Supertopo Lost Arrow Chimney Beta


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 20 of total 24 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - May 2, 2007 - 10:54pm PT
Howdy Rock Fans!
I was prepped to do this climb a few weeks ago but the weather didnít cooperate. Looks like it will be next year. I know you're all thinkiní that a climber of my limited skills has no business on this climb. Well, I agree. Except... you see, itís on the agenda. Iíve already been up there looking around.
So Bob knows my agenda and says lets do it. I say OK. He starts talking about doing it in a day. I say,Ēyou are talking about climbing this with ME arenít yaĒ? So I printed all the stuff off supertopo and gave it to him as reading material. Just to let him know we might need a little bivy in the notch. I also typed Roper onto the topo, modified slightly to reflect modern belay locations? Here for the first time is a summary of the Supertaco beta for Lost Arrow Chimney.
See ya on the rock.

The Topo

***Rappelling From Lost Arrow notch
I've done it about 4 times. Go straight down and look for the anchors. Keep rappelling till you reach the base.

As Werner said, there are Rohrer anchors all the way from the notch to the base.

If you do the LA Chimney to the LA tip, back down to the notch to the escape from the notch is a long day. The rap route is an escape hatch if you don't want to go the whole distance.

It's actually easier and faster to rap from the notch to the base and back to the Valley than going to the rim.
I tell you from my own experience.

I rapped from the notch after climbing the Lost Arrow Direct (in 2000 or so) after finding that my ropes that I tossed from the rim (with water bottles hanging to hold them in place) were unreachable. Just head straight down the fall line from the notch toward the valley and eventually you'll stumble into the anchors. The first set is a about 20-30 feet below the last bivy site on the route just before the scramble up to the rim. They are a bit rusty and I backed one or two up with a old nut (as we had pig), but it was pretty straight forward. There are a few sections with a big loose block or two high up so be careful.

***How hard is the Lost Arrow chimney?
The LA Chimney was never done (free) a whole lot. It's a thrasher, but modern camming gear should take the bite out of some of the less protected sections (some have pin holes). Remember, Salathea got up the thing with work boots, in the 40s, so it's totally doable. Also, the LA has more true chimneying than the SS, which had a lot of hand cracks and lybacks. Bring knee pads and plenty of water.

I would say the LAC and SS are of similar difficulty, but, like Largo said, a bit more actual chimneying on the former.

Not hard. Or an easy aid with 2 #4.5s.

Clint Cummins,
I have done the Steck-Salathe', but not the Lost Arrow Chimney. One of my friends who has done both said he thought the Lost Arrow Chimney was about 3 times harder than the Steck-Salathe'.

***Lost Arrow Chimney Info
We took a #4 friend (~3.5"), could have left it behind. You'll be fine. Bigger stuff would fit, but that's a long way to lug stuff you don't need.

Me and Schultz did it way back when, Schultz lead the pitches in 10 minutes even though there were icicles and verglas all over everything, it ain't that great of a route really, the crux was pinscars in the back of a guessed it...chimney, do the 5.9 handcrack pitch instead of the Harding Hole to get to the notch...that's all I remember

Rap the Roar Route, I think thats how you spell his name , it's found on the oppposite side of the LA Chimney the eastern side of the notch, one shitty rap leads to painted way bomber anchors, chains if I recall the whole way down, 8 raps or so. As far as gear goes , its a huge chimney with minimal protection, you are the protection just dont fall. 4 friend will do.

Peter Haan,
I have watched this thread for awhile but now I guess I will contribute. I did this route in 1973 or so. Six hours, with a slow but kind of strong psycho second, Will Tyree. I think it could easily be done in 2-3 hours or less. The late Bill Bonebrake fixed the ropes from the rim for us, but obviously we could have just climbed out. At the time I think it was partially aided, the notch to rim section. No one was checking this section to the rim out for free climbing at the time.

The crux is kind of gross and pretty dangerous. It is 5.10a-5.10bish. A granulating, pin-holed large overhanging groove (the chimney has developed a back to it and earlier parties aided here by driving pins in a non-crack ((probably a3-a4 then))) so now there are several big holes you use for fingerholds. You will be edging on friable, crummy edges that will break off most likely. Were you to fall, you would drop into a narrowing very rough slot that gets narrower quickly, as I recall.

