hall of mirrors


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Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Apr 19, 2011 - 12:16am PT
So my big confusion about the Hinterland is where it traverses out from the overhang above the oasis. Anybody want to guess where the hinterland traverse is compared to where GH climbs a slab to a ledge to a corner and over the corner on pitch 17 and 18 below?


Trad climber
Apr 20, 2011 - 02:04am PT

How fantastic to have such a fine route not traveled much, and right there in busy Yosemite climbing center with short approach and shuttle or car down. Always have loved doing routes with scanty info or lost in history, only there for those digging a bit deep. I once wrote a tribute to so called beta-mins. It's on my website:


Wow, can't guess the answer to your question about where Hinterland goes off left. I'm thinking one way to get a grip might be to work from a good hi res picture of the general area in the right glancing light, then use Guido topo on this thread and work backwards from the prominent bowl by both features and feet in the topo. Then "map" that over your detailed topo and distances and features of GH. The result might be wrong but enough to get you up there on an exploration mission.

So fun to go by hook or crook versus detailed and correct info and strings of bolts like a path, seems to me. Who knows, you might even find the old Kamps/McKeown piton worth a million history bucks to some of us, but of course worthless to the world at large. Be sure to report back!

Tom Higgins

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Apr 20, 2011 - 02:15am PT
I'm in. Tell me when we go.

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Apr 20, 2011 - 02:36am PT
Early summer, lets go.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Apr 20, 2011 - 03:01am PT
I'm in.

Hinterland it is.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 20, 2011 - 03:50am PT
Here's my best guess from about 1 year ago:
Glacier Point Apron - Left, from east of Happy Isles. <br/>
Oasis, The Hin...
Glacier Point Apron - Left, from east of Happy Isles.
Oasis, The Hinterland, Galactic Hitchhiker. U = U-shaped bowl
(exact line of Hinterland traverse is a guess; it may be slightly higher)
Credit: Clint Cummins
And above the U, guido's topo shows it going up the right line, not the left line.

Glacier Point Apron, Oasis, Hinterland, Galactic Hitchhiker, <br/>
xRez vi...
Glacier Point Apron, Oasis, Hinterland, Galactic Hitchhiker,
xRez view from top of Half Dome
Credit: xRez/CC
Here's a second guess, with the traverse at a slightly higher level.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Apr 20, 2011 - 04:06am PT
Great Job Clint!

The thing that confuses me is where the Hinterland traverses left where Galactic goes up. When GH crosses the big corner left onto the face, there's a poorly protected 5.10 traverse over to a loose block and up and back to the belay. Alternately, you could climb poor pro 5.10 even harder straight up the face. I could never seem to see an easier way that would get you off to the left (but had somewhat tunnel vision cause i hate walk-the-plank face pitches where you got not much to hang onto with your hands



Edit: Sorta doubt your second Guess as it ascend territory right of GH that has lots of 5.10 and stuff off the the right is not obvious and not likely 5.9 or easier. The lowest horizontal band might be the most likely weak spot for traversing

Trad climber
Apr 22, 2011 - 01:23am PT

For what my memory is worth, I vote for pic 1 not 2 for the traverse, across what looks like a ledge systems, but then there is the drop down (still don't think it is 30' but will defer to the old scrawled Guido topo looking like a Pirate's map) and hard traverse and mysterous lost piton and ... adventure to come for a party.

Tom Higgins
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 22, 2011 - 02:04am PT
There is a Hinterland topo in the 1974 Nichol, Livesey and Nannery topo guide, too.
Full guidebook on Ed's site:
http://home.comcast.net/%7Ee.hartouni/climbing/RCiY/page_34.pdf "Apron to Rim"

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Apr 24, 2011 - 05:30pm PT
This discussion reminds me a lot of the speculations on explorers web and everest.com about what route Mallory and Irvine climbed on their last fateful day. Happily for Frank and Tom it was not their last climb.

Meanwhile rereading Tom's account on Frank's thread and looking at the topos here, it does seem to me more likely that they were in the Galactic hitchhiker area rather than Hinterland.

I do hope Tom can go back up there someday and figure it out.

Meanwhile thanks to guido for unearthing the summit register to put to rest the speculations of those who doubted that the climb had ever taken place.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Jun 12, 2011 - 04:43pm PT
"Chris was a great slab climber, but I think he was obsessed with the HOM and did not recognize the fact that he never freed the moves."

