Leaning Tower Traverse 5.6?


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 21 - 38 of total 38 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 21, 2007 - 12:25pm PT
This could be kinda like the "poor man's linkup", or "weak man's linkup"... I could end the day with East Butt, El Cap!

Maybe a Snake Dike, East Butt EC, and MC Traverse would be a bit more impressive...
Rick L

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
Mar 21, 2007 - 01:34pm PT
Larry and Nefarious-

Supertopo is just a wonderful resource and congrats to Chris Mac for his community service. I sense that things will be written on this site that will become part of our collective historical record. As someone said we have an "electronic campfire". We can be sitting at at desks, at home etc. around the country and world and engage in some storytelling- sometimes stories that one never thought would be told about climbs of no particular importance or difficulty. I haven't seen Larry since the Fall of 1973 when we climbed Supersqueeze and Satan's Slab in Boulder yet I can catch up on his life and many adventures here. The photo I recently saw of Larry on Yellow Spur is exactly how I remember him. Maybe we have an elecronic "Time Machine" as well.

As far as the route- if you go to Wild Bill's photo- just keep going up and left to the rim. I really do not think there is anyting above 5.5-5.6. You are always climbing near the juncture of "leaning" part of the Tower and the wall below. It is certainly more "Indiana Jones" that typical Yosemite climbing. During high water, you will have to climb to the top of the Tower (a very special place) and go down the Leaning Chimney- a dirty bowling alley- especially with a haul bag- as I recall. Crossing Bridalveil Ceek- even in relaively low water is a sobering experience requiring some careful thought. There have been some fiascos there over the years. The thing about the LT Traverse is that you will probably get an airy (and somewhat scary) experience that is very similar to the way it must have felt felt during the first ascent. Technology, cams, sticky rubber etc. will not change the basic character of this climb.

Have fun

Wild Bill

Mar 21, 2007 - 01:41pm PT
Nef, any one of those link-ups would be burly. Godspeed son, but bring enough water, a headlamp etc. Coldness and wetness are lurking up there . . .

Rick L, thanks for the scary funny TR on climbing the traverse whilst you were young and dumb. I remember looking up at that face and wondering if there were any routes up there.

Sounds like the answer is 'no!' Thus the adventure.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Mar 21, 2007 - 04:00pm PT
The thing about the LT Traverse is that you will probably get an airy (and somewhat scary) experience that is very similar to the way it must have felt felt during the first ascent. Technology, cams, sticky rubber etc. will not change the basic character of this climb.

Nice description, and it's cool too that we have climbers who can hear such routes calling.

The photo I recently saw of Larry on Yellow Spur is exactly how I remember him. Maybe we have an elecronic "Time Machine" as well.

That must have been the 1973 photo. If you saw a 2007 photo you'd think, well, you know ....

Gym climber
San Francisco, CA
Mar 21, 2007 - 04:46pm PT
this route sounds like a barrel of monkeys type of fun ..

nefarious .. do you have a partner in mind .. if not i'd do it with you..

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 21, 2007 - 07:11pm PT
Ricoardo! Dude, I haven't seen you in forever! No one in mind yet (well, no one htat wouldn't hate me afterwards), so, yeah! Let's hook up for this thing. I think it would be crazy fun! Shoot me an email...

Trad climber
Livermore Ca
Mar 22, 2007 - 02:25am PT
Did it with one of my brothers the day after Thanksgiving 1998. It was raining when we left the Bay Area at 3:45 a.m., but not raining east of Manteca. Started climbing at 9 and were done by noon. Windy and cold, but a really fun climb. One of these days I'll do it again. The exposure is wonderful and comes quickly after starting the route. Route obviously traverses left and trends up -- but there are sections to downclimb. Could be run out and (very) scary for a climber who doesn't lead (don't be cruel and take a beginner on it ).

Raps down the LT chimney were all pre-strung making our descent easy (don't expect fixed rap lines). No rappel ropes for us to pull (and nice with no haul bag to wear). Went for a pleasant hike scoping routes and enjoying an autumn afternoon in Yosemite. Then a bit more rain and home by 8p.m.

On the approach we had both noted a horizontal fixed line strung between Fifi Buttress and the Leaning Tower. That rope had a long rope or ropes hanging from it and a fuzz-ball on the bottom-most end. We both agreed that it looked bad for someone. We learned the next day that the ropes were Dan Osman's.Very sad.