The route is worth doing; for the most part it is reasonable. It is really classic and if you are aware of all the weird history, it's even more interesting. The Harding Hole is reserved for the junior misses among us. I tried it and was shutdown about where I could stick my head almost out the hole and sense the enormous dropoff. The alternatives are wonderful climbing, 5.9, and much much more interesting and safe, ending in the Notch. In fact they are the best climbing in some respects on the whole route. The Hole is merely historic; Warren was tiny way back then. And not so good at real freeclimbing.

And also, do not go up there in winter or in stormy conditions, for Christ's sake, as a previous post has proposed. It is simply a death trap for falling ice and weather...... you will not be able to negotiate the situation.

Brutus of Wyde,
Back on topic: It's a nice hike up there to string the lines from the rim, and you can leave approach shoes and water and food in the notch that way.

The bolts are original relics, as far as I know. But that was years ago.

Harding hole was the tightest d@mn chimney I've ever been in. Harding slot on the Astro is like a barn by comparison.

Safety valve isn't a big deal, just a palm-toe bridge across it and you're through the tough part.

The biggie (aside from the Hole, which I would skip) is the 5.9 squeeze chimney above the bolt "ladder"... a good, standard 5.9 squeeze. Get back in there as tight as you want. Maybe a fixed pin or two in there. Watch out for loose blocks above that.

***A look at Lost Arrow Chimney
Sitting here recovering from shoulder surgery and going through this site is bringing back a flood of memories. Only a few friends know this hopefully interesting free-solo story - so here it is.

The inspiration, really, was Henry Barber's free solo of the Steck Salathe - in 1977, I think. I was intrigued by this, and in 1978, I too, free-soloed the Steck-Salathe. I did it the same way Henry had done, I brought a long sling and a carabiner with me to protect the one scary piece of face climbing. The whole climb took about an hour and a half to complete.

The Steck-Salathe was a climb I had done several times before, and, frankly, free-soloing it did not seem to be such a big deal, in retrospect. It occurred to me that an on-site free-solo of a Yosemite classic would raise the stakes. I don't remember what made me think of the Lost Arrow Chimney - it wasn't a climb that was really on my radar or anything, but I was very confident in the wide crack arena and figured there was no way that I couldn't free-solo 5.10a.

So, sometime in the late Spring of 1979, I let some of my friends in on it and told my buddy Alan Chase that if I didn't show up for dinner the next night, to walk up the Falls trail the following morning and throw a rope down to the notch so I could prussik out.

I left in the morning, excited, of course. I brought a paperback book, "The Myth of Sysiphus", that I stuffed in my cotten warmup pants, just above the ankle. The climb went quickly and rather uneventfully. Because I figured that I might have to hang out at the notch all day anyhow, I took my time - hanging out at certain ledges - but still the whole climb took only about 3 hours. Like on the Steck-Salathe, I took a long runner and a carabiner. I used the runner on a fixed pin at the scary, flakey section discussed in this post, and then abandoned it.

When I topped out on the notch, there was a party setting up to do the tyrolean traverse of the spire. Two clearly inexperienced guys were at the notch, and one guy in particular, was really spooked and could not believe that I had soloed up to that point. I asked if I could use their ropes to get out. Both guys ended up jumaring up to the top of the wall. I was expecting that maybe they would send jumars down for me, but after the second guy went up, nothing happened for like 15 minutes, in spite of my yelling. So I got out two small cords and prussiked their rope to the top of the wall.

I hiked back to Camp 4 with little fanfare. I do remember John Long congratulating me the next morning.

***Lost Arrow Chimney - Anyone been up it lately?
Mr T,
Two of us tried it back in 2000. We got beat up, burned up, and had to turn around at the .10a section. Does anyone know the beta for the 10a pitch? I was pulling on sketchy looking flakes on the right wall of the chim, above a chock stone, where the chim really widens up. There was a fixed pin a little bit beyond where I was and then everything went blank. The flakes seemed too sketchy (ie a cam behind them would probably blow them) and after flaling around in the heat we bailed. Yes, ironically it was the loose face climbing that turned me around...

Brutus of Wyde,
If you're speaking of the Safety Valve, yah 5.7 at the most.

As for the three options at the top, I would take anything BUT the Harding Hole. the 15 horizontal feet of the HH took me 45 minutes, and I exited from it minus all the buttons on my shirt, sans harness, with my pants coming off and the rope tied around my ankle.

Dug out an old TR:

Doesn't tell much that we don't already know...

