Southwest Face C2 5.8

 
  • Currently 4.0/5
Search
Go

Liberty Cap


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
A summer day on Liberty Cap
Tuesday August 9, 2011 8:23pm
Every time Iíve hiked past Liberty Cap on the way to Half Dome Iíve had an urge to climb it. Its relatively secluded location and perfect view of Nevada Falls, combined with the picturesque line that the Southwest Face route takes, put the route at the top of my to-do list.

The weather report for the weekend of 8/6-7 looked absolutely perfect in Yosemite, so George and I made plans to do the climb. I spent the week scouring the internet for information and previous reports about climbing the route. I was intrigued by the SuperTopo line about Nose-in-a-day training, ďto do The Nose in less than 18 hours, you should be able to do Liberty Cap in fewer than ten.Ē By comparing the topos side-by-side it looked like the Nose is 3x as long and roughly the same difficulty, so I donít know why the timing is so generous for Liberty Cap. Nonetheless it seemed like a good goal to shoot for since we didnít want to haul a bunch of gear all the way up that long approach!

We headed out on the trail by headlamp at 5am. By the time we hit the bridge below Vernal Falls, filled up the 8L of water we planned to take on the route, and used the restrooms there, we could travel by natural light. The rest of the hike was a slog up the trail with a few tantalizing views of our objective.

The Southwest Face takes a proud line up Liberty Cap
The Southwest Face takes a proud line up Liberty Cap
Credit: cmclean

The climbersí trail skirting the base of Liberty Cap is very well established. The traverse on the bushy ledge to get to the base of the route is indeed quite bushy and exposed in a couple of places, but generally straightforward.

Looking up at starting ledge and first few pitches of the route
Looking up at starting ledge and first few pitches of the route
Credit: cmclean

When we got to the base we realized we had two cameras but only one camera battery. Since our plan was for me to lead the whole route (to practice big block leads and short-fixing) that meant we could either get a bunch of butt shots or a bunch of jugging shots. We decided to go with the former...enjoy.

Headed up p1
Headed up p1
Credit: cmclean

During the "5.9 incredible hands" we both starting whooping and hollering. It really is incredible. A perfect splitter hand crack in the middle of the face, with instant exposure due to the traverse in on the ledge.

"5.9 incredible hands"
"5.9 incredible hands"
Credit: cmclean

p3 bulge
p3 bulge
Credit: cmclean

On pitch 4 I took the right-hand variation that ends up doing a pendulum off a hangerless (and nutless) machinehead bolt. The left-hand variation going straight up the grassy crack looked similarly good. This pitch ends in another splitter hand crack of goodness.

p4 right hand variation
p4 right hand variation
Credit: cmclean

Pitch 5 started with fun thin hands to a difficult lieback/rattly fingers dihedral before moving out onto the steep headwall. I drank as much as I could before heading out on this pitch to help lighten the pack before the steep jugging commenced.

Low on p5
Low on p5
Credit: cmclean

The headwall has been fixed up to be straightforward--bomber ASCA bolts separated by 2-4 solid rivets each. Each bolt even has pre-rigged lower out tat on it already. No trickery needed though I had to get in my second steps a couple times which was strenuous on the overhanging terrain.

Clippity-clip
Clippity-clip
Credit: cmclean

Looking toward Glacier Point from the p4 belay
Looking toward Glacier Point from the p4 belay
Credit: cmclean

On the next pitch the sun finally crested the face and started bearing down on us. This was a fun, long C1 pitch.

Credit: cmclean

Cool shadow man
Cool shadow man
Credit: cmclean

The pitch ends with a 5.7 squeeze. There is a gigantic flake (roughly 4'x12'x6") within the squeeze that I thought provided a nice handjam, but when I pressed my thumb down, the entire flake rocked a few inches! I went back to chimneying mode.

Nevada Falls as seen from p5
Nevada Falls as seen from p5
Credit: cmclean

I decided to take the same method for p7 that others have previously recommended: chimney up, clip some fixed gear, then tension traverse to the crack. This avoids the other options of either runout 5.10 face climbing or C3 up an incipient seam. There's now a fat ASCA-stamped bolt to tension off of that hasn't been reported elsewhere. Both the rope drag and communication ability are horrendous on this pitch. It might be worth it to do a mini pitch to set up directly below the chimney to mitigate both issues.

I thought that pitch 8 was the crux of the route. The squeeze to begin was physical with another loose block in it.

I maintained this expression for 15 minutes straight.
I maintained this expression for 15 minutes straight.
Credit: cmclean

Above the mid-pitch bolts was the aid crux. I placed a decent/undercammed red C3, moved onto a solid cam hook, then an inverted cam hook in marginal rock. As I clipped my lower aider onto the inverted cam hook, part of the rock exploded, leaving me cammed on half of the hook with the other half now visible where the rock had been. I frantically looked for a different placement but the good part of the crack was still a few feet out of reach. The only placement looked to be another bad cam hook. I poked at it for a little while before noticing that there were a few small edges out on the face to the left. I committed to stepping out onto the edges, causing the aiders to immediately fall out of the crack, and crimped a couple moves to a nice fingerlock and gear placements and breathed a sigh of relief.

The last three pitches are mostly wandering fun free climbing with a couple aid moves thrown in. You also get to wrestle with a giant bush in the crack you want to climb.

5.10bush
5.10bush
Credit: cmclean

The 5.8 finishing slab has one more bolt than indicated on the SuperTopo and the crack below the crux can take a few small cams. The lichen and moss does keep it interesting though.

Credit: cmclean

We topped out just after 3pm for a route time of 7:30. I was psyched! And very thirsty, since we hadn't done a good enough job of rationing liquids during the climb.

