Doug Robinson, Sean Jones, rap bolt South face of Half Dome!


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Mountain climber
Apr 27, 2008 - 10:39pm PT
"I will never accept the rape of the South Face, I want the dam thing removed, I have made that clear."

And who in the heck do you think YOU are?! "Rape"?

The almighty Cosgrove has spoken. HE has made it clear that HE wants the route removed.

I have never seen a bigger pile of self-appointed "ethically superior" dung anywhere.

Doug and Sean, keep up the good work. I hope to meet up with you two some day.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 27, 2008 - 11:03pm PT
183 bolts on the route... sorry to ask but, what kind of bolts did you use? in particular, how are they going to be maintained...

and looks like crack climbing low, but beyond where I am climbing (not only am I a crack climber, I would venture to guess that I'm just a weekender duffer).

Thanks for the topo.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Apr 28, 2008 - 01:19am PT
Sean, just out of curiosity, how long have you been climbing? Just curious as to your climbing influences. Do you think those informed your decision to go the way you did, or were they not really part of the equation? No ill will intended. Truly just looking to understand the process. I'll try and email you later, rather than clap trap the taco stand. Going to sleep now.

one more post to 2k, tho! :)
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Apr 28, 2008 - 01:21am PT
1907 posts divided by 183 bolts = 10.42 posts/bolt.

Brought to you by the SuperTopo Department of Meaningless Statistics and Associated Thread Bumping.

Jaybro edit: 183 bolts/21 pitches = 8.7 bolts/pitch. There seems some doubt as to the exact number, and perhaps ten of the 183 may only be part of the 'direct' rappel route, so the ratio may be lower.

Social climber
The West
Apr 28, 2008 - 01:27am PT
How many other routes of that length have 10.42 bolts per pitch?

Dept adjunct to Ander's chair.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Apr 28, 2008 - 01:33am PT
haha, bluryr eye'd
Sean Jones

Apr 28, 2008 - 01:47am PT
Every belay has 10mm stainless Raumer bolts. These are the same quallity as Fixe stainless. Lets just say they will be in really good shape in a very long time. Many of the bolts on pitches are the same but not all. The rest are a bit lower of a grade of stainless redheads. I've used these in many places and am still clipping some that were put in almost 20 years ago. They're in great shape still and have a long way to go.

No bolt on the route should be needing replacement for 30 if not 40 years and the Raumers even more. I'll either be dead or at least 80 years old by then. I'll make a promise right here and right now to deal with this myself when needed. Either do it myself or pay someone to do it. Unless I'm living in a van at old age and living on dehidrated potatoes and way broke.

I don't really see that happening though. I'd like to think I could get my sh$t together by then. I'd like to think that replacing bolts by then was a bit easier and a bit less barbaric than now.

Then again maybe some super motivated f#ck will just go out and chop them before all that and save us all.

Went climbing today for the first time since the snake bite. The finger isn't perfect but is getting better really fast. Still feel really sick though. I feel very lucky to be back out at all. Can't wait to be full force again. Big plans for this year.

Hey, here's something I've been thinking about.
If someone climbed the bottom 1/2 of GU to the top of the 14th pitch,and headed left a bit then straight up, they could add an all new finish somewhere near the big black streak,on lead of course. You would have passed beneath all of the top down upper wall by staying off of the 15th pitch.

No problem going far enough to the left to not squeeze GU. Do check into where I think it's Lost in space that cuts through the upper wall to not f#ck that up. I think there's plenty of room for all that though and not even be close to a squeeze job.
An all out amazing opportunity to go up there, do the most beautiful line on Earth and show everone how it's done. And not have to deal with any of the labor that went into the lower wall.

Speaking of not squeezing, in one of the photos of the so. face,
it looks as if GU is not so far left of SB on the upper headwall. That's just the way one of the photos looked to me. Fear not though, GU is hundreds of feet left as it cuts through the upper wall. It's very spacious up there by saying hundreds of feet left, I mean 400 or so. No logical line will ever exist between GU and SB. Not without making a mess and doing 16 pitches of GU then going right and up. That would pretty much suck.

The line I mentioned going left of GU and up would not suck. But you really want to pay attention to where Lost tops out or it could suck. Just thought I'd mention that because my sights are set on other things and I'm not one of those people who want to try and hoard all the good lines nor am I worried about there not being enough rock left out there.

