Did this climb yesterday for the first time... it's been long on the list but always crowded or wet... we were the second party and there were at least 3 parties after us (and we were a party of four)
Gary lead the 5.9 p1 variation thinking it was 5.6 (great to be old and unable to see, gets you on more difficult routes)... I thought the hardest part of that was getting off the belay ledge... I was thinking "gee, if this is 5.6 the rest of the route isn't going to be a cruise).
I led pitches 2 and 3 as one, which is great since you end up sitting on that wonderful ledge.
On my lead I just went where there seemed to be pro... if there was a spot of 5.9 it was making the step across the top of the left-facing dihedral into the "bowl of knobs" as you headed up to the right-facing dihedral that intersects the "Boa/Pirouette" roof. The 5.8 R section was all there, just keep on your feet... I moved up then right to the crack, which is so delightful I didn't feel the need to put pro in immediately, and ran up a bit before plugging some cam in...
The rest of these two pitches are cruisey, and you get the reward of the ledge.
Done this way the generous ST rack suggestion works out well.
Linking these two pitches means communication with the belayer can be a bit difficult as the steep cliff is a sound shadow. While we sat waiting away from the base, we could hear the leader of the team before us without too much trouble, but the team's belayer couldn't really hear...
Gary lead the last pitch, which has its difficulties in the first 30' off the ledge, then cruises..
classical Tuolumne knobs, an enjoyable climb for sure, happy I did it!
nice route, start on 5.9 var. with 3 bolts. 2 pitch is the best, with the new bolt on the runout after the roof I think the route goes without R. third pitch easier and fun. nobody around. worthy climb.
This route is legit! I missed the final pitch 5.9, so i came back with denis and fired her off. I slipped and giggled, but recovered. An excellent adventure. I also lead the first pitch, 5. runoutish under the head wall to mix up slab on p1, a nice alternative.
There is some confusion about the rating of this route in Supertopo. This site here indicates the route is 5.8R, but Supertopo book says 5.9 (although the Table of Contents of Supertopo book says 5.8R). Two parties of us climbed it yesterday, and we think it's 5.9 in Tuolumne style--but maybe 5.9R for folks who are not quite used to Tuolumne's ethics.
If you have a 60, we'd suggest doing it in 3 pitches. We'd ignore the optional belay on the topo between #1 and #2: we thought the placements would have been marginal there. Also, the route line in the picture on this site does not conform to how people actually climb the route (by their chalk marks): people move strongly right to the diagonal crack as soon as they clip the bolt.
BTW, the burbling water running down the deep, long hand crack on the last pitch made the climb zen-like and truly serene. It reminded me of the water that runs along the walls in the rooms at The Alhambra in Spain.
Last week we did a new start to Aqua Knobby that adds a couple fun sections of 5.9. Below the middle of the roof about 50' right of the 5.6 start, climb hard 5.9 friction and a cool short lieback corner past 3 bolts, then up and right (runout but easy) to a crack in the roof with good thin pro. Pull the roof (5.9ish, easier if you're taller), then climb left and up to the belay on runout 5.5 knobs. If you put long slings on the piece at the roof, you can link with the next pitch, but it's better to belay at that anchor then head straight up and link the next 2 pitches to the big ledge.
The three bolts were placed on lead from stance, no aid. I placed one 1/4" which I then replaced on rap immediately after finishing the pitch. The other nice thing about this variation is that in early season, the 5.6 runout start is wet longer than the rest of the climb, so you'll be able to climb it earlier in the season (but the easy crack up top will likely still be wet).
Aqua Knobby follows the knobs and flakes up the water streak on the north side of Pywiack Dome.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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