Liberty Cap summit!
Liberty Cap summit!
Credit: cmclean

We lounged on top for a while, enjoying the 2 liters of gatorade we had left and the unique perspective of Half Dome's south face. Eventually we bushwhacked back down to the trail and to Curry Village to stuff our faces with pizza.

Credit: cmclean

Route beta and general impressions:
P1 - a good black alien can be used to french free through the crux
P4 - going straight up the grassy crack is probably faster than the pendulum
P5 - no gear placements needed on the bolt ladder, everything is fixed and bomber
P6 - fixed pins and nuts down low make this straightforward. Watch out for the giant loose flake in the chimney
P7 - rope drag and communication is awful, but tension traverse method is good
P8 - having 2 cam hooks helped here

The route has cleaned up a lot from what some previous reports have indicated. There are a few grassy cracks and some loose rocks but generally the climbing is really good, and the position is great. With all the free climbing available, this is a good choice to do in a day to avoid having a heavy bag on the long approach and hauling (looks like it would be unpleasant). I felt it was slightly harder than the South Face of Washington Column but definitely easier than either Skull Queen or the Prow. And it's fun to be in a totally different area of the park!

  Trip Report Views: 3,885
cmclean
About the Author
cmclean is a trad climber from San Francisco, CA.

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
  Aug 9, 2011 - 08:28pm PT
Fantastic TR!!
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  Aug 9, 2011 - 09:15pm PT
Looks like a great route! How do you get down??
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Aug 9, 2011 - 09:24pm PT
Great TR guys!

Looks like big fun and GUD stone!

Way to roll light and fast...
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Aug 9, 2011 - 09:29pm PT
Excellent TR!!!!

Well done.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Aug 9, 2011 - 09:37pm PT
Well, Steve, they rolled light and fast 'cause they didn't do any weeding
or pruning! But maybe that is frowned upon these days. Nice TR anyway :-)

Good pics, too!
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
  Aug 9, 2011 - 10:31pm PT
Awesome report. Way to send!
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Aug 9, 2011 - 10:32pm PT
Way to go guys!
eKat

Trad climber
  Aug 9, 2011 - 10:35pm PT
TFPU!
scaredycat

Trad climber
Berkeley,CA
  Aug 9, 2011 - 11:22pm PT


Nice! This why I read this forum. I guess if it's part of the NiaD training circuit, it can't be called obscure, but it still seems so to me.
Nohea

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
  Aug 9, 2011 - 11:30pm PT
That rock does always call as you pass by....Great job hearing that call and answering! Thanks for the share.

Aloha,
will
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Aug 9, 2011 - 11:40pm PT
What a great adventure! Thank you for sharing something way different! Woohoo!
pc

climber
  Aug 9, 2011 - 11:43pm PT
Great TR! Excellent adventure! Thanks.
beluga

climber
Nowhere
  Aug 10, 2011 - 01:00am PT
Very Nice trip report. Looks like fun in a real great setting.
Thank you for sharing it.
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Aug 10, 2011 - 01:40am PT
Nice job boys!

Glad to see you are back at it this season.

cheers,

Mucci
NA_Kid

Big Wall climber
The Bear State
  Aug 10, 2011 - 01:42am PT
WAY to go Corey!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Aug 10, 2011 - 01:58am PT
This climb wasn't on my radar in the least... now it is! The killer handcrack sounds great. How does it stack up to other killer handcracks in the park at that grade? Sons of Yesterday, Silent Line, Gripper...

Edit: Hourglass, Right pitches 1 and 2 also belong on the killer handcrack easier than 5.10 list.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
  Aug 10, 2011 - 07:46am PT
In the fourth photo down, what is the rope that's hanging to your right? Am I missing something?
cmclean

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 13, 2011 - 10:35pm PT
Thanks everyone! It definitely is a cool climb that should get done more often.

Radish: The opposite side of Liberty Cap is a gentle grade, so you just walk down a gully. No exposure though there are plenty of bushes to navigate around.

Le_bruce: I haven't climbed Silent Line or Hourglass Right so can't comment on those. I really liked the crack on liberty cap though since it's perfect #2 camalot size. Gripper's 3rd is great but more like cupped hands for me and on Sons of Yesterday my feet usually hurt enough by that pitch that I can't enjoy it as much as I should.

Jaaan: That is a rope some other party fixed up to the top of p2, but we didn't see anyone all day.
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Aug 10, 2011 - 01:57pm PT
A sick send and a Fine TR!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 10, 2011 - 02:07pm PT
Great job climbing and fine trip report. I've never been on this climb, but it always looked attractive. Now I think I need to put it on my list.

Thanks again.

JOhn
jsb

Trad climber
Bay area
  Aug 11, 2011 - 06:58pm PT
Nice work, Cory & George! Can't wait to see the NIAD TR!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 11, 2011 - 09:28pm PT
Good Job Y'all, love your summit pic way to go!
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jan 24, 2013 - 11:53am PT
Burly!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Jan 24, 2013 - 12:55pm PT
Dang! I want to go do this one now!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Jan 24, 2013 - 12:56pm PT
Good bump, Micronut. This TR is so understated and so impressive.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Jan 24, 2013 - 01:24pm PT
Very NICE CLIMB!
ground_up

Trad climber
mt. hood /baja
  Jan 24, 2013 - 02:04pm PT
Nice to see a TR from off the beaten path.
Well done !
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jan 24, 2013 - 03:49pm PT
Gawd, how many times have I looked at that thing and told myself I was gonna do it?


I'm so weak.
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Jan 24, 2013 - 06:27pm PT
Great TR.
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Go
Liberty Cap - Southwest Face C2 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Photo: Chris McNamara