Hey Coz, Sure would like to hear the story of Southern Belle


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Gym climber
Apr 3, 2008 - 04:11pm PT
One of my favorite route names...

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 3, 2008 - 07:20pm PT

Apr 3, 2008 - 07:27pm PT

Coz and Bob Gaines launched my wall career. I fixed to Sickle with my friend Bruce, then we rapped and went back to the car, fully depressed about how long it took us, how big that Stone is, how small we were, etc. Coz and Bob were working to free an aid route (maybe How the West was Won?) and they pull up on the way out of the valley and find us sitting by the car. Coz (who knew Bruce pretty well, and had seen me around Josh) says "what are you two doing on the ground?" We mutter some lame gumby excuses. Coz and Bob climb back into their ride. Coz takes one more look at us and says, "if you aren't up on that wall tomorrow, I'm slashing your tires." It was just in kick in the pants we needed. We climbed back on, climbed on up, and summited.


Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Apr 3, 2008 - 09:05pm PT
Brian, that's a pretty funny story about motivation! Friends can be good to do that for you when you think you're in over your head.

And yes, I would like to hear some details about the Belle.

Trad climber
Denver, Colorado
Apr 3, 2008 - 09:10pm PT
Are we talking about Southern Bob "Van" Belle?

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 3, 2008 - 09:11pm PT
Yeah man,
Give us the straight skinny. Looking forward to it.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 3, 2008 - 11:33pm PT

Here's the text of the article by Amy Sharpless, from Climbing #110 (October 1988, same issue as the Salathe' FFA).


HALF DOME - Cosgrove, Schultz free Southern Belle

Scott Cosgrove on the third pitch (5.12c) of Southern Belle. photo: Amy Sharpless

On July 19, one of the hottest days in Yosemite's history, Scott Cosgrove and Dave Shultz made the second overall and first free ascent of Southern Belle on Half Dome's huge South Face.

Originally established in spring 1986 by Schultz and Walt Shipley, the route starts on the second prominient arch and breaks through to the forbidding headwall above. Only 30 bolts, including belay anchors, protect the climb's 14 165-foot pitches. By comparison, Warren Harding's South Face Route sports over 300!

Some 5.11 pitches near the top have only three bolts apiece, which could be considered over-protected since the last 5.9 pitch has none. "It is more serious than the Bachar Yerian or You Asked For It, with 5.10 X and 5.11 X pitches," says Cosgrove.

The route was completed over three weekends, with the pair often starting out as early as 5am to avoid the extreme afternoon heat. During the first weekend, Cosgrove redpointed the second pitch, a short layback/undercling leading to an off-balance move, then a difficult crack system. This 5.12b pitch is protected by two bolts.

The second weekend brought more difficult climbing. The third pitch follows a beautiful overhanging crack splitting an outside corner, beginning as an offwidth and finishing with a 5.12c thin-hands crux. The fourth pitch, perhaps the crux of the route at 5.12c/d, starts on a very technical 80-degree face that is harder than the popular boulder problem Elegant Gypsy.

Cosgrove and Schultz spent the first two days of the final weekend fixing the fifth and sixth pitches, follwing a classic offset seam through the huge headwall to flakes and an obvious step right onto more hard face climbing. On their final day they jumared the fixed lines, dropped the extra ropes, and committed themselves to the top. The last eight pitches involved tricky, runout face climbing on excellent rock.

With three pitches of 5.12, eleven pitches of 5.11, and one pitch of 5.9, Southern Belle is a Valley testpiece and, without a doubt, one of the finest long free routes in the world.
    Amy Sharpless
[from Climbing #110, October 1988]


Boulder climber
Apr 4, 2008 - 04:52am PT
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 4, 2008 - 04:02pm PT

adapted from photo by le_bruce

line on upper slab for Growing Up is a guess, based on route description, improved slightly with help from Doug

[Edit: line for Lost Again added, given Ed's description in his post below. The line above that arch is a total guess by me. Maybe Eric can help?]

Doug Robinson's "The Better Half" article with route histories on Half Dome's South Face:

Ken Yager's photos from the FA of Karma:
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 4, 2008 - 11:15pm PT
Hey Clint,
you missed the route Lost Again VI, 5.10, A3 by Eric Kohl (solo) 1992...

the next arch to the left (west) of the South Face arch...
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Apr 5, 2008 - 12:17am PT
Pretty harsh words considering siege tactics were used on SB.

Trad climber
Apr 5, 2008 - 02:31am PT
" Pretty harsh words considering siege tactics were used on SB."

Yeah cause you're climbing in bad style if you FFA 5.11 death pitches and then don't sleep on the wall?!? Whaaa? Seems like it's better style to climb in a manner that people never knew you were there than go "alpine" and blaze a trail 20 feet wide.

Social climber
The West
Apr 5, 2008 - 02:48am PT
Cheers Coz, you left us all thinking, after that other thread. Can't get to Josh this weekend but would love to hear the story when the time is right. Talked with Walt a bunch about that line and it's history, back then.

Jay(bro) Anderson
Michael Irwin

Trad climber
San Leandro
Apr 5, 2008 - 12:25pm PT

Where you want to be
Apr 7, 2008 - 04:27pm PT
Still waiting.....

Where you want to be
Apr 7, 2008 - 07:18pm PT

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Apr 7, 2008 - 08:45pm PT
Story please

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 7, 2008 - 10:23pm PT
I believe you have one of your own?
I would like to hear that tale too!

Coz, We know you're in here from time to time...why so quiet?

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 8, 2008 - 08:06am PT
Yeah Hank,

Feed us your story.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 14, 2008 - 01:42am PT
(copied from the other thread, then buried by other posts; perhaps it belongs here instead):

Here is the text from Climbing #147 (1994) with the description of the attempted repeat by Hank Caylor and Alan Lester (note that the topo had just been published in the 1994 edition of Yosemite Climbs - Free Climbs by Don Reid):

Southern Belle: getting a reputation

In late July, Alan Lester joined forces with Hank Caylor in Yosemite Valley to attempt the second (and first one-day) ascent of the dicey 15-pitch Southern Belle (VI 5.12d R) on the South Face of Half Dome. The pair made excellent progress on the crux lower pitches, with Lester on-sighting the 5.12c/d fist-to-finger crack on the third pitch. By 10:30 a.m. they were over halfway up the face, with the four 5.12 pitches behind them. The upper pitches are no giveaway, however, involving very runout, insecure 5.11 face climbing. "Alan would go 75 feet to a 1/4-inch bolt, then another 75 feet to the belay," says Caylor. "And you couldn't see the bolts from below, so you were doing these moves that you couldn't reverse."

One hundred feet out on the eighth pitch, with one marginal HB nut and a tiny cam nestled 30 feet below him, Caylor took a 60-foot "slab-splashing plunge," as Lester put it. He sustained numerous bruises and abrasions and a broken ankle. "I scraped off all my skin," says Caylor. "It looks like I got dragged behind a pickup." Lester set up 1300 feet of devious angling rappels, then helped Caylor to the tourist trail, where rangers gave him a pony ride to the Valley floor. "The route was horrifying," says Caylor, who has done other Yosemite scare routes, like the Bachar-Yerian. "I'll never go back."

Lester, however, says, "I'm going back for sure, unless it gets done this fall." The route's reputation seems to grow. The taxing climbing and the long approach makes doing the route in a day even more formidable.

Dave Schultz of Yosemite and Scott Cosgrove of Joshua Tree freed the bold line in 1988. Peter Croft and Schultz had attempted it on two subsequent occasions, but reportedly never got past the fifth pitch.
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