Lost Arrow Spire Tip - photo trip report 7/22/08


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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 28, 2008 - 09:10pm PT
Back in July, I did the Lost Arrow Tip for the first time with my old college climbing partner, John Imbrie.
I've put this together mainly to illustrate the beta for doing it with two 60m ropes.

View from Yosemite Point railing - Lost Arrow tip and Falls Trail switchbacks; Upper Yosemite Falls was nearly dry.

[Edit to add:] We hiked up the Falls Trail, restocked on water when crossing Yosemite Creek, and continued to the railing at Yosemite Point.

From Yosemite Point, we hiked over to the tree above the notch, and fixed our black 60m x 8.1mm static line to it (bowline around the tree).
Our second rope (blue 60m x 9.2mm lead line) was tied to the end of the black rope.
I rapped down the black rope to the slackline anchor, which is a bolt at a flake/ledge even with the top of the spire.
I backed it up with a couple of cams in the flake.
There were also a few stoppers left, which people had used for the slackline and had not cleaned.
I anchored the lead line here temporarily. John rappelled down to me.

John then rappelled down the lead line to the notch.
This meant he did not have to pass the knot on rappel.

I lowered the knotted ropes below me, undid the temporary anchor,
rappelled down the black line, passed the knot using jumars, and continued
rappelling on the blue line to the notch.

Our two knotted 60m ropes, with the top black one anchored at the rim.

John tying in, with the ledge and anchor below the first pitch just behind him.
Note the free 30m of our 60m lead line available to lead the first pitch.

Reaching left into the corner to start the first pitch.

View from the notch belay ledge, back towards the rim.
Note that 30m of our blue lead line heads up into the air at this point,
tied to the upper black 60m rope.

John back cleans draws on the first pitch, since we only brought a few.

Higher on p1, about to disappear from view for the remainder of the pitch.

Starting to clean the corner at the start of p1.

Due to a miscommunication before we hiked up, I had neglected to bring a second set of aiders.
We did not have enough spare rope to lower the one set back down to me.
So I used a couple of slings on one jumar, and a clove hitch in the slack end of the rope around my boot for the other jumar.
(John and I are a couple of "wily El Cap veterans", so we figured we could get up this somehow).

Transition from the initial corner to the wide fist/squeeze corner.

Fist/squeeze crack. We brought the #4 (old size/purple) Camalot and used it.
We also used a #4 Friend and #3.5 Friend (solid aluminum shafts,lighter than C4 Camalots).
Note the fixed lead line, routed in the horn out right of the crack.
This keeps the rope out of the deep crack, so that my knuckles do not get shredded when moving the jumars up.

That's why it's nice to climb with a "wily El Cap veteran"!

John starting p2. He placed a cam here temporarily, until he clipped the first bolt; then backcleaned the cam.
Logistics: we pulled up slack in the lead line and fixed it to the anchor.
This left us with about 50m free in the 60m lead line, so John was easily able
to reach the top in one pitch from this ledge.

First bolt on p2 clipped.

Right after clipping the fixed shoelace on the nearly buried fixed pin, and then placing something above it.
John clipped a biner to the bottom step of each aider, to keep the breeze from blowing the ultralight aiders around.

Moving up higher on the pitch, route continues in a corner and leader is not very visible.

Starting to follow p2. The fixed shoelace (on the nearly buried fixed pin) is visible to the right of the rope shadow.

View up the shallow corner on the arete.

One of the "rivets" (hangerless big bolt) on p2.

View to the final corner (free mantle move on arete looks hard).

Final slab to the tip!

Fixed pin in triangular pin scar, on the final slab.

Clint on top.

Attempted group shot.

John prepares to rappel across the gap and ascend to the rim.
He is rappelling single line with a Munter hitch on our blue lead rope,
and his ascenders are on the black rope which is fixed to the tree at the rim.
He is rappelling single line, because we only brought one set of ascenders.
After ascending, he will pull up the rope to the knot between black and blue
ropes, clip the ascenders to a figure eight loop in the rope there, and lower
them down to me (I will pull them in on the blue rope).

Getting closer to starting the rappel. I extended the slings later so they
reached over the lip, making pulling the rappel rope a lot easier.

John's weight is already onto the jumars, but also still on the blue rope rappel.

Halfway across.

Contact with the wall below the rim.

Jumaring up the black fixed rope.

Final section of jumaring. The rock is rounded and rough here, so we
were happy to be using a static rope, which would not stretch much and avoid
wear on the rough rock here.

