South Face, Mt. Watkins C2 5.8


Yosemite Valley, California USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
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4 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (2)
4 star: 50%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Dr. Crush

Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Apr 27, 2017 - 04:42pm
Does anyone out there have the odds on whether or not the cracks will be too wet to free climb in a few weeks? Hoping to climb May 10-13, which I reckon would normally be dry, but with all them late storms... The 'yosemite high sierra' webcam shows a bit of snow on the summit.
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
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   Oct 24, 2015 - 10:39am
Pitch off Sheraton Watkins: Dick Erb and I were attempting the 2nd ascent and I led a long A4 pitch to the left of the bolts used by the FA team.

This was quite a while ago, How do people free climb the big pendulum which is after the traverse above the giant arch? I remember this as dead vertical and smooth.

Santa Cruz
Oct 24, 2015 - 09:31am
On the pitch 14 bolt ladder, I replaced 4 janky bolts including the dangling copperhead with 3/8th inch stainless gear. I'm surprised how little force it took to break the remaining wires of the copperhead and how little penetration some of those bolts had in the rock. It's a whole lot safer up there now. Hopefully I didn't destroy the character of the route for y'all. There is still a great need for someone to replace the snapped off bolt at the end of the pitch 9 bolt ladder above Sheraton Watkins ledge. Currently you can grab a cheater cord to skip the old penji finish. It would be cool to see a new bolt there.

Big Wall climber
Barcelona, Spain
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   Sep 14, 2015 - 02:36pm
Update after August 2015 ascent of South Face: fixed 1st rurp by knotting steel cable. Second one (moves a lot) needs a prusik cord 5mm or less. Third one can be clipped.
Not easy to get to the belay on that pitch, pendulum off a bad bolt. The belay has an extension cord hanging down to easen things.

Upcoming bottleneck will be the first copperhead in the boltladder on pitch 14. It hangs on 3 strings. Replacement requires a hammer or lasso the little tree above. Falling there is not great (pointy block).

Unlike NW face of Half Dome or the Nose (follow the trail), routefinding is required here: Pitches 7/8 to get to Sheraton are a maze of low-pro possibilities, and pitch 12 and and 14 offer many alternatives. Unlike Nose/HalfDome, the lack of traffic means there is grass everywhere, so no hints where other parties went.

Great route/unique ambiance - you feel Tenaya Canyon, not Yosemite Valley :-)

Trad climber
Jun 20, 2015 - 12:12pm
All fix gears in place. Pitch 14 first copper head is being held by a few strands of wires, may need some replacement really soon.

The pendulum bypass anchor is in pretty bad shape too. 2 pitons were half sticking out and 1 is out. If bringing a hammer, it will be nice to stitch it up.

Credit: QxCheang

Trad climber
Oct 3, 2014 - 06:47pm
Fixed RURPS on pitch (10?) after Sheraton Watkins are in very bad condition (i.e. need to girth hitch with micro stoppers and one flexes out, miraculously holding when weighted). Just a heads up, trickery and/or replacement may be needed soon (if going up with bags, could be a cool thing to do.)


Big Wall climber
the range of light
Jun 7, 2010 - 10:56am
Did it last is what I can remember...

We had a 70 m rope, no iron, 1 #5 and 2 #4s

In general, this route felt a lot harder to me than Half Dome. Usually when I see the "5.8 C2" rating, I think the climb will be a hike. There was a lot of runout climbing. As the route is now, I woudl rate the climbing we did 5.9+ C3. I don't mean to scare anyone, because this climb was FUN and beautiful. It is a must do for any valley climber!

Pitch 1: WAY long...we had to simul-climb a bit, even with a 70 m rope.

Pitch 2: pretty simple...2 raps with a 70m

Pitches 3 + 4: link easily

Pitch 6: probably about 160 ft long...

Pitches 7/8: tricky routefinding and poor pro over blocky 5.9 and 5.8. We could not find ANY 5.9 finger crack.

Pitch 9: The last bolt is missing in the bolt ladder (see previous post). I bypassed it by penji-ing right and free climbing some 5.10

Pitch 11: This pitch has a badass ledge on it. It could sleep up to 4 people

Pitch 12: Routefinding off of this ledge is tricky. When standing at the 11th belay, you look up and right to a splitter little crack. This seemed like the way to go. It was C1 until you bust a couple of 5.9 face moves to get to the anchor.