Lost Arrow Chimney

16 July 1988

Early July. Alex Schmauss (of Hairline fame) gets a call on the telephone.

"In shape?? Interested in a little chimney climb two weeks from now?
Let's go CLIMBING!!"

Unable to synchronize our days off, ( I with Friday/Saturday, Alex with Saturday/Sunday) I will hike in on Friday and fix ropes to the Notch. Meet Alex at 7:30 pm. Fire the next day.

Rappelling into Lost Arrow Notch alone has to be one of the Gawd-Awfullest spooky experiences a person can ever have. Memories of the first Arrow fatality, Irving Smith, haunt me in this lonely place. Smith had hoped to become the youngest person to climb Lost Arrow Tip.
Instead, before he ever set foot on the climb itself, he somehow lost it at Lost Arrow Notch and set a record of another kind. Lost Arrow Chimney was closed to climbing for a year as Smiths body lay on a chockstone
somewhere in its lonely depths. Such thoughts are close to the surface as a loose rock bounces into the hazy nothingness surrounding me.

Rather than descend entirely to the notch, I lower a pack on the end of the second rope. In it are our descent shoes, jumars, 1.5 gallons of water, a bit of food, and headlamps. We want to climb the Chimney, in as much as possible, unencumbered. Next, out come my prussiks, poor-man's ascenders, and I slowly hoist myself back up to the rim. Behind
schedule, I fairly run down the Falls trail after a very busy afternoon.

I'm late meeting Alex by 15 minutes.

16 July: 4:30 am. We hurriedly stash our bivy gear, having slept directly in the center of the trail. I try to choke down a few bites while Alex cheerfully wolfs down a huge breakfast of cataloupe, sweet
rolls, tea.

I puke as we start the approach in excruciatingly tight climbing shoes.

The stench of fear saturates the air around me. Horrible Talus scramble. Wild stream leaping, sketching across verglassed slabs below
Yosemite Falls, impassible bru, pursued by dark thoughts, racing toward my nightmare, chased by the ghost of Irving Smith. The approach was

The first pitch is wet. WET! On a midsummer climb where we expect HEAT to be our primary concern, the entry to the climb is a slimy mess. I mean, the belay at the base of the pitch is in the middle of a BOG.

We fairly fly up the first six pitches of the route. Casual. Vacation climb. But as we fly toward the Rim, almost imperceptibly, the rock slowly steepens. By pitch 8 (5.10 chimney!?) the route is a gently overhanging, rotten, flared groove. As I haul our tiny pack, it never touches the rock.

Pitch 9: 150 feet, (count 'em... 150... count 'em 3 inches at a time, 'cause that's how much you move per series of squirms in this type of...) yes, boys and girls, the grand prize goes to Off Body, flared, 5.9 SQUeeeeEZE Chimney!

Sounds drift down to Alex as I lead this

"Oh yes!!! MMMmmm Unnnhhhh! Make me cry! Hurt me! Hurt me like that! I LOVE it when you mmmake mme cr... cr... CRY!!"

Rubble on a ledge. As I belay on this tiered pile of teetering skull-splitters, one thought is the focus of my being - Don't knock anything off. Don't kill Alex.

Suckered. Enigmatic, beckoning slot. Desperation in the darkness. Caving 1200 feet up. Harding Hole. I'm stuck.

I can't turn my head (The chimney is too narrow)
I don't have a harness on, the rope is tied around my ankle. (The chimney is

too narrow) I just lost all the

buttons off my


(The chimney is too narrow)

I can't take a full breath of air

(The chimney is...)
I can't move forward
(the CHIMney)
I can't move backwards
(Chimn... Chimn... oh goh.. uh....uhhh...

10 feet. Straight-jacketed, mummified alive, horrendous power moves unable to even thrash effectively; emptying the lungs scared IF I move I WON'T BE ABLE TO BREATHE scraping my body through lubricated by my own blood I suddenly slide forward a quarter inch of progress toward the beckoning light 10 feet away... 10 feet and 45 minutes of hell.

Notch, 2:30 pm. Alex pops through like a carnival freak thin man. Jug to the rim. Someone hid beer in the stream above the falls. Wonder who that could be ?

Ahhhh... Sapporo. Long, foot-bruising down Falls Trail, horrible loads from camp to the Valley floor.