I know first hand and probly more than many just how much rock is really out there. In the sierras alone. It's absolutely mind bogelling. Really.

Peace, get off the computer,go climb, and try to remember to have fun out there.

Sean Jones

Apr 28, 2008 - 02:41am PT
Something else to think about, All of the pitches on the upper wall are very long. One has 15 bolts, 2 have 14 bolts, and one has I think 19. These are 200 ft pitches and very sustained. Even the 19 bolt pitch gives you an average of 10 ft between them. That's 20 plus ft. falls on steep slab and 30 plus ft. falls on the others. As the climbing gets easier up high, there's probly a few spots to take 4o plus ft. falls. With all the hard climbing below, the concept of falling up there is quite possible.

As much as some may want to think of this as the light wieght route on the s.face or the route for the masses, you may want to take the time and REALLY think about where this climb is.
And just how sustained the entire route is. Not for a second should anyone think that the S. face is a safe place to be. EVER.

Even with the options to get off of the route, epic weather and
injury could take you down fast. I can't say this more clearly, there's NOTHING safe about being on that wall or any wall for that matter. Don't take it for granted.

Another thought or two. This project took 41/2 months of my life over. Probly ran in and out of there around 40 times dealing with family stuff, getting the bills paid,grocery runs,birthday parties for the kids,t-ball and tons of logistics for the wall itself.

You can bet your ass everything was VERY thought out the way the route came together and would be left behind. One thing I really thought of was the way climbing in Yosemite is. And how this wall may be most commonly done in the future.

Most hard core aid climbers don't really tend to be super hard free climbers so the upper wall is a bit of a problem. And there's only so many people that just run around blasting up 2,000 5.13's in the back country.

No question in my mind that the most common use of this route in the years to come will be the high speed, french free the bottom and be forced to free the top approach. The same as the NW face is now. This route is laid out so well for that type of climbing as well as the bad ass all free attempts.

The bolt ladder is laid out to not need aiders and just pull through. Light wieght and fast ascents of this route will almost surely be the norm. Yet only by climbers of a certain level.

Lots of thought was put into this as well. Hell just run up, do the first 10 on GU, then 5 classic free piches on S. face route,
The first 3 pitches of SB (killer crack climbing) and 8 piches on Laid to rest out right. That's 26 epic piches of crack climbing and a few more killer ones at the base.

It's all good !

GO !


Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Apr 28, 2008 - 03:10am PT
So, the FA party was talking about rapping in from the top to save damaging the rock with more holes than necessary on dead ends if they were to do the route ground up. Now, Sean admits that they placed the bolts in the A0 bolt ladder close enough so that you could do the moves without having to resort to using aiders. That seems like a contradiction from the rationale stated above.

If the FA team really wanted to save on bolt holes they should have spaced out the bolts on the ladder as far as possible. This may seem like nit-picking, but if saving holes was really one of the reasons they rap bolted then every unnecessary hole contradicts that goal.

This seems like another "convenience" move just like the escape rappel route and further erodes the goal of trying to minimize damage to the rock.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 28, 2008 - 03:15am PT
Sean + Ken,

Thanks for drawing the topo and sharing it. Much easier to visualize the climbing now. Thanks for including the freed pitches on the original South Face as well. I will try to make a better photo overlay, using the topo and a photo taken from a better position.
Delhi Dog

Trad climber
Good Question...
Apr 28, 2008 - 05:37am PT
Wow, hard to believe this is still going and even harder to believe no one has gone up there to climb it or parts of it...

My contribution to the 2000th post...

This comment;
"You can bet your ass everything was VERY thought out the way the route came together and would be left behind. One thing I really thought of was the way climbing in Yosemite is."

...brought to mind the following poem and it made me reflect a bit on the two.

From Thomas Merton's interpretation of Chuang Tzu, The Way of Chuang Tzu.


When an archer is shooting for nothing
He has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind
Or sees two targets-
He is out of his mind.

His skill has not changed.
But the prize
Divides him. He cares.
He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting-
And the need to win
Drains him of power.

This is not ment as a judgment but simply as a refelction.

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Apr 28, 2008 - 07:58am PT
Coz wrote

"They took a big step backwards, and their rational, money and time; they lack any kind of real respect for the future and their act was far from self-less.

I feel the bolts should be removed by the first descent party, and the mighty face be climb on it's own terms. The South Face is one of the last great places to climb, in free-stance style.