John safely back at the rim. Jumar are attached to the rope at the knot point
as planned, and he is ready to lower them back to me.

My view from halfway across the gap - up the doubled lead line rappel, back to
the tip.

View up the black fixed rope to the rim, with my jumars on it.

One of Tom Rohrer's rappel anchors, for his rappel route from the rim, to
the notch, and continuing down the outside face to the ground near the base
of Lost Arrow Direct. Two Star-Dryvin 3/8" bolts attached with chain to single
big link. The lower hanger is a stainless Dolt. Upper hanger is a Leeper.
This anchor is below and left of the slackline anchor. There used to be
a block/ledge at Tom's anchor, but it fell off some years ago!

Final jumar up the rough rock to the rim.
Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Nunya, America
Sep 28, 2008 - 09:21pm PT
Shenanigans! looks like you had fun....Hey, Clint. Your bud has 'wily El Cap Vet' hair, too!
Thanks 4 the great pics!.....

Sep 29, 2008 - 11:44am PT
Yeah - sweet report and very informative as always Clint. Thanks! Being there is a good reminder of the stones John Salethe must have had to head up there solo way back in the day of sh#t ropes, no YOSAR and pins for pro. Alone as a man can ever be: OMG!

Love your pics!

Trad climber
Wilmington, DE
Sep 29, 2008 - 01:20pm PT
Well thanks, I quess that takes away any gumby excuses I may have tried to use. Nice job.

Trad climber
Sep 29, 2008 - 01:27pm PT
really awesome

thank you for posting
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Sep 29, 2008 - 01:37pm PT
That shoelace on the fixed pin got my palms sweating.

When I did the arrow tip as my first aid climb the last bolt off the ledge was missing it's hanger so I used a nut as a hanger and then climbed up on a bleached out shoelace. Ho man.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Sep 29, 2008 - 02:14pm PT
Ottawa Doug

Social climber
Ottawa, Canada
Sep 29, 2008 - 02:20pm PT
Hey Clint,

I always love your posts and this one was no exception! Great pics and info for how to do the arrow with two 60m ropes. I've never been up the spire, but would like to some day. Go, 'wily El Cap veterans' go!


Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Sep 29, 2008 - 02:26pm PT
Nice and informative. Good job pulling it off minimalist.


hungry man

Trad climber
Sep 29, 2008 - 03:07pm PT
Awesome! great photos, as usual.

Trad climber
Sep 29, 2008 - 07:03pm PT
Great play by play!

Trad climber
Sep 29, 2008 - 07:06pm PT
Great stuff. Bravo!

Trad climber
Hollywood, CA
Sep 29, 2008 - 07:37pm PT
Very very nice!!

Trad climber
Sep 30, 2008 - 03:52am PT
That is pretty cool. What a helluva place to climb, like you are automatically set up for great scene.
Thanks for sharing!

Trad climber
one of god's mountain temples....
Sep 30, 2008 - 06:15am PT
Exactly the kind of info I love to hear. I always thought you needed a third rope but no sir, it can be done with two! Great way to save some weight on the approach! Although I probably would have brought a 2nd set of aiders and jumars. just kidding with you...

Curious...which way did you hike in?


Mountain climber
Sep 30, 2008 - 07:21am PT
very nice! Thanks. I wish I was that organized the first time I did that climb!

Sep 30, 2008 - 02:10pm PT
Thanks for the photos, Clint
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 30, 2008 - 02:54pm PT

We hiked up the Falls Trail, restocked on water after crossing Yosemite Creek, then on to Yosemite Point. From there it is 5 minutes to the tree at the rim, losing maybe 100' of elevation.

Another option would be to hike in from the Tioga Road at Porcupine Creek trailhead, but that is a lot more mileage, and you have to gain 2000' or so on the hike back, unless you feel it is worth a car shuttle or something. It's not clear if there are good water sources along that trail, too. Of course, right now, I'm not sure I'd want water out of the top of Yosemite Creek unless it is flowing again from recent showers.

Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Sep 30, 2008 - 03:41pm PT
Thanks Clint... Nice TR..Great photos!

Trad climber
one of god's mountain temples....
Sep 30, 2008 - 03:50pm PT
Thanks for the info Clint. I have heard of people hiking in from the high Country but it seemed like a lot more work for very little pay-off. Falls trails def seems the way to go. And I am much more familiar with your lower-out/jug technique than I am with a true Tyrolean so I am pretty much dialed on this one now. I just need to actually do it now!

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