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 29, 2007 - 12:20pm PT
Nice, McC! Sounds like a great day. Somber moment thinking about DanO, as always.

Looks like we're heading up the LTT in the next 3 weeks. Going to hit the summit of LT, rather than wank out across the creek to the gunsight. The chimney raps are quick and not too bad without a haulbag. Blaine is pushing for this and Steck-Salathe for the Weak Man's linkup! 8O

But then again, he actually mentioned looking at the chimney raps as a possible climb. He's animal!

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 22, 2007 - 09:25pm PT
TR to come soon - The Leaning Tower Traverse went down this weekend! Blaine Harmon and I made it to the base of the climb in 40ish minutes, spent 3 hours on the route and then leisurly went around to the chimney raps and came down. It started raining as soon as we hit the parking lot... Talk about timing!

It's a very cool climb, which I'd definitely recommend to others. The caveat is that you pretty much have to climb the route like you are soloing. There is very little pro on the route (we used exactly 2 cams, and a handful of nut placements), the rope runs in big loops, goes around, thorugh and over things - some of them pretty sharp. Basically, there is NO falling on the route.

Not sure where I'd place the technical difficulty, but there was one move on the climb, involving a heel hook that was 5.8ish, I'd say. No way around the move either.

Hopefully we'll have a TR ready this week, including some photos.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 22, 2007 - 09:54pm PT
Good going guys! Looking forward to the TR!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Apr 22, 2007 - 11:56pm PT
I went up there with an old girlfriend to do it once. She was a pretty good climber and I have a good tolerance for loose obscure climbs so I figured "how bad could it be?"

One of the easiest climbs I ever backed off. There was a situation with little pro and it seemed you would have to rely on crawling over huge, loose, giant flakes that wouldn't be easy to test. Didn't seem prudent!

Too much of a crap shoot but hey, under other circumstances I might have dared it. Don't bring anybody up there who needs taking care of.


'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Apr 23, 2007 - 12:24am PT
Nice work, dude. As I believe I wrote above, Spaz said it was more like 5.8R loose and nasty. Would appreciate any beta you could suggest for getting pigs up to the base of Disco Strangler area.

Yosemite soon come!

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Apr 23, 2007 - 08:45am PT
Sounds classic, the TR should be good.

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 23, 2007 - 12:30pm PT
Pete - I'll have to look at the topos/pics a bit more to get an idea of exactly where Disco Strangler is, in relation to the route... I will say that IMO the most sustained part of the route is in the beginning. The crux, however is probably midway across.

And, if we're gonna say 5.8R, might as well say 5.8RX... I think it would be *really* bad if you fell on this route and the odds of you taking the big plunge are high. IF your rope isn't sliced on the sharp edges of the choss, you're bound to really do some damage as you tumble down/through the blocks, flakes, etc. This is for both the first and second. I don't say leader cause you both share the same amount of risk on the route.

This is pretty much why I say (blaine will probably chime in at some point, but shares the opinion) you have to climb this route with the frame of mind of soloing, as falling simply isn't an option. You might very well die if you fall on the route.

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 1, 2007 - 09:50pm PT
Well, it's been a busy week and a half since the ascent. I've started a TR but haven't been able to get too far with it. We've been going through a system upgrade at work and being the IT manager, it's been sucking up all of my time. Hopefully the TR shouldn't be too far off.

I did manage to go through the pics a couple of days after the ascent and thought I'd post some of them up so people could check them out. Sorry about the blown out skies, but I wasn't willing to take my gear up there with potential for pulling flakes/breaking holds and going on a big ride. So, we shot the photos with Blaines POS (point-and-shoot) Canon. All in all, I think they came out OK. Hope you all enjoy them.


The route kicks in pretty quick on the loose flakes. When you leave the first belay, you walk a dirt ramp/ledge for about 5 feet and then immediately start out onto the looseness that comprises the route.

Here is a view from the first belay (start of WFLT).

As I approached the end of the first pitch, I came upon this menacing 500 pound plus potato chip looking flake. Sharp as hell!

