tips, tricks, shenanigans for WFLT?

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Grandmastergoat

Trad climber
Lake Stevens, Washington
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 26, 2007 - 01:07am PT
Iím heading to the valley mid august for the first time. My partner has backed out so Iím looking at soloing leaning tower. Iíve been doing a bit of solo aid up here in Washington at Index to prepare, and Iím feeling pretty confident in my systems. Does anyone have any thoughts, beta or advice for someone new to Yosemite, or more particular this route? Can I expect crowds mid-August or am I going to be the only one dumb enough to be out in that heat? Any must have pieces of gear? Thanks for any input.
Moof

Trad climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Jul 26, 2007 - 01:17am PT
Bring lots of water and an wall umbrella for shade. Being west facing give you some morning shade, so get up early and haul ass before the afternoon sun sets into baking you. Plan on knocking off fairly early in the afternoon once the heat hits you.

No real specialty gear. Lots of draws for clipping the many bolts (every third of the ~50 bolts on P1/2, traversing P5/6, and much fixed mank on P9/10). I bring a pink tricam for P3, as I can't figure a way without it, but my partner on the last trip did so no problem. A couple lowe balls are handy, but not mandatory.

Also, don't underestimate the approach. It is arguably the crux of the route. You'll be doing 2 trips in all likelyhood. Be happy if you can fix to 2 and get all your gear to the start for a days effort. Doing much more will wipe you out badly.
Grandmastergoat

Trad climber
Lake Stevens, Washington
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 26, 2007 - 01:32am PT
Thanks for the tips moof. I like the umbrella idea. Anyone know when the sun starts hitting the route? Seems like it would be fairly shady.
Moof

Trad climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Jul 26, 2007 - 02:17am PT
I think it hits it roughly 1'ish, though that is at a glancing angle. It will bake the ledges, so they will be toasty well past dark. You'll want to bring the sleeping pad just to keep the ledge from cooking you bottom up.

Also make sure whatever solo system you are using you can do the lower out on P5.

For the rap, wear the haul bag for all but two raps. There are 2 raps down the low angle backside, wear it for these. Ride the pig for the first rap into the gully (skipping the first station, as it is superfluous). Wear the bag through the next few rappels through the gully till you get to a rap station well to the north side of the gully with a good ledge, and rap down to a small ledge with a bush (wear it to the small ledge). This rap is obviously high angle, and you should ride the pig. Skip the rusty free hanging station halfway down. I'm assuming you are using 60m ropes.
Grandmastergoat

Trad climber
Lake Stevens, Washington
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 26, 2007 - 03:21am PT
Are you referring to the lower-out at the start of the pitch? I'm using a grigri so I think I'm covered either way. I'm hoping to have everything in one bag by the time I top out so I won't have to shuttle on the decent. Any thoughts on whether I should leave the ledge at home? I'd like the option of allowing parties to pass, but I don't want to spend a night in slings either. Thanks for the beta moof.
ZAllen

Social climber
the dirty south
Jul 26, 2007 - 06:52am PT
Practice cleaning lots of big roofs if you can. Backcleaning on lead and then lowering off of fixed tat while cleaning can speed things up on this route. The approach will be scary with a bag. Budget time for multiple shuttles.
I'd take the ledge if I were you. Then you'll be less stressed about your speed, and the hauling is easy. Have fun!
Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Jul 26, 2007 - 09:57am PT
Grandmstergoat,

I've done the Tower three times, here are my tips:

Bring a radio and lots of cigarretts, two most important peices of gear when soloing a wall. Alcohal being a close third, although I found that when soloing I work so hard that I am too beat to drink beer at the bivi.

Do the approach in two carries, it is realy a bitch with a full load. Take your gear up first, and food and water up second before you blast (don't leave food out anywhere, or in your car, bears are no joke in Yos). 3-2 liter bottles per day in August, minimum.

The approach pitch takes a while, try to fix it and shuttle gear over the night before you blast. I take a small pack and fix a rope over to the anchor at p1, then shuttle loads clipped into the fixed line with a daisy, then self belay over on the last carry. Some people do it all in one with no rope, whatever floats your boat...don't fall.

Link pitches, the tower can be done in 5.5 pitches, esp if solo.

Try to get up early and do a good bit of climbing before the sun hits the wall, then take a break in the mid-afternoon when the heat is strongest, then climb some more in the evening.

Don't bring a portaledge, sleep on Awhanhee and the ledge 1/2 pitch before the summit.

Be sure to fix p5-6 (as shown on topo) or you will have a long day to top out. Clean those pitches on rappel, a little tricky but way easier then jug-cleaning them. And no lower out off Guano.

The crux of your climb is going to be the heat, maybe the crowds (go on a weekday if you can). I soloed Zodiac in a mid August hot spell, and my advice is take it slow and steady. Don't push yourself too hard, listen to your body. If you feel tired or dizzy just 'chill out' for a while. You're brain litterlay is getting boilded and you need to recognize when you start to lose decsion making capacity, that is when you stop and duck for cover. Getting heat stroke up there would be very, very bad.

good luck dude, it's a proud adventure!
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Jul 26, 2007 - 10:32am PT
There's multiple trails for the approach, pay attention to the supertopo approach beta and you'll find the right one.

Lambone has good advice on water. Also on the ledge. Fix 5/6 (1 rope) and maybe 7, crash on Awahnee, and then you only have to climb 7-10 over 1 day to make the next good ledge.

There's a killer bivi spot in the woods before the ledge traverse to the base of the route.