 Scott Cole

Well, thinking back last night (and Urmas is correct about memories playing tricks on you), I seem to remember that the one time I went up on the Hall of Mirrors above the Hang with Chris that he did indeed do a 'sort of' free ascent of the "Unfinished Ninth" pitch (5.12c friction). It went something like this: CC climbed up to the double bolts (where Zappa, Chris and I had met defeat in 1978) and clipped them. When he tried to go left across the 5.12c friction traverse he did fall off and weight the pro. However, CC then lowered to the small scoop down about ten feet below the traverse until he was standing there without weighting the rope. From that stance, Chris climbed up to the traverse without pulling up on the pro and executed the 5.12 traverse over and left to the anchors at the top of the "Unfinished Ninth".

True, Chris did not lower back down to the belay ledge, pull the rope, and climb up re-clipping the pro and then sending the crux. But from the point where he was standing, until he reached the anchors at the very end of the pitch, Chris did free every move without weighting the pro. He certainly was capable of freeing the 5.10d mantle at the start of the sequence no problem. At the time, he did claim that he had freed the pitch in one push earlier, but of course I wasn't there to witness that. All I can say for certain is that each of the moves on the "Unfinished Ninth" did go free without yarding up on the bolts at the crux.

Not a perfect free ascent by today's standards, but certainly pretty close to it back then. I remember a highly apropos quote by Vern Clevenger: "Well, at least every move went free!"

That CC rated the infamous "Thirteenth" pitch 5.13 and Johnny Woodward down-rated it to 5.12 makes you stop and wonder whether the Contact shoe was great on the friction crux of the "Unfinished Ninth" but was really crappy micro-edging on the "Thirteenth"? Someone has to find an old pair of Contacts and do a test run on the Hall of Mirrors next fall after the spring run-off has subsided.

Trad climber
Starlite, California
Jun 13, 2011 - 08:02pm PT
the The HOM was a very controversial route in its day, repercussions were to be mirrored, so to speak, in many Valley guidebook slab climb ratings to the present day.
Even though I’d only been climbing a few years, my partner Carter and I went to take a look at Misty Beethoven soon after Morris’ article saw publication in Mountain, ending up ascending the first 2 pitches a couple of times in the late ‘70’s. By providence, I happened to make Burk’s acquaintance near this point in time – Morris’ “Cracking the Mirrors” in Mountain had just hit the stands when I was to meet a 17 year old Scott working in the Gerry Mountaineering Shop, off of Union Square, while taking my lunch break from my nearby office. In the years to come, I was fortunate enough to be the beneficiary of Scott’s mentorship…although, in retrospect, getting hauled up 5.11+ when I could barely lead 5.8 kinda held me back.
The route’s completion was greeted by quite a few skeptics within the rank and file of the Valley Ethics Police - # of bolts, tactics, style. And, if the climber’s claims were to be believes, then the HOM was the first 5.13 in the Valley!
Since this route was established in thirds, above Misty, to my knowledge the SA was likely the first continuous ascent. Scott led me up to the top of the 4th or the 5th pitch in a halfhearted, early ‘80’s effort; this marked the first time he had covered this ground. Interesting side note – the third pitch is only 10a…but only has one bolt. Somehow, Scott managed to take a fall on it; we used hip belays before any hdwr was on the scene, and I was reeling in slack as quickly as I could. Or, at least, I thought I was!
“S t e e e v e” he yelled as he swept by the belay. See, the angle was so low, and he was sliding so slowly, that I was actually paying out slack!
Naturally, no one had actually gone up there to prove the first ascentionists claims otherwise, but Burk was pretty sensitive about the popular opinion, and his reaction was to go out a put up a boatload of routes – including some rather lengthy ones on Middle Cathedral (Pieces of Eight)and Fairview(Hemispheres) – which were uniformly undergraded and runnout.
An earlier post referred to the futuristic slabs awaiting on the South Face of Half Dome – but Burk was there in 1984 to begin The Fast Lane (racing to complete it before the competition on adjacent Autobahn). Like many, I was conscripted as both porter and belay slave, hauling about 5 gallons of water up the xc approach gully between Liberty Cap and Mt. Broderick (+ rack and pack for a several night’s bivi) for however many 1,000’s of feet…only to have him clip on another 3 gallons onto both our packs at the base of the final 4th class slabs leading up to the base of the route.
The FA of “The Token,” a one-pitch thin slab on The Apron between Chiropodist’s Shop and Ephemeral Clog Dance, gives voice to the “take no prisoners” ethic Scott developed after the HOM. The flushset 2 inch wide lavender crystals drop in a fall line from the Chiropodist’s Shop stance, but merely indicate the general line, rather than offering much more than a useable feature or two; this we confirmed from the top, having just ascending Chiropodist’s in the early dusk of an otherwise scorching July day. Before we called it a day, Scott managed a few moves up the dike, and drilled the first bolt.
The next morning offered something less than optimal friction conditions; temps were well over 100, and the reflected glare from the sun demoralizing. I was never to get credit in the holy guidebook for this FA, and that’s probably because I couldn’t quite send the 5.12 move. But someone was actually holding the end of the rope, or Scott might not have made it either.
Without any warning Scott came off. He was about ¾’s of the way up; about 80 feet above his last bolt. I took off running down the talus with my hip belay (a “running belay?”) –caught him about a body length above the deck. Scott would have taken a 120 foot crater…as my wife was there to witness.
Needless to say, Scott completed the lead, placing the last bolt at this high point…I think the pitch sports only 3 or 4 bolts, each hand drilled in the midst of 5.11 sequences in a 30 minute display of Old World craftsmanship.
Did I say 5.12?
On the spot Scott decreed that “there’s no such thing as 5.12 slab!” And this is why the subsequent guidebook editions downgraded all of the Apron 5.12’s to 11d…11d to 11b, etc. But, it also bears mention that these grades are really only appropriate for slab specialists who are on their game every day. Much higher numbers are now posted on contemporary crack and high angle face, and these type climbs generally offer a fair bit of protection. When the protection is out of the picture, well, then, it’s really not about climbing numbers at all…