From the end of the first pitch, you down traverse over and down climb into the start of a chimney made up of loose blocks all resting against the wall. Check the big block at the top, on the outside, jsut waiting to be trundled! It's right above Blaine's head in the last pic of this section....

Check out the block here!

The start of pitch 3... This anchor was comprised of a loop of rope I threw around a big block sitting on the ledge. There was just nowhere to get any pro in... The block was big enough to hold a fall should it happen.

Looking back to where we came from...

Pitch 3. Not as easy as it looks, actually... The bulging headwall really wants to push you off the wall in places. Very balancey to keep you from plunging off. There is also a section that forces you into a a kind of slither for a short section if you have anything on your back.

The belay at the start of pitch 4. We *finally* get a cam placement in! Woo! From here, the route really eases up. Well, kind of....

This pitch does hold the technical crux move, which involved a heel hook. No way around it. It also involved MUCH shrub swimming! You start off into the shrubery, immediately and then to get through the next piece of shrubbery, you get forced either onto your stomach (Blaine's technique) or kinda sliding along with one leg hang off into space, the other folded, between the rock you are and the headwall. After about 6 feet of this you can finally stand up. After a short down climb, you are then greeted with the heel hook move. At this point, you realize you are gettign high on the route as the climbing eases up into more of a hike and there are now full on trees and shrubbery everywhere...

Blaine in the sbrubbery - you can kinda make him out in the greenery. Think snake! =)

Looking back again

The next belay.... This pitch (5) just trudges through greenery until you top out of the diagonaling traverse.

Blaine on belay at the start of the 6th pitch. At this point, the traverse is behind and you either climb to the summit or traverse around the back side towards the chimney raps. The view, of course, is beautiful with Bridalveil falls below. The sound of the creek above the falls, the pools that would make for great swimming... Standing there taking it all in is awesome.

Me summit bound...

and being stupid while Blaine tries to figure out his own camera... He got me.

Taking a break as we head up and around. Having some lunch and relaxing a bit... Looking at routes on the backside of Cathedral.

Our view looking out across the valley... Nice!

The day ended with the chimney raps that most are familiar with...

I've always loved this view... Looking out into the void that makes the chimney, between Fifi and Leaning Tower

It was an awesome day. The climbing wasn't as hard as we thought it was going to be in some aspects, moreso in others (the heel hook caught us by surprise.

We both plan to do the climb again taking a lot less gear. However, I think this will be the most fun ascent of the route we'll do as the mystery was SO much a part of the adventure. I'd read of 30 foot loops with overhang beneath and above you so that if you fell, you'd suddenly be 50 feet down, needing to jug back up (the jugs and screamers will stay home next time). I'd envisioned death flakes hanging out, looking like the rotted teeth of some big monster, waiting to fall out as soon as you weighted them. It's amazing how different something looks when you stand there ready to climb it versus standing at the base of WFLT/WDD thinking, that looks interesting.

Next time, no screamers (we didn't use them), no cams, the ice floss will remian on my back only to come out for the raps. A small rack of nuts is plenty to protect the climb (what little protection there is). I think we can do the route in about an hour, hour and a half. I'd highly recommend the route to others. It's awesome!

I've been asked about the rating a few times... I'm no ratings master, by any means but after discussing this with Blaine and offering what I thought it might be rated he agreed. I'd place it at 5.8 R/X. There are a few tricky moves, lots of balancey sections that could easily send you on a ride you don't want to go on, little to no pro and ropes running over sharp edges and flakes with 30 foot loops between them.

Huh... Well, whaddya' know. This is pretty much a TR, sin't it. I'll clean it up a bit and post it separately as well...

Thanks for looking guys!

May 1, 2007 - 10:00pm PT

Nice photos, I have never done that traverse. That potato chip flake looks huge. Thanks for taking the time to show and tell for us.

Mountain climber
Timbers of Fennario
May 16, 2018 - 10:02am PT
Never heard of this. Would live to see some pics of it. Sounds fun.

A pile of dirt.
May 16, 2018 - 05:14pm PT
I did this about 10ish years ago. It felt 5.6 pg but had some awkward groveling sections. Super fun if you're into loose brush encrusted stuff.

It didn't feel 5.8 or x rated to us but back then I was climbing a lot of obscure stuff. The route is easy to find though ;)

Messages 21 - 38 of total 38 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta