right tools.

I also think that if one did get to the second bolt then you shouldn't need to do any lasso shenanigans, as the pendulum/TT would be committing, but possible since you could lower approximately 9m down to traverse/swing 6m to the bellow the belay(reaching the new rockfall zone). My guess is that the guys from Idaho did not lower off the higher bolt far enough to make this possible. Either way the aid required to achieve this will likely shut many parties down, or they will resort to non-clean methods of aid. As it stands now I think the RNWF will have very few ascents each year.
Messages 141 - 160 of total 164 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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