Pitch 14: This was hard climbing. I gardened out a couple of placements.

Pitch 15: This bolt ladder is in incredibly poor shape and really needs some help...

Pitch 17: NO FUN
Pitch 18: WAY FUN
Pitch 19: SUPER FUN!

Mountain climber
San Francisco
May 4, 2010 - 05:52pm
Here's a TR from 2 years back... I think I posted this somewhere on supertopo.
Mike Dahlquist

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Jun 10, 2009 - 01:47pm
Mike Dahlquist

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
May 28, 2009 - 10:56pm
Brett Marty, Saylor Flett and I climbed the route over the weekend. Pins are completely unnecessary, we didn't bring any and didn't need any. Hybrid Aliens (like always) were very helpful. We replaced one bolt on the first rappel with a 3/8 x 3.5" bolt, and added one to the second rappel. The time bomb on the top of pitch 9 went off too, Brett managed to mantle and pull himself over the top after it levered out as he was pushing off his top step. It would probably be difficult to get past this move without replacing the bolt. (hook placement?)
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
May 24, 2009 - 11:05pm
great route photos here
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Feb 3, 2009 - 10:46pm
great photo trip report here
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Jul 25, 2008 - 01:21pm
Fist ascent account by Chuck Pratt:

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
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   Apr 3, 2007 - 12:43am
We climbed this route over the second weekend in March.

Useful beta to know would be:

Pitch 1: These are both 35m raps (we had a 70m rope).

Pitch 2: This pitch does not begin with hooking. Free climb up right into left facing corners, aiming for the prominent tree.

Pitch 7: Face climb off right, then wander back left. We did not find a prominent 5.9 finger crack that looked well-travelled.

Pitch 12: There is no visible bolted 5.9 face option. In fact, there is no way (as far as we could tell) that this terrain would go at that grade.

Pitch 13: Penji right off the bolted belay, then reach left and clip the fixed pin you can see straight up from the belay. The downward pointing horn above the belay moves if you tug on it!

Pitch 15: This pitch starts with two very large ledges. We belayed from the lower ledge, from which free var. bolts go up and right.

Pitch 19: This pitch is justifiably dificult to draw on a topo. Free climb up the cool lieback crack (5.6), then go around the corner, head left up the bolted face, clip a hidden fixed blade around the arete, then clip the new 3/8" bolt right over the roof, with the entire South Face below you. Sweet!

Trad climber
Northern California
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   Jul 7, 2006 - 05:57pm
Only got to below Sheraton Watkins 4 years ago. Had three people rather than two - made everything painfully slow. Way too hot. Would have run out of water well below the summit. Bailed.

If the upper pitches are any reflection of the lower ones, this is a damn good route. Approach to the base of Watkins is fairly easy - use your head, it's not that long. However, it is longer than you think getting up to the starting ledge. If the creek is going, you'll be able to fill up near the base.

Lower pitches had some solid 5.10 - pretty fun stuff.

I vaguely recall bringing a #5 for one of the OW sections.
The Randy One

Trad climber
Mar 31, 2006 - 10:54am
Kinda echoing "Pappy" here: what is the deal with this route? Did RNWF of Half Dome in a day last year without too much trouble, would like to do this same on this one. How much more involved is this route? How good is this route? Cool free-climbing? I'm ok up to 11+ or so: how much hard (11+-12) climbing is there on this rig? Any special gadgets required for the the short clean aid sections?

Any help greatly appreciated.


Social climber
Beef Curtains, Neb.
Oct 16, 2005 - 01:05am
How cool is this route, anyway? Good free-climbing?

How does it go in-a-day compared to HalfDome RNWF?


Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Apr 8, 2005 - 12:50am
Yeah, huh? I think your description is to Half Dome(and the screwup, if it is one, means, alas, you're human too. But you knew that. Welcome to the club).

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Apr 5, 2005 - 05:35am
Isn't that the betta fer Half Dome???????????
Mt. Watkins - South Face C2 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Photo: Nabeel Atique
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