I find it very sad that no one seems to respect anything anymore, maybe it's the times or lack of education. Maybe the mindless media has turn us into spirt-less drones.

Just my thoughts, DR and Sean if you did the climb on stances and protected it well, you wouldn't have to tell the world what great climbers you are - they would know, be humble and do the right thing."

I think it would be just as rational, although perhaps not as popular in our hero worshipping culture for me write:

"Dave and Coz took a big step backwards in their ascent of Southern Belle, and in their rational of saving money and time; they lacked any kind of real respect for future climbers and their lives and well being. Their act was far from self-less, it was ego aggrandizement with lack of regard for their own welfare and for those who would follow. The nature of hard slab climbing is insecure enough that virtually no one can count on not falling so X-rated hard slab climbing is asking each climber to play a game of Russian Roulette with each ascent.

I feel that bolts should be added to Southern Belle by the next ascent party, and the climb opened up to party with more than a dysfunctional respect for their own lives. The South Face is one of the last great places to climb and classic lines shouldn't lay as rusting testimonies to the 2 days in 20 years when a couple climbers gambled their health and future on some holds that make dimes look like jugs.

I find it very sad that some of the Elite don't respect others, maybe it's the need to be "Special." If you claim 2000 feet of rock for your route, create it so it can be climbed by those not open to suicide. Maybe the mindless media has turn us into spirt-less drones, who glory in the acts of 'supermen' trying to show us how superior they are. The only guy to do a second ascent has free soloed 5.13 and even he was scared. Is this really a good use our a limited resource?

Just my thoughts, Dave and Coz, if you did Southern Belle and protected it well, you wouldn't have to tell the world what great climbers you are - they would climb your route and be grateful for it, be humble and let others make a generous choice for the future instead of a selfish one. Folks play Russian Roulette rarely enough that they don't need 8 guns to play with on the SFHD."

food for thought and more posts


Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Apr 28, 2008 - 08:57am PT
Where's Nuts Only Cliff? I've googled it but can't find a reference. Just curious.

To Peter's post below this one, thanks Peter, sound like a cool cliff.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Apr 28, 2008 - 09:07am PT

Nuts Only is reached along with Audobon Buttress by hiking up the partly avalanched-out Old Big Oak Flat Rd about 1/4 mile west of El Cap Meadow. You reach the Little Wing Area this way also. Some great short free climbs amongst these features.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 28, 2008 - 09:18am PT
I don't think having SB climbed by lots of climbers to admire their greatness was ever the goal.

Climbing has always had a lot of routes that stand there aloof and say "This is badass, don't even bother to think about this climb unless you are ready to be badass."

SB is certainly in that class. I think climbs that demand respect and put all us mortals in our place are a good thing. I like knowing that I'm a good climber and yet that there are places I have no business going. Where are the badasses of today, the Sharma's and whoever the flavor of the magazine is?
Does this mean they're not great climbers? No. Does this mean they're not skilled enough, brave enough, ballsy enough to stand next to Walt, Dave and Scott? Probably.....What's wrong with them knowing that there's a place they probably don't belong also? Nothing.

This is not a condemnation of GU, but a defense of Southern Belle. That said, I remind you again that someone can feel the door open to creating the easiest aid bolt ladder on Half Dome back there because all these pro-GU arguments can be used just as well for them.

We can't have a whole face monopolized by these death routes, can be read as we can't have a whole face monopolized by these 5.11-5.12 free climbs. We only want to leave a climb with great bolts that will last forever, that will be climbed by lots of people that will agree what a great location our bolt ladder goes up.

This, in turn, is not a condemnation of Sean and Doug and their co-climbers. I am only interested in the larger question of our future direction.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Apr 28, 2008 - 10:07am PT
Survival wrote

"SB is certainly in that class. I think climbs that demand respect and put all us mortals in our place are a good thing. I like knowing that I'm a good climber and yet that there are places I have no business going. Where are the badasses of today, the Sharma's and whoever the flavor of the magazine is? "

There are just as many badasses today. Moonlight Buttress was just free-soloed and recently Astroman and the Rostrum were soloed in the same day. Why do folks in this thread keep asking what happened to the good ol, bold ol days when it's clearly not true.

You say you're not condemning Doug and Sean but this thread exists because some are doing exactly that. Coz has clearly done it, in as respectful a way as somebody is likely to condemn somebody.