You can fix two ropes up to Awahnee Ledge and return to the ground to bivi if the ledge is crowded, or if you just have time to go up 1-3 pitches the first day.

Leeper/Logan hooks are great for hooking dead heads.
summerprophet

Mountain climber
Cali Via Canada
Jul 26, 2007 - 10:44am PT
It is going to be hot. A ledge is not neccesary as there are enough natural ledges on the route. (Although, you could seet it up above you and use it is a sun canopy) You can link all the pitches for a total of 5. This is pretty straight forward except for the roof, which requires some pretty heady backcleaning. Obviously if there is someone coming up on your ass, you may not want to do this.

It has been a while since I have been up there, (1997) but I don't think we took any specialty gear.

The approach and the descent both suck. I don't think there is any benefit to doing a single mega-load or two small loads, you are going to be hating life regardless. Be careful coming down, I would consider waiting an hour if there is someone below you or someone right behind you. They call it the gunsight for a reason.

I am not sure how difficult the traverse would be to clean if you linked the pitches above it. I can't remember if the route continues to trend right. This would be worthy to look into.
seamus mcshane

climber
Jul 26, 2007 - 10:52am PT
Rap the Leaning Tower Chimney and don't take the Gunsight descent despite the low water. Consider climbing @ night if it's too hot, it worked out well for me, and besides night-climbing makes the exposure a figment of your imagination...;)

No portaledge is the right call.
Moof

Trad climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Jul 26, 2007 - 12:00pm PT
The approach trail is lots of large talus mixed with tromps in the woods. Even if you've done it a few times it is still easy to get off route. There are multiple times I've dropped the pig so I could go scout to refind the trail.

Also be careful with your ropes on the rap. There are many loose rocks that can easily be dislodged onto you, or your rope. I got a nice core shot in a nearly new rope this way (3 days of climbing on it...).
spyork

Social climber
A prison of my own creation
Jul 26, 2007 - 12:15pm PT
I wouldn't climb that bastard again in summer heat. Just my opinion. Go climb in Tuolumne, lots of cool stuff to do.

July,August=high country...
Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Jul 26, 2007 - 12:29pm PT
yeah, I don't think I'd solo another wall in August again either, but it was kinda fun once...in a suffering sorta way.

grandmastergoat, remember when it reached almost 100 degrees in Seattle a few weeks ago. Imagine climbing the Upper Town Wall in that heat, that's what it'll be like.
Colt

climber
Midpines
Jul 26, 2007 - 01:14pm PT
To save a little time on the bolt ladder, back clean a bit more. Leave a draw on every 5th or 6th. The pitch is too steep to clean on rappel, so clean while jugging. Instead of formal lower outs, girth hitch a dyneema double sling to your belay loop. To clean the draw, thread the girth hitched sling through the bolt and pull in on it hard enough to unweight the draw. Clean the draw then let go of the sling. You'll go for a little swing, but nothing sketchy. Time saved on the lead and on the clean. Saves on the amount of gear too.

Grandmastergoat

Trad climber
Lake Stevens, Washington
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 26, 2007 - 01:41pm PT
Does the mountain shop have a pretty comprehensive selection in case I need to pick up the odd piece of gear?

Thanks again for all the good advise you guys. I really appreciate it.
summerprophet

Mountain climber
Cali Via Canada
Jul 26, 2007 - 01:56pm PT
The mountain shop has pretty much every aid toy still being made.
Moof

Trad climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Jul 26, 2007 - 01:58pm PT
Mountainshop as as much or more than any other gear shop out there. They even have brass HB's, though last time I was there they were sold out of all but 3 sizes...

They carry everything from adjustable daisy's, to portaledges, to "Kiss Me I'm a Touron!" shirts.
Grandmastergoat

Trad climber
Lake Stevens, Washington
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 26, 2007 - 02:17pm PT
nice! I'm getting one of those shirts.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jul 26, 2007 - 05:26pm PT
Hmmmm, was just up there. It's a great route. I've done it a bunch.

 Follow the McTopo approach. Don't go straight up above the outhouses, which is tempting because someone started putting pink flagging tape marking a non-trail. Instead go left, under the house-sized boulder, then up to and along the dead log, then up through the talus following the cairns.

 If you're going in August, take lots of water. Count on at least four litres per day, but if it's really hot, five or even six. It's your only defense against the heat.
 Linking pitches will save you lots of time and bother. They link in pairs all the way to the top no problem.

 Be an Old Bull. Don't run up and try to solo it fast, walk up and take your time. I would plan one night at the base, and the next two nights on Ahwahnee Ledge, with a day of fixing in the middle. That way you can make it for sure to the big bivi ledge at the top of 10, and descend the next day. Or maybe if you're fast you can fix to the top of 6 your first climbing day.

 I find the free climbing at the beginning of P6 to be *really* hard - very greasy with holds that aren't positive. I can't do it. I suck. I hooked up and left around it. It's pretty runout. Take extra hooks and duct tape. It's the crux for me.

 Normally I recommend practising hauling bags of rocks, but you might be OK on the Tower since it overhangs so much, and you can haul 1:1 no problem.

Be sure to let us know how you made out, eh?
Grandmastergoat

Trad climber
Lake Stevens, Washington
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 26, 2007 - 05:33pm PT
Thanks for the tips, Pete. I was wondering about some of the mandatory free. I like the laid back approach with the heat being a factor. I just don't want to cluster others who might be on the route. Hopefully I'll be able to take my time and enjoy. I'll be sure to post a TR and let ya'll know how it went. Thanks for all your responses.
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