We're DONE!

hth, Brutus

P.S. If you've done Steck Salathe', be aware that the Harding Hole is MUCH tighter than the Narrows of SS. If you've done Astroman, be aware that the Harding Hole is MUCH tighter than Harding Slot on the 'Stro.


Big Wall climber
May 2, 2007 - 11:09pm PT

Thanks so much for the compilation. I'm so psyched for this route.

BTW, who's the "other" Mr. T?

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 2, 2007 - 11:28pm PT
I don't know whether this would be extra work or extra cush, but you could hike in from porky flat and sleep as near as legal to the rim. Next morning fix two lines to the notch and stash jugs, food and water there, rap to the base and climb the route.

When you get to the notch, depending on time and energy, you could jug out or finish the spire and tyrol for extra points.

If you bailed on the route, you'd be hosed cause of your fixed lines.

Also depending on energy, you'd be equiped to crash or hike out to porcupine flat.

Heck, if you really had energy, stay another night and rap down the next day and do a lap on Yosemite Point Buttress.



May 3, 2007 - 12:24am PT
Miles of hiking involved in that scenario Karl. It's not even a quarter mile from the Valley floor to the base.

In 1969 I hiked to the base and tried to scramble up the Lost Arrow Chimney route with a goldline rope and my sears work boots. I didn't even know it was a route back then. I thought it would be an easy scramble to the rim. The rope was for the "just in case" scenario. I had some slings, biners and couple of pins.

I made it one pitch. What a stupid idiot I was.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 3, 2007 - 01:20am PT
Hi Karl,
This climbing thing is a kind of game. We all get to choose how we want to play. The way I figure it, for someone of ordinary ability, in my case very ordinary, this is a two day climb. You can spend day one hiking and stashing gear, water etc. and then climb the route on day two or you can play the game in a "traditional" sort of way. Start at the bottom, just you, your partner and whatever you choose to take. Climb to the notch. Bivy. Day two, climb the spire and rappel. Maybe you get lucky and do it in one day.
Either way it's gonna be fun!
Take care,

Social climber
The West
May 3, 2007 - 02:27am PT
First, build a mock up in a safe facility.

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
May 3, 2007 - 06:11am PT
Zander, you da man!

I will get on this baby by the end of summer. Finishing might be another story!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 3, 2007 - 09:21pm PT
I just like typing this: nothing personal


Trad climber
Apr 22, 2008 - 05:54pm PT
Anyone think the LA Chimney would be dry Memorial Weekend? It was gushing water and ice at the end of March, but I don't know the source of the water...snow melt that would be gone by Memorial?

Trad climber
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Apr 23, 2008 - 11:16am PT
Werner wrote, In 1969 I hiked to the base and tried to scramble up the Lost Arrow Chimney route with a goldline rope and my sears work boots. I didn't even know it was a route back then. I thought it would be an easy scramble to the rim. The rope was for the "just in case" scenario. I had some slings, biners and couple of pins.

And now he brings these type of adventurers down in a nice shiny bag.

Trad climber
Apr 23, 2008 - 01:43pm PT
Don't you need 2 ropes to rap the Rohr route though? So you'd have to carry 2 on the climb...? We just fixed ropes down from the notch.

A good climb, fairly clean rock overall outside of the first couple pitches and the gnar gnar crux. Definitely bring the big gear if you want to protect that long squeeze pitch and the cruxes. We used the 5/6 for beefing a couple dinosaur anchors that would have sucked too.

Here's an excerpt from our Rim to Rim to Rim TR from last fall:

We woke again at 4 the next morning and Cliff decided he could at least move his shoulder, and that if I would lead the cruxes we would continue on with the Lost Arrow Chimney. We brought almost a double set of cams from the yellow alien up to #3's plus the 4,5, and 6, and a 4 big bro. A fairly hefty rack for any climb.
We soloed up Sunnyside Bench where I found a fixed #2 camalot in the crack and quickly removed it with my nut tool.

Cliff toughed it out and started leading from the base. This guy only ate instant powdered oatmeal packets all day taking them like a shot the whole time?!