It's likely to be either "live and let live" or drill a bolt in the one or two stances available per pitch. Somebody go climb the dang thing and tell us whether drilling on stance/hook every 10-20 feet is possible or not. If it's not possible, we really are debating whether we want all the routes up there to be museum pieces for those without family or care for life to do.

What percentage of routes on a face or area do we really want to reserve for the death-defliers? (who don't seem to care to defy death very often if you think about it)

Your post asks who the badasses are today?. I'd ask "who the bad asses were back in Coz's day" when this supposedly fine route went up? If folks were so bold and proud back then, why didn't they climb the damn route back in the good old days? Coz and Dave weren't the only ones on the top of their game back then.

There are folks posting on this thread who could have done Southern Belle back then and some arguably even better and bolder than they were. Why didn't they do the route?

I'll tell you why, defying death might seem worthwhile for the glory of a first ascent, but not for the guys who come after

... except if you're Dean Potter. (some might argue he has to please his sponsors, or himself, with boldness because so many other climbers crank at a much harder grade)

This argument., to paraphrase: "I like knowing there are better climbers than me and thinking in my mind that their badass route exists somewhere." If that's so important, let the badass free solo routes and we can look up to that. Then the glory story will exist forever and the rock will still exist for those who perhaps have a wife, or a kid, or aren't angsty enough to trust their life to a 5.12 smear.



Edit: I think that Coz is just hurt because Southern Belle is his greatest testament to himself and now there's a route next to it that's just as pretty and not so stuck up.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Apr 28, 2008 - 10:22am PT
Sean and Doug.

Thanks for the inspiration; awesome adventure.
Thanks for the time involve to put up this wild new route.
Thanks for the money spent out of your own pocket; aint' cheap.
Thanks for the cool pics to thrill us.
Thanks for stimulating our climbing world to have conversations that are sometimes soul searching.
Thanks for being away from your loved ones during your adventures;....lots to sacrafice....those of us with children know it's hard to be away from our little ones.
Thanks for creating a route in the style YOU have chosen to climb; afterall, it's your F A.
Thanks for trying to have civil conversations with others who find your climb controversal;.....everyone does lots of things in their life (both on and off the rocks) that is considered controversal.
Thanks for, once again, showing us that to think "big" and you get a "big" adventure.
Thanks for using stainless steel bolts.
I just wanted to say thanks for the good stuff that this climb represents; for the negetive stuff generated from this climb.....look and you will find them easily. The Southern Belle is an awesome climb and has it's place;....but I believe there is room for others. Diversity can be a kindergarten teacher, I see all sorts of forms of life;....I try to love them matter how strange, different, or even "creepy" some seem. I'm not saying I agree with every aspect of your ascent personally,...but I do find much of it very facinating, interesting, wild, and awesome.....and to that I say Bravo! Having 3 infants at home has helped me to appreciate adventures I had in the past, and adventures I look forward to in the future.....both on and off the crags. If you find this climb and it's style of FA to your liking (And you are experienced, motivated, and talented enought to climb such a route), Go do it; I'm sure you will have a grand time. If you don't find this climb and it's FA style to your liking, then don't do the route and go climb something else somewhere else. I do alot of FA's myself, and I've pissed off enough people to know that I'm just doing my thing, and when you create, you piss people off;......I don't get too bent about a days I'm just way happy to have a day or two at the crags every now and again.....Climbing is still a blast for me......Climb on.....

Todd Gordon

Apr 28, 2008 - 10:31am PT
To even begin to think that someone is climbing to defy death is 1000 light years away from the mark.

A statement such as that is pure speculation and shows poor fund of knowledge.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 28, 2008 - 10:33am PT
Thank you Werner.

Soloing Moonlight Buttress or Astro/Rostrum in a day isn't "death defying"?

You don't have a problem with one form of "death defying", but you do with another.(SB) Because there's a few bolts on it? Nobody said that todays hotties can't solo there either.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Apr 28, 2008 - 10:39am PT
Werner wrote

"To even begin to think that someone is climbing to defy death is 1000 light years away from the mark.

A statement such as that is pure speculation and shows poor fund of knowledge."

Your claim to know what other climbers are climbing for is just as speculative and so is your claim to know about my fund of knowlege.

In addition, you take a figurative statement and try to make it literal. You know what I meant by "death defying" so why twist it and turn it into a "wise retort?"


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