Monument Manor
Jun 14, 2011 - 05:30pm PT
Bruce - sounds like a pendulum followed by off route toprope to the belay............AO TR
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 14, 2011 - 05:42pm PT
Got a chance to watch Bercaw climb hard 5.11 slab in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Smooth. Made it look like 5.5.

There's a few 5.12ish slab type things out there. I can't even fathom friction climbing near that level of difficulty...

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Jun 14, 2011 - 06:28pm PT
If you want to see what 5.13 slab looks like, without a long hike or any committment, simply walk on the path through the boulders behind Camp 4. About 10' from the Ament Arete, literally right next to the trail is a golden-tan slab boulder problem called the Kauk Slab. Rated around V8. Absolutely ridiculous. And while I've never seen anyone else do it, there is video of Kauk floating it like it's 5.10.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 15, 2011 - 04:10pm PT

Thanks for the cool Scott Burke stories!

About The Fast Lane: the guidebook shows it as completed in 6/86, vs. Autobahn in 5/85, so apparently the race to finish first was won by the Autobahn folks?
I believe John Middendorf has shared the story on here about being recruited to lead the headwall pitch on Autobahn!

Gym climber
Jun 15, 2011 - 04:44pm PT
Before we called it a day, Scott managed a few moves up the dike [on the Token], and drilled the first bolt.

A couple of moves, eh? Dang, he climbed way past where I would have drilled the first bolt, adding a 2nd crux on what would be high-ball height on a boulder. That is one hell of a route.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Jun 16, 2011 - 03:00pm PT
"Bruce - sounds like a pendulum followed by off route toprope to the belay............AO TR"

 Al Dude

If only you could top-rope the 5.12c move and get to the belay! Unfortunately, you have to go up (above the last two bolts) and left 25 feet. The TR part is about 1 foot long, but the climb to the belay part is a long, long way up and left.

Kinda coulda, woulda 'free' if you coulda woulda. If we could have pendulum-tension traversed and got the sucker back in 1978, we sure would have gotten to the belay ledge. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we were defeated by the nature of the crux itself, which is, as you'll find if you go up there, uncompromising. IOWs: Johnny Woodward freed that crux twice and Cantwell may have 'once'. This isn't talking about the style of the FA of course. In 1978, when Zappa Dave, me and CC met defeat at this point, we just doubled up the bolts at our high point and rapped down to the base. EOM.

I'd say it's more like CC fell, weighted the rope, and then did the crux up and left. Hard to apply ground up on sight ethics to a route that had been abandoned at a high point for three years.

Aug 20, 2011 - 01:26am PT
one bad thing about the current standard of acceptability for a free ascent - you know, the one about going belay to belay without falling - it really takes all the fun out of trying to justify that pesky little grey area.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 20, 2011 - 01:45am PT
Welcome, Jonny W! Funny, we (Perry) were just talking about you the other day.


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