The first few pitches of the Arrow Chimney were pretty easy, although cliff pulled off a B Ball size rock falling 3 feet from my face off of pitch 2. I dodged it luckily as it was bouncing. The Safetyvalve pitch proved challenging but protected with a 4 big bro. If that bolt were replaced it would be super bomber. As cliff lead pitch 5 he said he saw something shiny back in the crack. I agreed to investigate (hmm I already bootied a cam that morning..) In I go squeeze chimney style to this little crevace. Woh man 2 cams! Wait a sec no theres more I found 4 cams in this hole, no over on the other side 3 more! WTF 7 cams!? ( They were it looked like 3 different racks, this hole had evertyhing from back packs to ball caps to busted digitalo cameras in it years old, some of the cams were C4s, metolius range finders, and aliens, mostly in good shape, although a couple had probably been there a few years.

So I strapped on our 3rd rack and continued climbing.. ;)

I believe it was pitch 8 where the climbing got really nasty, I was looking at about a 5.10c move on rotten overhanging pin scars protected by 2 original quarter inch bolts placed as a old 2 bolt anchor that were hanging out of the rock about a half inch and bent already. Maybe they'd hold body weight? Then no pro down below except the 4 big bro a ways down, then a sharp flake to land on. That move isn't terribly hard, but it is committing and powerful and the holds are soo rotten, again with good bolts replaced this crux would be bomber.

The 9th pitch is like the narrows on the Steck, but more sustained and incredibly vertical squeeze chimney/OW for 160 feet, would suck without the big cams. We placed the #6 on six different pitches on the route btw. Looking up at the harding hole we opted out of doing a squeeze chimney you have to take you clothes off for with our "tripple" rack and did the 5.9 face option. Not a bad route, but man it sticks it to yah higher up. All the cruxes protected with only the 4 big bro for the most part. 3 bolts replaced and this route would be safe. Someone should replace these old bolts..hmm also the 2 on the Steck Salathe on the pitch below the narrows... and these old dad climbs wouldn't be bad???

Glad to jug the fixed lines up (leading another hard ow pitch would have been proud though hard at that point) then back down to the valley.

The rest of the TR is here:]

Trad climber
Apr 23, 2008 - 02:32pm PT
The 6th pitch where the topo shows traversing left past 2 bolts that aren't really there is really efing weird hard too for the record. Anyone else remember that section? We ended up doing some kind of tension traverse over off a cam. I heard Alex Honnold went up there a year or 2 ago and on the whole route couldn't get that section worked out even on toprope.

The 3rd bolt I'd call to be replaced is actually the one at the anchor atop pitch 8 where only big cams could be used. Only need to replace one of the old anchor bolts on the lower pitch at the crux not both.

Potentially also some route finding fun/bolt replacement action for the traversing pitch though too if someone wanted to dial that out.

Then get folks to come out on this route once and a while. There are tons more bolts on the route where mini bolt ladders were used by the old guys/anchors/etc, like the ladder on Harding route on Conness, but those 3 or 4 would be the ones needed to keep good anchors and protect the route. There are some sketch ball oldschool things up there in plenty like pitons equalized by a dog collar chain or fixed soup cans that someone set up to rap from probably in the 60s.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 23, 2008 - 04:29pm PT
I'd be psyched to go up there and replace the key bolts, when it's dry enough. The crux would be finding a partner willing to do the route, I think.

Gym climber
Apr 23, 2008 - 07:10pm PT
I don't have time to read this whole post, but FYI, I rapped out of the notch last spring in a snow storm. Easy raps (with 2 ropes), as Werner states.

Clint, that sounds "fun." The crux for me is finding the time!

And this is too good to not replay:

I exited from it minus all the buttons on my shirt, sans harness, with my pants coming off and the rope tied around my ankle.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 23, 2008 - 10:04pm PT
If I can get in shape for this, dealing with a few dings and dents right now, I'll take a bolt kit. If I do I'll report it here. Clint, let us know if you replace those rascals.

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Apr 23, 2008 - 10:40pm PT
Good luck Zander. It doesn't get more old school in Yosemite than the Lost Arrow Chimney.

Trad climber
Irvine, CA
Apr 24, 2008 - 08:27pm PT
I'll do this route. Perhaps we should get a couple teams on it?

I, like many of you, just need a partner...
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
May 1, 2008 - 12:15pm PT
I remember Sacherer saying that the day you do the LA Chimney you do more work than in any other day of your life.

Trad climber
Golden, CO
May 1, 2008 - 12:54pm PT
I thought it was Dick Cillie who said that.

Trad climber
San Diego
May 1, 2008 - 07:33pm PT
What's the Rohr route?
Messages 1 - 20 of total 24 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
spacerCheck 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

guidebook icon
Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta